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Showing 1-10 of 1,075 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 1,175 reviews
on May 31, 2012
I tried the models that directly compete with this camera from Canon, Sony, and Nikon and much to my surprise, overall, this camera was superior in almost all areas that matter most to me. That would be the quality and flexibility of the video, the quality of the optical image stabilization, and the overall quality of the still pictures it takes. I didn't care about the GPS as it is largely a gimmick in my opinion and all the major competitors have it now or they feel they won't be able to compete.

You should realize that the GPS built into this camera (and most cameras) is NOT the same GPS you may be used to in your car or smart phone. It does not have detailed maps, does not have a large database of places or landmarks, and is not as accurate. It is basically for tagging your photos and videos with the latitude and longitude of where you took the image so you don't have to take notes manually to sort out what you shot and where later. That's why I consider it largely a gimmick.

Briefly then, this camera had by far, the best video quality and flexibility. You can select AVCHD video in several quality levels including full HD at 1920 x 1080 @ 60 fps (if your computer can handle it--many can't), MP4 video in several quality settings including full HD 1920 x 1080 @ 30 fps, and even a (not too useful) 320 x 240 setting for high-speed video at 240 fps.

FOR TECHIES ONLY: Note that most of these video settings output progressive video but one of them outputs interlaced (can't remember which AVCHD setting). This makes me suspicious that the internal video circuitry may be interlaced and not progressive and they simply convert (deinterlace) the video when they create the progressive video file on the memory card. I could not find confirmation on this anywhere and calling Panasonic support is utterly useless for something this technical--they just aren't trained to know such things. I must say though that I didn't notice any interlaced artifacts or sharpness/quality issues with the video so I'm satisfied with the video either way.

The optical image stabilization is absolutely amazing and was so far superior to the Nikon for example, that I had to keep checking that I actually had the image stabilization in the Nikon turned on! You can literally hand-hold the camera at full 20x zoom (being very deliberate and careful) and shoot acceptable video, which is almost unheard of in a small camera like this.

The still images are very high quality and have relatively low noise for a camera that has this many pixels in the sensor. Most consumers don't realize that it's mostly the marketing departments that want to keep pushing the number of pixels in these small cameras. The engineers know that when you put this many pixels on a small sensor, you get more noise artifacts and you can do only so much about that. This camera is no different in that regard than all the others that are 14 or higher megapixels, regardless of what they claim in their marketing hype.

And the final selling point over some of the competitors for me was that this camera, even with all its consumer "presets" to make this a "point-and-shoot" camera (actually almost too many--confusing!) still has FULL MANUAL CONTROLS and aperture or shutter priority settings for "real" photographers.

Note that like most other pocket cameras, this one does not support RAW files but that's not what it is intended for. Furthermore, with single images files as large as almost 13 MB in size from the 14.1 megapixel sensor, you have more than enough pixels to do some serious Photoshop work even without having RAW files to work with.

This will now be my "take everywhere" camera when I don't need to do "serious" photography and don't want to lug around my full sized Canon DSLR and lenses.
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on May 27, 2012
I have had this camera for a short while now and it is time for a review. I have several Panasonic Cameras to include the FZ100 and FZ150, the FZ35 and the ZS3. I also have the Sony HX9V and will make a comparison with it. The ZS20 is an outstanding camera that takes sharp detailed pictures with low noise. I have compared it with the Sony HX9V in low light and the ZS20 is just as good in low light with pictures. I did notice the Sony does better in low light with video.

I would like to say something negative about the ZS20, and the only thing negative I can say about it is I wish the f/stop would go lower than f/3.3. It does go from f/3.3 to f/8, which is better than the Sony which goes to f/5.9. It also does not come with a battery charger, but they are cheap on Amazon. The batteries are cheap as well on Amazon. The battery life does seem to be fairly long between charges.

The Panasonic works great in Manual, giving full control of the f/stop, the shutter speed, and the ISO. The Sony Manual controls basically suck. The only mode you can control is the shutter speed in Manual.

