If you shoot a lot of moving subjects, namely children, pets, and sports, the ZS10's multiple burst shooting options give you a lot of flexibility and a fighting chance of getting a good photo. Its fastest burst modes--40 and 60 frames per second--are at reduced resolutions, but Panasonic packed in three at full resolution. There's one that captures up to 15 shots at 10fps, but that sets focus, exposure, and white balance with the first shot. What's better are the 2fps and 5fps options that set those things with each shot so you're able to get a subject moving moderately fast in focus and properly exposed. However, in our lab tests, the 5fps setting averaged 3.2fps.
Other aspects of its shooting performance are excellent as well and significantly faster than its predecessor. Shutter lag is low at 0.4 second and 0.7 second in bright and dim lighting, respectively. From shot-to-shot without the flash you're waiting only 1.1 seconds; adding the flash drags that time to just 1.4 seconds. It's time from off to first shot is 1.9 seconds.
The high-speed shooting also gets you 3D photos. The ZS10 fires off 20 shots as you move the camera horizontally across a scene and then picks the two best for overlaying to create a 3D MPO file that can be played back on 3D-enabled TVs, computers, and photo frames. The results are good, but your subject has to be motionless, as does everything in the scene. Any movement really kills the effect. It's a nice extra to play with, but not a must-have mode.
The appearance of the ZS10 doesn't change much from its predecessor, the ZS7. Its weight and size are approximately the same, remaining remarkably compact for its features and wide-angle lens with 16x zoom (that's wider and longer than its predecessor). Though it's a tight fit in a pants pocket, the ZS10 easily fits in an average jacket pocket or small handbag. The body--available in black, brown, silver, blue, and red versions--has a nice, solid feel to it with a comfortable grip on the right side.
The 3-inch touch screen on the back looks good and gets reasonably bright, though it gets reflective in direct sunlight, so you may struggle occasionally to see what you're shooting. Also, Panasonic didn't do much with the touch screen, only using it for a handful of functions. For example, you can use it to focus and shoot photos by tapping on your subject, but menu navigation is primarily done with the directional pad. In playback you can use it to flip through your shots, but you can't do any editing or drawing or writing on photos. It just seems that if you're going to be paying for a touch screen, you should get more use out of it.
One of the main attractions of the ZS10 is the built-in GPS. Using it is fairly simple, and the process has been streamlined from the ZS7 thanks to a dedicated spot in the menu system. Once you've turned on the receiver--it can be done from the Q.Menu or main menu--you can have the camera retrieve the information for your current location. In tests this took anywhere from less than a minute to several minutes depending on how much open sky was above me. Once locked, the ZS10 can display country, state, city, and landmark information and continues to update itself every minute. You can then go into the GPS Area Select menus and pick the correct information for your location. For example, if you're standing in the middle of New York, it could quite possibly have a couple pages of landmarks to pick from. Also, you can choose to limit what area information is attached, in case you only want the name of the city for instance. The area information covers 173 countries or regions for all over the world and more than half a million landmarks in 73 countries or regions.
For everyday shooting, attaching GPS information is probably not that exciting. But, if you do a lot of traveling, hiking, or other activity where you might want to remember where you were, then it's a great feature to have. Longitude and latitude is seamlessly added to the EXIF data and, again, you can have the camera include country, city, state, and landmarks.
There's an option to record AVCHD movies with GPS data as well. The location information can be viewed when videos are played back on a computer using the bundled software or directly from the camera. Unless you simply must have the information, you'll probably want to stick with the non-GPS AVCHD format option.
One last thing regarding the GPS: once you've turned it on, the receiver stays on until you turn it off, 2 hours have passed since it's refreshed its position, or after 3 hours of the camera being off. So even if you shut off the camera, it'll continue to update its location every 15 minutes. This is fine if you're shooting for an extended period of time, but it'll eventually run down your battery. If you want the GPS to turn off when you shut the camera off, you must select the Airplane mode option from the camera's menu. This is all explained in the manual, but battery life is something to keep in mind with features like GPS.
In fact, battery life with the ZS10 is an issue in general. With the GPS, touch screen, zoom, burst shooting, and HD movie capture there's a lot here to drain its small rechargeable battery. Even without all those things, the camera's battery life is pretty short. I strongly recommend picking up an extra battery if you're going to be traveling with the ZS10 or even just out for a day of shooting.
The cost of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS10 goes primarily to its abundant feature set. That fortunately includes some very fast shooting performance and a nice zoom lens in a pocketable body. It's not unreasonable to expect excellent photos, too, for its price, but the fact is the ZS10 is still a point-and-shoot with a sensor no bigger than you'd find in a smaller, less feature-laden camera. If you're after awesome low-light photos or need to regularly make large prints, you probably shouldn't consider this camera. But if most of your photos are for sharing online and 8x10 prints or smaller, the ZS10 is a very good option. Especially if you want something that can double as a pocket video camera.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Time to first shot||Typical shot-to-shot time||Shutter lag (dim)||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
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