Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZX3 review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZX3

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Typical Price: £250.00

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZX3

(Part #: CNETPanasonic Lumix DMC-ZX3)
3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Useful 8x super-wide-angle zoom; excellent build quality and finish; compact size.

The Bad Confusing zoom options; too many complex 'intelligent' technologies.

The Bottom Line The Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZX3 is a great little camera if you can ignore the over-the-top tech that the company insists on throwing at its compacts

7.5 Overall

Panasonic's gone mad with its 'intelligent' automation features in the 14.1-megapixel Lumix DMC-ZX3, which also has no fewer than four different types of zoom. The 25-200mm 8x zoom is the high point, but you'll pay around £250 to get your hands on this camera.

Tiny, long zoomer
Panasonic has squeezed a surprisingly long zoom range into the DMC-ZX3's extremely compact body. You get an 8x zoom lens, rather than the 12x zoom in the new Lumix DMC-TZ8 and DMC-TZ10 , but you also get a smaller, more pocketable camera. Besides, the DMC-ZX3's 25-200mm focal range is more than enough for most needs. 

The DMC-ZX3 delivers pleasing, crisp detail at ISO 80, with little distortion, but the definition drops off at the edges, and fine textures start to disappear as early as ISO 200 (click image to enlarge)

The camera also offers a 720p, high-definition movie mode; Panasonic's latest Power Optical Image Stabilizer, which is apparently twice as effective as the regular Mega Optical Image Stabilizer; and the excellent design and build quality we've now come to expect from the Lumix models.

Panasonic is keen to big up its new 'intelligent resolution' technology. Intelligent resolution is a new approach to image processing, whereby the image is divided into 'contour areas, texture areas and smooth areas' and the optimum image processing is then applied to each. It sounds as if Panasonic may have developed a clever solution to the noise-versus-smudging dilemma faced by all makers of small-format, high-resolution sensors.

The 69mm (2.7-inch) display on the rear of the DMC-ZX3 automatically adjusts its brightness to match the ambient light level

Indeed, Panasonic's so confident in this technology that it uses it to optionally extend the optical zoom range 'digitally', from 8x to 10x when the intelligent-resolution feature is activated. The increased zoom range is branded 'intelligent zoom'.

Mush like a husky
Well, the old-fashioned word for this is 'interpolation'. It's not much interpolation (from 8x to 10x), but then it's hardly a massive zoom increase. This intelligent-resolution mode can enhance clearly defined detail, but, in some of our test shots, it turned lower-contrast areas into mush. It all depends on what kind of detail the processor thinks it's looking at, presumably.

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