The menus are Panasonic and if you have any other Panasonic camera the menus will feel right at home. The camera has 4 Priority Modes of Aperture, Shutter, Program, and Manual.

The Shutter Speed is controllable from 1/2000 to 8 seconds in Shutter Priority and 1/2000 second to 15 seconds in Manual.

Burst Mode: The camera has 6 burst modes. 2 fps (frames per second) Auto focus, 5 fps Auto focus, 10 fps, 40 fps, 60 fps, and Flash Burst. In the 2 and 5 AF modes the camera will focus in between each shot. In the 10 fps mode, the camera will take 10 shots in a row. wait one second and it will take 8 more. Wait one second and it will take 8 more. In the 5 fps AF mode it will take 100 pictures straight without stopping! I assume it will do it in the 2 fps mode as well but did not check that. In Flash Burst it will take 5 flash burst pictures in quick succession.

The ZS20 will zoom to 20X in the 14mp picture mode. If the camera is set to 10mp picture size and I-Zoom is turned on it will zoom to 47.3X. This is with digital zoom turned off.

I have found that picture quality is extremely good and detailed.

Macro works great and there are two modes. The mode with AF beside the Macro Symbol is good for taking a shot of something at a distance of 3 to 4 feet. Zoom in as much as needed and the camera will focus on the object. If it does not focus you are too close. The mode with the Macro symbol and the magnifying glass is for close up macro work. The camera will only zoom to 3X, but will focus up close and personal.

The camera has GPS Tagging. I tried it and it works. My photo software picked up the tracking and showed the place taken on a map. I tried turning on GPS tracking and left it on for 5 hours while I turned the camera off and it showed no signs of battery usage. I would recommend if you are going to use it to turn it on way before taking a picture as it takes a while to find itself the first time. I was able to shorten the time it takes to find itself by hooking the camera to my computer the first time to tell the camera where I was located.

The LCD can be seen in bright daylight. I set the LCD to auto adjust by going to Menu Set in any program mode, such as Aperture, Setup Menu, page 3, LCD Mode and set it for A (auto power LCD). Press Menu Set again and it will show the A with a square and a star on it in the picture mode. To get out of the Menu Modes press the return button on the bottom of the camera below the Menu Set rocker on the right lower side of the camera.

A still photo 3.5mp picture can be taken while taking video by pressing the shutter button. A still photo can also be captured in playback video by playing the video back on the camera and pressing the button on top of Menu Set to pause the video and then press Menu Set and it will ask you if you want to "Save this image?". To save it highlight YES and push Menu Set. In AVCHD progressing HD video the camera will record for 30 minutes. In the GPH mode of AVCHD video GPS information is also added to the video. I don't know how the GPS information is then pulled out of the video. In the MP4 mode of video my camera goes 27 minutes.

The SCN modes on the main dial work outstanding. I really like the HDR mode that takes three pictures at different exposure levels and combines them into one picture. The Night Portrait works great for taking a portrait with a building or night scene behind the subject. Night Scenery works great and holds the shutter open for up to 8 seconds. Handheld Night Shot is outstanding with no tripod and has saved me many times at night with no tripod. The camera takes several pictures and combines them into one shot. I also like it if you are in the SCN mode and turn the camera off. When the camera is turned back on, press Menu Set and SCN mode is highlighted. No reason to turn the main dial off of SCN and then back on SCN like you have to do on my FZ150. The best mode in SCN is Panorama. Just set the camera to Panorama, press and hold the shutter button and swing the camera for a Panoramic Shot. You will have to play with that mode to get the hang of it. At first I kept going too slow and it did not take the full Panorama. The speed of panning has to be fairly brisk. It makes one wonder how in the heck the camera can capture a shot panning that fast but it does.

