Panasonic DMC SZ1 Review

Mid Zoom Digital Cameras

16 Megapixels    10x Zoom

Dimensions: 99 x 59.4 x 21mm    Weight: 131g

Good Points: Picture quality, small size, extra zoom

Bad Points: Blue tint to pictures taken with artificial lighting


Panasonic DMC SZ1 Shutter Lag Rating fast Ease of Use par Camera Name Rating

Overview

The Panasonic Lumix DMC SZ1 is a small pocket camera that gives you extra zoom power. It has 16 megapixels and a 10x zoom lens. You can also increase the amount of zoom available through a feature called extra zoom if you decrease the number of megapixels you are shooting at.

The Lumix DMC SZ1 is one of the cheaper models to offer this amount of zoom. It can shoot High Definition Movies and for close up work can focus from 5cm away from your subject. You should also find this camera easy to use.

Compared with other pocket digital cameras at this price point the Lumix DMC SZ1 has the following:

Plus Points

  • 10x Zoom
  • 3 inch LCD screen
  • Image Stabilisation
  • Extra zoom if needed (22.5x)

Negative Points

  • No 360 degree sweep panorama
  • No 3D shooting

Why Buy the Panasonic DMC SZ1

If you are looking for a pocket sized digital camera with extra zoom power the Lumix DMC SZ1 is about as good as you are going to get at this price. Its strengths include ease of use and picture quality.

Features

Megapixels and Zoom

The Lumix DMC SZ1 has 16 megapixels and a 10x zoom lens. The focal length of the lens is equivalent to 25 - 250mm in 35mm format. This focal length gives you plenty of flexibility. It means that you can squeeze wide scenes into your photos as well as zooming in on more distant subjects. Further flexibility is available as you can decrease the megapixels you are shooting at if you want more zoom. A maximum 22.5x zoom is available.

Memory Cards

You can store images on SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards.

Batteries

A lithium ion battery is used to provide power. Panasonic supply a battery and charger with the camera. They estimate you should be able to take around 250 photos in between charges.

Movie Mode

You can shoot High Definition Movies with a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels. The top recording speed for HD is 25 frames per second.

LCD Screen

The LCD screen is 3 inches in size.

Scene Modes

Scene modes help the camera to recognise the type of picture you are about to take. The camera can then use what it considers to be the optimum settings to give you the best photograph. Panasonic have equipped the Lumix DMC SZ1 with the following scene modes Portrait, Soft Skin, Scenery, Panorama, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Food, / Baby1, Baby2, Pet, Sunset, High Sensitivity, Glass Through and Photo Frame.

Macro Mode

For close up work the Lumix DMC SZ1 can focus from 5cm away from your subject.

Image Stabilisation

Panasonic have included Image Stabilisation. This helps to reduce picture blur if the camera is not being held completely still when a picture has been taken.

Image Quality

Picture Quality Summary

For a simple pocket camera the Lumix DMC SZ1 is very good. If you are looking for good snapshot quality it is hard to beat at this price point.

Outdoor Scenic Shot 1

The Lumix DMC SZ1 starts off with a sharp photo. The brickwork in the centre of the build is crisp and clear and if you blow the image up to full size you can easily read the name on the boat on the far left of the picture. The only downside is that the blue lines on the boats take on a purple tinge in the bright sunlight.

Outdoor Scenic Shot 2

For a camera with such a wide angle lens the Lumix DMC SZ1 does very well indeed when it comes to retaining sharpness away from the centre of the shot. This is something many cameras struggle with when the lens is zoomed right out. This camera beats most of its direct competitors in this test.

Outdoor Scenic Shot 3

This is another sharp photo. It is taken using maximum zoom. Again sharpness is retained towards the edges. Another area where this camera is a winner is in areas where there is not a great deal of contrast. It manages to show good levels of detail in trees and on the roofs of buildings.

Outdoor Building

Rounding off the outdoor shots taken at distance the camera produces another sharp shot. The colours in the shot are vibrant too.

Outdoor Portrait

Compared against all the other digital cameras that were tested at the same time the Lumix DMC SZ1 manages to produce the brightest outdoor portrait. That gives the picture a big lift compared to other brands. This is a good camera for outdoor portrait snapshots.

Indoor Portrait With Flash

Lighting levels are more or less spot on. There is enough light to brighten the entire picture, including some of the more difficult to reach areas.

Indoor Portrait Without Flash

Panasonic digital cameras tend to show a blue tinge to photos taken under artificial lighting. It is possible you can avoid this if you experiment with the white balance settings, but it is not ideal. Other than that noise levels are kept to a minimum.

Macro

You will find it hard to get hold of a digital camera in this price bracket that can produce better quality macro shots. The Lumix DMC SZ1 is capable of focusing from close in. It can also throw the background out of focus. This helps to highlight your main subject.

