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on May 23, 2013
I have had the Panasonic ZS30 about a week now. It is my 5th TZ/ZS Panasonic camera I've owned, including the excellent ZS20. However, the ZS30 is the best yet. I'm not a beginner. I've been making pictures since the 1960s or before with all kind of cameras, and I've sold a few pictures over the years too. Currently I have the ZS30, the ZS20, a couple of "enthusiast" compact cameras, and a fairly nice and complete DSLR set up - one of several I've owned. The DSLR gathers dust for the most part - too heavy with a bunch of lenses and other photographic "stuff."

Getting right to the heart of things: The ZS30 is a great little camera - takes great pictures in good light and also in low light. It also has a plethora of fun and useful features, and a great Leica lens. You can shoot on full automatic or take control with aperture, shutter, or full manual priority. There are 14 or so "art filters, plus about 16 "scene" modes. For the younger generation there is WiFi, and NFC, and, of course there is GPS. The camera is easy to carry, excellent build quality - and, did I mention, takes excellent pictures. I highly recommend it.

Some people may worry about the high pixel count (18 MP). Don't! The improvements in the sensor and the processor pretty much take care of that, and pictures are certainly as good as the ZS20, which I also have, and better than the other, older Panasonic super zooms that I have had. It is not a DSLR, but the pictures - good light and low light are certainly very good for this type of camera up to about ISO 3200 (Yes, there is some noise, but pictures are certainly "usable" for what most people who buy this kind of camera will use them for.) Generally speaking though, I'd use a top end ISO 1600 and below for normal, everyday use. I usually have it set to ISO 200 - works fine.

Everyone is worried about blurry pictures. Left to its own devices the ZS30 does not give blurry pictures. It is quite a capable little camera. That's not to say you can't take blurry pictures with the ZS30. You certainly can. Here are some ideas to minimize blurry pictures with the ZS 30 or any other camera for that matter: Most important of all - Be sure the image stabilization is ALWAYS turned ON - unless you are on a tripod - then turn it off. Then: 1. Neither the ZS30 nor the subject should be moving when you take the shot - i.e. hold the camera still, and shoot when the subject is not moving - (some exceptions when using very high shutter speeds, the tracking focus mode, fireworks, moving water, and other "creative" stuff). 2. To hold the camera still, hold on to it like you own it and are proud of it, with BOTH hands, and not with just the thumb and forefinger only. 3. Keep your elbows tucked in to your sides. 4. Lean against a wall, a table, a chair, and/or look for something to rest the camera on. 5. Shoot with the reciprocal of the lens extension for a shutter speed, i.e. At full extension of 480 mm (in 35 mm terms) - (You can estimate it if not at full extension.), keep the shutter speed no lower than 1/500 second OR 1/125 second (2 stops) if the image stabilization feature is turned on. If you have a REAL steady hand, maybe you can cheat down to 1/60 second. (You can adjust the aperture, the ISO, and/or the lens extension to achieve these shutter speeds, but anything less will almost undoubtedly result in a blurry picture.) 6. Wait for the camera to focus - when you hear the beep (if turned on) or when the focus area boundary turns green on the LCD. It doesn't take long with the fast Panasonic focus speed, but I've seen some folks beat even a DSLR to focus. 7. Press the shutter button gently, don't "stab" at it. 8. Don't let the camera pick the focus point. Do it yourself. I mostly use the center point only - smallest one - unless using tracking focus mode. 9. Shoot on aperture priority and set the widest aperture available (ZS 30 will adjust it as you zoom.) or shoot in "sports" mode to assure the fastest shutter speed for the ISO set and the light available. 10. Don't shoot ANYTHING with a shutter speed of less than 1/30 sec unless the camera is "braced." 11. Walk closer to the subject if you can, and retract the lens to fill the frame at the new, shorter distance. Long lenses, fully extended are much harder to hold still than "shorter " ones. Note: The 30X Sony HX50 may not be such a bargain at full extension unless braced or on a tripod - a 700 mm something lens, handheld - REALLY?! - and about that atmospheric haze... Note: You can easily have a 30X lens equivalent with th ZS30 - either by slightly lowering the number of pixels used (best way - all optical lens magnification) - or by using the "extended" optical lens mode at full resolution. I like the first way - pictures seem sharper, and there is still plenty of resolution for high quality prints. 12. If all else fails, use a tripod (Heaven forbid!).

