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Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 10.1 MP Digital Camera with 12x Wide Angle MEGA Optical Image Stabilized Zoom and 3 inch LCD (Black)
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- Capture images to SD/SDHC memory cards (not included)
- Intelligent Auto (iA) mode , Face Recognition feature
- 12x MEGA optical image-stablilized zoom , 25mm ultra-wide-angle lens
- 10.1-megapixel resolution captures enough detail for poster-size prints
- Capture HD video in AVCHD Lite format
- 10.1-megapixel resolution captures enough detail for poster-size prints
- 12x MEGA optical image-stablilized zoom; 25mm ultra-wide-angle lens
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|Auto Focus Technology|
|Continuous Shooting Speed||2.3 fps|
|Display Fixture Type||Fixed|
|Display Resolution Maximum||460,000|
|Display Size||3 inches|
|Effective Still Resolution||10.1 MP|
|Expanded ISO Maximum||1,600|
|Expanded ISO Minimum||80|
|External Memory Included||Yes|
|Flash Memory Type||SD/MMC/SDHC card, Internal|
|Flash Type||Built-in Flash|
|Focus Type||Autofocus Only|
|ISO Range||Auto, Hi Auto (1600-6400), 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600|
|Image Aspect Ratio||4:3, 3:2, 16:9|
|Item Dimensions||2.36 x 1.3 x 4.06 inches|
|Item Weight||0.5 pounds|
|Lithium Battery Energy Content||3.3 Watt Hours|
|Lithium Battery Voltage||3.6 Volts|
|Lithium Battery Weight||4 ounces|
|Macro Focus Range||3 cm|
|Maximum Aperture Range||F3.3 - F4.9|
|Maximum Focal Length||300 mm|
|Maximum Shutter Speed||1/2000 of a second|
|Maximum horizontal resolution||3,648|
|Memory Storage Capacity||45 MB|
|Metering||Multi, Center-weighted, Spot|
|Minimum Focal Length||25 mm|
|Minimum Shutter Speed||60 seconds|
|Optical Sensor Resolution||10 MP|
|Optical Sensor Technology||CCD|
|Photo Sensor Technology||CCD|
|Sensor Cleaning Method||No|
|Shipping Weight||1.55 pounds|
|Supported Battery Types||Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery & charger|
|Video Capture Format||AVCHD Lite|
|Video Capture Resolution||1280 x 720 (30 fps), 848 x 480 (30 fps), 640 x 480 (30 fps), 320 x 240 (30 fps)|
|Water Resistance Level||Not Water Resistant|
|Zoom Type||Optical, Digital|
The new Lumix ZS3 features 10.1-megapixels, a 25mm ultra-wide-angle lens and 12x optical zoom, meaning it has added 2x optical zoom to the award-winning TZ-series camera, yet reduced its size. The ZS3 also features a Leica DC Vario-Elmar lens and High Definition (HD) video recording ability, known as AVCHD Lite.The ZS3 is the world’s first digital camera to feature HD video recording in AVCHD Lite. Compared with the conventional Motion JPEG format, AVCHD Lite allows longer recordings with breathtaking HD visual and audio quality. This combined with a well-considered control interface, which includes a dedicated movie recording button on the camera’s back panel, makes the ZS3 a hybrid model that performs admirably for both still and motion image capture.
From the Manufacturer
The new Lumix ZS3 features 10.1-megapixels, a 25mm ultra-wide-angle lens and 12x optical zoom, meaning it has added 2x optical zoom to the award-winning TZ-series camera, yet reduced its size. The ZS3 also features a Leica DC Vario-Elmar lens and High Definition (HD) video recording ability, known as AVCHD Lite.
The ZS3 is the world’s first digital camera to feature HD video recording in "AVCHD Lite." Compared with the conventional Motion JPEG format, AVCHD Lite allows longer recordings with breathtaking HD visual and audio quality. This combined with a well-considered control interface, which includes a dedicated movie recording button on the camera’s back panel, makes the ZS3 a hybrid model that performs admirably for both still and motion image capture.
