Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 Review
By Mike Flacy
Features & Controls
The all-glass Lumix LEICA DC Vario-Elmar Lens 12x optical zoom lens is equivalent to a 25-300mm zoom on a 35mm camera. It has a F3.3 - 6.3 (wide) to F4.9 - 6.3 (tele) maximum aperture. The lens is constructed from 10 elements in 8 groups (2 Aspherical Lenses / 3 Aspherical surfaces, 2 ED lens). When powered down the lens retracts into the camera's body and is protected by a built-in cover.
Shaky hands is the one of the biggest causes of blurry shots. LUMIX cameras help solve this problem with advanced MEGA O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) technology. A built-in gyro-sensor detects any hand-shake and a signal is relayed to a high precision control circuit built into the Venus Engine IV, which instantly calculates the compensation needed. A linear motor then shifts the O.I.S. lens as necessary to guide incoming light from the image straight to the CCD. Panasonic's highly evolved Venus Engine HD makes this process even faster and more accurate. This helps extend the MEGA O.I.S. correction range more than 3 steps below (slower than) the shutter speed that is generally considered to be the limit for handheld shooting.
The TTL contrast-detect auto focus system has selectable 1 point, 1 point high speed, AF Area select (chose which of the 11 points are used), Spot (High Speed), Tracking and Face detect options. It has an AF-assist lamp for low light focusing. The normal focus range is Wide 50cm/ Tele 200cm - infinity. Macro is: Wide 3cm / Max 200cm / Tele 100cm - infinity.
The built in flash offers Auto, Red-eye Reduction, Auto Red-eye Correction, Flash On, Flash Off; Slow Synchro. Flash range is 1.9ft. (.6m) - 17.4 ft. (5.3m) in wide angle, 3.3ft. (1m) - 11.8 ft. (3.6m) in telephoto (using ISO Auto), with a 10 sec. or less recycle time.
On top of the camera you will find the mode dial(iAuto, Program, My Scene (MS) 1, MS 2, SCN, Clipboard), the shutter release with the zoom control coupled around it and the on/off switch. You will also see the stereo microphones and the speaker.
A new 3-inch, 460,000 dot LCD screen is used to frame and view your images, as well as navigate the camera's menus. In Auto Power LCD, the screen will adjust itself to make sure you it is easily visible in any lighting conditions.
Controls on the back: At the top right is the Play / Record switch. To compliment the new HD movie mode, Panasonic has included a one-touch video record button, so that the camera is always ready to capture video. The 4-way selector in Record mode toggles the flash mode when pressed 'Right.' When pressed 'Up' it adjusts exposure compensation, 'Left' to activate the Self-timer and press 'Down' to enable Marco focus mode. In Playback mode the 4-way selector is used to select images and in both record and play is used to navigate the menu screens. The MENU/Set button calls up and dismisses the menu system as well as accepts menu selections. The DISPLAY button toggles the amount of overlay information shown on the LCD. The Q.MENU button gives you access to the shortcut menu in record mode, and acts as the image delete option in playback mode.
A built-in HDMI slot allows you to directly connect the camera to your High-Defenition TV.
Still images and movie clips are stored on 45MB of internal flash memory or removable SD, SDHC, or MMC memory cards. Shown here with a fast and spacious OCZ Class 6 4GB SDHC card.
The DMC-ZS3 is powered by a proprietary 3.6v 895mAh rechargeable Li-ion battery. Panasonic claims that a fully charged pack will provide enough power for up to 300 frames using CIPA standard testing methods.