Added November 22, 2013 - 13. Panasonic's "light speed" focusing is very fast and pretty much eliminates shutter lag. It is a FAST camera. Secondly - To eliminate blur from pictures of moving subjects - as in sports, if iA mode is not doing it for you, - shoot in "Sports" mode, and the camera will set the fastest shutter speed for the settings you already have on your camera (i.e. ISO, aperture for the zoom extension you are at, etc.) If you still get blur, or if the exposure icons on the LCD are showing red, increase the ISO or shoot in "Shutter priority" mode and set a fast shutter speed - up to 1/2000 sec. (Try 1/500 sec first.) Again, you may have to increase the ISO to get a properly exposed picture (green exposure icons) when you increase the shutter speed. Finally, in either case, set the focus mode to continuous/tracking, and shoot in burst mode. (Set these up before you go to sports or shutter priority) (I mostly use 5 fps burst speed - allows for focus on each shot in the burst.)

Added July 6, 2013 - One more little thing - (OK,OK. I forgot it!) 14. Shoot within the focusing distances of the AF setting you have set or you WILL have blurry pictures. "Standard" AF mode at full lens extension is about 6 1/2 feet to infinity. Closer than 6 1/2 feet and the picture WILL be blurry. With AF mode set to "Macro Tele" you can focus from a little over 3 feet to infinity at full lens extension. At "Super Macro" AF mode your focus distance is limited from about 2 inches to about 3 feet, ans it will NOT focus to infinity. The macro modes are found at the "down" press of the rotary dial. Hey! it's easy, but if you are having trouble focusing, check that you are in the "correct" AF mode.

Flash is another "scary" thing for many people. First remember the flash is only "good" to about 10 feet, so "be within range." You cannot adjust the flash output on the ZS30, but the camera will do that for you if using "fill" flash mode (always on) or full auto, within certain parameters (Read the manual.) The "sync speed" - about 1/200 sec - will "freeze" most "portraits," but if the subject is moving, you may still get a blurry picture. For best results, use "slow sync" or night portrait mode, just watch that the shutter speed doesn't get below what you can comfortably handhold, AND tell your subject not to move for one full second after the flash goes off. You can use the flash in bright sunlight also - to reduce the dark shadows that are characteristic of photos taken in bright sunlight. To get even better flash shots, use a diffuser - two or three layers of facial tissue held over the flash will do wonders - just make sure your fingers are not covering the flash. Another hint: Set the camera to "manual" mode, and set the correct exposure for the background. Turn the flash on normal or "always on" i.e. "fill" flash mode. In this case, NOT slow sync or you will overexpose the background). Then take your picture. The background will be nicely exposed, and most likely, so will your subject - if in range of the flash. Use the diffuser trick, and things should be really good.

Back to the ZS30. The ZS20 and the ZS30 are fairly comparable, but the ZS30 has some significant improvements IMHO. Better LCD - 920k dot resolution compared to 460k for the ZS20, and better touch screen capability. 18 MP compared to 14 MP for the ZS20 - Yes, there is more detail in the ZS30 picts. Cancel playback mode and return to shooting mode with a touch of the shutter button - something Panasonics' have needed for years. More movie choices. Added number of "art filters" - These are kind of fun. High Speed video shooting. Easier access to panorama mode. Better image stabilization - 3 way in stills, 5 way in video. "Starry Sky" scene mode back. - good for shooting fireworks and other creative stuff. The ZS30 can take a 13.5 MP still picture during video, compared to a 3.5 MP one with the ZS20. Longer lasting battery. In short, the ZS30 is just a more "complete" camera, although the ZS20 takes wonderful pictures also.

Both the ZS20 and the ZS30 have Panasonic's "light speed" AF. Solves a MAJOR problem with earlier compact cameras. Both cameras have no purceptable shutter lag, and being able to adjust the size of the focus area, not just the focus points is a big plus. Of course there is face detection/face recognition, and tracking focus mode, now with up to 5 frames per second WITH focus for each frame or up to 60 fps with initial focus and lower megapixels. Both cameras have vastly improved white balance compared to earlier Panasonic cameras. Both have in-camera editing - kind of hit and miss though, but fun. There are other neat things - too many to mention. Handheld night shot works wonders on both cameras as does HDR scene mode. Build quality of both cameras is excellent.

