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Panasonic Lumix ZS50 Camera, Black
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- LUMIX 30X Travel Zoom Camera with Eye Viewfinder
- Enhanced low-light sensitivity for improved sharpness even without a flash
- Built-in eye viewfinder eliminates outdoor glare on sunny days
- Intelligent Zoom 60x
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From the manufacturer
Get closer with the 30x Zoom LEICA Lens
Bring every subject in closer and more clearly with the Leica 24mm DC Vario-Elmar lens and durable 30x optical zoom.
Stunning in Low Light—High Sensitivity MOS Sensor
Even in low-light environments, you can capture more detail and less image noise with the new, larger pixel-size High Sensitivity MOS sensor and Venus Engine image processor. And enjoy stunning photos and videos.
See Clearer With The Live View Finder
Wherever your travels take you, the precision Live View Finder helps get the shot. Perfect for image framing when light conditions make using the LED screen difficult, the eye sensor automatically detects viewing preference and switches to the LVF. Its high 1.166k-dot resolution, with approximately 100% color reproduction, delivers stable framing and superb visibility, in any light condition.
Be In Control — Control Ring
The lens-mounted Control Ring provides easier manual control for exposure, zoom and focus, leaving you free to concentrate on shutter operation. Intuitive design, precise focusing and smooth, silent operation gives you total control of every photo and video you create.
Experience The Action — High Speed Response
No matter how fast your subject moves, the ZS50 shoots just as fast with Light Speed Auto Focus and 10fps High Speed Burst Shooting for perfectly focused images every time.
High Speed Video
Record with 100fps in HD resolution and 200fps in VGA. With high-speed video you can and record any fast-moving action, and enjoy later in crystal-clear slow motion.
Precision Is Key—Manual Focus Peaking
Compose the perfect shot with precision. The manual control ring enables smooth operation of the Focus Peaking function. And the large LCD displays the area of focus and depth of field to let you concentrate on composition.
RAW Format Recording
Shoot in RAW format to capture greater detail. Your image data retains the original color and light information captured by camera''s sensor, with only minimal processing. And you can directly edit high-quality images for amazing results.
Reveal More Details with Macro Shots
Clearly capture even the most intricate details in any subject with up-close 3cm macro shooting.
Showtime in Full HD
Record Full HD videos in AVCHD or MP4 format. And enjoy smooth, colorful, high- resolution playback on your PC or wide- screen TV.
Keep it Steady with HYBRID O.I.S.
HYBRID O.I.S.+ minimizes blur and ensures level images. The 5-axis Optical Image Stabilizer automatically detects and compensates for blurring, based on the camera’s five types of movement. When shooting, Level Shot senses and corrects the horizontal line of recording, even when the camera is tilted. The result is clear, perfectly leveled photos and video.
Position the camera to record the natural drama of a rising sun, setting moon or flowers coming into bloom. Simply set the start time, shooting interval and the number of images needed. The camera takes care of the rest automatically, in Full HD quality.
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|Shipping||FREE Shipping||FREE Shipping||FREE Shipping||FREE Shipping||FREE Shipping||FREE Shipping|
|Screen Size||3 in||3 in||3 in||3 in||3 in||3 in|
|Item Dimensions||5.31 x 5.35 x 2.09 in||1.34 x 4.37 x 2.56 in||4.4 x 1.62 x 2.64 in||4.4 x 1.7 x 2.5 in||1.41 x 2.51 x 4.32 in||5 x 6.25 x 2.75 in|
|Item Weight||0.54 lb||0.54 lb||0.71 lb||0.69 lb||0.54 lb||1.15 lbs|
|Optical Sensor Resolution||12.1 megapixels||12 megapixels||20.3 megapixels||20 megapixels||20.3 megapixels||18.2 megapixels|
|Video Capture Resolution||60p||1920 x 1080 (60p/60i/30p), 1280 x 720 (60p/30p), 640 x 480 (30p)||4k||4k||1920 x 1280 (59.94 fps / 29.97 fps)||1080p|
|Viewfinder||electronic viewfinder||LCD||electronic viewfinder||electronic viewfinder||fixed LCD||electronic viewfinder|
LUMIX 30X Travel Zoom Camera with Eye Viewfinder
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So I went out on a limb, spent a little more than I had intended, and got the new Panasonic Lumix ZS50, which I preordered. I seldom buy new models of anything when they first come out, so for me this was a bit of a gamble. However, I have been pleasantly surprised so far with this little camera. It has an amazing feature set for something that really does fit in my pocket, has a good viewfinder and plenty of zoom. I have not given it a true test yet, taking thousands of pics under a wide range of lighting and distance conditions, so I will have to report back later.
