Steve's Conclusion

Steve's SnapShot

  • 18-Megapixel Imaging Sensor
  • 3.0-Inch, 1.04 Million dot LCD Screen
  • High Level Electronic Viewfinder
  • 30x Leica Optical zoom lens: 24-720mm (35mm equivalent)
  • 5-Axis optical image stabilization system
  • Dedicated Video Record Button
  • iAuto mode
  • 4K and Full 1080p HD video recording
  • Full Manual Video Recording Mode
  • Post Focus Feature
  • 4K Burst shooting
  • Art Filters
  • Built-In flash
  • Lens Ring and Command Dial
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card compatible
  • Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery
Pros
  • iAuto and Program shooting modes are accurate and easy in all situations
  • Dedicated Video Capture Button is always ready to record 4K or Full 1080p HD
  • Lightning AF in still image shooting modes
  • 30x optical zoom lens is useful in all shooting situations
  • 5-Axis image stabilization allows for sharper images and smooth video when shooting handheld and on the move
  • LCD and EVF offer a great way to compose your images no matter what situation or shooting style you prefer
  • 4K Burst means you will never miss an action shot
  • Nice, Bright 2.7-inch LCD
  • Excellent overall shooting performance
  • HDMI Output
  • Decent Battery Life
Cons
  • Noise present in all images at all ISO settings / More than we would like to see at the lower ISO settings
  • Very weak built-in flash unit
  • Bad placement of flash allows it to be easily blocked
  • AF system does not keep up while recording video
  • No input for external audio
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 1.6 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 1/10 to 2/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 0.44 seconds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 1.36 seconds
  • High Speed Burst = 8.87fps up to 63 images
  • High Speed Burst (Continuous AF) = 3fps
  • Super High Speed Burst = 40fps (4.5M) up to 60 images
  • Raw shooting greatly reduces the number of images that can be captured in the burst mode (Super High Speed is not available)
  • All of our tests were completed using a Panasonic UHS-3 16GB SDHC memory card, Program mode, Flash off, ISO auto and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
The Panasonic Lumix ZS60 is a compact and extremely versatile digicam with full manual controls. Loaded with great features, the camera is ready for any situation and portable enough to go anywhere. Its only major drawback is the image noise we saw in all of our sample images.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for a compact and versatile travel camera that is ready for all situations. Also great for anyone looking for a compact 4K camera with full video control.
Panasonic's new compact super-zoom camera, the Lumix ZS60, sports a 30x optical Leica DC lens that will blow you away. This lens, with a 35mm equivalent of 24-720mm, has you ready for every shooting situation that you might come across. Along with the huge zoom lens, you will find an 18-Megapixel High Sensitivity MOS image sensor, 5-axis optical image stabilization, 4K video capture, 4K burst shooting, EVF and LCD; rounding off an incredible feature set. A new feature that Panasonic is offering with the ZS60 is a post-focus function allowing you to choose the focus point of your image AFTER the image has been captured. Available in black or black and silver, you have your choice in classic styling.

Taking advantage of the power and speed of their 4K Burst shooting, Panasonic has added a new feature to the ZS60 called the Post Focus shooting mode. At 30fps, the camera has the ability to capture a collection of images with slew of different AF points with one touch of the shutter release. After the image has been taken, you can go back and choose the image with the AF point that you like the best and save it as a JPEG (8-Megapixel). This feature gives you a similar result to what Lytro did with its light array camera a few years ago. This feature works best with the aperture wide open and several objects/subjects at varying distances, in order to see the differences in the AF. Samples of this feature are available on our samples page.

To make the camera more user friendly, Panasonic has included built-in WiFi capabilities to make sharing and controlling the camera as easy as possible. Once connected, a smartphone can search and copy images from the camera, allowing you to upload and share your images with the world from just about anywhere. It also allows you to control the camera via the Panasonic Image App. When connected, the phone can make changes to the shooting settings as well as actually capturing images from a distance remotely.

Compact and lightweight, the ZS60 fits nicely into your hands with a very solid feel. Small grips on the right side of the camera allow for a solid grip and make one handed shooting very manageable. If one handed shooting is not for you, the lens ring and EVF will give you a very authentic classic camera feel. The on-camera controls are simple and well-placed, allowing for easy operation. The lens ring, combined with the command dial on the back, give full manual control without having to access the LCD. Even with the limited controls on the body, the touch LCD screen provides you with 6 additional programmable Fn buttons to make sure you can always find the settings you want quickly.

Composing and viewing your images is accomplished with either the Eye-Level EVF or the 3.0-inch, 1.04-Million dot Touch LCD screen. Both provide a very high resolution, high detail replication of your scene. All shooting information and accurate exposure previews are available with both options. Both also feature a full 100% coverage of the captured image area, so there is no guessing to what it is that you will be capturing. The 3.0-inch Touch Screen offers a few extra features, including Touch AF and Touch to Capture. These are pretty self-explanatory, as they allow you to pick an AF point and capture an image by simply touching the screen.