Yes, you CAN blur the background with a compact - set "macro telephoto" mode, largest aperature (smallest f/ number), extend the lens to maximun extension, move in as close as you can so that the camera still focuses, make sure the background is "some distance" behind the subject, etc. - or - shoot wide angle, lens fully retracted, f/3.3 (smallest numbered f/ stop - largest lens opening), set super macro mode, and move in to where the camera will just focus, background again "some distance" behind the subject, etc.

For travel, easy carry, long lens, and good pictures, the ZS30 really can't be beat. ZS30 has LOTS of travel features.

Finally, the best camera, as always, is the one you have with you. The Panasonic ZS30 is idealy suited for that, and it takes very good pictures on its own settings, and even better ones if the photographer is knowledgeable enough to adjust some of the settings to suit the situation and light. (Hint: Read the manual.) Beware of putting much stock in the review of anyone who simply blasts away in full auto mode (the camera picks the focus points in full auto, and it can't read your mind - YET - as to what you really want in focus.), and then condemns the camera. What shutter speed was used? If it was 1/60 second or less at full extension (480 mm equivalent) and no bracing, pictures probably will be blurry - with ANY camera, even a DSLR.

The Panasonic ZS30 is compact enough to carry easily, has an incredably long, compact Leica lens, more than enough low light capability for most people - unless you are a pixel peeping nerd or a pro who has to make a living off of his/her talent as a photographer, and it has more neat features that most people will ever use. Is it a DSLR? NO. Is it a darned good compact camera? Yes. Is it an excellent, full-featured, long lens travel camera? Absolutely, yes! Remember, taking "good" pictures is a duel effort between the camera and the photographer. Don't always blame the camera. Figure it out! Read the manual. Get the most out of your camera. It has lots to "give." Relax, quit worrying, and enjoy your ZS 30. Thus ends the "War and Peace" review.
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5150+ comments| 459 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on May 9, 2013
I received my ZS30 about three weeks ago and, with one exception, like it much more than my ZS7.

I actually rate this at 4.5 stars, but gave it 5 because the camera deserves more than 4.

Contrary to one of the other reviews, the ZS30 is smaller and lighter than the ZS7. It is a tad taller, but thinner and not as wide (4.26 x 2.32 x 1.09 inch VS. 4.06 x 2.36 x 1.3″). The thinness makes it easier to fit in your pocket. It is also slightly lighter than the ZS7. The rubberized grip is a great improvement too.

The extra zoom is a real plus. I have what's called an essential tremor so stabilization is key for me. The ZS30 has 5 axis correction, which beats the ZS7.

Full HD video is fabulous. I go to concerts and soccer events (for my godson) and the full HD is much clearer than the ZS7.

The LCD is much clearer with twice the dots (920 vs. 460). The lens has been upgraded. Higher burst mode.

In Portrait mode and auto-flash the ZS30 more accurately reflects the correct colors. I have hardwood floors that I use for color comparisons. The ZS7 makes the color much too warm and deep while the ZS30 is almost dead on.

Probably the best new features? Wi-Fi and NFC.

The Wi-Fi capability in the Panasonic app is great. I have used Canon DSLR's for quite some time and loved being able to use my iPhone to take family-type pics without having to run to pose before the shot was taken!

Both cameras are equally bad in low-light pictures.

There are two categories in which the ZS7 wins.

Stereo microphones (which I don't care about).

Video aperture is better at adjusting when filming in varying light conditions. When recording a soccer match where one end of the field is brightly lit and the other end is in shadows, the ZS30 has a hard time adjusting, where as the ZS7 is quick to change.

Be wary of the instructions on the Panasonic web site for upgrading the ZS30 firmware. If they include having to take 2 photos, the instructions and the file are the wrong ones. Go to this link for the correct file and instructions: [...]