I especially like Zoom Resume. The camera remembers how it was zoomed on your last shots before turning the camera off and when the camera is turned back on it zooms back to the same setting. It has saved me many times in getting a quick shot off and not having to zoom the camera again. To set Zoom Resume, go to any priority mode, such as A, and press Menu Set. Go to the Setup Menu, page 4, Zoom Resume on top and press the Menu Set button and turn it on. Another really nice thing is to turn on the grid. The grid will help you to take a picture in the Rule of Thirds and throws a grid on the screen to help you take a properly aligned shot. Put any of the intersecting lines on the grid on your subject and instantly your pictures will be better and more enjoyable to view. To turn it on, go to any of the priority modes, such as A, and go to the Setup Menu, page 3, second one down to Guide Line and turn it on. The Histogram is also nice to see what the picture will look like, exposure wise, by looking at the Histogram on the LCD before you take the shot. To turn it on, go to the Setup Menu on page 3, and select the third one down, Histogram and turn it on.

The camera will Auto Bracket at 0, -1, and +1 maximum. You can Auto Bracket at less with 1/3 exposure stop increments. To turn Auto Bracket on press the button above Menu Set two times in the shooting mode. Move the brackets by pressing the button on the right of Menu Set. You can adjust exposure for all pictures by pressing the button above Menu Set one time.

Manual Mode. The shutter is adjustable from 1/2000 to 15 seconds. The f/stop is adjustable from f/3.3 to f/8. I really like how it works. After selecting Manual, push the button above the Menu Set toggle called Exposure/Map. Then pushing the button above and below Menu Set adjusts the shutter speed and the button on the left and right of Menu Set adjusts the f/stop. To bring up the metering dial just half press the shutter button.

That concludes my review at this time. I am really enjoying this little camera and it takes some really great pictures. I am amazed that they were able to cram so many features into such a little camera. I hope you enjoy it as much as I am.
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on May 13, 2012
Friends who lug around heavy DSLR kits (like I used to do) turn green with envy at what this little shirtpocket wonder can accomplish. The ZS20's zoom range from 24mm wide open to 480mm fully optical at 14 mpx has to be seen to be believed. You can start with a broad view of a landscape and then zoom in to capture a single bird on a tree so far away that you don't even see the bird in the landscape view. The images are sharp, well saturated, with none of the blurriness and occasional purple fringing that troubled the ZS10. The updated lenses also seem have shortened the depth of field so that I can now get the bird in sharp focus but the background some distance away is soft and blurry. They've also vastly improved the digital zoom so that you can now take useful pictures at the equivalent of a 1013mm zoom range, and even longer at reduced MPx. Those digitally assisted pix may not win photo contests but they'll tell you whether that distant shorebird was an avocet or a killdeer. Carrying this camera is like having a telescope in your pocket. But the amazing zoom is only the beginning. Equally useful are the burst modes. Lots of subjects -- from talking heads to grandkids to puppies to birds to flowers in the wind -- are in constant motion, and if you take just one shot, you're playing roulette. The grandkid jumping over a log -- you really wanted him in midair, not on the landing. In burst mode, you'll get two, or five, or 10 or even more shots during the leap, and back home on your computer you can pick the one you like best and discard the rest. I now routinely take dozens or even hundreds of images of moving objects, and back at home at the computer I pick out the one or two keepers, and discard the rest. The camera also has an intelligent burst mode that takes just one shot of a static object but automatically takes a burst if the object is moving. This camera is smart! Although it has manual adjustments for aperture and shutter speed, I hardly ever need them. The IA (Intelligent Auto) setting handles ISO, white balance, aperture, shutter speed, and everything else instantly and with reliably excellent results in a wide range of conditions. The ZS20 also automatically performs some operations that previously took a fair amount of effort in Photoshop, with plugins. I was very skeptical of the hand-held night shot scene mode until I happened to be out in the evening of "supermoon" without a tripod. The orange moon had partly cleared the hills when I clicked the shutter. The camera took a burst of exposures and then internally sifted and merged them, and in a second or two gave me as clear and sharp an image as if I had used a tripod. It made a believer of me. Equally good is the HDR setting for high-contrast and backlit subjects. The camera takes a burst of exposures, bracketing the aperture, and then automatically combines them to produce a single image with a well-lit foreground. It used to take a lot of work and luck in Photoshop to achieve this. Totally amazing is the in-camera panorama scene mode. Without a tripod, you stand in a spot, hold down the shutter and make a complete circle in about 8 seconds (the camera shows you a progress bar). A few seconds later you've got, in the camera ready for downloading, a perfectly merged super-wide panorama image with no, or only very faintly perceptible, visual seams. No further processing necessary. There are a number of other scene modes and creative preset modes, and you can save custom settings for quick access. The video on the ZS10 was already very good, and the 20 has only improved on it, performing in full 1080p HD, with better placement for the stereo microphones.

