Simplicity is what a handful of us look for in a camera. Imagine having a camera ready at all times without the need of getting into the complexities of various modes. If ease of use is what you are in search for in a camera then you should consider getting your hands on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZR1. Why? Here’s why.

The very first thing that you would notice is the camera’s size. It’s so small that you can actually pocket it without much fuss. Moreover at a glance you might just mistake it for a normal point and shoot camera. Step a little closer and you will notice that this small little camera falls just short of being categorised as a mega-zoom. Measuring in at 97.8 x 54.8 x 26.0, the ZR1 packs quite a punch with a whopping 8x of optical zoom. The camera is also not too heavy and weighs just about 160 g. Apart from the 12.1 MP sensor the ZR1 comes with a 25 mm wide angle lens.

In the looks department the ZR1 is not a camera that would turn heads as it comes in a plain aluminium matte silver body. However the overall build is very good and the inclusion of aluminium gives the camera a very rock solid feel. The matte finish ensures that the camera doesn’t attract any fingerprints. Going by its size the ZR1 sports a decently sized 2.7-inch LCD screen that works quite well on a bright sunny day. The camera includes an easy to use navigation menu system and comes built with decently sized buttons that makes it even easier to use. Speaking of which there are a couple of handy shortcut buttons the camera comes with. There is the Quick Menu button and the Extra Optical Zoom (E.Zoom) button. As the name suggests the Quick Menu allows you to change various settings without the need to juggle through the cameras various settings. However the list of settings depends on the mode chosen. The E.Zoom on the other hand gives you an increased zoom value of 15.6x but at a lower resolution of 3 MP. However this feature only allows you to shoot at either 8x zoom or 15.6x of zoom – helpful if you need a quick closer view of the subject.

That apart what you also get is the normal zoom rocker that encircles the shutter release button placed on top of the camera. However the placement is not something that most would get used to. That’s because it is the mode selection dial that comes first rather than the zoom and shutter release button. However this is not something that one needs to worry about as it doesn’t take too long to get over what I feel is a mental block. Having said that, it is the mode selection dial that feels a little too twitchy. In other words, more often than not the dial turns a little too easily thus forcing a change in modes when drawing it out of your pant pocket.

As I have mentioned before and will mention it again. The interface of most Panasonic cameras are a little too kiddish for taste. While the navigation is considerably easy the overall interface does need a face lift. Total number of scene modes remains the same at 26, just as the previously reviewed DMC-FX38. However there are a few decent modes such as the Flash Burst mode and Hi-Speed burst mode. It’s the high speed burst mode that interests me as the camera is capable of capturing six frames a second. Useful if you need to capture a series of shots. However it’s the outdoor shoots that fares well rather than indoor shoots. It’s also worth knowing that the images are scaled down to 3 MP and below to actually make such hi-speed shots possible. There is also the full auto mode that decides the mode depending on the scene.

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