Overall, the ZS30 is worth the cost of investing in a new point and shoot. I've had the ZS7 for a while, so it's been dropped a few times, the LCD is a little scratched up and the focus ring can get sticky. I'll give it to one of my nieces or nephews to play around with as their first camera.
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on November 24, 2013
This is the best camera I've ever owned. Admittedly I am not a professional photographer, but I do like to take a good photograph and know something about how to do it. The DMC-ZS30 has enough features to handle the point and shoot situation automatically, as well as manual settings for when you want or need to be creative. The WiFi connectivity is nice for transferring photos to other connected devices like tablets and smartphones without having to go through a desktop computer first. The zoom is amazing and more than most people will need. Autofocus tracking is great for dynamic situations because it holds focus on the moving target that you choose. Material and build quality are excellent, with most parts, including the small spring loaded USB connector door made of metal rather than plastic.

The feature I like the most is the HD Video capability of this camera. Although we wanted a new still camera too, our old one worked just fine. This purchase was really to replace a Mini DV camcorder that recently died. When I made the purchase I wasn't sure that a still camera could produce a good enough video to replace my old analog camera, but it is outstanding. The videos are clear and sharp, focus and audio work well, although you have to be careful to not let the zoom lever slip off of your finger when shooting or you'll hear the click on the video. Also, be careful of how tightly you zoom in while shooting video; with the lens zoomed in it's difficult to keep the picture steady and you risk losing your subject, or at best the video will be jerky and/or blurry.

Tip: As with all digital cameras you will need a SD card to store the images. If you intend to shoot video, especially HD video, you will want the largest card that you can reasonably afford. HOWEVER, you do NOT need the /fastest/ card available, just one that is faster than the camera. SD cards have read/write speeds. The DMC-ZS30 records at less than 40 mb/sec, so you don't need to pay for a faster card. I bought a 64GB Class 10 40mb/sec card and it works great.

Overall I love the camera, but there are a few things that keep it from receiving 5 stars. For the most part though they are things that I would have liked to have included for either convenience, or to not have to pay extra for, or both:

1. The camera goes through its battery faster than most point & shoot cameras for several reasons, but with only one battery provided you end up buying and carrying extra batteries just to be safe. Also, the supplied battery is not the largest available; there are aftermarket batteries with up to 50% more amp-hour capacity that don't cost very much. I bought two. This is not to say that you'll constantly have to change batteries, you probably won't, but on an all-day outing shooting stills and videos, and the camera kept on most of the time (to hold the GPS lock), we exhausted the OEM battery right at the end of the day. Our old still camera would have gone for two or three days on a charge, but it wouldn't have been zooming as much or talking to satellites either. Bottom line on the battery: Buy spares and an external charger, which brings me to...

2. The camera doesn't come with an external charger. Battery charging is done through the USB cable attached to the camera and plugged into a wall outlet. That's fine if you get everything you want on the card and then come home and charge up, but if you find yourself low on battery in the field, you may be out of battery before you're done. A standard wall charger allows you to charge one battery while you use another, and there are aftermarket models that work with a car power (cigarette lighter) adapter for on-the-road charging. They're not expensive and I strongly recommend getting one.

3. GPS often takes a long time to lock in, and if you turn the camera off it has to reacquire the satellites again. This uses battery power and I'm often faced with either taking the shot without a location stamp or waiting, which of course means that I need to add location information later (because I'm not going to miss a shot). Not a huge deal, since our old camera couldn't do this at all, but I was expecting something more like my wife's smartphone which stamps all photos and always knows where it is. I haven't decided yet whether to just save battery power and turn off the GPS entirely, but I'm thinking about it.

4. Auto focus can be slow at times. Most of the time it's excellent, but at low light levels and other demanding situations it can be slow to respond.

5. Raw AVCHD video is saved in MTS format and cannot be exported into MP4 or other more useful formats directly. You can record directly to MP4 format but are limited to 24 fps. To get 1080p and 30 fps you will need to record to AVCHD and then convert the image to another format for editing. There are several good MTS converters on the market for a reasonable price, but its an extra cost.

