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Panasonic Lumic DMC-SZ1 Overview

Posted: 01/10/2012

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ1 is a compact, long-zoom digital camera that looks to offer an attractive package as a travel camera that you can slip in a pocket and almost forget you're carrying it, but sacrifice little in terms of zoom range. Effective resolution is 16.1 megapixels from a 1/2.33" RGB CCD image sensor, and Panasonic has coupled this with a far-reaching Lumix DC Vario-Elmar branded 10x optical zoom lens. The DMC-SZ1's lens offers a 35mm-equivalent range from a useful 25mm wide angle to a powerful 250mm telephoto, and as you'd expect features true optical image stabilization system with which to fight blur caused by camera shake, which will be particularly helpful at longer focal lengths. The Panasonic SZ1's lens has a two-step aperture that offers a choice of either f/3.1 or f/9.0 at wide angle, and either f/5.9 or f/16.0 at telephoto. Full-resolution burst shooting is possible at a rather sedate 1.3 frames per second. It's possible to boost the shooting rate significantly to ten frames per second, by slashing the resolution to just five megapixels.

Unsurprisingly given the reach of its zoom, the Panasonic SZ1 doesn't include an optical viewfinder, instead opting solely for a 3.0" LCD display with 230,000 dot resolution on which images and videos are both framed and reviewed. The Panasonic DMC-SZ1 has a 23-point multi-area autofocus system which also includes a single-point focusing mode. Like almost all digital cameras these days, there's also a face detection function, with Panasonic's implementation using the information to adjust both focus and exposure to properly capture your subjects' faces. Unlike some cameras, the SZ1 doesn't attempt to recognize the faces of specific individuals, nor to differentiate between adults and children, though.

ISO sensitivity ordinarily ranges from 100 to 1,600, with the ability to extend this as far as ISO 6,400 equivalent in High Sensitivity mode. The Panasonic DMC-SZ1 also includes the company's Intelligent ISO mode as seen on past models. Shutter speeds from 1/1,600 to 8 seconds are possible. The Panasonic DMC-SZ1 uses Intelligent Multiple metering, and offers six white balance settings including Auto, Manual, and four fixed presets. A generous selection of 15 scene modes let users tailor the look of their images, useful given that the Panasonic SZ1 doesn't offer aperture-, shutter-priority, or fully manual modes. There's also an Intelligent Scene Selector function, which can automatically select from a subset of commonly used scene modes. A five mode flash strobe includes red-eye reduction capability, and has a rated range of up to 5.6 meters using Intelligent ISO.

As well as JPEG still images, the Panasonic SZ1 can capture 30 frames-per-second movies with monaural sound at high definition 1,280 x 720 pixel (720p) resolution, or standard definition 640 x 480 pixel (VGA) resolution or below, and the compression used is the newer MPEG-4 type, so file sizes for high-def movies are likely to be lighter, although editing hardware requirements will be higher. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ1 stores its images and movies on Secure Digital cards, including the newer SDHC or SDXC types. There's also a pretty generous 70MB of built-in memory. Connectivity options include a USB 2.0 High-Speed connection, plus standard definition NTSC video output. Power comes from a proprietary 680mAh Lithium Ion rechargeable battery pack, and is rated as good for 250 shots on a charge to CIPA testing standards. The software bundle includes PHOTOfunSTUDIO v8.0 Standard Edition and Adobe Reader.

US-market pricing and availability for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ1 will be announced approximately 30 days before the camera ships, and hence weren't available at press time. Available body colors for this model are black, silver, red and blue.