The ZS3 also expands Panasonic’s popular Intelligent Auto (iA) mode with the addition of Face Recognition--a feature that "remembers" faces from previous shots. When a registered face appears in the frame, the camera will prioritize focus and exposure to capture it beautifully. With Face Recognition, when a familiar face is recorded several times, the camera will prompt the users to register the face. Once registered, if the face appears into the frame again, the camera will display the name specified for that person and prioritize focus and exposure so that the registered face is bright and sharply focused.
New this year to the ZS-Series, iA mode is also available in Movie Mode. It automatically selects the most suitable Scene mode and helps to correct handshake, focus and brightness problems - making iA mode your one-stop solution to capture beautiful still and motion images. In Movie Mode, the ZS3, Optical Image Stabilization (O.I.S.) helps prevent handshake when using the high-powered zoom. Face Detection automatically detects a face in the frame and adjusts focus, exposure, contrast, and skin complexion so it turns out perfectly. Intelligent Exposure continually checks the ambient light level and adjusts the exposure setting as conditions change to prevent blown highlights and blocked shadows. And Intelligent Scene Selector automatically switches between Normal, Portrait, Macro, Scenery, and Low Light modes according to the situation to optimize visual quality.
The imaging power of Lumix has further evolved with the Venus Engine HD, which boasts two CPUs to provide approx. 2.4x processing capability and support for AVCHD Lite and HDMI output. It integrates all the advanced functions and camera operations with high performance and low-power consumption. In image processing, luminance noise and chromatic noise are reduced separately before and after signal processing. This is further refined by separating noise two-dimensionally into high-frequency and low-frequency noise. The circuits then effectively reduce only the low-frequency noise to minimize the unwanted noise and help produce beautiful, sharp still and motion images.
Playback with the ZS-series is also easy. Simply insert the camera’s SD memory card into the VIERA HDTV’s Image Viewer SD Card slot for a photo slideshow. Alternatively, connect the camera via an optional HDMI mini cable, the DMW-HDC2, to a VIERA Link-equipped Panasonic VIERA HDTV and use the television’s remote control to run mixed slideshows of photos and videos. The ZS3 features a 3-inch, high resolution 460,000-dot Intelligent LCD with a wide viewing angle, improving visibility during recording and playback.
Other features of the Lumix ZS3 include:
- Increased Scene modes for both still and motion image shooting--optimized for a variety of situations. There are 26 scene modes for still image and 17 for motion image (Portrait, Soft Skin, Transform, Self portrait, Scenery, Low light, Food, Party, Candle light, Sunset, High sensitivity, Beach, Snow, Aerial, Pin hole, Film grain and Underwater)
- Two new My Scene settings let users assign their two most frequently used Scene modes to the setting, and with a simple switch, allow access to either scene instantly.
- New Panorama Assist scene mode allows users to shoot a number of consistent photos, either vertically or horizontally, by aligning them according to a guide that overlaps the screen. Then using those photos and the bundled PanoramaMaker software, users can create dramatic panoramic images.
- High-Speed Burst (Speed Priority) that fires off approx. 10 shots per second.
- Menus are clearer and easier to navigate with the Display Size option.
- Macro Zoom function lets users pull subjects even closer to capture dramatic close-up shots by using the 3x digital zoom in the wide-angle.
- Bundled Software: The latest version of PHOTOfunSTUDIO 3.0 HD Edition allows users to view, edit and archive captured content with greater ease and fun. Still and motion images can be transferred to the computer via a USB cable for viewing and archiving. Using PHOTOfunSTUDIO 3.0 HD Edition, users can edit and remove unwanted portions of video clips recorded in AVCHD Lite. Contents recorded in AVCHD Lite can be burned directly onto a DVD disc or the software can convert contents to MPEG2 format. The software also incorporates the Face Recognition function, which recognizes registered faces in photos stored on the computer, making organizing and archiving photos with a specific person much easier. Additionally, motion pictures can be uploaded directly to YouTube.