These are minor issues in my mind. I am very happy with the camera and plan to use it for a very long time.
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on July 30, 2013
I have had this camera for several weeks, purchased with the hope that I could use it as a substitute for a Canon T4i with an L - 70-300 on travels. You can't and don't. It's a modern, well finished, pocket camera loaded with many extras, some of which you may not want. A major problem with it in the field, ie., outside, is that the bright and sharp LCD isn't viewable. I mostly fixed this thanks to a commentator on a review I have since removed, with a Clearviewer device. You can find this on Google, not on Amazon. It's a fold-able lens one section of which screws into the tripod socket. The lens then sits about an inch from the LCD and yes you can see the LCD in bright light. But a warning, the telephoto lens isn't a Canon and from my first few forays, I won't be printing birds or butterfly pictures with it. I am aware of a previous reviewer who counsels shooting telephoto pictures very rapidly. When I do this with the Canon, I turn off the image stabilizer at 1/500 or less, so to speak. Perhaps that will work. Travel, yes. Convenience, yes. Good pictures indoors, yes and often without flash. Also, the manual which comes on a disc can be easily downloaded from Panasonic and I stored it on my IPad. But, 314 pages is a bit long and awkward...N.B. if you want to change the shutter speed or exposure in S mode, I suggest you skip the manual and press the little button on the camera back called Exposure/Map. Found it, good.
Several other points. The GPS does work and like all portable GPS devices it depletes the battery very quickly. Come to think of it the battery life even with the GPS is fair to poor on the curve. I've not tried the Wi-Fi and except for a quick download to a smartphone, I not sure why one would use it rather than taking the SD card out and using a reader and a USB plug. But each to his own. Lastly, I bought this camera $high and was annoyed to the the price drop off in a day or so. I expressed this as a concern to Amazon that they need to monitor these kind of unamusing rapid changers. I thought about sending it back and then decided not to. It's clearly an improvement over several older pocket cameras I have owned. But again, a warning, you likely will need help with seeing your subjects unless its a cloudy day or you are inside. It's worth between $300-350 now, no more.
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on November 27, 2014
Well there is not enough space to write how amazing this camera is. I bought it to replace an older point and shoot which I use when not using my Canon 6D - This has now become my primary camera. WOW!!! The Scene Modes allow such versatility it is unreal. Through Glass mode is amazing for Museum and other through glass needs. Distance is great. Dark is awesome, I have not yet found any mode which this camera has failed to impress me on. I am now in Paris - Yes right now and have taken 550 photos of various items, palaces, museums, notre dame and so much more. This camera offers such versatility that with flash off - you can still capture a dark photo such as in the palace of versaille and residence of marie antionette. Like I said I have had other point and shoots, this one by far is the very very best. The lens is crisp, clear and VERY fast! Slow capture shots are terrific. Amazing option is multi shot - it will take multiple shots of the frame and keep the best of the bunch - terrific for low light or fast moving photo. I could go on and on........ Battery life is great. More than 300 Shots before Battery Warning. The screen on back is also touch screen and you can take photos by touch on the screen in lieu of depressing the photo button should you choose. Using a 32mb Smartcard, I have room for over 3500 photos using the enhanced mode (full megapixel) . For lower Res you can have far more (closer to 9999k), but why bother.

The card speed will impact the speed of the camera, but thats only logical so use a Fast HD card, it well worth it!

Enjoy this camera half as much as me and you have already won!
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on March 13, 2015
This is the second Panasonic camera I have owned that broke a little over one year old and out of warranty. The repair cost is half of the price of the camera. Customer service is terrible. When you try and start the repair process on the Panasonic web site, there is a web link. You are instructed to click on this to initiate the repair process. Clicking on the link only takes you to the home page. When you call the support line, you are only given automated instructions to send the camera to a service center. When you call and request the status of your repair, you are transferred to a number that is no longer in service. I finally got through to a human being using another number and they admitted that the website will not be fixed for several months. So you have to send the camera in, and if it is out of warranty (one year) they send it back to you with the estimated cost of repairs. If you wanted to proceed, you would have to send it a second time. Two cameras breaking a little over one year old, repairs costing half the price of the camera, and terrible customer service. I will never purchase a Panasonic device again
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on August 9, 2013
For me, a great camera is one that is with me always and one that lets me capture those spontaneous shots that bring smiles to my face when I get home, or comments from the audience (along with questions about "how did you do that!) This super zoom travel camera does that and more. For those who remember the old Lee Majors TV show "The Six Million Dollar Man", this is your bionic eye that lets you see more detail and record real time images and movies than your physical eye is capable of recording..... let alone remembering!

