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Customer Review

232 of 236 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty amazing point-and shoot camera., May 10, 2010
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This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS5 12.1 MP Digital Camera with 12x Optical Image Stabilized Zoom with 2.7-Inch LCD (Black) (Electronics)
Purchased this to replace my Canon A1000, which I bought last year for a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. Had to really struggle to get a good pic with the Canon -- I was very aggravated with it (though I finally came up with some program combinations that worked okay for the low light under the trees). But I decided for this summer's trip to the beach to try a new camera, with more zoom, and pass my Canon down to my 12-year-old son -- who's not nearly as picky as I am ;-)

Did a bit of research (which is always overwhelming because there's such a huge selection to choose from, and such a diversity of opinions on what makes a "good" camera). And I still wanted a pocket camera for convenience when hiking, fishing, float tripping, etc., so the Canon SX20 and Nikon P100 and the like were still too large for my needs. And then I came across well over 100 user reviews raving about the Panasonic ZS3 -- the predecessor of the ZS5/7 models -- on various websites, and it's reviews were also very good on "official" review sites. What especially impressed me was a review by a couple who guide trips to Yellowstone, were experienced SLR users, and had tried the ZS3 as a compact alternative -- and they loved it for outdoor shots. So I decided to try out the newer version of the ZS3, the ZS5.

(The main differences I saw between the ZS5 and ZS7 were that the ZS5's screen is 2.7" instead of 3.0", the ZS7 has two custom "My Scene's" instead of one, the ZS7 has a built-in GPS, and the ZS7 also has stereo video instead of mono, with more advanced video technology. None of those features were important to me for the additional money.)

I've had the camera only a couple of days, and have done various side-by-side camera comparisons between the ZS5 and the Canon A1000, and I'm pretty floored by the capabilities and photo quality of the ZS5. I'm especially impressed with the macro (I like to take wildflower pics). While no camera is perfect (from what I've seen), for me the ZS5 is going to be just what I needed for outdoor pictures. I'll update this review once I've had more time to experiment.

Update 05/11/10: Some cons -- (1) Battery door latch seems a little flimsy; wonder if it will get where it doesn't latch tight after alot of use? Only time will tell. (Other than that, this camera feels solidly built.) (2) Proprietary battery that has an ID chip built in, and the software in the camera looks for that (on their website, Panasonic says this change was made to ensure battery quality/safety). However, it appears you can finally get a 3rd-party battery thru Amazon (meaning a whole lot cheaper), and other vendors -- just be sure to look for "ID Secured" batteries (e-mail and ask the vendor first if you're not sure). I knew this before I bought the camera, but figured it should be pointed out. (3) I've had several indoor shots, in not very low light, that looked fuzzy, especially when you zoomed in on a PC. Not always the case, though. I think the "iA" mode is not always as intelligent as it should be. Also, reducing to 4 stars, so as not to mislead anyone that the camera is "perfect" -- though it's still "pretty amazing", and I'm really happy with it.

Update 05/14/10: The best pics seem to come with my own settings, and not with the "iA" mode where the computer is trying to make all the decisions for me. So you'll want to learn what the various settings do (and there's quite a few of them -- lots of flexibility). The ZS5 has three "Custom" memory slots in which to save your own configurations (which is great -- my Canon had no memory slots, and I was constantly fiddling with the settings).
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 23, 2010 8:46:13 AM PDT
BK says:
I agree! Great review. I like the camera, but you have to be able to manually change settings. I've noticed the ISO is usually way too high if you use IA mode--the easy route in manually setting the camera is to change the lighting and use a lower ISO---I've gotten some great pictures at night, indoors and out that way. I used the fireworks scene and I've taken some of the best fireworks pictures I've ever been able to take on a trip to Disney. Overall, avoid "IA" mode--sometimes I use it just to see what settings it adjusts to, then set my manual mode ISO a little lower, etc.. (I'm still learning). Movies are quite good--the stereo is something to consider on the ZS7, that would be the one thing I'd change on the ZS5--GPS doesn't matter to me either. Overall, I'm quite happy. In a camera this size, it's hard to beat!

Posted on Sep 3, 2010 9:34:11 PM PDT
asanay says:
How does it do when blowing up pictures to hang on the wall? Are they still clear and crisp?

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 18, 2010 9:56:48 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Sep 18, 2010 9:57:02 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 18, 2010 9:57:21 PM PDT
Blair says:
What settings do you guys recommend?

Posted on Jan 12, 2011 2:14:35 PM PST
This review is helpful but also confusing as you use terms that I don't understand. That may be due to my age.For instance what is iA mode? and how would you use a "Custom memory slot?" If I can make the adjustment to the screen on the back instead of the view finder I am used to this sounds like a keeper.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 27, 2011 3:04:38 PM PST
I'm glad that I read your review in addition to the original reviewer. Thanks for your info on fireworks, Disney, etc. And avoiding the iA mode seems to be the concensus. Thanks!

Posted on Feb 10, 2011 2:48:02 PM PST
The majority of the photos I take is with friends in low light settings (ie: bars/lounges/etc). This always requires a flash and I'm not an expert at aperature, ISO, etc. Should I try it in Manual mode and set the ISO to a certain number and then have it use the flash? Would that help? If so, what ISO would you suggest? Thanks for any help!
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