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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Noise

ISO 1,600

Distortion

Exposure

Color

Sharpness

Though by the numbers it has a worse noise profile than the TZ5, the higher resolution helps produce a generally better looking image at all ISO sensitivities. You can see the detail quality drop off between ISO 200 and ISO 400 because of blur. The ZS3's photos still show Panasonic's characteristic blotchiness across the entire sensitivity range, but it's only really visible under limited conditions, like fine detail on a flat background under low light.
Caption by / Photo by Matthew Fitzgerald/CNET
While I generally wouldn't recommend using over ISO 200 on the ZS3, depending upon image content, you can get away with photos up to ISO 1,600. Here, you can see the color noise and aggressive blurring, but the text is sharp and the photo could be used at small sizes.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
At its widest 25mm-equivalent angle of view, the ZS3 displays relatively little barrel distortion, but that's because Panasonic automatically applies distortion correction postprocessing in-camera.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
Overall, the ZS3 produces even, accurate exposures. It does have a tendency to clip highlights in higher-contrast light, however, and lens flare can produce the effect of a haze over photos shot in bright light.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
Like the TZ5, the ZS3 renders bright, saturated colors.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
Center-of-the lens sharpness is pretty good, but like many compact cameras, sharpness falls off pretty quickly away from the center.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
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