Panasonic has been at the forefront when it comes to launching travel compact cameras and over the past few years has developed legendary cameras most notably of which, the TZ20 was launched last year. However, the brand is now pushing the envelope and are now placing aesthetics as high priority. This is most visible in one of their newest announcements, the Panasonic Lumix SZ1. Read on to know more about this compact camera which has some enticing features.

Single connectivity option at the side

Single connectivity option at the side

Design and Build Quality
The design on Panasonic’s range of stylish zoom cameras predominantly feature the same design. However, with this model, they have taken looks to a new level and dipped it in a fair amount of class. This is all due to the fact that it is really slim and not like the other models, which are on the chunkier side. The Panasonic SZ1 is available in three colour options, which are silver, red and black. These cameras all feature a silver strip that runs along all four sides which help in raising its style factor. Finished in matte black, this camera can abstain from any residue left by fingerprints. Its silver and black finish lends it a retro appeal. This camera is definitely a looker and can be sure to turn some heads.

The front of the body features the Lumix branding, the large lens, AF assist and the LED flash. All these components located at the front are well positioned and give it a minimalistic look. The rear is packed with the 2-inch display and the different buttons used for accessing the various camera options. There is no dedicated mode dial located here and it is good in a way as it would have added to the space on the camera, thereby increasing the size. Instead, if one wants to access the different modes, then they can do so by merely tapping the dedicated mode button located at the back. This camera features a toggle switch for accessing the playback option and this helps one in conveniently reviewing pictures that have been clicked. However, we found this to be a bit cumbersome as when in playback mode, one would need to move the toggle switch back to the camera mode to allow one to click images. All one needs to do on other cameras found in the market is merely press the shutter release button and start shooting once more.

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Flap of the battery bay feels sturdy

The other buttons located here, include a four way navigational pad, the menu set button, quick menu and display button, all of which are found at the back. The top of the camera features the toggle switch for powering it on, shutter release button, zoom rocker and a dedicated video recording button. All the buttons are designed well and feel sturdy. The spacing between each option is good too and one may not accidentally press the wrong button. There is only one connectivity option found on this camera and it is a proprietary USB port that can be used for charging the camera as well as syncing with a PC. Like with most compact cameras, this model, too houses the memory card, along with the battery in the battery bay. The flap for the bay is spring loaded and it has a locking mechanism, so the battery does not accidentally pop out.

Summing up this bit of the review, the Lumix SZ1 is designed well and it has a build quality that is very sturdy. There were no complaints about anything in this department.


Features

The Panasonic Lumix SZ1 is pretty loaded with features for a camera at this price point. The highlighted feature of this model is that it comes equipped with a large 10x optical zoom housed in a slim body. This will result in a 35mm camera equivalent of wide angle 25mm to 250mm telephoto. MEGA O.I.S., which is Panasonic's image stabilizing technology aims to reduce the amount of blur in shots used with zoom as well as macro. It also helps in reducing blur, due to accidental hand shaking as well.

Panasonic have added a 16 megapixel CCD sensor on this camera and this should be more than sufficient to print images on large format papers. The maximum resolution supported here is 4608 x 3456 with respect to a 4:3 aspect ratio. However, the addition of a CCD sensor usually results in lower quality images as those cameras that feature a CMOS sensor. This type of  sensor does not have a great command over images shot in poor lighting.

The buttons are well spaced

The buttons are well spaced

The interface of the camera is extremely easy to use and it is great for those who are using digital cameras for the first time. The menu is well detailed and the text for the options is crisp. In the main menu, there are four major modes, which are normal, intelligent auto, miniature and settings. One can easily adjust the various settings by merely tapping the quick menu option, where one gets greeted with the different menu settings, such as the ability to adjust ISO sensitivity, white balance etc. After using this camera for a while, the only buttons one may find themselves using the most is the quick menu and set button and in the process reduces the need to go into the main menu option.

The brand has added a 3-inch display that sports a resolution of 230000 dots. In terms of quality, we feel that this display is not as great as some of the other cameras that feature resolutions of approximately 460000 dots. Fitted with this display, it should be more than sufficient though for reviewing images shot on the camera itself. Panasonic has loaded this camera with a range of presets that should be sufficient for shooting most subjects in a range of environments. These preset modes, include Portrait, Soft Skin, Scenery, Panorama, Sports, Night Portrait and a host of others. Apart from this, the different modes, which people can shoot in include, Black and white, sepia tone, vivid and a couple more. The camera can record videos in HD 720 at 24fps. Though this is not the best resolution of videos found on cameras, this is passable as the camera falls under the above entry-level segment of cameras. Content of this camera can be recorded on the internal memory as well as by attaching either an SD card, SDHC card or an SDXC card. 

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Dedicated video recording button at the top

Read on to know about the performance of the camera.

Performance
The performance of the camera was tested based on a number of factors. Firstly, the handling of the camera is really great and this is also due to the fact that it is extremely light weighing just 131g. Another attribute about the camera that assists in the handling is that the buttons found here are well spaced. This allows one to easily shoot images using  just onehand. The camera is really compact for a super zoom and can easily fit in one’s pocket.

Macro shot

Macro shot

During outdoor photography, we observed that the display of the camera did extremely well against the harsh sun and there were no purple anomalies appearing onscreen. During outdoor shots, we observed that the camera was quick to focus and there was sufficient detail in the shots captured. All colours appeared accurately and there was hardly any colour fringing visible when shooting, while facing the sun. Shooting indoors had mixed performances. In some instances, there appeared to be a lot of grain in the image and at other times the shots appeared without any grain. Focusing on subjects indoors as well as outdoors were good and there were no issues found in still image performance, besides the inability to have a solid indoor performance.

ISO sensitivity test

ISO sensitivity test

ISO Sensitivity
The ISO sensitivity of this camera ranges from 100 to 1600. At the low ISO of 100, we notice that the image is free of any noise. However, this camera does not handle noise very well and at a low ISO of 400, we observed that image noise began to seep in the picture. If one needs to adjust the ISO of the camera, then we highly recommend that it does not exceed 400, otherwise there will be a lot of image noise.

Zoom test
The image stabilizer of this camera works like a breeze while capturing images outdoors and there was a lot of detail observed in the shots. However, when using the zoom indoors, we noticed that the image stabilizer does not work as efficiently and there was a lot of blur observed.

Zoom Test

Zoom Test

Performance Continued
While checking the video recording capabilities of the camera, we observed that this camera did a really good job. Video recording on this camera is great and there were no transition issues noticed while panning from a dark area to a bright one. A lot of detail was also observed in the videos that were shot. The flash of the camera is really powerful with it easily being able to light up an area of 12 feet. The brand bundles a 680mAh battery, along with the camera and they rate it at 250 shots. However, the life of the battery also depends on the amount of videos recorded.

Slim camera with a 10x optical zoom

Slim camera with a 10x optical zoom

Verdict
The Panasonic Lumix SZ1 is available in India at an MRP of Rs. 10,990. This camera is stylishly designed and will appeal to all those who want a minimalistic looking handset. For a camera priced at this amount, it is rich in features and one can certainly benefit from the 10x optical zoom when clicking images outdoors. The only real issue with it is the inconsistent indoor performance. If one can forgive this flaw of the camera and is mainly interested in outdoor photography, this will be an option that is worth considering. With this model, Panasonic is targeting those who need a compact camera on travels and do not want to pay insane amounts of cash for the same. If you find yourself falling in this bracket, then this will be a camera to bear in mind.

Publish date: June 1, 2012 8:37 am| Modified date: December 18, 2013 10:24 pm

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