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Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £102
inc VAT

Its construction feels a little flimsy but otherwise this is a dependable camera at a very reasonable price.


1/2.33in 14.0-megapixel sensor, 4.0x zoom (28-112mm equivalent), 117g

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.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3

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.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 sample 2
Image quality holds together up to ISO 800 – click to zoom

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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Basic Specifications

Rating ****
CCD effective megapixels 14.0 megapixels
CCD size 1/2.33in
Viewfinder none
Viewfinder magnification, coverage N/A
LCD screen size 2.7in
LCD screen resolution 230,000 pixels
Articulated screen No
Live view Yes
Optical zoom 4.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 28-112mm
Image stabilisation optical, lens based
Maximum image resolution 4,320×3,240
Maximum movie resolution 1280×720
Movie frame rate at max quality 30fps
File formats JPEG; QuickTime (M-JPEG)


Memory slot SDXC
Mermory supplied 70MB internal
Battery type Li-ion
Battery Life (tested) 250 shots
Connectivity USB, AV
HDMI output resolution N/A
Body material plastic
Lens mount N/A
Focal length multiplier N/A
Kit lens model name N/A
Accessories USB and AV cables
Weight 117g
Size 60x100x21mm

Buying Information

Warranty one-year RTB
Price £102

Camera Controls

Exposure modes auto
Shutter speed auto
Aperture range f/3.1-9 (wide), f/6.5-20 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution) 100 to 1600
Exposure compensation +/-2 EV
White balance auto, 4 presets, manual
Additional image controls none
Manual focus No
Closest macro focus 5cm
Auto-focus modes multi, centre, face detect
Metering modes multi, face detect
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, red-eye reduction
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer