Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 review
1/2.33in 14.0-megapixel sensor, 10.0x zoom (25-250mm equivalent), 133g
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.
Noise reduction works hard in low light, but messy edges around darker areas reveal this camera's limitations - click to enlarge
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.
With reasonably sharp focus throughout its 10x zoom range, the SZ7 is a marvellous feat of optical design - click to enlarge
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.