Panasonic DMC-ZS1 Digital Camera

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Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1

Is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1 an Under-rated Camera?

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1
Big Zoom – Small Price

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1 is a camera with a Big Zoom and Small Price tag. I am now on my fifth digital camera and still have never owned a Canon, the world’s proclaimed favorite and king of them all. Every time I look for a new camera, Canon’s competition always offer me something with better features and bang for the buck. Whether it’s higher megapixels, bigger optical zoom or improved video, there is always competitive brands with supposed inferior quality that offer more for less. Of course, features are meaningless if the quality is not at least comparable to the Canon. I don’t think Canon Digital Cameras have quite the edge that they used to in camera technology. The Panasonic DMC-ZS1 offers a compelling case for this. The lens is still the most important component of photography, and other digital camera makers like Casio, HP and Panasonic have closed the gap. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1 is no exception. Just look at the typical point and shoot camera reviews and user opinions. Canon is not that far ahead anymore in image quality. I always read the reviews and user opinions and from what I could see, for cameras under $300, there is usually no clear cut favorite. I looked for a camera with above average image quality with features that were really important to me. I don’t mean lots of bells and whistles, but things that really make the camera useful!~

What makes the Panasonic DMC-ZS1 Special?

A powerful Optical Zoom is the most under-rated benefit you will find in a camera. The 12X Optical zoom on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1 makes it about 4 times greater than 90% of the competition. Most point and shoot digital cameras use a 3X zoom. With the DMC-ZS1, you can zoom in 4 times closer than your average camera without losing any clarity or image quality. Lumix cameras have always had great optical zoom lenses and this is where the under-rated part comes in. The Lumix is not considered a high-end camera, but it delivers benefits in a high-end way. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1 is not even a $500 camera – or even a $300 camera! The Panasonic DMC-ZS1 cost me $250 at Costco and came with leather carrying case, 2GB SD Card and video display cables; not to mention, Costco’s great customer service and return policy. Now back to the Zoom Lens: Don’t underestimate the benefit of a powerful optical zoom lens. When you combine a powerful zoom with a high number of megapixels (8, 10, 12MP or higher), you have the ability to capture the most incredible detail from your camera. Let’s say you want to take a group shot of your cousins, Aunts and Uncles at a family reunion. Step back and bring them all into full view of the lens and press the shutter button. Not only do you have a close-up, quality shot of the entire family, but the 10 megapixel resolution makes it possible to crop a full 4×6 individual printed photo of each of them without sacrificing image quality.

More on the Lumix Zoom Lens

Imagine what you can do with a 12X Zoom. I can be sitting at a football game, 50 yards from the action, but the Lumix will allow me to take a picture so it appears the quarterback is only 5 yards away. The large number of megapixels combined with the powerful zoom results in a high quality close-up photo. One other thing you’ll appreciate when using the large, 12X zoom, is the stabilization or ‘anti-shake’ feature, which keeps your aim steady and in-focus. This is not an easy task when using a zoom lens, but it really works well on the Panasonic DMC-ZS1 Lumix Camera. I can think of many times when due to the limited range of a 3X optical zoom, I wasn’t able to get the picture I wanted, or didn’t even try. It amazes me that there are still Canon Point and shoot cameras selling for $350 with a wimpy little 3X Zoom Lens. I would never go back to a camera with such an inferior zoom lens. When using this powerful optical zoom with the macro features of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1, the possibilities become really interesting. Imagine how useful this can be for creating web images or clip art. I took a close-up shot of my DVD remote control, zoomed in and cropped the play-icon and had a very nice high resolution image to use for web or presentation graphics.
The large 12X Zoom on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1 opens up a whole new world of digital point and shoot photography.

Megapixels on the Lumix Camera

If I told you five years ago that I had a 10 megapixel camera, you would have thought I was from another galaxy. Gad zook! Most of us were just getting used to what a megapixel was, let alone had 10 of them! I remembered when I thought anything beyond 5MP was overkill. Boy, was I wrong in a big way. I don’t think I fully understood what a greater number of megapixels does for your pictures. A powerful optical zoom and large number of megapixels compliment each other in a profound way. A full resolution snapshot on the Panasonic DMC-ZS1 results in a photo that is 4 times larger than my 1680 x 1050, high resolution, 22″ LCD Monitor. The result is tremendous detail on each and every part of the photo. For example, if I take a snapshot of my entire office desk, my keyboard alone, can be cropped so that it still practically fills the entire screen. Each and every object on my desktop is revealed in stunning clarity. With larger screen sizes, memory capacities and hard drives, computer photography can never have too many megapixels, in my opinion. The 10 Megapixels along with the 12X Zoom are enough by themselves to make the Panasonic ZS1 a bargain, but there is more to a camera than just zoom and megapixel. How does the Lumix Camera do at shooting video and indoor photos?

Video on the Panasonic DMC-ZS1

Video on the Panasonic DMC-ZS1 Digital Camera surpass any other digital camera I’ve had, but it’s still not where I’d like it to be. The picture quality is pretty decent for outdoor video, but I found the frame rate to be a little choppy. The Panasonic DMC-ZS1 Digital Camera is definitely not going to replace even your typical, cheap $250 video camera. I guess I was spoiled with the awesome zoom lens and picture quality thus far. To shoot decent video and store it on your SD card would make the Lumix nearly unbeatable for a camera in this price range.

Indoor Photo Shooting on the Panasonic Lumix

Poor quality, grainy pictures seems to be the norm for digital, point and shoot cameras. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the Panasonic DMC-ZS1 Digital Camera does in this regard. I’ve found that most digital point cameras, due to their smaller size, have a tiny flash that just doesn’t produce enough light. At one point, I turned the flash off the Lumix Camera and forgot about it. I wondered why my pictures were turning out somewhat grainy indoors until I finally realized I had the flash turned off. I must say, the DMC-ZS1 does an impressive job shooting indoor pictures. When, I look back at the number of pictures I took in the dark, I am even more impressed at how well the Panasonic Lumix took these pictures sans flash!

Image Quality

Here’s the simple fact about the Panasonic DMC-ZS1 Digital Camera. You can’t really take a bad picture with it. Obviously, it’s not going to win a side-by-side contest with cameras that cost hundreds of dollars more, but I dare the camera snobs to find one that does as much, as well as this one for $250.00 or less. It can’t be done. My previous cameras always seemed to wash-out bright images in the sun and were way too grainy in darker scenes. The ZS1 does a great job of retaining the true color of images, both in bright outdoor light and in dimmer indoor situations.

Final Ratings Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS1

  • Image Quality: 84
  • Functions: 90
  • Features: 80
  • Value: 98
  • Overall: 88


  1. Ben April 7, 2011

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