Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ5 Review

 
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Panasonic DMC-LZ5 Operation

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ5's user interface is straightforward and should present a relatively short learning curve, especially if you read through the included manual. When you're using the scene mode menu, you can click the right arrow to see a brief description of what each mode is for and how it should be used.


Record Mode Display: In any record mode, the Lumix LZ5's LCD display shows either the image area with information, the image with information and a live histogram, an alignment grid, or the image with no information. Pressing the Display button cycles through the available displays. When the information display is active, it reports battery life, resolution and image quality settings, the number of available images, record and flash modes, and the antishake mode. When you press the shutter-release button halfway, the aperture and shutter speed are shown, along with an autofocus lock indicator.

Playback Mode Display: The Lumix LZ5's Playback mode also offers three display modes, including the image only, the image with information, and the image with expanded information and a histogram. You can also display nine, sixteen, or twenty-five thumbnail images at a time on-screen with the index display mode, or zoom in by up to 16x on captured images to check fine details, focus, or framing.

Panasonic DMC-LZ5 Modes and Menus

Record Mode: In Record mode, the camera can capture still images or movies, with a range of options available through the Settings menu. The Exposure Mode dial sets the exposure control mode. The Lumix LZ5's LCD menu -- accessed by pressing the Menu button in any record mode -- provides the following exposure options (some options are not available in all modes):

  • Record Menu: Available in all Record modes on the Lumix LZ5, but depending on camera setup, it may take a second press of the Menu button to access the menu from the Scene modes. The Record menu offers the following selections:
    • White Balance: Sets the white balance to Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Halogen, Manual, or White Set modes. (White Set isn't a separate white balance mode, it's just the option for manually setting the white point that's selected by the Manual option.)
    • Sensitivity: Adjusts the camera's sensitivity setting. Choices are Auto, 80, 100, 200, or 400 ISO equivalent. (ISO settings between 800 and 1600 may be used by activating the High Sensitivity mode, albeit with rather severe loss of image quality due to increased noise levels.)
    • Aspect Ratio: Sets the aspect ratio to 4:3, 3:2, or 16:9
    • Picture Size: Sets image resolution to 6 megapixel, 3 megapixel, 2 megapixel, 1 megapixel or 0.3 megapixel (640 x 480). Because aspect ratios other than 4:3 result in the images being cropped top and bottom, the resolution options displayed for 3:2 and 16:9 modes will be lower than those just listed. (Also, as mentioned earlier, note that when you're shooting at less than the sensor's full 6 megapixel resolution, the camera cleverly mixes in small amounts of "digital zoom" (selective cropping of the image) as you manipulate the zoom control. As a result, the maximum zoom amount increases to 8.3x for all but the 6 megapixel resolution setting.)
    • Quality: Sets the image compression to Fine or Standard.

    • Audio Recording: When enabled, causes the camera to record five seconds of audio with each still photo. (Audio recording isn't available when shooting in any of the camera's continuous modes.)
    • AF Mode: Sets the AF area mode to Five-Area, Three-Area High Speed, One-Area High Speed, One-Area, or Spot. The High Speed modes are design to lock focus faster, but cause the LCD preview to freeze momentarily while operating.
    • AF Assist Lamp: Turns the autofocus assist lamp on or off.
    • Slow Shutter: Selects the slowest shutter speed the camera can use, giving you some measure of control over exposure in poor lighting conditions. Choices are 1/8th, 1/4, 1/2, or 1 second, although this is only a baseline - the camera may still choose a faster shutter speed if its exposure metering determines that there is enough light to do so.
    • Digital Zoom: Enables or disables the digital zoom option. This provides a 4x digital zoom above and beyond the minor 6.0 - 8.3x "Extended" zoom that happens automatically at lower resolution settings.

    • Color Effect: Selects a color effect, with options of Cool, Warm, Black and White, or Sepia.
    • Picture Adjust: Offers three settings - Natural, Standard or Vivid. The natural setting gives a softer image, while the Vivid setting offers increased sharpness, as compared to the default Standard setting.

  • Scene Menu: For each Scene mode option, you can press the right arrow button on the Lumix LZ5 to receive a brief description of the mode.
    • Portrait: Utilizes a larger aperture to decrease the depth of field, and emphasizes flesh tones, resulting in a sharply focused subject in front of a slightly blurred background. Also produces a slightly warmer image.
    • Soft Skin: Blurs skin tones slightly for a softer effect. Also produces a slightly warmer image.
    • Scenery: This mode fixes focus at infinity, and is best for capturing wide vistas and landscapes.
    • Sports: Employs a faster shutter speed to "freeze" fast-moving action.