I also like the fact that the same batteries used on the previous models work in this one. I prefer to remove the battery and charge it in a wall charger (supplied with the older models), and I can still do that, but the 20 comes with a cable that lets the battery be charged in the camera from a wall plug or a USB port.

The one annoyance with this little gem is the touch-screen controls on the digital display. These controls let you set the focus and the zoom, and click the shutter, by touching the screen. I can't imagine any situation where this would be useful. I unwittingly activated these controls by touching the screen and as I handled the camera I unknowingly took dozens of shots of my hand, the inside of my pocket, the ground, the side of my pants, and like that. You can't turn this obnoxious "feature" off! I've learned not to touch the screen when handling the camera, so it isn't a problem any more, but it still diminishes my esteem for the otherwise admirable engineering job that Panasonic did on this camera.

This camera -- actually, already its predecessor -- convinced me to dump the 50-lb DSLR outfit I had been lugging around for several years. I don't need it. For me, the ZS series has disrupted the DSLR market much in the same way that DSLRs disrupted the film SLR market. Who needs all that heavy clunky expensive gear? I can do 95% of what I did with the DSLR, and a great many things I couldn't, with this little gem that fits in my shirtpocket.
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on August 2, 2012
I have had the Panasonic Lumix ZS20 camera for several weeks. For a compact camera, the ZS20 is very good. I can recommend it. For my complete review and personal observations, see:
[...]

My rating: 4 stars. It would be a solid 5 if the camera had an optical viewfinder and an easy manual focus option. I will not rate any camera a 5 without these.
Quick and dirty Pro/Con list:

In general: PRO -
1. High quality photos. Excellent HD videos. Very good image quality for a compact camera.
2. 20x optical zoom. Very wide 24mm to very long 480mm. "Intelligent Zoom" is very good.
3. Good focus ability. Fast and reasonably accurate, compared to my previous pocket cameras.
4. Excellent image stabilization. Best I've seen.
5. Small, pocketable, carry camera. The lens closes flat inside the body when the power is off. Carry it anywhere.
6. Auto, Program, Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, and Manual shooting modes.
7. Four user-settable custom shooting modes. A little awkward to set, but usable.
8. Several easy to change flash modes, including the important NO flash.
9. One can take a (low res) photo at the same time one is shooting video, without interrupting the video.
10. In-camera Panorama ability. Does very well with "normal" well-lit scenes. Not so good indoors.
11. In-camera High Dynamic Range photos.
12. Auto bracket (only 1 stop each way.)
13. "Smart" macro. For most shots, no putzing required. Automatically goes into macro mode, when needed.
14. Can use any SD flash card, including SDXC, which can have a HUGE capacity. One will go through several batteries before one fills up one of these flash cards.
15. Clear, bright view screen. Very nice. Does not replace optical viewfinder, but is generally useable indoors and out. Brightness automatically adjusts for ambient conditions.