As others have explained in great detail, this is the camera you want IN YOUR POCKET when ever you travel, visit grandchildren, or head out the door for fun day. Though thicker than a cell phone, it fits easily and comfortably in one's pocket, and with the improved rubberized grip, I can pull from my pocket, hit the power button and snap a candid picture in full auto in one smooth motion. Rarely do I miss that perfect candid shot because of the mechanics of setting up the camera. It takes another 2 seconds for the movie mode to be "ready to shoot" from a pocket quick draw... so the camera still has room for improvement.

The feature list is significant, with many enhancements. Here are the ones I found most significant during a two week mission trip in the barrios of Lima, Peru:
1) The five axis optical image stabilization works very well, especially in wide angle. When combined with iMovie movie stabilization, viewers will think you were using a steady cam.
2) This version of GPS and GPS logging seems to be more power efficient. I had no battery life issues leaving this on, and found the ability to overlay current location on a map quite handy. I had downloaded the maps for South America to the memory card, and with no cell phone coverage, my iPhone was worthless as a GPS tracker. But this camera worked flawlessly.
3) Picture and video quality are improved and more than adequate for home and semi-pro use. Audio is limited by range of the built in microphone, but short of using a video camera with remote microphone input capability, quite adequate. No zoom audio noise when shooting videos (unlike earlier versions).

Not perfect, but best yet. Highly recommended.
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on February 5, 2014
I purchased this after I lost my first one hunting in the Oregon Coast Range. Pictures are very easy to take, are of good quality and the camera allows you a myriad of options from completely automatic to manual. It has a zoom and flash and has good battery life. All in all it is a nice compact all around camera. I have a Nikon SLR with a Leica lens, but this is what I take to the woods, light and reliable.
Now here is the exceptional thing. I found my original camera four months later in a meadow. My fault it came out of my pack. It had a Lowepro case on it, but the camera had been exposed from September through mid December, through innumerable rain and windstorms, frost from late October and snow in late November (and I am talking about inches worth of moisture), multiple days of frost and snow. Not only was there a little battery charge still left, it worked, took a picture and everything. Now, I only took one picture and was careful to dry it out, but after only a few days the camera was absolutely perfect. So this camera and a Lowepro case are much tougher and more reliable than I ever would have expected.
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on June 13, 2013
Buy zs30 three weeks ago for my trip to Peru. and really say it's fantastic, I'm no professional but I enjoy a good picture and well done. From what most outstanding camera has is the powerful 20x optical zoom. this for a compact camera is fantastic! buy it as a replacement for the ZS3 and have improved a lot. to make videos from any position of the dial is very good. Manual function to handle the opening and light and speed. has many positions that can be pre-configured. Although not easy to remember all at the time to take a picture (and that's no problem on the camera). automatic function always available to achieve the goal. the gps is fantastic and Wireless communication achieves its objective although I recognize that cost me a bit of work to achieve transfer photos to my iPad, I assumed it was connected to a network and ready. But you have to work more to achieve to know what the camera is connected. I have yet to explore more functions but I'm having fun with it and I think it is worth the price you pay for it. to the extent that I learn Ampliare this concept. but for me I'm no expert, this is a great photographic camera and deserves my 5 stars.
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on March 12, 2014
I have had a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH2 for years, and it has travelled the globe with me and taken some amazing photos. I needed a better zoom, and envied the wifi control for taking better "self-shots" (when it's just me and my tripod) and so I can escape from the sun during brutal band competitions in the texas heat, but setting out the camera and then controlling it from the shade.

It takes amazingly good pictures and videos. The only thing (that I was unaware of) is that AVCHD looks really poor on a computer, and MP4 is the way to go if you're distributing electronically. The oddity is that MP4 is 30fps and AVCHD is 60fps so this was really counterintuitive that the higher fps would look grainy and out of focus. That solved, I'm thrilled!
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