What I like so far:
- camera takes good pictures in the auto mode under most conditions
- viewfinder works well in bright light conditions, and switches on automatically when you hold it up to your eye
- zoom and focusing are relatively quick and quiet
- the steady shot feature works well, especially in shooting video
- flexibility and control in non-auto modes (e.g., program mode when I want more control over depth of field, etc.)
- several different focusing and exposure methods
- ability to save images in RAW format as well as JPEG
- the right hand grip feels fairly secure for such a small camera
What I don't like so far:
- viewfinder is off-center when holding the camera, compared with what I'm used to with larger cameras, so I can't grip it as securely with my left hand (because my nose is in the way) BUT I love having that viewfinder anyway!
- lots of MODES in the menu system for settings (I eventually found that I needed to switch to program mode in order to find settings I was looking for, e.g., to save pics in RAW format, change focusing methods). Can be confusing at times, a bit of a learning curve.
- the LCD display sometimes suddenly turns off and then back on, which had me baffled initially when playing back pics. Turns out I had moved a finger too close the the viewfinder, which fooled the camera into auto-switching to the viewfinder.
- when taking flash pictures, it's too easy to partially block the flash somewhat on the right side, which casts a shadow--just something I'll need to get used to by gripping a little differently on the right side (I've had this problem with other pocket cameras that don't have pop-up flashes). Works fine when I move my fingers down on the right-side grip a little.
- when doing the wi-fi setup, I could not enter user names or passwords that had spaces in them--I am stumped on this, and cannot understand why Panasonic would not allow selection of the 'space' character!!!
- wi-fi will not transfer pics in RAW format, so have to use cable or take out memory card and plug into my computer--again, why? Granted 15 Mb per pic will take a lot longer to transfer than smaller JPEGs.
- cannot charge battery outside of camera and must use Panasonic's cable
- not sure yet whether 12 megapixel sensor will be enough resolution for severely cropped pics, printed at 8x10 in. or larger
All in all, this is hands-down the best pocket camera I've owned and used. Why not 5 stars? I'll need to really give it the "road" test by taking thousands of pics under a wide range of conditions. Haven't had time to do this yet, and plan to edit this review later when I have.
Added Comments: April 26, 2015
I've changed my rating to 5 stars now, after taking several hundred pictures under varying conditions. Here are my further observations:
- Indoor pictures with flash turn out fairly well. There are still sharp background shadows from objects illuminated by the flash, but that is to be expected with a direct flash (compared to one with indirect lighting, e.g., by bouncing light off the ceiling).
- outdoor pictures are quite good on the whole. The 30x zoom certainly provides some additional flexibility, and I have not had issues with camera shake when the zoom is extended.
- the one very challenging condition I was somewhat disappointed with was photographing fast flying pelicans at a distance on a very windy, overcast day. Many of the photos of the birds were taken at distances of several hundred yards up to half a mile, using the zoom extended out to 30x. I WAS able to track the birds relatively easily using the viewfinder. When later viewing the images with significant cropping on a flat screen HDTV, clarity of the images left something to be desired--a bit fuzzy on the edges of the birds against the cloudy sky. This is a very challenging set of circumstances--even with a good DSLR camera with a long telephoto lens, it would be challenging to get high quality pics. All in all, the Panasonic ZS50 did a remarkable job, considering the distance involved, with background of a cloudy sky, the speed of the flying flock of birds, and the fast panning required. The severely cropped images of the high flying birds still allowed my wife to identify them as white pelicans by comparing with pictures in her bird book.
- I took some pics of blossoms and flowers with the camera just a few inches away, using the close-up focus setting on a sunny and very windy day. These came out exceptionally well. I was very pleased with the results. The pictures were quite stunning on a flat screen TV.