In general: CON -
1. No optical viewfinder! !!!!!
2. As with most cameras, whatever you do, don't drop it. Keep it dry. Buy the extended, covers-all warranty.
3. No manual focus! !!!!! There is a way to use the touch screen to focus on an area, but it is difficult to use in time to get the shot you want. The camera will almost always focus on the closest object, no matter what you want. Focus tends to "breathe" in and out during video. You can "freeze" the focus, but then it won't focus when it needs to.
4. Minimum f-stop is only f8. Maximum is f3.3, but that rapidly decreases to f6.4 with zoom. Renders aperture priority mode almost useless.
5. Difficult menu system. No customizable user menu (but does have 4 user shooting modes.)
6. Short battery time. No more than about 200 shots per charge. Buy and carry extra batteries!
7. In-camera battery charger is all that comes in the box. One should buy an external charger.
8. Camera will get very hot after several video shots. Limited video time per scene. The camera is not a replacement for a video camera. Use it for short scenes, only. HD Video quality is excellent, however.
9. Touch Screen. This causes more problems than it cures. There is no way to turn it off. You can accidently take a photo just by touching the screen. I soon learned not to do that.
10. On/Off and Shoot/View switches do not feel "solid." Battery cover is a little flimsy. Be careful opening it.
11. 4x digital zoom is terrible. It destroys image quality very quickly.
12. Closest focus distance in most tele shots is over 6 feet.
13. The user manual is typical Orient-glish, instead of English. It is very long, hard to read, and doesn't really explain things (similar to most other camera manuals.) It usually comes just short of telling you what you need to know. And because of the strange wording, it might tell you one thing and someone else something different.
14. The camera might be too small. It is a little awkward to use if one has big fingers.
15. Dealing with Panasonic customer support is a challenge. Be prepared to wait for answers. If you buy Panasonic's warrantee, be prepared to hassle. I paid for it, but had to wait over a month for them to send it to me, only then because I nagged them every few days about it. I hope their actual service is a LOT better, but we will see.
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on April 19, 2012
First, I consider myself a serious hobbyist when it comes to photography. I've been shooting with Nikon DSLR's for several years (currently using a D300s). I shoot RAW images only and process everything in Lightroom. You can visit my website and have a look. I live in Miami, FL, so there's a lot of local stuff, but also travel galleries. I love birding and I'm often in the Everglades. [...]

That being said, I always carry a P&S camera. I have a young daughter and I like to have more than a cell phone camera handy. I also do not like lugging the heavy gear to kids events, etc. For years, it's always been a Canon P&S for me. I had a very hard time finding just the right upgrade this time, with all the new mega zooms now entering the market. However, I didn't see anything out there that beats the Panasonic in price and features.

Overall, I really like the ZS20. It's full of features and includes an HDR setting and Pano mode (which is amazing I might add). I keep GPS turned off to save battery. Keep in mind, this battery drains quickly if you are like me and you take pictures, videos, go in and out of the menus and are constantly reviewing your images. I purchased a couple of spare batteries and the external battery charger. Sorry, but the USB to camera charging system sucks and the cable couldn't be any shorter! Keep with the Panasonic original batteries only and keep a few charged and on hand when shooting.

Picture quality outside in good lighting is excellent. Shooting 1080p video on this camera is awesome and iMovie recognizes my clips and brings them right into the program. Indoors, I'm still struggling to get a crisp shot. I do find the images noisy, just as I have read online in other reviews. I haven't played around enough with the settings to try to do better, which I do believe I can do. I love that this camera has A, P and M mode, plus 2 custom functions. I find the placement of buttons to be comfortable and love the grip.