Read about our customers' top-rated cameras on our review page: Point-and-Shoot Cameras
Top Customer Reviews
So I'm going on an east coast trip next month. My buddy and I are avid baseball fans. One problem: as we do not always have great seats, taking close-up pictures of ballplayers is a real pain with 99% of the compact point and shoots out there. This is because the camera's size will only allow it 5X optical zoom. You can combine this with digital zooming, but I don't need to tell you how terrible and pixilated this looks. Thus my conundrum. So I really wanted a compact, pocketable camera with a long range optical lens, without having to lug around an expensive digital SLR.
Enter the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3. When I read the specs on it, I was in awe. 10 megapixel, 12X OPTICAL zoom. Here's the sweetest part about the zoom- if you planning to use smaller prints (i.e. 4X6), you can quickly adjust the camera's Megapixel (MP) count from 10 to 7, 5, and 3 to yield maximum OPTICAL zooms of 14.3, 17.1, and 21.4 respectably, without much loss of detail on such prints. I wish Panasonic would have allowed the camera to adjust the MP count automatically as you zoom, but it's not too much trouble to change the MP settings manually from the quick menu.
Another great feature: the camera's screen is beautiful at 460,000 pixels, twice the count as the rival Canon Powershot SX200 IS (more on that camera later). From the moment you view your first picture, you'll quickly notice how much sharper photos look on this camera. It's a nice convenience to view photos on the camera in a manner closer to the quality that will actually be seen when you're viewing them on the computer (and ultimately printing them).
I also want to give Panasonic kudos for the build quality and compactness of this camera. The ZS3 is a replacement for the popular TZ5 model, which was 9MP and 10X Optical Zoom. So they increased the resolution, and added a wider range lens, and REDUCED the size by .4 cubic inches. Specifications aside, I was more than pleased that this camera will comfortably fit inside my jeans pocket. It's a bit bulkier than an ultracompact for sure, but not objectionably so. Note that the SX200 is a full 2.0 cubic inches thicker, another reason I passed on the Canon. Here's a few more reasons the Canon falls short: the Canon has a cheesy looking popup flash that sticks out at the top of the camera, whether you're using flash or not (bad design decision). It has less rated battery life than the Lumix. Also, when shooting video, the Canon does NOT allow you to use optical zooming.
Photo quality on the Lumix is excellent, although I've only snapped samples around my place so far. However, I've taken quite a few pictures at low light, and at maximum zoom levels to try to get a bad shot. So far, there's none to be found. I'll put this through its paces more when I travel next month, but I'm extremely pleased so far. As for video shooting, I've sampled it a bit, and it seems pretty solid. The camera gives you the choice of shooting video in its touted AVCHD Lite format (ideal for watching it on your TV in HD with an optional mini to standard HDMI cable), or JPEG if you prefer to email video clips to friends. This year's model also added stereo sound on video playback versus last year's monaural effort. One thing I found a bit strange, was the incredibly slow zooming when shooting video. I guess Panasonic was trying to give the user a more controlled, deliberate zoom, but unlike the snappy photo zooming, it's a bit slow for my liking.
Some other minor quibbles: The dial that controls the shooting mode is extremely loose. If you lightly rub it against anything (a camera bag, your pocket), there's a good chance it will shift. When you turn the camera on, it will digitally tell you what mode you're in, but it's still annoying when it happens by accident. Second, when making a quick zoom on an object, it will appear blurry on the camera's screen until the shutter button is pressed. There are modes to continually focus the object when zooming, but this drains the camera's battery life more rapidly. It would be nice if this feature was incorporated automatically without any such sacrifice.
Also, I'm not a huge fan of the included PhotofunStudio software bundled with this camera, as there are other, more compelling programs to view, edit, and print photos (I like Canon's Zoombrowser program better). Finally, this is not the camera to buy if you're into manual controls. There's a ton of preset scenes that can be used (nighttime, portrait, baby, sunset, food, etc.), and you can adjust items like flash, white balance, and max ISO level, but this is meant to be a simple point and shoot for casual photographers. Note that the Lumix has an intelligent auto mode (IA) that will analyze the shooting conditions and pick the right scene, flash, and exposure without any adjustments by the user. This camera screams simplicity, but there's enough tweaking on the Normal and Scene modes to keep the vast majority of amateur photographers happy.