Performance from the Lumix ZS60 is fantastic. It was just a little slow starting up, taking 1.6 seconds to capture its first image. This is because the very large zoom lens just needs a little time to come out of the camera. When the AF is set, the shutter lag is almost non-existent. While waiting for the awesome AF to work, the camera takes between 1/10 and 2/10 of a second to capture most of its images. Shot-to-shot delay in single shot mode came in under ½ second at 0.44 seconds and increased to 1.36 seconds when using the built-in flash. Burst shooting is where the camera really shined. 4K burst shooting is set to 30fps MPEG4 video in which after recording, you have the ability to save any of the frames as an 8-Megapixel JPEG. We also tested the High and Super High speed bursts. High speed burst was able to capture at a speed of 8.87fps at the full 18-Megapixel resolution for 63 frames before maxing out the buffer. Super High speed burst uses the smaller image at 4.5-Megapixel, but is able to capture up to 60 images at 40fps before filling the buffer. All of our tests were completed using a Panasonic UHS-3 16GB SDHC memory card, Program mode, Flash off, ISO auto and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.

Our outdoor sample images show well exposed images with very accurate color at the lower ISO settings. Looking closely reveals a noticeable amount of noise in the darker areas and shadows of our images, even when the camera shoots at ISO 80. The images are also a little soft, especially around the edges. This comes from the 1/2.3-inch image sensor crammed with 18-million pixels, as each pixel just does not perform as well as it should. Along with a softer image, the images also lack in the fine details that are needed to enlarge and really make the image pop. Composing your images is accomplished with the Leica 30x optical zoom lens, featuring a 35mm equivalent of 24-720mm. This outstanding zoom range will have you ready for any shooting situation that you find yourself in. Along with that, the dual Image Stabilization system works to assist you in steadying the lens. The 5-axis I.S. is excellent, but combining that with increased ISO increases the noise in your images.

Looking closely at our indoor sample images shows us the same low ISO noise and lack of fine details discussed about our outdoor image samples. By ISO 800, all of the fine details have disappeared from the image, including all of the threading from the flag. From here, the noise levels continue to rise with the ISO settings. Assisting with your low-light images, Panasonic has included a small built-in flash unit. This small flash is not very powerful, as seen in our flash shots; at ISO 80 the flash was not enough to light our image from just a few feet away. As the ISO goes up, the flash range will increase but so does the image noise. We were also disappointed with the placement of the flash. With it being directly above the front grip, it ended up being covered by a finger quite often when shooting handheld.

Panasonic takes face detection one step further on the Lumix ZS60 with its eye detection feature. The camera has the ability to detect and fine tune the focus for an eye once a face has been detected. This draws your attention to the eyes of your subjects, really making them pop. The higher noise levels produced by the camera, especially when using the telephoto end of the zoom, give a very soft skin tone to your portraits but at the same time loses some of the details you may be looking for. We did not notice any redness in the eyes of our subjects from the flash, but we did notice that the camera did not choose to use the flash very often when the flash was on auto.

Included on the ZS60 is a slew of fun and creative shooting modes, allowing you to easily expand your creative abilities. Selecting the Art mode from the mode dial lets you choose from one of the 20+ creative filters for your images. Once you have selected a filter, you will see exactly what the camera will capture on the LCD or EVF, so there is no guesswork involved. Many of these filters are adjustable, allowing slight variations to the filters. Several samples of the filters can be found on our samples page.

Along with still images, the ZS60 has some great video features as well. The camera is able to capture 4K video as well as Full 1080p HD video at 60fps. There are plenty of options available, including full Manual shooting mode, offering you complete video control. The camera records in both AVCHD and MPEG4 video formats. Add the 5-axis image stabilization and you have the ability to be mobile with the camera while still capturing smooth video, no extra equipment needed. Our video samples came out very well, playing back smoothly, but there was a little difficulty with the cameras continuous AF. It was a bit slow adjusting while the subject or the camera was in motion, quick or slow. Audio is captured on the camera's built-in stereo microphone, which is small and very sensitive. This means the camera will capture the sounds that take place closest to the camera, adding a great deal of background noise if you are not careful where you position yourself.

Powering the ZS60 is a 7.2V, 1025mAH rechargeable Li-Ion battery. This battery was more than enough to capture over 130 images and a few short videos while completing our tests on a single charge. It has an overall "OK" battery life, but will probably not survive a full day of shooting. Have a spare battery, or two, charged and ready to go is always a good idea. Being the battery is charged in-camera, you'll have to plan ahead to get some spare charged. You can top off the battery on the go with the included USB cable.

Bottom Line - Panasonic's Lumix ZS60 sports a fantastic feature set for the traveling photographer. Lead by the 30x optical zoom lens, 5-axis image stabilization, and 4K video and burst shooting options; the features alone are enough to wow you. The only drawback is the size of the camera's 18-Megapixel imaging sensor. At just 1/2.3-inch, it is the same size as found in most inexpensive point-n-shoot cameras. We saw noticeable amounts of noise throughout our image samples, which really degrades the camera's overall image quality. With a MSRP of US $449.99, we had hoped to see a little better image quality, especially when considering its great feature set.




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