Design and features
The SZ7 is shaped like a pretty standard compact camera, apart from the ever-so-slight bulge on the top panel. It's there to house the optical zoom, which at 10x optical is relatively impressive for a camera of this size, weight and particularly price range.
Like earlier Lumix cameras, Panasonic has equipped the SZ7 with 20x "intelligent zoom". It's a specific way of augmenting the image that delivers a better result in relation to sharpness and detail than digital zoom would. Also the SZ7 comes with a 25mm wide-angle Leica lens, with a maximum aperture range of f/3.1-5.9.
A visual demonstration of just how close the 10x optical zoom can get you.
The top panel also houses a stereo microphone above the lens barrel, power switch, zoom rocker and shutter button, as well as an instant-on record button.
At the rear is a pretty standard 3-inch LCD screen, as well as the regular array of control buttons. A small switch at the back can change the shooting mode from regular photo-taking to playback, though, like other Panasonic cameras which employ this method, it does take a while to train yourself out of hitting the shutter button to get back into photo mode.
The SZ7 has a number of in-camera options to change the frame around the image. This one is the film strip border.
Panasonic packs a pretty standard set of shooting controls inside the SZ7. From the main Mode button, you can access an intelligent auto mode, normal picture (or program mode), miniature effect, scene mode or 3D photo. On top of these shooting modes, the SZ7 also comes with four colour modes: standard, "happy" for saturating the colour palette, black-and-white and sepia. There's an in-camera HDR and a handheld night shot mode too.
The SZ7 has the option to record in AVCHD or MP4 formats at either 1920x1080 or 1280x720. Connectivity at the side is through a mini HDMI-out port and a proprietary mini-USB plug. The SZ7 can also charge directly through its USB cable, rather than taking the battery out and plugging it into mains power with an adapter.
General shooting metrics (in seconds)
- Start-up to first shot
- JPEG shot-to-shot time
- Shutter lag
- 188.8.131.52Samsung WB150F
- 184.108.40.206Panasonic Lumix SZ7
- 220.127.116.11Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H70
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Continuous shooting speed (in frames per second)
- 4Panasonic Lumix SZ7
- 1.7Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H70
- 0.6Samsung WB150F
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
The new 14-megapixel MOS sensor affords the SZ7 slightly faster-than-average shooting speeds, at least for a compact camera. However, while there are numerous burst modes ranging from 2, 5 or 10 frames per second, we weren't able to get the camera to achieve its stated 10fps shooting speed — just four full-resolution frames in quick succession before stopping to process them.
Panasonic rates the battery for 220 shots.