Panasonic ZS3 / TZ7 Reviews

First published on: Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Last update (Oct 12, 2009): Canon SX200 IS vs Panasonic ZS3 / TZ7, compared by Tom Hoots.

This post is a compilation of Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 / DMC-TZ7 compact digital camera professional and user reviews, owner opinions and experiences, tests, conclusions, ratings and feedback.

Full attribution is given by linking to the source and where available, the author’s homepage or photo gallery.

Recently added

Canon SX200 IS vs Panasonic ZS3 / TZ7, compared by Tom Hoots:

If you’re considering the SX200, and if you’re interested in a wider wide end, I’d recommend taking DPReview’s advice, and check out the Panasonic ZS3 instead.

I recently did some horse-trading and traded my ZS3 away — “I can always go get another one.” But, when the time came to head into the store, I figured I’d give the SX200 a shot, instead. Oh, man. It’s not even close. I just want a long-zoom camera to have sitting in a bag, for when I need it, while I use a pocket camera for most of my shooting. And the SX200 will suffice for that. But, as a bigger-yet-still-pocketable, all-around camera, the ZS3 just shines. It’s great fun to use, while the SX200 is, well, “a load.”

The image quality isn’t really that far off between the two cameras — I was more than happy with the ZS3’s “vivid” color mode, and the SX200 has good, old “Canon color.” But I’m talking more about routine, everyday handling — the ZS3 is just “more inviting” — “more fun.” It just fits in the hand better, has a better screen, and so on — it’s just a joy to use. I’d easily recommend it to anyone who might be interested in one of the “pocket superzooms.”

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7 review (Margaret Brown at PhotoReview Australia) — The ZS3 / TZ7 earned the PhotoReview Editor’s Choice, and scored an overall rating of 8.5 out of 10.

Margaret says: “Our subjective assessments of image quality showed the review camera to be at least as good as the TZ15 (aka Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5) — and slightly better than the FT1 (aka Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1). This is probably due to the lens as the sensors in both cameras are similar. In adequate lighting the test camera proved capable of producing sharp, colourful still images with little evidence of over-saturation and few visible artefacts.”

Compact Super Zoom Test by DPReview, May 2009

The following summary on the DMC-ZS3 / DMC-TZ7 (which more or less was carried over from the review summary on the Panasonic DMC-ZS1 / DMC-TZ6 in the same review series) was given for the camera:

The ZS3’s movie mode offers AVCHD Lite recording and stereo sound and makes the camera the obvious choice if your intent is to shoot a large proportion of video footage with your compact superzoom camera. For everybody else there is, apart from the larger (and admittedly much nicer) screen, not really a reason to choose the ZS3 over the ZS1.

* We like: Good image quality, intuitive user interface, decent high ISO output (for smaller prints), 25mm wide-angle, relatively fast lens at the long end (F4.9), large high-res screen, versatile movie mode

* We don't like: Some highlight clipping of contrasty scenes, occasionally slightly underexposed flash shots

Luminous Landscape compares Fuji F200EXR vs Panasonic ZS3 vs Canon SX200

LL compares three cameras, the Fujifilm FinePix F200EXR, the ZS3 / TZ7 and the Canon PowerShot SX200IS in their article titled “Pocket Camera as Visual Notebook“.

Michael Reichmann, the reviewer, has the following opinion on the ZS3 / TZ7’s Intelligent Auto (iA) mode:

… I took a few snapshots of my dogs Cody and Lula play-fighting in my back yard, and am now even more impressed with the automation capabilities of these cameras, especially the Panasonic ZS3. These were taken seven seconds apart in Intelligent Auto mode. In the frame above the camera detected rapid motion and pushed the ISO to 800 so as to allow for an appropriate shutter speed of 1/500sec. Seven seconds later, with the dogs motionless, it exposed at 1/125 sec at ISO 125. Quite uncanny, and a very welcome capability even for an experienced photographer when working under rapidly charging conditions.

In the end, Michael decides to keep the ZS3 / TZ7 — that’s saying a lot:

After several weeks with each of these three cameras I’ve decided that the Panasonic Lumix ZS3 / TZ7 comes closest to meeting my needs. I like the fit and finish, size, weight, focal range, and – yes – even the image quality – as long as I don’t have expectations beyond what it can deliver. It’s more than acceptable; at least for the purposes that I have for it as a visual note pad and for recording the unexpected.

Canon SX200 IS vs ZS3 / TZ7 at CameraLabs.com

Reading the review on the SX200 IS, I noticed that Gordon Laing, the reviewer, favors buying the DMC-ZS3 / DMC-TZ7 over the Canon PowerShot SX200IS, and lists the reasons why, on the verdict page.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 / DMC-TZ7 review at DCResource.com

Jeff Keller, the reviewer, has updated his review of the ZS3 / TZ7 on April 14th, 2009, and has a lot to say in the conclusion. Here is one short excerpt:

I think it’s safe to say that Panasonic is going to sell a lot of Lumix DMC-ZS3 cameras. They’ve done a nice job improving on the TZ5, though I’m not really sold on the AVCHD Lite codec. A lot of people have been comparing the DMC-ZS3 to Canon’s PowerShot SX200 IS, and I’d say that the ZS3 is the better of the two cameras. The only place where the SX200 comes out ahead is in terms of manual controls: it has the full suite. If that’s not important, then I think you’ll be more than happy with the DMC-ZS3.

