Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 review
This soap-shaped camera looks smarter than its £102 price tag might suggest. Build quality isn't as substantial as we'd like though, with the plastic front panel flexing a little under pressure.
Its main specifications are standard issue at this price, with a 2.7in LCD screen, 720p video mode, 4x wide-angle zoom lens and 14-megapixel sensor. The range of photographic options are typical too, and most are buried in the menu, making this very much a point-and-shoot camera. Optical image stabilisation is great to see at this price, though, and a valuable asset when shooting in low light.
The video mode is short on features, with fixed focus and zoom while recording and clip lengths limited to eight minutes. Sound quality was a little boxy but picture quality was excellent, with sharp details and minimal noise in low light.
We're used to seeing sharp focus from Panasonic lenses, and while this one was less than perfect towards the edges of photos at some focal lengths, on the whole it lived up to expectations. The 14-megapixel sensor fulfilled our expectations too, but for the wrong reasons: there was some evidence of noise – along with detail-smearing noise reduction required to suppress it – even in brightly lit shots at ISO 100. However, while photos at ISO 1600 were pretty hopeless, the camera's processing did an excellent job of holding image quality together up to ISO 800. With the help of optical stabilisation to counteract camera shakes, this was enough to produce attractive photos indoors without the flash.
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