Top positive review
257 of 267 people found this helpful
on April 14, 2012
(update on bottom)
First up, I actually own the DMC-SZ02 which is available at a certain store in my area founded by Sam Walton... :) I am 99.9% certain this is the exact same camera as the DMC-SZ1, please correct me if I`m wrong. But dont confuse either of these with the DMC-ZS1 (note the ZS and SZ difference), which is also available but quite different. Cant they get a little more creative with the product names?
I`ve owned and tried out many "pocket" cameras over the years. I`ve usually ended up with Casio Exilims, even though I have tried out Canon Elphs (just cant get myself to like the tiny Elph), Nikons (good features but poor pic quality), a Samsung (terrible) and even one other Lumix (can't remember why I didn't keep it) in the past. This Lumix is by far my favorite.
Granted that you must understand what you are getting with a pocket camera. They will not be top quality photos with everything intended to be framed as art. But they are more than fine for capturing many (I have thousands of) memories to be stored on the hard drive and you do get an occasional really nice bonus picture to print as an 8x10. The good thing is that you actually have it WITH you (I carry it in a smartphone leather holster, fits perfect) so that a semi-quality picture is better than NO pic because you didn't want to drag around a full size camera.
OK having said that, this camera is very impressive. The zoom especially stands out. I never imagined the zoom on a pocket camera could ever be improved this much. I found myself saying "Wow" many times after taking some test shots. Even the digital zoom turns out to be useful, when it fails miserably and is a joke on every other camera I`ve tried it on. Other digital zooms are better described as "the distorted pixelation button", so I have no idea what voodoo magic they invoked to make their digital zoom actually look decent in most cases.
The overall quality is excellent for it's class as well, with the exception of some indoor settings which EVERY camera in this class struggles with, so don't be fooled by ANY brand's marketing hype including Panasonic's "Intelligent Auto" (although it does work for other purposes as intended). But if I play with manual settings, I can eventually get a good indoor picture, usually by turning flash OFF, which is counter intuitive for the novice.
It is easy to hold onto with a very thoughtful textured thumb area, whereas many cameras this size pack every inch with buttons. It's my perfect size, small enough to stow out of the way, but not so tiny I struggle to hold it like the Elph I dropped and broke the lens on the first day two Christmas' ago.
I`ll admit the body feels a little "plastic-y" but I cant comment on durability yet, I`ve only had it a week. I`ve always had the impression Panasonic makes a durable product, but only time will tell. My Exilims had all metal bodies and let me tell you they take a licking... and a dropping ... and keep on ticking. That is one area they excel.
Lumix isn't known for it's innovative software or menus, so they are pretty basic and not worth special mention. Although in normal a.k.a. manual shooting mode, there are many settings that can be tweaked. I think with Lumix you are paying for the lens and sensor quality, not frivolous things like a touchscreen. My only wish is that they would add useful scene modes like "children playing indoors" and "outdoor sports" rather than "food" and "baby". Seriously?
I can highly recommend this camera for what it is. Good luck finding other reviews as of this writing! Pretty much non existent, so I hope mine helps. (edit: now with over 200 reviews on Amazon alone, this statement is obviously outdated!)
It's been about a year and a half since we bought this. We have likely taken over 1,000 pics and movies with it. It looks practically brand new and still takes wonderful pictures, yet again with the disclaimer: "for the size and price". It has been a great asset to us and have no regrets buying it. I still absolutely love the fact it can optical zoom while taking movies! At least at the time we bought it, that feature was almost unheard of. I have not researched newer cameras lately because we simply don't need one as long as this lasts. The only single fault I can find is that the battery life may be less than when it was new (to be expected). However it's not enough to bother us yet and if it gets to that point, a new battery is under 10 bucks. Sometimes I look for any excuse to upgrade my electronics to today's "new & improved", but I would not hesitate to buy another battery and hope this camera lasts well into the future.