Panasonic Lumix DCM-SZ1


Panasonic Lumix DCM-SZ1
In the increasingly competitive world of Smartphone Camera versus Compact Camera in terms of ease of use and portability, the Panasonic Lumix DCM-SZ1 is a super light-weight point and shoot which offers the novice photographer a serious step up from a smart camera while remaining simple to use without needing to know endless technical photography knowledge.

The Panasonic Lumix DCM-SZ1 houses a 16.1 megapixel CCD sensor with 10x optical zoom, HD video and 3inch screen all packed into the same body thickness but much lighter chassis than your average high end point and shoot, and with a weight of just 113g, you’ll hardly notice this in your pocket. What makes the DMC-SZ1 perfect for beginners is its range of intelligent features, including Panasonic’s “sonic speed” AF system and Mega OIS optical stabiliser which means you’ll find it hard to take an out-focus shaky-handed picture. The iZoom setting extends digital zoom to 40x while maintaining sharpness and resolution alongside an impressive 25mm-250mm wide angle lens. Probably one of the nicest features of the DCM-SZ1 is that you have the option to zoom while recording video.

Panasonic Lumix DCM-SZ1 Top View
Panasonic Lumix DCM-SZ1 Top ViewEnlarge Enlarge

Another aid to the novice is in its Scene modes where you can choose from 15 modes that have a very helpful and informative little ticker tape running underneath as you scroll through telling you exactly what each is for and how best to use it. For example ‘Baby’ mode allows you to set the birthday so that age is displayed beside it, ‘Night scenery’ gently prompts you to use a tripod, ‘High Sens’ sets a higher ISO to reduce blurry images indoors and then the ‘Glass Through’ mode is simply “For taking pictures through glass”.

The DCM-SZ1 has a good panorama mode but its shot to shot and continuous shooting will see a big drop in resolution down to a mere 3 megapixels at 7fps. Higher ISO’s show a fair bit of noise but there’s an auto-focus assist lamp to help you along in low-light conditions. One of the more unique features is its ‘mini’ mode which creates handy little photos that are best used on larger vistas from a distance, and in video mode it creates a rather comical high-speed mini movie clip.

Panasonic Lumix DCM-SZ1 back view
Panasonic Lumix DCM-SZ1 back viewEnlarge Enlarge

The DMC-SZ1 features a retro on/off button and Record/Playback switch which will be a change for those of you who are used to pressing the snap button to come back out of playback but this proves to be a good feature as it eliminates accidental shots from the slip of a finger. Although slipping still remains a danger with the DCM-SZ1 in one sense as the only bit of grip offered is 9 little raised dots on the back making the wrist strap a necessity. Speaker and microphone slits sit on top of the lens housing in an all-metal casing and easy to navigate menu buttons are found down the RHS of the display. There’s 70MB internal storage so you’ll need to pick up a SDHC, SD or SDXC memory card to keep you snapping away to your heart’s content.

There’s a wall socket with USB port and cable so you’re not tied down to a computer to charge and the battery life is pretty good given its 680mAh rating. Panasonic reckon there’s a good 250 shots out of the battery life but of course, this will vary on the amount of video you shoot, how much flash you use and the amount of image reviewing you do.

Panasonic Lumix DCM-SZ1 in Silver, Blue, Red and Black
Panasonic Lumix DCM-SZ1 in Silver, Blue, Red and BlackEnlarge Enlarge

While the DCM-SZ1’s 720p is mediocre by its competitors standards of which the norm is 1080p, it does take a great portrait with red eye reduction on. Overall this is a great little compact providing a long zoom ultra-light point and shoot at great value starting at around €160. Its nearest competitors are the Nikon Coolpix S6300, Canon IXUS 1100 HS and Olympus SH-21. The only disadvantage is that some of the newer model point and shoots are boasting WiFi capability now for similar specs and price such as Canon IXUS 510 HS and Samsung ST200F. But that said you’ll find it hard to get a smartcamera or any other point and shoot with these specs which weighs lighter than your smartphone making the Panasonic DCM-SZ1a valid accessory to have.

7 Stars
Panasonic Lumix DCM-SZ1 on
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