I purchased this camera (in black) a few weeks ago with the Lowepro Ridge30 case Lowepro Ridge 30 Camera Case (Black)
and Transcend 8GB Class 10 SDHC card Transcend 8 GB Class 10 SDHC Flash Memory Card TS8GSDHC10E
. I was tired of my old cameras not getting the right shot because they were never fast enough. That was my main criteria for purchasing this camera. After UPS dropped off the camera on a Friday, I took the kids to the park to see what it could do. The camera's ability to capture fast action shots is amazing. Kids coming down slides, crossing the monkey bars, or spinning on the merry-go-round...this captured them all crystal clear. Keep in mind, I did have to do some experimental shots first, but on fast action, set it to sports mode and fire away. Saturday was off to an outdoor Graduation. Again, the colors, ease of use, and quality of the shots was better than I was expecting. Sunday, we were off to the amusement park. I wore cargo shorts and the camera was in the side pocket all day wrapped in a napkin in a ziplock bag to protect it from rain and water rides. It took abuse from roller coasters to bumper cars. This is where I was stunned by the photos. I was able to take pictures of the kids on the roller coasters with their screaming, eyes wide open, hair blown back, "I'm going to kill you dad for making me ride this" expressions. See my pictures in the zs8-black photo's. BEAS62 has included some photos of closeups and the quality of the zoom. I have taken similar photos and had the same results. In my opinion, this is a great everyday-general use camera. As for the battery, I took 300 pictures between two weekends before it went to 'low battery'. Most shots (80%) were outdoor with no flash and most shots were turning the camera on and off to take 1-5 shots at a time.
When I began this journey of trying to find a camera to take fast action shots, I was in the mindset that only a DSLR could achieve this. I have had, and used many others, in the past and have been let down. Finally I accepted that nothing was going to take these action shots without shelling out $800+. But I don't want to shell out that much, not now at least. Besides, I want a camera small enough to throw in my pocket during trips/events and not have it hanging from my neck shouting "tourist". The reviews on Amazon were not enough alone to convince me. The negative reviews, I felt, were lacking more detail. Some, I get it, you dropped the camera and panasonic wont fix it so now you bash them here. After weeding out the bashing, reading professional reviews on other sites, I had it narrowed down. I did have a spending limit of $250. What sold me was others recommending this one for the fast action shots, however, several of those reviewers did comment on poor low light pictures being grainy. Most of my pictures are outdoors or indoors with good lighting. I have taken several indoor photos and played with some of the scene modes. Quality indoor photos can be taken when the right scene mode is used. Auto mode does not always take the best picture. Use the different scenes for the appropriate picture. I feel many reviews are based on this Automatic picture setting. No camera I have seen will take the best pictures in Auto mode. This is not a $50 film camera of yesteryear. These are advanced electronics, the other modes are there because they take the best shots. Auto mode is there for those who don't want to stray away from the basics. Those folks are the ones who should not gripe. Mom...Dad...Grandpa...Grandma...I understand technology is too much for you, but if you are not willing to use the features as they are available or intended, don't review it based on your lack of fully testing the product. I may have passed up several better cameras because the ratings were by less-than-amateur users. I digress.
What I like about the camera:
1. 24mm ultra-wide angle lens. No more backing up to get everything in the picture.
2. 12 element in 10 groups Leica lens. Well known high quality lens.
3. 16x optical zoom. This baby zooms and zooms. Equivalent to 24-384mm lens
4. Intelligent Scene Selector sets the scene automatically. Played with a little and should be useful.
5. Auto focus subject tracking detection. No need to keep pressing shutter button half-way to readjust focus. This helps with the kids and fast action shots.
6. Optical image stabilization, not electronic...keeps the quality of the picture during shaking.
7. 2 speed zoom, fast or slow depending on how fast you swivel the lever.
8. 720p HD motion video. Not the best, Its not 1080p but only blu-ray and some camcorders are. 720p is what your local NBC/ABC/CBS networks broadcast.
9. Face recognition. great for finding photos on your computer.
10. The buttons and menu. Easy to navigate and menu buttons have "teeth" so you know what/where you are pressing.
11. Instant on. From pressing power to 1st shot is like 1-2 seconds. Once the lens motors out, its ready. No waiting.
What I don't like about the camera:
1. Battery. Its a proprietary battery and needs to have the microchip. There are generics, but if it doesn't have the microchip to talk to the camera, the camera wont turn on. Beware on buying generic batteries.
2. No viewfinder. Hard to see the lcd in direct sunlight, but then so is my smartphone and laptop. Not that big of a deal, as shots with direct full sun on screen are rare for me.
When purchasing, I would recommend the Class 10 SDHC cards from a reputable company. Panasonic recommends at least a Class 6. For a few bucks more, get the Class 10. I have yet to wait for the the camera to 'write to disk' before taking the next shot. It is also fast enough for HD video, again, no waiting or buffering/glitching. As for cases, watch the sizes. I originally ordered the Lowepro Ridge 10 because the dimensions said it would fit. It didn't. I went to my local target and they had the ridge series. The 30 fits it with a little wiggle room to spare. The 20 would be too snug and risk breaking the zipper. The ridge 30 has a zipper for the camera, a flap and pouch that fit the charger (but barely, and I would not walk around with it in...just a good place to store it when it sits in the closet), and a zipper on the flap for an extra memory card or battery. Comes with shoulder strap and closed belt loop.
...more to come, I will update the zs8-black