The Good Lots of features to experiment with; manual, semimanual controls; built-in GPS.
The Bad Disappointing low-light photos.
The Bottom Line A very good, fully loaded compact megazoom, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 offers a lot of shooting flexibility and a built-in GPS.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7
Panasonic has proven before that it knows how to make a top-notch compact megazoom. The 2010 Lumix DMC-ZS7 builds on 2009's ZS3 by adding two features: manual and semimanual shooting modes and an integrated GPS receiver. Combine those with good HD video options, a 25mm-equivalent wide-angle lens with a 12x zoom, and a couple new image enhancements and you've got a flexible camera for those who don't always want to lug a digital SLR with them. Though its photos are sometimes less than stellar (particularly those taken above ISO 400), the ZS7 will no doubt make a lot of people happy.
The design of the ZS7 doesn't change much from its predecessor, the ZS3. Its weight and size are approximately the same, remaining remarkably compact for its features and wide-angle lens with 12x zoom. Though it's a tight fit in a pants pocket, the ZS7 easily fits in an average jacket pocket or small handbag. The body--available in black, silver, and red versions--has a nice, solid feel to it with a comfortable grip on the right side. The 3-inch LCD looks good and gets reasonably bright, though it gets reflective in direct sunlight so you may struggle occasionally to see what you're shooting. Lastly, though the sensor is 14 megapixels, the camera only uses 12 megapixels, making it possible to have three aspect ratios--16:9, 3:2, and 4:3--with the same angle of view across the entire zoom range of the lens.