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Panasonic LZ3 Optics


Lens

Zoom
A generous 6x optical zoom range, with very good performance.

37mm
222mm
4x Digital Zoom

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ3 zooms over the equivalent of a 37-222mm range, which is quite exceptional among most average consumer digicams. Details are well-defined at wide angle, with only a hint of coma distortion visible in the upper tree limbs. At telephoto, detail definition remains good as well. The 4x digital zoom takes it out to a total of 24x, but with some loss of quality, as you might expect. Still, the camera does hold onto a fair amount of fine detail with digital zoom enabled.

Macro
A small macro area with good detail and high resolution. Flash had trouble up close.

Standard Macro Macro with Flash

The DMC-LZ3's macro setting performs well, capturing a small minimum area of 2.11 x 1.59 inches (54 x 40 millimeters). Detail is strong and resolution high, with only minor softening in the corners from the lens. (Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode.) The flash had trouble throttling down for the macro area, and overexposed most of the frame quite a bit. Additionally, the lens created a dark shadow in the lower right corner of the frame. (Plan on using external lighting for your closest macro shots with the DMC-LZ3.)

Distortion
High barrel distortion, though low pincushion.

This is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel--usually at wide angle) or inward (like a pincushion--usually at telephoto). The Lumix DMC-LZ3's 0.9% barrel distortion at wide angle is a little higher than average among the cameras I've tested, and fairly noticeable in a few images. At the telephoto end, the DMC-LZ3's 0.07% pincushion is low.

Barrel distortion at 37mm is 0.9%
Pincushion at 222mm is 0.07%

Chromatic aberration
Moderately high, small effect on images at edges.

Wide: moderately high,
top left @ 200%
Wide: fairly bright,
top right @ 200%
Tele: low, top left @200% Tele: low, top right @200%

Chromatic aberration is moderately high at wide angle, showing about 4-5 pixels of bright coloration on either side of the target lines, but decreases to lower, less bright levels at telephoto focal lengths. (This distortion is visible as a very slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)

Corner Sharpness
Some softening in the top right corner of the frame at telephoto, but fairly consistent sharpness at wide angle.

Wide: a hint soft in the upper
right corner.
Wide: softer at center.
Tele: soft in the upper right corner. Tele: sharper at center.

The Lumix DMC-LZ3 produced fairly consistent sharpness from corner to corner at wide angle, though actually softer in the center than the corners. Some softening was noticeable in the upper right corner of the frame at telephoto.

Viewfinder

Coverage
Very good accuracy from the LCD monitor.

37mm eq., LCD monitor 222mm eq., LCD monitor

The DMC-LZ3's LCD monitor showed about 98 percent frame accuracy, which is pretty good.