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Customer Review

235 of 238 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars IF YOU WANT A SLIM, CAPABLE ZOOM CAMERA...., May 16, 2012
This review is from: Panasonic Lumix SZ7 14.1 MP High Sensitivity MOS Digital Camera with 10x Optical Zoom (Black) (Electronics)
I have tried probably 10 cameras between $120 and $250 over the past few months, looking for myself and my wife each a new camera.

Through stores and by borrowing from friends and family, I understand what is out there, and let me tell you there are several duds and a few winners, but most are very competent outdoors, with decent indoor video if you dont compare to a $400 vidcam, and only passable for low light.

That being said, I now own a Lumix ZS15 (grade A-) and this SZ7 (B+) is for my wife who uses iAuto mostly.

This SZ7 beats Canon Elph300 (B) and SX160 (B+ but heavy), Samsung PL210(B or B-) Sony HX70(B-), and Nikon 6300 (B-).

PROS: Very good Auto results, good Program Mode (SZ7 calls it Normal mode ).
Very usable low-light no-flash with Auto, and even better if you use the "Scene" mode called "Hi-Sensitivity" set at 3mp... where you can get speeds set by the camera according to conditions - speeds from ISO 2000 all the way to 6400!! Sure, some other cameras will push ISO (also at lower mp's ), but usually only with a single jump from 1600 to 3200, with no stops in between, and nothing above 3200! Granted, these high ISO pics will be grainy, but so were the old film cameras with pushed ISO. You will have a photo when no one else could get their under-$200 camera to capture any picture at all !
Very good outdoor video, and better than most indoor video, with no hiss.
Very good zoom - better than any other camera in its price range by a lot - very smooth and with no clicking recorded into the audio.

CONS:- Flash underpowered. UPDATE 10-21-12 : This lil cam has a feature not found on many cameras at 2 or 3 times its price: It can use the +/- exposure (on the top of the rear control ring) to make flash pics brighter and dimmer. It will change the ISO being used with the flash, even in Auto mode. You can therefore control the "output" brightness when using flash. I don't know of any other cam near this price that can do this, plus push iso to 6400 in special non-flash situations. What a combination !! A great camera for art and natural history museums.
- The SZ7 has no A,S,or M settings for manual control. (Get the Lumix ZS15 or Canon SX260.)
- Overall picture quality is nice in Auto, and better when you learn the +/- and ISO properly. But the output is not for 8x10 or larger. This can be said for every cam in the price range, but I just want you to hear it from a real admirer of the SZ7 for what this camera CAN do.

SUMMARY: Best camera out there at this price and this slim....4.1 out of 5 stars.
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Tracked by 6 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 10 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 16, 2012 8:50:43 PM PDT
Thanks for the tip concerning "lens error" messages. I've seen them a lot regarding the Canon Powershots, too, wondered what was up with that. You're right, it's probably user error.

Posted on Jun 4, 2012 3:34:18 AM PDT
Dennis says:
This is one of the best reviews I've seen on Amazon. I too am looking to replace a still working, but telephoto challenged, F30. How did the SZ7 compare to your F30 for low light photos? Have you compared the Z15 to the F30?

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 4, 2012 12:37:02 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 14, 2012 3:28:43 PM PDT
I'm out of town replying here now, so I don't have access to my SZ7 v ZS15 v ZS9 v F30 pictures, but I will give you a quick answer as I remember....
ZS15 did not improve on ZS9 enough for the money....although video was somewhat better. Remember, I paid $129 for the ZS9 and it has 16x zoom,
SZ7 slightly less than ZS9 or ZS15 on all around picture performance and on zoom power. Video equal to ZS15 or close.

Great point of SZ7 not even mentioned in its ads is that it will go to ISO 4000/5000/6400 in certain low-light no-flash situations,

Edit 10-14-12:
The higher than 1600 iso's are only available in SCN mode "Hi-Sensitivity". It will reduce your photos to 3mp, but you will get something usuable a lot of the time when a friend with another cam will be left out ! Not for enlargements, but ok for PC viewing and social sharing.

All three cams will get full resolution 1600 iso pics that are PC and social sharing usable. but usually at slow shutter so that you need steady hands. ZS15 is preferred because I want the manual controls to play with (can force over and under-exposure at will).

In my opinion, ZS15 is well priced at $209, and the SZ7 should be about $149.

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 6, 2012 7:29:34 PM PDT
First off, great review! Just wanted to clarify regarding the shutter speed. It is indeed adjustable! Look for "Min shutter speed" option. The name is confusing (apparently it does the opposite of what it's called), but it works quite well. It's indispensable in low light (no flash) situations. The camera will use 1/8 on auto, but you can override it with this setting (I use 1/30). One more trick: use iISO (not Auto) with this option, or the photos will be underexposed. I was able to take decent photos at live concerts, unfortunately they are usually at high ISO (1600), but what can you expect at low light and this shutter speed.

Posted on Jul 30, 2012 6:09:48 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jul 30, 2012 8:29:22 AM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 16, 2012 9:44:46 AM PDT
Sandlapper says:
J. Conner,
Thanks for your excellent review and comments. Could you say more about the SZ7 vs. ZS9? I have a ZS9 that I want to give to a relative. Do you think that the SZ7 would be a significant upgrade? The leading warehouse club now has it on sale for 120 in a kit.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 16, 2012 11:22:42 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 14, 2012 3:31:07 PM PDT
Glad to help if I can, but I would not at all consider the SZ7 an upgrade... The SZ7 is for Auto or P mode only, and no A, S, or M manual control. The SZ7 is 10X, and the ZS9 is 16X. The SZ7 does have a slight advantage in low-light ability, in most situations.
$120 in a kit would, however, be a great deal for a SZ7.

If you would ever learn the PASM controls, you should keep the ZS9, and give the SZ7 to the relative, esp if they are older and not interested in anything other than Auto mode or P mode with Auto iso.

Posted on Aug 16, 2012 12:16:14 PM PDT
Samuel Chell says:
I see that the Canon Elph 300 has moved up another $50 since last Dec. (now over $300), so if this one is really better, it's definitely a value. But I'm attracted to the Panasonic SZ1, which offers the same features as this one for about $40 less. That's where the biggest value seems to be. (Check out the most recent Consumer Report ratings, which places the SZ1 among the top 8 subcompacts regardless of price.)

Posted on Aug 16, 2012 12:59:38 PM PDT
I'm trying to decide between this and the ELPH 110 HS. I checked both out in the store and the build quality seems a bit better on the Canon. Besides the $30.00 price difference, are there any advantages to the 110 HS?

Posted on Apr 25, 2013 9:01:25 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 25, 2013 9:02:30 AM PDT
M. Sarkar says:
J Conner, thanks for the useful review.
Regarding your comment about the +/- setting, I'm guessing it's the EV function that compensates +/- for exposure. For example, by setting it to -1 or 1.5, one could prevent photos from looking too bright on a sunny day, when one is - obviously- not using the flash. Most digital cameras, even cheap ones, allow EV compensation. The manual has no mention of any settings in the sz7 that can actually allow the user to vary the strength (brightness) of the flash.
That said, your tip to tweak the EV for low light shooting is undoubtedly useful.
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