Customer Review

94 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Images like the ZS20 at half the cost., July 19, 2012
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This review is from: Panasonic Lumix SZ1 16.1 MP Digital Camera with 10x Optical Zoom (Silver) (Electronics)
The more expensive (and powerful) ZS20 is currently the best-selling point and shoot on Amazon, but most shooters will achieve equally satisfying images from the equally high-rated (and recommended by Consumer Reports), smaller and less expensive Panasonic SZ1, while enjoying longer battery life (the touch-controls of the ZS20 take a significant toll). As for other Panasonic choices, the prices of the DMC-FH25/27 and the newer (by one year) DMC-SZ1 are practically identical, but the SZ1 has a wider-angle lens (25mm vs 28mm), a longer telephoto lens (10X optical/20X digital vs. 8X zoom; ), and is even lighter (5oz. vs. 6oz). Moreover, "Consumer Reports," in rating the SZ1 above the DMC-FH27, gives the advantage to the SZ1 in the following areas: improved image stabilization; better audio quality (mono) during video use; dramatically faster start-up time (almost instant with the SZ1); a brighter and larger LCD screen (3" vs. 2.7" for the FM25 and 2.9" for FH27's touch-screen).

Panasonic Lumix SZ1 vs. Panasonic SZ7:

The SZ7 was released within days of the SZ1, and the price differential between the two cameras is less than expected (currently approx. $40). Dimensions and weight are virtually identical. The SZ7 offers 1080p HD movie mode; the SZ1 has 720p HD (a noticeable difference only if you plan on showing movies on a 50" screen or larger). The SZ7 has a stereo microphone; the SZ1 has a monaural mic (an imperceptible difference when separation is this minimal). The SZ7 advertises speeds of up to 10 sharp images per second at full resolution; the SZ1 is less than two images per sec (but at 2 megapixels sharper than the SZ7). What isn't clarified is that the SZ1 also permits speeds of 10 images per second but at a resolution of 3mp instead of 16. (My first 2 digital cameras--a Sony and a Canon--both featured lenses that were under 3 mp. They both delivered exceptionally sharp photos--especially when not enlarged above 5X7).

Panasonic vs. Canon.

1. Size and shots. The SZ1 is a "subcompact" but not as "little" as the Canon Elf series. The SZ1 boasts a sleek and slim body on the outside, mirroring its new, state-of-the-art Leica Lens System on the inside. The images are as good as those I get from my Canon SD780 (costing 3 times more). The SD780 has a body that's almost 25% smaller (despite including a viewfinder!) than the SZ1 (which does not have a viewfinder). But there are downsides to extreme miniaturization. The SZ1 is easier to grip, and its image stabilization appears to be superior (even my wife gets uncharacteristically sharp and steady photos).

2. Ease of operation. The Canon has one external setting that's totally automatic, leaving nothing for its owner to do but depress the shutter button. The Panasonic requires a couple of extra moves, which will be intuitive to experienced photographers: Press the "Mode" button; then, of the 4 choices, select "Intelligent Auto" for total automation, including zoom capabilities of 20:1 (the SD780 is 4:1). For maximum Manual control, select "Scenic Mode" from the four options.

3. Display. The Panasonic's display is the best I've seen on a point and shoot--perfect for a slide show (with special effects) shortly after taking the pictures (here's where the tiny Canon is clearly overmatched.

4. Battery and charging. The Canon requires constant and careful removal of the battery for recharging in a dedicated charger that's never there when needed. By contrast, the Panasonic runs away with honors: you charge the battery while it remains in the camera (a light on the camera illuminates until the battery is fully charged). An AC cord or USB cable will do the job--take your pick.

Camera sales have slowed down since the development of competitive cameras on multi-purpose devices like the iPhone (which has spurred the point 'n shoot makers to come to market with increasingly stylish, user-friendly, technically superior cameras). As a result, distributors are slow to "hype" new cameras before last year's glut has cleared warehouse shelves. But be prepared to see the SZ1 climbing in the ranks of the most popular such cameras (especially at this price). In my book, the SZ1 is #1 among all cameras costing less than $150. [I plan to revisit the page, should Amazon offer another lot of these full-featured subcompacts at $94.]

Later: [This undeniable value has finally cracked the top 100 of the most popular point 'n shoot cameras in Amazon's ratings. Formerly it was way down in the ratings whereas its predecessor, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH25/FH27, was listed among the top five. The DZ1 has an exceptional 10:1 optical lens, and if the digital extension is factored in, the camera can be compared with the far pricier Panasonic ZS20, which has a 20:1 optical lens. Several days ago, the SZ1 was available from Amazon Prime for $94 (in smaller print on the right side of the page). Now that I've used the camera, I wish I had ordered an additional SZ1 at that price. It's still the best lens I've seen for $120. The on-line ratings by Consumer Reports place this Panasonic among the top 7 cameras (out of approx. 50)--just behind the Canon S95 and Elph 310. None of its rivals can compare with its 10:1 optical lens.]
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 25, 2013 8:48:39 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Sep 27, 2013 4:48:06 AM PDT
Tom J says:
Great review, wonderfully informative! It has been over a year...are you still satisfied with the SZ1? I am about to purchase my first point and shoot {I am an old 35mm film man} and just want a good allround easy to use camera for some short video of my dogs acting silly and such...some of which would be in low light indoors and some outside. Also, for use on outdoor landscape stills while being a tourist. I had only wanted to spend in the hundred dollar range so I probably will invest in this little gem. Thanks again for the review...I am surprise no one else has commented. Tom
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Caponsacchi
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Location: Kenosha,, WI United States

Top Reviewer Ranking: 179