By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla
It is hard to envy makers of standalone point-and-shoot digital cameras simply because they're up against some stunning competition in the smartphone space. The best camera, after all, is the one you have with you and that's often the one in your phone. Undaunted, Panasonic has aspired to give the point-and-shoot category a shot in the arm with the compact and innovative Lumix DMX-ZS30.
Designed to beat smartphones at their own game with the latest technology, the Lumix DMX-ZS30 ($399.99) features a 16 megapixel CMOS sensor, optical image stabilization, an impressive 20x zoom on a 24–480 mm focal length and the ability to shoot stabilized 1080p HD video at 60 frames per second which is something no smartphone can touch. This new Panasonic also features WiFi connectivity plus NFC (Near Field Communication) which can facilitate local sharing of files with smartphones and tablets.
What's most impressive about the Panasonic Lumix DMX-ZS30 is that it is one of the world’s slimmest 20x Optical Zoom digital compact camera. It is the sleekest and most concealable high-zoom camera in its class. Prior to this model, anything with more than 15x zoom built-in would need to be bulky in order to accomodate the telescoping lens as well as the drive mechanism to move the optics back and forth. It also features a touchscreen as well as a GPS for geotagging photos.
As a pocket camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMX-ZS30 is an ideal sneak-in to concerts or sporting events. It certainly doesn't set off any alarms the way a DSLR with a large lens would yet gives users a good range of shooting options plus that zoom on demand. Try that on your smartphone.
Shooting with the Panasonic Lumix DMX-ZS30 was fun and easy, there are a variety of settings and filters but most users can't go wrong using the intelligent auto mode. Secret weapon here is the 24mm Ultra Wide Angle LEICA DC lens which captures great images in even not so great lighting conditions. The AI and focusing is also zippy and accurate that you're unlikely to miss a shot.
Invoking the 20x zoom is fast and quiet and stabilization is good for such a small camera. A tripod will go a long way in getting those zoom shots accurately though so a Gorillapod would go well with this small camera.
I was impressed with the picture and video quality from the DMX-ZS30 specially outdoors in well lit conditions. Colour fidelity was accurate so I felt that there wasn't much post processing required to improve the photos. The WiFi and GPS functionality are nice to have but could be confusing for some users to decipher the first time around.
The menu features and the settings are extensive and anyone who likes to poke around the various settings will be rewarded although even shooting this camera in the bone stock settings will be fine for general conditions. The Lumix DMX-ZS30 seems to have a few more options than most bridge cameras. Just check out the feature list.
- 18.1 Mpx high sensitivity MOS sensor
- 20x optical zoom
- 40x intelligent zoom
- 24 mm Ultra wide-angle LEICA DC VARIO-ELMAR lens
- 3.0" Intelligent touchscreen LCD (920K pixels)
- WiFi and NFC compatible
- Intelligent auto (iA) mode
- POWER O.I.S. (Optical image stabilizer) Hybrid+
- Intelligent ISO control
- Face detection
- Face recognition
- AF tracking
- Intelligent scene selector
- Intelligent exposure control
- Digital red-eye correction
- Motion deblur
- Intelligent HDR (High dynamic range)
- Still images (3D recording)
- Creative Panorama (12 image effects)
- Creative control (Recording mode)
- Creative retouch (Playback mode)
- Light Speed AF
- 10 fps burst mode @ full resolution
- Venus engine image processor
- Intelligent resolution technology
- AVCHD Full HD Progressive/MP4 movie mode with stereo mic and zoom
- GPS and GLONASS travel
- High quality stereo Dolby® Digital Sound
- Micro HDMI output
- USB charging function (AC adapter)
- Li-ion rechargeable battery
- DMC-ZS30K (black)
- DMC-ZS30S (silver)
An ideal camera for anyone who wants a compact yet capable zoom point-and-shoot and even a good second or third option to DSLR or ILC shooters who need a handy backup but who don't require shooting in RAW, the Panasonic Lumix DMX-ZS30 is one of the most progressive point-and-shoot cameras in the market today.
Rating: 4 our of 5