It is interesting to note that Jeff prefers the Panasonic over the Canon SX200 IS. In a review of the Panasonic ZS1 / TZ6 at CNET UK, the reviewer reached the same conclusion, that is, he recommended the Panasonic DMC-ZS1 / DMC-TZ6 over the SX200 IS.

Looks like Panasonic has a very good thing going here.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7 / ZS3 at TrustedReviews

Cliff Smith, the reviewer, sets the tone for the ZS3 / TZ7 review with this statement in the third paragraph:

I can state with hand on heart that the most I’ve ever received from Panasonic is a couple of invitations to press launch events, along with hundreds of other journalists. I’m telling you all this because I’m about to add to the controversy with today’s review; the new Lumix DMC-TZ7 is another seriously good camera from Panasonic, and so I’m afraid it’s going to get another high score.

On the rear LCD monitor, Cliff says:

The monitor itself is superb. With a resolution of 460,000 dots it’s twice as sharp as most other compact camera screens, and has an exceptionally wide viewing angle in all directions. It also has automatic brightness control, and although it is a bit reflective and prone to glare, it is bright enough to see clearly in bright daylight.

The video capability on the ZS3 / TZ7 looks fantastic too:

The HD movie mode is superb, arguably the best I’ve seen on a compact camera so far. Sound and picture quality rival the performance of a dedicated camcorder, and the progressive zoom action means you can do some nice slow zoom effects.

If image quality is of paramount importance to you:

Image quality too is outstanding. Colours are rich and vibrant, exposure is nearly always perfect, and the lens is, as we’ve come to expect from the Leica brand name, superb. It does suffer from slight barrel distortion at the 25mm wide-angle end, but it is pin-sharp from corner to corner, with no chromatic aberration, and the level of recorded fine detail right across the frame is excellent, surpassing most 12MP cameras.

Cliff awards the ZS3 / TZ7 with an overall rating of 9 / 10, and concludes with the following verdict:

Panasonic has done it again with the TZ7, producing a well-designed and exceptionally versatile camera ideal for travel, but also well suited to just about any type of general snapshot photography. Build quality, design, performance and image quality are all excellent, it has a useful range of easy-to-use features, and of course it also has a superb HD video option with stereo sound.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7 Review at PhotographyBlog.com

Mark Goldstein, the reviewer, highlights some of the more interesting features on the ZS3 / TZ7.

On the 25mm focal length:

The 25mm focal length provides an entirely new wide angle of view that can only increase your creativity. Take it from me, you won’t want to go back to a “standard” 35mm zoom after using the 25mm lens on the DMC-TZ7, or to the TZ5‘s 28mm lens — 3mm makes a surprising amount of difference in the world of wide-angle photography.

On the movie / video capture mode:

The TZ7 now offers stereo sound, with the left and right mics found to the left of the On/Off switch. When used in combination with the new Wind Cut menu option, this makes a real difference to the sound quality in movies.

The HD video capability of the DMC-TZ7 is one of the major features of this camera, and it’s now further enhanced by support for the new AVCHD Lite format and some features more usually found on dedicated camcorders.

Mark concludes and awards 5 out of 5 stars to the ZS3 / TZ7:

Although the DMC-TZ7 no longer has the travel zoom market to itself, with the likes of Canon, Olympus and Samsung all recently launching rival models, it’s still the leader of the pack, mainly thanks to the the new 12x zoom lens and improved video recording.

In summary, the DMC-TZ7 is the best travel-zoom camera yet. Even the annoyingly loose Shooting Mode dial and slightly higher launch price don’t detract too much from what is simply a fantastic camera. One of the best compacts of 2008 just got even better.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7 / ZS3 review by CameraLabs.com

CameraLabs echoes what PhotographyBlog said about the 25mm focal length at the wide end, and comparing that with what you get on the Canon SX200 IS:

The TZ7 / ZS3’s broad optical zoom range gives you enormous compositional flexibility in practice, taking you from very wide angle to pretty serious telephoto. Three millimetres may not sound like much, but zoomed-out to an equivalent of 25mm allows the camera to capture a comfortably larger field than at 28mm, which is invaluable when shooting big landscapes, buildings, cramped interiors, large group shots or in situations when you literally can’t step back any further.

Canon’s PowerShot SX200 IS may also boast a 12x range in a pocketable form factor, but with a 28-336mm equivalent range, most will find Panasonic’s wider coverage more useful than an extra 36mm at the long end.

Regarding the availability of both Motion JPEG and AVCHD Lite formats for movie / video capture:

To put them in perspective, we filmed the same 15 second sequence moments apart with both formats, with the 17Mbit AVCHD Lite and Motion JPEG versions measuring around 28MB and 54MB respectively, despite delivering roughly the same image quality. We then imported both clips into Adobe Premiere Pro CS4, and confirmed the Motion JPEG version was much more responsive when scrubbing or editing than the one using AVCHD.

Gordon Laing, the reviewer, gave the following conclusion:

You might think such a range in such a small body would result in serious optical compromises, but our results from the TZ7 / ZS3 really were very good. Zoomed-out to 25mm, the frame was impressively sharp into the corners, and while there’s some reduction in contrast when zoomed-in (like all super-zoom lenses), the quality remained very respectable

And the final verdict is Highly Recommended:

Ultimately while there’s now more options to compare, the Lumix TZ7 / ZS3 remains a great choice, updating the compelling pocket super-zoom concept with the latest features. In short, one of the best compacts on the market just got better, and as such we can easily award the Lumix TZ7 / ZS3 our Highly Recommended rating.

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