I will keep experimenting and will update my review if I encounter something worth updating. Keep checking my Flickr galleries, as I will continue to add test shots. The images on Flickr are straight out of the camera images (no editing). Please visit the site if you want to check out what the camera can do. Also check out the gallery of our new puppy, which were also test shots taken with this camera with no editing. [...]
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on April 14, 2012
Video is smooth and high quality. Control and button placement is good and easy to use especially for video with its own button on top. You can take still photos while recording videos. Telephoto works while shooting videos. Single photo 20x and extended 40x telephoto works well and focus stays sharp. GPS tagging works well for me with Map Flickr and Flickr and will make for a nice trip display for photos taken in the same trip. The map data downloaded to the SD chip without a problem and the maps make for a nice on-camera display of the locations the photos were taken. GPS tagging with the actual name of the location and not just coordinates is a feature I wasn't finding in other cameras. It's easy to burn through the battery in 1 to 2 hours while trying out all the features. I've ordered two more batteries to ensure more picture and video taking time. I like the up to 60 picture per second bursts and the more controlled 2 to 10 fps bursts. Reviewing and deleting photos is intuitive and easy. The ability to touch the screen to tell the camera the focus of the photo is useful on a moving object like wildlife. The up to 14M photos are the best I've taken with a digital camera. USB charging is very useful. I've ordered an AC wall charger to be used charging back-up batteries while the camera is in use. I'm glad I waited for the ZS20 to be released and didn't get the new Nicon or Canon telephoto versions. Smallest of the 20X cameras I was interested in. A great buy for less than $300.
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on April 3, 2012
Just got this camera, and have owned its three previous models. One thing for all to note if you are familiar with this series is that the battery must now be charged in camera with a short USB cable to a Panasonic wall charger. For me, this is a disadvantage, since I have enjoyed the flexibility of the previous arrangement -- a dedicated charger into which the battery is placed outside of the camera. I found this "old" setup to be more convenient and easier to use when traveling, and easier to pack. Maybe this is not a problem for you, but it was an unpleasant surprise for me. As others have noted, though, the old charger works with this battery (same battery as before), so you can easily purchase a stand-alone charger.

Update 4-6-12

I have now taken some representative shots with the camera and have some observations. Like the previous three models, the display on this one is not ideal in bright sunlight, although it is acceptable. To my eye, the photos are really good for the category, and an improvement on the previous models. Having the extra zoom is quite nice. I have always enjoyed the Lumix menu system, which is fairly intuitive in this segment.

Since many of you are interested in the low light issues, I have taken some extremely low light shots and looked at them closely after enlarging. I find them quite good, and remarkable with a small sensor. I took a shot today, in one of our classrooms with no lights on, only illumination from an outside door half panel over 50 feet away. I cannot imagine better results with a camera this size with such challenging light.

I also took some photos outside with both bright sunlight and deep shadows in the shot. The photos were excellent, rendering detail in both the sunlit elements (as expected) and in the deep, dark shadows (pleasant surprise).

I have not made use of the touchscreen features yet, so I cannot comment on their usefulness. I assume they will be helpful in some situations.

All in all, this is an nice update to the previous models and I am sure will serve me well in my travels. It remains easily pocketable, easy to use and full of features to experiment with and explore. The compromises are few and the benefits are many.
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on May 27, 2012
Where do I start? The features on this camera are amazing. The burst shooting modes, the 1080p video, the 20x zoom, the manual controls, scene modes, handling, and menus, are stunning and as close to perfect as you can get - at any price point for a camera that easily fits into a pocket. This camera seemed a bargain for the features.

So why two stars? Poor picture quality. I have a camera with $400-camera features and $125-camera photo quality. Maybe I got a bad copy, but I'm reading other reviews saying the same thing so either production isn't consistent or perhaps some people are less discerning regarding photo quality. Several professional reviews (CNET, digitalcamerainfo, and others) have stated that though this model is vastly improved over the previous top of the line Panasonic compact offering it is still sub-par. The guy from CNET said that "Depending on what your plans are for its photos, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20's shots are either very good to excellent or unusable". I have to agree. If you never plan on going bigger than 4x6 or maybe 5x7s you'll probably be fine. Comparing the photos from my five-year old Kodak Easyshare C875 showed only marginal improvements in some pictures, but most were about the same - some were worse and the colors seemed washed out and duller than reality. The softness and noise of the photos is noticeable upon close inspection even at regular viewing sizes. Oh, and yes, I did the half-press to allow the camera to focus - so that's not the problem.

Using the "Intelligent Auto" feature was frustrating at best. Images rarely turned out nicely and I constantly found myself going into the manual modes to try to make the camera take a better picture. As a father my primary purpose for this camera was taking photos of the kids. When they're doing something cute or funny I don't want to mess around with settings. I want to turn the camera on and capture the moment. With this camera many moments were lost. Also, I had many images blurred from movement while using the intelligent auto mode and I would think a truly intelligent auto should adjust shutter speed for detected motion. The camera seemed to do okay when shooting subjects without a lot of detail and that were not moving.

