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First Look: Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3
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First Look: Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3

2:30 /

As long as you don't want much in the way of manual features, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 is a very nice camera that can handle a variety of shooting situations.

[ Music ] >> Laurie Grunin: Hi I'm Laurie Grunin senior editor with CNET and this is the Panasonic Lumix DMC- ZS3. It looks very similar to its predecessor the TZ5 but this one has a 12 x zoom lens that goes from 25mm to 300mm in 35mm equivalent terms. That's a pretty broad range to cover but Panasonic does a pretty good job. The lens is pretty sharp and there isn't a lot of distortion. That's because Panasonic applies distortion correction in camera. Unfortunately you still see a few image artifacts because that's one thing they can't fix. But overall compared to the rest of its class it does a very good job. This is a 10 megapixel camera but unlike its brother the ZS1 it uses a 12 megapixel sensor instead of a 10 megapixel sensor; that way Panasonic can keep the same angle of view whether or not you're shooting in 16-9 aspect or 4-3 aspect. This model also shoots 720P HD video. It does a pretty good job and it saves it in AVCHD light format. Some nice things about the movie capture on this camera include the fact that Panasonic fixed the placement of the microphone. It's no longer in a place where you'll accidentally place your fingers over it and doesn't seem to suffer excessively from wind noise. The camera also has a dedicated movie capture button so you don't have to go into a specific mode and you can just capture on the fly. ZS3 also adds face recognition. Now that's different from face detection. This actually lets you set a persons face and then attach a name and a focus priority to it as well as you know like birthday and stuff like that. It has a nice big LCD. Unfortunately I found that the screen was a bit reflective so in direct sun light it's a little hard to see, especially if you're trying to view things at a slight off angle. The camera does have a special mode for extreme off angle viewing and that does really help. Overall the cameras image quality is very good and the performance is average for its class maybe a little faster. It does have a longer than average time it takes to focus in dim light. One thing you might miss is it has practically no manual controls. You can set ISO but that's about it. So if you're looking for a camera that's got flexible shooting flexibilities because it covers a wide focal range and really want something that's strictly point and shoot this one will probably do the trick. [Background music] I'm Laurie Grunin and this is the Panasonic Lumix DMC ZS3