    • Night Portrait: Uses a slower shutter speed for better color in night shots. The flash is set to Slow-Sync with Red-Eye Reduction mode.
    • Night Scenery: Uses a slow shutter speed to as long as 8 seconds, capturing more ambient light and preserving color in darker exposures. (The flash is disabled.)
    • Food: Takes a macro shot of food with a more natural hue than the ambient lighting may provide. Party: Best for taking pictures under dim indoor lighting with a flash, you can select between Forced Red-Eye Reduction and Slow-Sync Red-Eye Reduction modes. Biases white balance for indoor lighting.

    • Candle Light: For capturing the atmosphere of candle-lit subjects. Tripod recommended. Fireworks: Here, the camera uses a slower shutter speed and enhances color slightly to capture the full pattern and color of fireworks.
    • Starry Sky: For taking pictures of extremely dark subjects like a starry sky. Requires a tripod. (Gives you options of 15, 30, and 60 seconds, focus is set at infinity)
    • Snow: This mode adjusts the white balance and exposure to counter the bright snowy areas of the scene, preventing the camera being fooled into underexposing the shot.

    • Baby 1 and 2: Enhances flesh tones and tones down the flash when used. During playback, the baby's age can be displayed when the birthday is set in advance in the Baby scene dialog box.
    • High Sensitivity: Sets the ISO between 800 and 1600 to capture very dark scenes without a flash. Also applies noticeable noise reduction.

  • Play Menu: This menu is only available in the Lumix LZ5's Review mode when set by the dial (not by use of the REV button). The Play menu offers the following selections:
    • Slide Show: Automatically plays all images or only DPOF selected files in a slide show format. You can designate the display interval for images from one to five seconds, and audio can be enabled or disabled.
    • Favorite: Enables or disables Favorite display.
    • Rotate Display: Selects whether images that were tagged as rotated by the camera's orientation sensor, or using the next menu option, should be shown rotated on the LCD display.
    • Rotate: Rotates captured images in steps of 90 degrees using the Exif tag only. The actual image data is not touched, which may confuse other programs that do not look at the Exif orientation tag.
    • DPOF Print: Marks individual or multiple images for printing on a DPOF compatible printer, or cancels marking of images.

    • Protect: Write protects the currently displayed image, protecting it from accidental deletion, except by card formatting. There's also an option for protecting multiple images at once, or for canceling protection of images.
    • Audio Dub.: Lets you record a brief audio clip (max. 10 seconds) to attach to the currently reviewed image.
    • Resize: Lets you resize an image to a smaller resolution and save a separate copy.
    • Trimming: Sort of like a cropping function, this option lets you "trim" an image and save it as a separate file. To trim the image, you use the Playback zoom and pan functions to select the area of the image that you want to retain on the display, and then press the shutter button to save the cropped image.
    • Copy: Allows you to copy images between the internal and card memories.
    • Format: Formats the SD/MMC card, erasing all files (including those that were protected using the Protect menu option).

  • Setup Menu: The Setup menu provides universal camera control options that remain the same in both Shooting and Review modes. Following are the available settings:
    • Battery Type: Lets you select either Alkaline/NiMH or Oxyride to optimize power use.
    • Clock Set: Sets the camera's internal clock and calendar.
    • Monitor: Adjusts the brightness level of the LCD monitor in seven steps.
    • Auto Review: Disables the automatic image review, or sets the review time to one or three seconds. A Zoom option displays the captured image for one second, then zooms it 4x for one second. The Zoom option does not zoom images shot in burst mode, with auto-bracketing, or with audio clips recorded.
    • Power Save: Lets you enable or disable the camera's power-saving function, which shuts off the LCD and retracts the lens after selectable periods of 1, 2, 5, or 10 minutes.

    • Beep: Turns the camera's beep sound on or off, with low and high volume settings.
    • No. Reset: Resets file numbering with each new SD/MMC card (Yes setting), or continues file numbering from card to card (No setting). (Continuous file numbering is very handy to avoid accidentally overwriting images you've previously copied to your computer's hard drive.)
    • Reset: Resets all record-menu settings to their factory defaults.
    • USB Mode: Sets the USB mode to PC or PictBridge (PTP). Can also be set to request appropriate mode selection when camera is connected to a computer.
    • Video Out: Sets the video output timing to NTSC or PAL. (NTSC for the US and Japan, PAL for most of Europe.)
    • Scene Menu: Sets whether to automatically display a Scene mode menu when Scene mode is selected on the Mode dial or use the last selected mode, accessing the options by pressing the Menu button.
    • Language: Selects the menu language from English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese Traditional and Japanese.

 

Panasonic DMC-LZ5

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