Then there are the burst pictures. The concept is great, but usually people using this feature would be using them in action-type shots. Unfortunately the intelligent auto feature doesn't know how to handle this and the pictures all turned out blurry. All - even with the "Motion Deblur" on and the "iHDR" turned off. Trust me I monkeyed and monkeyed with this thing to figure out what I was doing wrong. In the end I had to conclude it was the camera. The other problem with the burst mode is that, while the 2AF and 5AF photos were okay (though still sub-par), the 10, 40, and 60 fps shots looked like something taken with a prehistoric first-generation cell-phone camera. Horrible and unusable for anything other than having. Even the manual mode shots were mostly unusable at 10, 40, and 60fps.

Other quibbles are the FLIMSY battery/SD door and the weird crunching sound from the lens when adjusting zoom - though they're definitely not deal-breakers.

Some Amazon reviewers have loved this camera. One said they dropped it from a five-story building and it survived. Impressive. Others have said they're seeing near DSLR quality photos. Good for them. Me? I took well over a thousand pictures with this camera and spent hours adjusting settings to no avail. I'm sending mine back and looking for a different model. Though I'd like to give a different ZS20 another chance in hopes of achieving the type of success some reviewers here at Amazon are claiming, I really think these sorts of quality control issues are unacceptable in 2012. I'm not even sure mine is an isolated incident considering the comments from professional camera reviewing websites. A camera can have all the greatest features but if it can't deliver beautiful photos what good are the features? I was mostly happy with the photos from my five-year old 8MP Kodak C875 so I don't think I'm being too picky. I expected better quality than my C875 - what I got I'm not sure is even up to the level of the C875.

By the way, I'm seeing on camera forums that Panasonic is rushing out a firmware update to improve the ZS20 photo-quality. It's not out yet, and it may just be a rumor, but keep on the lookout. While it's too late for me as mine is going back, maybe it will be useful for you.

UPDATE: The Panasonic Firmware update for improving night handheld shots is here: [...]
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on November 30, 2012
I purchased both the ZS20 and ZS15 to compare the two cameras and decide which one I like better. Since the ZS15 was significantly less expensive than the ZS20, I decided it was worth trying both. As far as I can tell, the technical differences between the two are A) 20x optical zoom vs 15x optical zoom, B) 14.1 MP vs 12.1 MP, and C) the ZS20 has GPS but the ZS15 does not.

As most casual, yet technically savvy, photographers already know, the 2 MP is not going to make a huge difference at this level for day-to-day picture taking. As for me, this camera is to take pictures of family (usually kids) and of nature/wildlife. We live in Colorado and spend a lot of time in the mountains taking pictures of the scenery and wildlife, so a good optical zoom was very important for me. I've never blown up a non-professional picture bigger than 11x14, so the megapixel difference was a wash for me. Another big requirement I have is decent picture taking in low light. It's not like I'm trying to take pictures inside, at night, with the lights off - but it would be nice to take pictures in a room with dim lighting without the flash making everything look funky or getting picture after picture with people's eyes closed.

Out of the box, I started taking pictures with both the iA mode and various different "scene" modes. Honestly, on both cameras, I found most scenarios to have the same experience and quality. However, with taking pictures in EXTREMELY low light (with a light on behind me but no lighting in the room of the subject I was taking a picture of) were quite different between the two cameras. It seems that the less light in the room, the longer it would be for the camera to take the picture after pressing down on the button. There was a much longer delay on the ZS20 in this circumstance, and it was extremely frustrating. At first, I even thought I wasn't pressing the button down, but I was. The ZS15 still had a delay, but not quite as long as the ZS20. I tried this in both iA and multiple scene modes and had the same result. Again, this was extreme, as I was doing it in a room with almost no light - I could not even see what I was looking at through the LCD screen because it was so dark. I'm sure this can be corrected with manual settings, but I am not going to kid myself into thinking I'm going to learn the finer technical points of photography overnight. I couldn't tell any difference between the two cameras when it came to nighttime scenery with light (a dark street with streetlights) or natural daylight pictures.