Regardless of these nitpicks, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 is an awesome camera, unbeatable for those that want the best of both worlds- a great zoom lens and compact body. It's a bit pricey at $399, but you're getting quite a lot of camera for your hard earned dollars. I have no doubt that my third digital camera is a terrific buy and a long-term staple for my travels.
Below I've put together a few notes on getting the most out of the camera and avoiding some of it's minor foibles..
It's not as obvious as it should be when video is recording.. I liked my old camera's blinking led.. The ZS3's on screen record indicator(especially when you have the display set to view histogram and a bunch of other info).. is not distinctive enough. The record button is also not as easy to press as it should be. I may add one of those small little self-adhesive rubbery sticky dots on the button and see if that helps.
Highlights can end up clipped in videos(and pictures to a much lesser extent).. This can be fixed by putting camera in "normal mode" on the dial and pressing "up" on the D-pad. This is the ONLY place you have access to exposure control that works for both video and pictures. I would recommend -1/3 for pictures and even -2/3 for video. For some reason the camera is very aggressive at brightening video.. I've taken video of my son playing lacrosse at night on a lighted Football field.. looks almost like broad daylight using default exposure and still clipped the whites even in that low light.
One other note on video.. and I was burned by this. When you hit the record/stop button at the end of shooting a video, it does NOT continue to process video left in the buffer.. it just dumps it. That means the actual end of the video is about a half second before when you hit the "record/stop" button. I lost one of my son's goals that way.. Hit the button to stop recording right after he scored, and the video ended up clipped right as he was shooting. :( My old camera had very limited recording length per card(no SDHC support), so I am still a little trigger happy.. will have to adjust for this minor flaw.
Video does stutter slightly on panning.. I think this is a function of the imager only recording at 30fps while video is converted to 60fps for AVHDC.. it is either duplicating frames, or averaging one in between which causes it to not be as smooth as I might like in that situation. Seems most noticeable in very bright light with something like bricks in the background. Might try MJPEG mode(30fps only) and see if that changes anything.
I was surprised by the camera's focal depth while shooting video. People in the stands right in front of me seemed as clear as the players on the field 50+ yards away even in fairly low light.
I also use "Intelligent ISO800" in picture mode.. nice feature that boosts ISO automatically when it detects motion in the frame.
As for the flash.. which BTW is perhaps the camera's weakest feature. I find a much cleaner way to deal with turning it on or off, is by using the quick menu and turning Unlimited burst mode on and off.. In burst mode, the flash is forced off. I leave burst mode on most of the time.. you can click and just get one shot, or hold shutter down and snap off a series of quick shots.. Great for group and individual candid photos.
Software that comes with the camera is not great..
I am using my old Cannon Zoombrowser software for pictures. I am forced for now to use Panasonic's provided software only for video. The Software provided is also far worse at playing back video clips on my slow computer than a couple of other players I use. Video trimming feature, while nice to have, is counter intuitive.. you select the part of the video you want to delete, and not the part you want to keep.. that threw me for a while. Also frustrating that there is no easy way to rename videos and there's also no way to set a "star" or "favorite" rating for videos(on or off the camera).
Good news is the AVCHD(mt2s) video files can be directly uploaded to YouTube(which will convert them to their HD format for you)
Flash burst mode(in scenes) while limited in resolution(3mpix at 3:2) works well for capturing quick snaps of kids playing around in poorly lit rooms.
Wide angle really is nice.. so much easier to compose shots than with my old Powershot S2..
Can't believe I have so much more resolution, effortless shooting with snappy focus and amazing HD video quality, All in a camera 1/3rd the size and weight and it still has the 12x Zoom. Stuff it in my pocket and take it anywhere. Good ridance to extra batteries and the "man purse" I had to carry with that S2 clunker! The big bright high res screen on the back is a wonderful addition as well.