Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 Review

4.0
April 22, 2011 | Mark Goldstein |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 14 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5.5Mb.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 produced images of good quality during the review period. The 1/2.33 inch, 14 megapixel MOS sensor used in the Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 produces noise-free images at ISO 80-200, with limited noise and colour desaturation starting to appear at ISO 400. ISO 800 exhibits quite visible noise, smearing of fine detail and colour desaturation, and ISO 1600 is even noisier, although still usable for small prints.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 dealt fairly well with chromatic aberrations, with some purple fringing effects appearing mostly in high contrast situations. The flash worked well indoors, with a little red-eye and adequate exposure. The night photograph was excellent, with the maximum shutter speed of 60 seconds allowing you to capture plenty of light. Anti-shake is a feature that works very well when hand-holding the camera in low-light conditions or when using the telephoto end of the zoom range.

Macro performance is fine, allowing you to focus as close as 5cms away from the subject. The images were a little soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpening setting and ideally require further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, or you can change the in-camera setting if you don't like the default results.

Noise

There are 6 ISO settings available on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting:

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

 
 

Focal Range

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3's 4x zoom lens provides a focal length of 28-112mm in 35mm terms, as demonstrated below.

28mm

112mm

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting. You can change the in-camera sharpening level if you don't like the default look.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

Chromatic Aberrations

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 handled chromatic aberrations fairly well during the review. There's some purple fringing between areas of high contrast, but it's only noticeable on close inspection, as shown in the examples below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Example 2 (100% Crop)

Macro

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 offers a Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is 5cms away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro Shot

100% Crop

Flash

The flash settings on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 are Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction, Forced Off, and Flash Synchro. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (28mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (28mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (112mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (112mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are a couple of portrait shots. Both the Forced On setting or the Auto/Red-eye Reduction option caused a tiny amount of red-eye.

Forced On

Forced On (100% Crop)
   

Auto/Red-eye Reduction

Auto/Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Night

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3's maximum shutter speed is 60 seconds in Manual shooting mode and the Starry Sky Mode scene mode, which is great news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 15 seconds at ISO 80. I've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Anti Shake

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 has an anti-shake mechanism, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, I took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with anti shake turned off, the second with it turned on. Here are some 100% crops of the images to show the results. As you can see, with anti shake turned on, the images are much sharper than with anti shake turned off. This feature really does seem to make a difference and could mean capturing a successful, sharp shot or missing the opportunity altogether.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length

Anti Shake Off (100% Crop)

Anti Shake On (100% Crop)

1/6th / 28mm
     
1/2th / 112mm

Entry Tags

hd video, hd, wide-angle, 720p, beginner, 2.7 inch LCD, 14 megapixel, lumix, 28mm, 4x zoom, budget, s3, dmc-s3, Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 Review

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