Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 Review

4.0
December 13, 2012 | Matt Grayson |

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.

Noise

We're not typically all that impressed with noise performance of digital compact cameras but recently there's been a swarm of them that have really impressed us. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 falls inbetween the new, high performing compacts and the usual mush of tiny sensor, loads of noise compacts. The reason is because at low ISO, picture quality is excellent on the SZ7. Get enough light through that pretty lens and you'll get pictures sharp enough to make an aichmophobic sweat. However, it starts to deteriorate quite quick through the stages.

In fact, we noted traces of green colour invading the mid-tones at ISO 400 which isn't very good. Edge definition seems to hold up well, though, It takes a bit of a battering at ISO 800 but seems to hold steady and not lose its nerve.

The final setting of ISO 3200 has edges breaking down and colour invading all the image. However, it's not the worse we've seen at this stage – hence our initial statement.

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

Sharpening

Throughout the test we were very happy with the results from the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 but adding a little sharpening using Adobe Photoshop CS4 increased the appeal even more. Surprising considering that Leica lenses are renowned for their sharpness. Of course, the Leica lenses aren't actually manufactured by Leica but they're done in a Panasonic factory under Leica scrutiny.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

Focal Range

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7's 10x zoom lens provides a very versatile focal length of 25-250mm in 35mm terms, as demonstrated below.

25mm

250mm

Chromatic Aberrations

Disappointingly, we found traces of chromatic aberration in cases of high contrast and even in some cases where it wasn't that high. Chromatic aberration is a problem caused by the lens and an inability to focus all colours on the sensor. It appears as a coloured line along edges. It's most commonly purple but has been known to be orange.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

Macro

There are two macro modes on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7; macro and super macro. The latter has the same capability as the first but has no zoom ability. Image quality in macro mode is very good and if it wasn't for the limited top end of focus, we'd be inclined to leave it in macro all the time.

Macro Shot

100% Crop

Flash

The flash is intelligent and doesn't over-cook the highlights like some built-in flash units can when the subject gets too close. Our flash shots were complimentary to the subject and sympathetic to surrounding light.

Forced Off - Wide Angle (25mm)

Forced On - Wide Angle (25mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Forced Off - Telephoto (250mm)

Forced On - Telephoto (250mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

We didn't find an instance of red-eye in our test shots but the camera has both a red-eye reduction mode on the flash menu and a red-eye removal mode in the main menu.

Forced On

Forced On (100% Crop)
   

Auto/Red-eye Reduction

Auto/Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Night

Leaving the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 in program will render it incompetent at night. It simply doesn't have the long enough shutter speed to cope. Switching it to night mode in the scenes menu helps a lot. The pictures we got at night are balanced, well illuminated and sharp. They're also pretty low on noise considering that a digital camera will ramp up the ISO to reduce the shutter speed. Noise can also be attained by using the sensor for a prolonged period; such as a long exposure because the pixels heat up and affect the neighbouring pixels.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

Entry Tags

hd video, hd, 3 inch LCD, 1080p, wide-angle, beginner, 14 megapixel, manual, travel-zoom, travel, lumix, 10fps, prosumer, 10x zoom, 27mm, sz7, dmc-sz7, Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 Review