86 of 88 people found the following review helpful
A Whole Lot of a Little Camera!,
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This review is from: Panasonic Lumix ZS20 14.1 MP High Sensitivity MOS Digital Camera with 20x Optical Zoom (Black) (Electronics)
I have had this camera for a short while now and it is time for a review. I have several Panasonic Cameras to include the FZ100 and FZ150, the FZ35 and the ZS3. I also have the Sony HX9V and will make a comparison with it. The ZS20 is an outstanding camera that takes sharp detailed pictures with low noise. I have compared it with the Sony HX9V in low light and the ZS20 is just as good in low light with pictures. I did notice the Sony does better in low light with video.
I would like to say something negative about the ZS20, and the only thing negative I can say about it is I wish the f/stop would go lower than f/3.3. It does go from f/3.3 to f/8, which is better than the Sony which goes to f/5.9. It also does not come with a battery charger, but they are cheap on Amazon. The batteries are cheap as well on Amazon. The battery life does seem to be fairly long between charges.
The Panasonic works great in Manual, giving full control of the f/stop, the shutter speed, and the ISO. The Sony Manual controls basically suck. The only mode you can control is the shutter speed in Manual.
The menus are Panasonic and if you have any other Panasonic camera the menus will feel right at home. The camera has 4 Priority Modes of Aperture, Shutter, Program, and Manual.
The Shutter Speed is controllable from 1/2000 to 8 seconds in Shutter Priority and 1/2000 second to 15 seconds in Manual.
Burst Mode: The camera has 6 burst modes. 2 fps (frames per second) Auto focus, 5 fps Auto focus, 10 fps, 40 fps, 60 fps, and Flash Burst. In the 2 and 5 AF modes the camera will focus in between each shot. In the 10 fps mode, the camera will take 10 shots in a row. wait one second and it will take 8 more. Wait one second and it will take 8 more. In the 5 fps AF mode it will take 100 pictures straight without stopping! I assume it will do it in the 2 fps mode as well but did not check that. In Flash Burst it will take 5 flash burst pictures in quick succession.
The ZS20 will zoom to 20X in the 14mp picture mode. If the camera is set to 10mp picture size and I-Zoom is turned on it will zoom to 47.3X. This is with digital zoom turned off.
I have found that picture quality is extremely good and detailed.
Macro works great and there are two modes. The mode with AF beside the Macro Symbol is good for taking a shot of something at a distance of 3 to 4 feet. Zoom in as much as needed and the camera will focus on the object. If it does not focus you are too close. The mode with the Macro symbol and the magnifying glass is for close up macro work. The camera will only zoom to 3X, but will focus up close and personal.
The camera has GPS Tagging. I tried it and it works. My photo software picked up the tracking and showed the place taken on a map. I tried turning on GPS tracking and left it on for 5 hours while I turned the camera off and it showed no signs of battery usage. I would recommend if you are going to use it to turn it on way before taking a picture as it takes a while to find itself the first time. I was able to shorten the time it takes to find itself by hooking the camera to my computer the first time to tell the camera where I was located.
The LCD can be seen in bright daylight. I set the LCD to auto adjust by going to Menu Set in any program mode, such as Aperture, Setup Menu, page 3, LCD Mode and set it for A (auto power LCD). Press Menu Set again and it will show the A with a square and a star on it in the picture mode. To get out of the Menu Modes press the return button on the bottom of the camera below the Menu Set rocker on the right lower side of the camera.
A still photo 3.5mp picture can be taken while taking video by pressing the shutter button. A still photo can also be captured in playback video by playing the video back on the camera and pressing the button on top of Menu Set to pause the video and then press Menu Set and it will ask you if you want to "Save this image?". To save it highlight YES and push Menu Set. In AVCHD progressing HD video the camera will record for 30 minutes. In the GPH mode of AVCHD video GPS information is also added to the video. I don't know how the GPS information is then pulled out of the video. In the MP4 mode of video my camera goes 27 minutes.
The SCN modes on the main dial work outstanding. I really like the HDR mode that takes three pictures at different exposure levels and combines them into one picture. The Night Portrait works great for taking a portrait with a building or night scene behind the subject. Night Scenery works great and holds the shutter open for up to 8 seconds. Handheld Night Shot is outstanding with no tripod and has saved me many times at night with no tripod. The camera takes several pictures and combines them into one shot. I also like it if you are in the SCN mode and turn the camera off. When the camera is turned back on, press Menu Set and SCN mode is highlighted. No reason to turn the main dial off of SCN and then back on SCN like you have to do on my FZ150. The best mode in SCN is Panorama. Just set the camera to Panorama, press and hold the shutter button and swing the camera for a Panoramic Shot. You will have to play with that mode to get the hang of it. At first I kept going too slow and it did not take the full Panorama. The speed of panning has to be fairly brisk. It makes one wonder how in the heck the camera can capture a shot panning that fast but it does.