All in all, I am quite impressed with this pocket camera, and enjoy taking pictures with it, since it is so light, has a decent viewfinder, and takes good photos. I use the Program mode mostly, rather than the Auto mode. Of course, I can get great pics with my really good camera, but I've invested roughly 4x as much for the body, lenses and external flash unit. On the other hand, this Panasonic ZS50 fits in my pocket, is easy to use, and costs a lot less.
> IN SHORT: I'm a retired professional photographer looking for a DSLR replacement for travel. This is NOT it.
> USES: This is a great travel camera---great for brightly lit scenery and street scenes. This is NOT the best camera for taking indoor photos of your new baby or for indoor portraits. It is NOT the best camera for sports or birds and butterflies (at long telephoto settings), because the image quality is marginal at long telephoto, and you can’t effectively use high shutterspeeds to freeze action (because of the small maximum aperture at telephoto focal lengths)—see “shutter priority” below.
---For indoor portraits (including baby photos), you want a "fast" lens and a decent flash (or, even better, a camera which can connect to an optional separate flash unit). Portraits are best taken at about 120--150mm (in 35mm film camera equivalence), which works out to about 3X or 4X zoom on a point-and-shoot camera with a zoom lens. In a moderately-priced camera, that works out to a point-and-shoot with a F2.8 maximum aperture and a zoom range UNDER 5X or 10X. Although more expensive, I recommend a Canon G7X Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II (Black).
> The Lumix DMC-ZS50K has the "usual" point-and-shoot "advanced" features (such as video, image stabilization, panorama, "scenes", and "creative"), plus PASM modes (Program, Aperture priority, Shutter priority, Manual exposure), manual focus, an electronic viewfinder, and other features. Unfortunately aperture priority, shutter priority, manual exposure, and manual focus are poorly designed, or are not useful in practice because of the small sensor and limited aperture range (see below). Aperture priority, shutter priority, manual exposure, and manual focus are more selling points rather than useful features.
> APERTURE PRIORITY: The aperture priority option in the Lumix DMC-ZS50K is limited by a narrow range between F3.5–8.0 at the widest to F6.4–8.0 at maximum telephoto, typically about F5.6–8 at intermediate focal lengths where you take most photos. Therefore, the choice of aperture (available in aperture priority and manual modes) really doesn’t make much difference. You can't throw the background out of focus to highlight your subject (aka "defocus" the background), nor can you gain much additional depth of field for closeup photos. That said, I use aperture priority almost exclusively, because I mostly take closeups, where even the small additional depth of field at F8 is welcome.
> SHUTTER PRIORITY: Shutter priority has limited utility with such a narrow aperture range. The only way the Lumix DMC-ZS50K can achieve high shutter speeds is by pumping up the ISO, which degrades the photos.
> MANUAL EXPOSURE: I doubt that many users will find any use for manual exposure. I find it very useful for taking close closeups with a small slave flash (see below).
> MACRO FOCUS: The Lumix DMC-ZS50K can focus commendably close---filling the frame with a subject 1–4" high (depending on the focal length, aka "zoom") in “Macro AF” mode. But the highest magnification is ONLY available at the widest zoom settings at about ½" between the lens and your subject. It is a great feature, and welcome, but is not the same thing as having a macrolens on an interchangeable lens camera which allows you more working distance.
> MANUAL FOCUS: Manual focus on the Lumix DMC-ZS50K is barely usable—you’ve got to dig into a menu to select it (while in the meantime the butterfly has flown away). In comparison, with my Lumix GX7, I can autofocus and then refine the focus manually simply using the focusing ring on the lens—NOT with the Lumix DMC-ZS50K. With the Lumix DMC-ZS50K, you cannot easily shift between auto and manual focus. With the wide depth of field (because of the high maximum aperture [smallest F-number]), it is very difficult to manually focus. “Peaking” (a special Lumix focusing aid) is a great help, but even so, manual focusing is difficult. It would be great to be able to activate "Peaking" (say, with the Fn2 button) while in autofocus mode (in which case you could shift the focus a few inches, or even a few feet, simply by moving the camera in or out) but that option is NOT available.