Sometimes I was very disappointed with the picture quality, but it was not the camera's fault. I know this because if I changed the settings, the same exact picture would look EXTREMELY different. If I didn't know any better, I would have thought the pictures were taken with two separate cameras. The reason I mention this is that I think this camera has fantastic potential. If you are willing to take the time to learn about cameras and the different settings to use in particular conditions, this will be an amazing camera. This is something I want to do, but I also wanted something that will take very good pictures out of the box using the default modes that are built in. If you are unable or unwilling to fiddle with changing to different presets and figuring out when to use those at the very least, I do not think this camera will be good for you. I am very excited to learn how to do the manual settings as I think this will take this camera to an even higher level. Again, the potential seems very high.

As far as the zoom goes, the 16x vs 20x was something I was very curious about. Can I zoom in more on the 20x? Well, duh, of course I can! Enough to justify the cost difference? Eh, not so much. Optical zoom is very important to me, but 16x was more than enough to fulfill my needs. I just didn't think the extra zoom was worth it for me. The intelligent zoom is very good on both cameras to go beyond the optical zoom, which surprised me. I was able to take hand-held pictures at full zoom on both cameras without blur. Even taking pictures of a full moon on full zoom were quite impressive.

The touch screen I didn't find particularly good. It's one of those that you kinda need to depress a little, which to me is not a sign of a very good or responsive touch screen. However, a touch screen on this camera that is similarly responsive as a high-end smartphone I think would cause a lot of accidental touches. So in this case, the touch screen is neither a plus nor a minus. I could go without it but it does not detract from it either.

THE BOTTOM LINE:
* Decent camera out of the box. It is definitely not a good choice for the older crowd or people who are not very technically inclined. If you can't program your DVR or set up a home wireless network (which to me are incredibly easy and basic things), then this is not for you. Stick with a Kodak EasyShare or a Canon PowerShot, which are more user-friendly from my experience.
* Lots of potential with manual settings if you are willing to learn more than the average camera user to get the most out of your camera.
* Optical zoom is fantastic for the camera size and price point.
* Manual settings give this camera a significant advantage over similar cameras in this price range.

Should you get the ZS20 or ZS15?
I ultimately decided to keep the ZS15. I do not care about the GPS on the ZS20. For optical zoom, 16x already met my needs and I do not think the 4x extra zoom was worth the money. The 2 MP difference between the two cameras shouldn't matter for anyone that is specifically looking for this class of camera (an affordable, compact, point-and-shoot). If you really want the GPS or 4x more zoom, by all means get the more expensive camera - it just wasn't worth it for me. With the money I saved by sticking with the ZS15, I can get a new video game and a 12 pack of my favorite microbrew :)
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I am a semi pro photographer and like this model as it fits in pocket and would not be a tempting "theft magnet" while traveling. I find the low light great, especially sunsets. My only beef is in the earlier model, it had more scene options to choose from. for instance, photographing through glass, water, and special effect of slimming. I have used it for well over two years with zero issues. batteries hold charge a long time, and I keep a extra one in small carry bag. I travel for my work 52 weeks a years so cameras can get bounced around so I found that a prescription pill top, (free if you ask nicely from any pharmacy) fits over lens for a perfect "second cover", I even put some sturdy thread through the side of it and it attaches to my camera strap. The lens cover that comes with camera opens and closes when turned on/off, but I have seen them damaged in most stores easily by I assume children playing with it. This is my 5th time buying same ZS models every year or so and so far have not seen a better lens than these Leicas! The zoom is very good, with little distortion, another great feature, but of course not as sharp as a larger camera with a specialty zoom lens. Overall a great travel camera for novice or advanced photographer who does not want lug their normal bigger units. .
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