Panasonic Lumic DMC-SZ7 Overview
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 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 14.1 megapixels from a 1/2.33" RGB MOS image sensor, and Panasonic has coupled this with a far-reaching Lumix DC Vario-Elmar branded 10x optical zoom lens. The DMC-SZ7'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 SZ7'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 swift ten frames per second, although burst depth is just four images, and if tracking autofocus is enabled the speed falls to five frames per second.
Unsurprisingly given the reach of its zoom, the Panasonic SZ7 doesn't include an optical viewfinder, instead opting solely for a 3.0" LCD display with 460,000 dot resolution on which images and videos are both framed and reviewed. The Panasonic DMC-SZ7 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. The SZ7 also goes a step further, attempting to recognize the faces of specific individuals.
ISO sensitivity ordinarily ranges from 100 to 3,200, with the ability to extend this as far as ISO 6,400 equivalent in High Sensitivity mode. The Panasonic DMC-SZ7 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-SZ7 uses Intelligent Multiple metering, and offers six white balance settings including Auto, Manual, and four fixed presets. A generous selection of 16 scene modes let users tailor the look of their images, useful given that the Panasonic SZ7 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 SZ7 can capture 30 frames-per-second movies with stereo sound at high definition Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 pixel) resolution, either with 60 interlaced fields per second for AVCHD video, or 30 progressive-scan frames per second for MPEG-4 video. Other resolutions include high-def 720p (1,280 x 720 pixel) video at 60 frames per second for AVCHD or 30 frames per second for MPEG-4, and standard definition 640 x 480 pixel (VGA) resolution at 30 frames per second in MPEG-4 format. In all cases, sensor data used to create videos is actually streamed at 30 frames per second. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 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, and high-def Mini HDMI video output. Power comes from a proprietary 680mAh Lithium Ion rechargeable battery pack, and is rated as good for 220 shots on a charge to CIPA testing standards. The software bundle includes PHOTOfunSTUDIO v8.0 Advanced Edition and Adobe Reader.
US-market pricing and availability for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 will be announced approximately 30 days before the camera ships, and hence weren't available at press time. The only available body colors for this model is black.