Colours

Compared to some brands such as Olympus the Lumix DMC SZ1 packs more power into the colours. This is especially true for green. So if you are looking for a camera to photograph, landscapes and nature from time to time this camera is a good choice. There is also lots of depth to blue skies.

Noise

Like with most digital cameras noise only becomes an issue if you are taking pictures in lowlight. Other than that this camera produces virtually noise free pictures.

Top Rated Cameras in this Category

Nikon Coolpix S9300 Rating 86/100

For a camera that is small enough to take anywhere the Nikon Coolpix S9300 has a lot of features packed into it. If you are planning to take a holiday GPS tracking will tell you where you were when a picture was taken. The length of the zoom lens also gives you plenty of scope when it comes to picture opportunities. Although there is plenty of completion in this category the picture quality on offer here combined with the features makes this camera very attractive indeed. Recommended.

Read Review: Nikon Coolpix S9300 Review

Canon Powershot SX260 HS Rating 86/100

The Canon Powershot SX260 HS is one of the very best digital cameras in this category. In fact if you are happy to miss out on features such as 3D photography and 360 degree panoramas it is very hard to beat. It has a great set of features packed into its relatively compact body size and picture quality helps to make it stand out from the competition. Although it is one of the more expensive cameras in this field it still offers good value for money.

Read Review: Canon Powershot SX260 HS Review

Panasonic DMC SZ1 Rating 84/100

If you are looking for a simple, pocket camera that gives you some extra zoom and takes high quality snapshots the Panasonic Lumix DMC SZ1 is a very good choice. Compared to other cameras with similar features available at around the same price this camera has the edge when it comes to picture quality. It takes sharp, colourful photos and offers excellent value for money. Recommended.

Read Review: Panasonic DMC SZ1 Review

Related Pages

Panasonic DMC SZ1 Specification

Panasonic DMC SZ1 Sample Images

Digital Camera Reviews

Panasonic Digital Cameras

Review Date

Review Date: August 2012

Verdict

If you are looking for a simple, pocket camera that gives you some extra zoom and takes high quality snapshots the Panasonic Lumix DMC SZ1 is a very good choice. Compared to other cameras with similar features available at around the same price this camera has the edge when it comes to picture quality. It takes sharp, colourful photos and offers excellent value for money. Recommended.

Ratings

Ease of Use:
Features:
Movie Mode:
Build Quality:
Colours:

8
8
8
8
9

Photo Quality:
Style:
Indoors:
Macro:
Value for Money:

Total:

9
8
8
9
9

84

Main Features

Megapixels:
Zoom:
LCD Screen:
Dimensions:
Weight:
Macro:
HD Movies:
Manual Controls:
Batteries:
Memory Cards:

16
10x
3 inches
99 x 59.4 x 21mm
131g
5cm
Yes
No
Lithium-ion Rechargeable
SD / SDHC / SDXC

Shutter Lag Times

Single Shot:
Five Shots:
Single Shot With Flash:
Five Shots With Flash:
Turn on Time:

0.29 seconds
8.28 seconds
0.57 seconds
9.95 seconds
2.52 seconds

Shutter Lag Table

Handling

General Handling

Despite its small size there is enough room to get a good hold of the camera. Panasonic have added a small dimpled area for your thumb on the back of the camera. If you are shooting a movie a bit of extra care is required to make sure the microphone is not covered by your hand.

Flash Positioning

Panasonic have placed the flash unit off centre, to the left as you look at the camera. This is a good place as it is out the way of stray fingers and thumbs.

LCD Screen Quality

LCD screen quality is about standard. Unless the sun is shining directly on the screen you should find it easy to view. The menu system uses large text. This helps to make reading the screen easy too.

Turn on Time and Shutter Delay

The Lumix DMC SZ1 is quite speedy compared with other models in this category. Its shutter delay times are all below average.

Design and Build Quality

The front of the camera is dominated by the size of the lens unit. All the edges are rounded to give the camera a softer look. Build quality appears to be good.

Camera Controls

On the top of the camera is a switch to turn the camera on and off, the shutter button, a button to start and stop movie recording and a ring to control zoom.

On the back of the camera is a switch to place the camera in review mode, as well as buttons to select the shooting mode, change the information displayed on the LCD screen and to access the main functions. The main functions button is also used to delete images when the camera is in review mode. There is also a main control section. This has controls for exposure compensation, placing the camera in macro mode, choosing the flash setting and activating the self timer. In the centre is a button to access the menu system and confirm a setting.

Product Shots

Front View

Panasonic DMC SZ1 Front View

Back View

Panasonic DMC SZ1 Back View

Top View

Panasonic DMC SZ1 Top View

Sample Menus

menu 1 menu 2

menu 3 menu 4