Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 review
Incredibly slim for a 10x zoom camera, and image quality and performance are up to scratch. Only the screen's poor viewing angles keep the SZ7 from an award
Review Date: 8 Mar 2012
Price when reviewed: £222
Reviewed By: Ben Pitt
The camera handled our photo tests with confidence, too. Performance was superb, taking a shot every 0.8 seconds in normal use. The headline 10fps continuous mode lasted for just four shots, but the ability to shoot at 5fps with continuous autofocus is unprecedented at this price. It slowed to around 1.6fps after five shots, but that's still a fine result. There's not much to report about the controls and menus – they're straightforward and effective, and include all the key options we expect. Our only gripe is that the custom white balance mode can be selected from the Quick Menu but its calibration is only possible via the main menu. This had us stumped for quite a while.
Comparing image quality with the similarly specified Canon Ixus 500 HS, the Panasonic delivered sharper focus into the corners of frames – a remarkable achievement considering that the Canon doesn't even try to focus light onto the edges of its sensor. There were some chromatic aberrations, giving red and blue halos around high-contrast lines, but they rarely made a big impact in practice. The Panasonic also exhibited less noise in bright light, but indoors there was little to choose between them, and in very low light the Canon broke out into the lead. It also displayed warmer, more flattering colours. Overall, though, the Panasonic takes the prize for image quality.
We could live with the video smearing issue but we're less inclined to put up with the screen's poor viewing angles. We prefer the SZ7 to the Ixus 500 HS, but the Ixus 230 HS is still the best compact camera we've seen to date with its 8x zoom and immaculate image quality.
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