I especially like Zoom Resume. The camera remembers how it was zoomed on your last shots before turning the camera off and when the camera is turned back on it zooms back to the same setting. It has saved me many times in getting a quick shot off and not having to zoom the camera again. To set Zoom Resume, go to any priority mode, such as A, and press Menu Set. Go to the Setup Menu, page 4, Zoom Resume on top and press the Menu Set button and turn it on. Another really nice thing is to turn on the grid. The grid will help you to take a picture in the Rule of Thirds and throws a grid on the screen to help you take a properly aligned shot. Put any of the intersecting lines on the grid on your subject and instantly your pictures will be better and more enjoyable to view. To turn it on, go to any of the priority modes, such as A, and go to the Setup Menu, page 3, second one down to Guide Line and turn it on. The Histogram is also nice to see what the picture will look like, exposure wise, by looking at the Histogram on the LCD before you take the shot. To turn it on, go to the Setup Menu on page 3, and select the third one down, Histogram and turn it on.
The camera will Auto Bracket at 0, -1, and +1 maximum. You can Auto Bracket at less with 1/3 exposure stop increments. To turn Auto Bracket on press the button above Menu Set two times in the shooting mode. Move the brackets by pressing the button on the right of Menu Set. You can adjust exposure for all pictures by pressing the button above Menu Set one time.
Manual Mode. The shutter is adjustable from 1/2000 to 15 seconds. The f/stop is adjustable from f/3.3 to f/8. I really like how it works. After selecting Manual, push the button above the Menu Set toggle called Exposure/Map. Then pushing the button above and below Menu Set adjusts the shutter speed and the button on the left and right of Menu Set adjusts the f/stop. To bring up the metering dial just half press the shutter button.
That concludes my review at this time. I am really enjoying this little camera and it takes some really great pictures. I am amazed that they were able to cram so many features into such a little camera. I hope you enjoy it as much as I am.
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 27, 2012 9:57:28 PM PDT
A few pictures I took with the camera.
Posted on May 27, 2012 10:21:34 PM PDT
Jim K says:
I bought the ZS19 the other day from Staples for $249. A great deal for a pretty amazing camera. Have you seen/tried the Retouch feature you can get during playback of the stills? It has an Auto Retouch or a Creative Retouch. It does a pretty good job. All-in-all, I'm really glad I made the plunge as this is a portable, versitile camera.
In reply to an earlier post on May 28, 2012 5:25:31 PM PDT
Hi Jim. I did notice the retouch on playback but didn't know what to do with it. I normally retouch any pictures in photo software so wasn't real interested in the feature. I will do some experimenting with it to see how well it works for me. You got a really good price on the ZS20! I too am very happy with this camera. Mine takes great detailed sharp pictures.
Posted on May 28, 2012 6:10:42 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 29, 2012 3:49:19 PM PDT
Graham Houghton (a reviewer in England) did a picture series of video and photos with the ZS20. Give it a look. Make sure you put the video size to 1080P for the best look.
Posted on May 29, 2012 4:39:56 PM PDT
I was curious how much battery the GPS consumed, so I turned GPS on and turned the camera off. When I turned the camera back on three days later the GPS was up and running and the battery indicator still had not moved from the fully charged indicator in the camera. So while it may consume some battery life, it does not consume it very quickly. If I was on vacation and moving around in an area for several days I would not hesitate to turn on the GPS and leave it on while in the area.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 5, 2012 3:18:21 AM PDT
Bob W says:
Rolla, have you noticed on most of the recent positive reviews there's usually only one not like ? Hmm, I wonder who that could be, :-)
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 5, 2012 1:37:14 PM PDT
That guy is a Canon troll or something. I no longer pay any attention to him.
Posted on Jul 30, 2012 6:43:49 AM PDT
DARYL FAIRCHILD says:
I am curious how you were able to use your computer to help the GPS find your location. I have the ZS10. On a recent world cruise I had problems with it finding the location in some areas with poor signals. On the positive side it would usually keep updated while in a bus on a tour when there was a good signal.
Posted on Jul 31, 2012 7:08:22 PM PDT
Graham Houghton from England has found a way to put a 37mm filter on the ZS20 for adding filters and the like. Here is his video.
Here is the filter set I ordered to make this work.
Zeikos ZE-FLK37 37mm Multi-Coated 3 Piece Filter Kit (UV-CPL-FLD)
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 31, 2012 7:10:01 PM PDT
Daryl, I did use the computer to help the GPS. I just plugged the cord into the camera and hooked it up to my computer. I followed the prompts and it did the rest.