Features & Controls

The 10X optical zoom lens offers a broad equivalent zoom range for a compact camera, with a 25mm wide angle extreme and 250mm of magnification (in still image mode). It also boasts their proven MEGA O.I.S. (optical image stabilization) system. The Leica DC Vario-Elmarit lens contains nine elements in seven groups (four aspherical lenses and 6 aspherical surfaces).

Aperture range:
F3.1 - 5.9 / 2-step (F3.1 / 9.0 (W), F5.9 / 16.0 (T))

Focusing range:
Normal: Wide 50 cm - infinity / Tele 150 cm - infinity
Macro / Intelligent Auto / Motion Picture: Wide 5 cm - infinity / Tele 150 cm - infinity

Focus menu:
  • Normal
  • AF Macro
  • Macro Zoom
  • Quick AF (Always On)
  • Continuous AF (only for motion picture)
  • AF Tracking
Panasonic DMC-SZ5-flash-detail.jpg
The small flash on this compact point-and-shoot camera sits on the front face between the shutter button and the lens. Despite being little more than a sliver of a window, this tiny flash throws around a fair amount of light for its size, and is very good within a 10-foot range. It basically peters out at about 15 feet, but that's definitely good enough for people shots and near subjects, and to fill an average size room with fairly even lighting.

Flash menu:
  • Auto
  • Auto / Red-eye Reduction
  • Forced On
  • Slow Sync. / Red-eye Reduction
  • Forced Off

Flash range:
  • 0.6 - 5.6 m (1.9 to 18.3 feet) (Wide / i.ISO)
  • 1.5 - 2.9 m (4.9 to 9.5 feet) (Tele / i.ISO)

Panasonic DMC-SZ5-back.jpg
The 3-inch TFT LCD screen has a resolution of 230,000 dots, which is at the low end of today's screen resolutions, but it's still adequate for taking photos and viewing them. Though the screen may lack the ultra-sharp details of higher resolution displays, it does offer three LCD modes that should help you take shots even in brightly lit conditions (something of a must for a camera lacking an electronic viewfinder).

In the setup menu you will find three options of varying brightness for the LCD. The automatic setting adjust the brightness according to surrounding light. The power LCD setting brightens the screen to help you see it outdoors. A third LCD mode called high angle brightens the screen even further and is designed to improve visibility when taking pictures at an angle.

LCD setup menu:
  • Auto power LCD
  • Power LCD
  • High angle
  • Off

Panasonic DMC-SZ5-back-4way.jpg
The controls of the DMC-SZ5 are pretty much what you would expect for a basic point-and-shoot. The menu/set button is surrounded by four positions for exposure compensation, flash mode, macro mode, and self timer. What it lacks is any form of scroll wheel to help you navigate the menus. What it compensates with, however, is the Q menu (quick menu) button at the bottom right, which doubles as the trash button. This handy button takes you to seven of the most commonly accessed menus.

Quick mode menu items:
  • File size
  • ISO
  • White balance
  • AF mode
  • Burst mode
  • Video recording quality
  • LCD mode
Panasonic DMC-SZ5-back-WiFibutton.jpg
This little camera is built for the age of pervasive sharing, having a dedicated WiFi button at the top right of its back panel. Pressing the button while in shooting mode launches three selections: WiFi setup, remote control, and smart transfer. If you have already set up the camera for a network within range, you can wirelessly transfer your images to a computer on the network using the smart transfer function.

To use the remote control function, you download a Lumix application to your smart phone so it can communicate with the camera. This allows you to use your smart phone to remotely trigger the shutter, playback images on the smart phone that are stored in the camera, save images to the smart phone from the camera, alter the camera's menu selections, and upload photos to a social networking service. You can also use the smart phone to record GPS location information to images taken by the camera - by using the smart phone's GPS unit, the SZ5 does not have built-in GPS.

Panasonic DMC-SZ5-top-lens-out.jpg
There are only three buttons on the top of this camera: on/off, shutter button, and movie recording. The zoom ring surrounds the shutter button. In this photo, the lens is fully extended to 10X, or 250mm (35mm equivalent). During video recording the focal length is the 35mm equivalent of 27mm to 270mm. The lens features optical image stabilization, which you can turn on and off.

Shutter speed range:
  • Approx. 8 seconds to 1/1600 second

Panasonic DMC-SZ5-side-angled-port.jpg
There is just one port on the side of the camera, a combo AV/USB port. Of course, you also have the option of transferring images wirelessly, and you can set up the camera to automatically transfer images while it's charging. You can also use the WiFi function to playback images on a TV that supports DLNA (a Digital Living Network Alliance specification). If you don't have a TV that supports DLNA, you can pick up the optional AV cable; however, since it's no an HDMI port, you can only output standard definition quality.

Panasonic DMC-SZ5-SDcard.jpg
The camera supports SD, SDHC and SDXC memory card formats. In addition there is approximately 55MB of built-in memory. The card slot is right beside the battery compartment behind a spring-loaded hinged door.

Panasonic DMC-SZ5-battery.jpg
To charge the lithium-ion battery, you leave it in the camera and connect the camera to the charger via the USB cable. Battery life is not outstanding, rated by CIPA at 250 pictures. You have the option of buying a second battery. However, you will not be able to charge the first one while shooting with the second. Also available is an AC adapter for saving battery power while shooting within range of an outlet.

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.