> IMAGE QUALITY: Under ideal circumstances, specifically brightly lit subjects, taken at less than 10X zoom (at ISO 400 or less) the photos can be very good, but at longer telephoto or higher ISOs in poorly lit conditions, quality suffers significantly---which is to be expected of ANY camera with such a small sensor.
> RAW FORMAT: The Lumix DMC-ZS50K has the unusual ability (for a point-and-shoot camera) of being able to record images in RAW format (as well as JPG), which is commendable, but which few users will actually use.
> MISSING FEATURES: The Lumix DMC-ZS50K lacks many features which could improve the image quality in the hands of a knowledgeable photographer. These missing features include >> the ability to easily manually refine the focus after autofocus, >> the ability to adjust the contrast, hue, and saturation, and >> the ability to brighten shadows or darken highlights (such as the sky). Note that contrast, HDR, and hue, vividness, and saturation adjustment are supported in options in "creative" mode (which I find useless) or IA, but inexplicably are NOT available in PASM modes where they would actually be useful.
> HARD TO ACCESS FEATURES: You can control brightness after selecting a button---but this is such a frequently used feature that it should have a dedicated dial. The "Quck Menu" commendably provides quick access to many options including ISO settings, autofocus mode and video modes. But, the QMenu is not much faster or shorter than the main menu---it is cluttered with options which don't need to be on a "Quick Menu". Oddly, one of the few options missing from the "QMenu" is metering mode---which I often need to change. To change the metering mode (e.g., from area to spot), you have to dig into the main menu. It would be even better if users could choose the features on the QMenu (as I can with my Lumix DX7).
> DISAPPEARING FEATURES: For no logical reason I can fathom, I’ve observed various features to simply become unavailable. Those I’ve observed include: the assigned function of the Fn2 button, ISO adjust, and follow focus (tracking). On occasions, while in aperture preferred mode, I’ve been unable to adjust the aperture.
> VIEWSCREEN: The viewscreen is non-touch, so you can’t, for example, adjust the tone curve (e.g., increase/decrease contrast, or to brighten the shadows only, or to darken the highlights only), or to drag the focusing-area box around, the way you I can with my Lumix GX7.
> FUNCTION BUTTONS and CUSTOM SETTINGS: You can program two function buttons. For example I set Fn1 to adjust the metering mode (i.e., area, center, or spot) and Fn2 to enable repositioning of the focusing-area box. Commendably, you can define up to 4 sets of custom settings (which is the real secret to getting the most out of the Lumix DMC-ZS50K), and when you select custom sets 2-1, 2-2, or 2-3 (from the custom menu), the custom settings for a variety of features is shown. TIP: name your custom settings (e.g. "Fn1 bright daylight", "Fn2-1 dark", "Fn2-2 closeups", or "Fn2-3 sports"), make a list and photograph it, and keep it as the first photo on your memory card for reference.
> FLASH: The built-in flash on the Lumix is almost useless, even if by a miracle it isn't covered with your fingers. However, the built-in flash can trigger a small inexpensive ($15) slave flash (such as a PLR Studio Series Pro Slave Flash Includes Mounting Bracket For The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3, DMC-GF3, DMC-G1, DMC-GH1, DMC-GH4, DMC-GH2, DMC-GH3, DMC-L10, DMC-GF1, DMC-GF2, DMC-G10, DMC-G2, DMC-GF3, DMC-G3, DMC-GF5, DMC-G5, DMC-GM1, DMC-GM5, DMC-GX7 Digital SLR Cameras) which can considerably extend your flash range and improve modeling. Using this flash unit (or similar manual slave units), you control the brightness by the ISO setting of the camera (easiest from the QMenu).
> ZOOM RANGE: Arguably, the "30X" zoom range is also more of a selling point than a feature, since images taken at greater than 10X i.e., (240mm in 35mm film camera equivalence) the image quality significantly deteriorates. Even with the excellent image stabilization, you need at least a monopod to get decent photos much above 10X.
– HOWEVER, the long telephoto range is still useful since most users don't mind that bison or eagle a half-mile away is a little fuzzy. Travel photos are more about memories and bragging rights than image quality. RECOMMENDATION: don't buy a camera because it claims (for example) 30X instead of 25X. The 25X image will be the better photo, and a 20X image would be even better.
– The Lumix has difficulty focusing at long telephoto (it will "focus", but the actual photos will often not be in focus).
COMPARED TO A NIKON COOLPIX S9000 SERIES CAMERA
> Physically, the Lumix DMC-ZS50K is very similar to a Nikon Coolpix S9000 series (e.g, S9700, S9900, and the older S8000 series) cameras (as well as the new Coolpix A900). The feature mix and even the operating logic are very similar. They are even nearly identical in size.
> The Nikon Coolpix S9000 series cameras are impressive (I’ve owned two). They take beautiful photos of almost anything in any circumstances. The Lumix DMC-ZS50K is basically the same camera, but with manual control over the aperture, shutter speed, and focus, including “macro”, and a few other Lumix advanced features.
> ADVANTAGES of the Lumix DMC-ZS50K over Nikon Coolpix S9000 series cameras: Although limited, the Lumix DMC-ZS50K offers aperture, shutter speed, and manual modes, manual focus, and focuses closer than the Coolpix. Although I rarely use it, the Lumix DMC-ZS50K eye-level viewfinder is advantageous in very bright light and when following moving objects. Manual mode on the Lumix DMC-ZS50K works well with slave flashes. The ability to define 2 function buttons and 4 custom sets of features on the Lumix are not available on the Coolpix
> ADVANTAGES of the Nikon Coolpix S9000 series cameras over the Lumix DMC-ZS50K: The color balance (hue) and degree of vividness can be manually chosen on Coolpix S9000 series cameras. I find these options very useful in many circumstances. These are NOT available on the DMC-ZS50K.
> IMAGE QUALITY: I’ve taken multiple series of side-by-side photos with the Lumix DMC-ZS50K and a Coolpix S9700. The quality is very similar. On the viewscreen the Coolpix photos look better, because they are more “processed”. The Coolpix enhances contrast, saturation, and applies sharpening, the Lumix does NOT. Because of this, the Lumix photos are truer to “life” than the somewhat artificial photos of the Coolpix. If you plan to work with photo editing program to improve your photos (especially if you use the RAW option), the Lumix is the best choice. If you’ll never use photo-editing software, you’ll like the Coolpix photos better. It is my impression that in the DMC-ZS50K, the auto-white balance is more accurate (at least in bright sunlight). However, honestly, I don’t think than anyone other than a professional photographer would notice the difference.
> CONCLUSION: Depending on the highly variable Amzn prices, the often extra $200 for the Lumix DMC-ZS50K over a comparable Coolpix is hard to justify. That said, the Lumix DMC-ZS50K is my choice.
> ALTERNATIVES: If you can live with a 10X zoom range (25-240mm equivalent---which most folks can), and shell out another $300 or so, the LUMIX DMC-ZS100 (with a much larger sensor) is probably a better choice as a travel camera. Since the sensor is four times the size, you can think of the LUMIX DMC-ZS100 as having roughly the equivalent of 25-480mm on a Lumix DMC-ZS50K or on a Coolpix S9000 series camera---meaning that you can "electronically zoom" (aka, "digitally zoom", which simply magnifies the central portion of the image) a LUMIX DMC-ZS100 image (at the maximum 240mm zoom setting) to the equivalent of 480mm and get about the same (or better) quality as an image taken with a Lumix DMC-ZS50K or a Coolpix S9000 series camera at (optical) 480mm. You should NEVER use digital zoom on either Lumix DMC-ZS50K or a Coolpix S9000 series camera, because (beyond maximum optical zoom) you are only magnifying an already barely acceptable image and making it worse. If you don't need long telephoto ability (zoom), the Canon GX7 is recommended.
> Coolpix A900: Although the Coolpix A900 shares many of the "hollow" features of the DMC-ZS50K (excessively long zoom range, aperture priority, shutter priority), and an excessively high 20mp resolution (which, practically speaking, adds nothing but reduces low-light capabilities), I'd seriously consider it for the tilting viewscreen. I use the tilting viewscreen on my Lumix GX7 constantly when taking photos of flowers etc. Since the camera has not been released at the time of this writing, I don't know what other features it may have or lack.
> Click on “Stoney” just below the product title to see my other reviews, or leave a comment to ask a question.
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