Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5 Review

October 2, 2012 | Matt Grayson | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5 is a slim, metal-built digital compact camera with a 10x 25-250mm optical zoom, 14 megapixel resolution, 720p HD video recording and wifi connection that allows remote shooting via your smartphone, wireless playback on a TV, automatic image transfer to a computer and back up to online cloud services. Priced at around £180, the Panasonic DMC-SZ5 is available in silver and black.

Ease of Use

When Panasonic first ventured into the digital compact camera market, the cameras were exquisitely retro in their design. The features were avant garde with a top resolution (usually around 2-3 megapixels), a 3x optical zoom and Leica lens. In recent years, the lovely vintage styling has gone but luckily the other aspects of the cameras remain.

The Lumix DMC-SZ5 is a prime example. It has a thin body with a metal front in matte effect that is split in the middle by a chrome band running the circumference of the camera. The lens is a 10x optical zoom Leica DC Vario-Elmarit. It boasts a 25mm wide-angle view and Mega O.I.S (Optical image Stabilisation). A few years ago, Panasonic announced and started to integrate Power O.I.S which has a higher tolerance for shake. It looks like the technology isn't quite ready for dropping this far down the range just yet. However, Mega O.I.S is still very effective.

The left side of the Panasonic DMC-SZ5 is designated to the wifi system. Panasonic have made sure that they use the wireless system as much as possible by integrating “Lumix Link”. It's an app for smartphones (iOS and Android) that allows you to shoot remotely by viewing the camera image on the screen of your phone. You can also use this app to view pictures on a (compatible DLNS) TV, get GPS information, add images to social networks and - if you join the special club - you can back up to the Panasonic cloud service.

To use the wifi system, press the wifi button in the top right corner on the back of the camera. There are three options. The first is to set-up the wifi system. You can connect to a wireless network, rename or connect to the Lumix Club as well as other options. The wifi button can be designated with a different task as well. The options to shoot using your smartphone or transferring images is also available in the original menu when first pressing the button.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20 Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20
Front Rear

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5's top plate has been kept simple with only the power - which is small and square that sits flush with the body to avoid accidental pressing, shutter release and video recording buttons. The zoom rocker sits around the shutter release for convenient zooming. These three buttons are located towards the right shoulder while the microphone and speakers are found towards the other side.

On the back a traditional layout has been used with the central navigation pad surrounded by four buttons. They're more about the operation of the camera than actually taking pictures such as playback, shooting modes, Q. Menu (function menu) and display options. The buttons on the navigation pad are centred around shooting such as self-timer, flash, macro and exposure compensation. Access to the main menu is gained by pressing the centre button which also acts as a confirmation of tasks.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5 has an overall metal build with some elements of plastic here and there. The tripod bush is one such example, along with the USB cover. The latter is a snap shut type, though, and not simply a piece of rubber you have to push into a slot. The battery door has a lock on it which is nice to see and it hides the lithium ion battery and SD slot. The Lumix DMC-SZ5 accepts SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards.

The screen is bright enough although we did get issues when the sun was directly overhead or behind us. However, in the Q.Menu, there's a Power LCD option which will increase the brightness of the screen so it can be seen in these conditions. It works well but will zap your power quicker so remember to switch it off when you're not using it.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20 Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20
Front Top

The Lumix DMC-SZ5 has been designed with the layman in mind. It seems ideal for the type of person that doesn't have much interest in learning photography but they still want to document their life and hold onto some memories. The menu has been split into four easy factions: Record, Motion Picture, Set-up and Wifi. Record simply allows you to make changes to how the camera reacts when taking pictures such as resolution, ISO, white-balance, AF modes, continuous shooting, red-eye removal, that kind of thing. There are four pages of options to choose from, so there's plenty to do. Motion Picture has only two options for video quality and AF.

Choosing the Wifi option takes you to the same menu that is opened when pressing the wifi button in the right corner. The Set-up menu option accesses the more permanent features of the camera such as date & time, volume, auto review or auto power off. These are the types of features that will stay permanently that way unless you change them here.

Get yourself a top-level Panasonic camera and pressing the Q.Menu button opens up a host of options on the screen. To the photographically inclined, this poses no problem, but if that's not you, the Lumix DMC-SZ5 is perfect. The Q.Menu only has six options for resolution, ISO, white-balance, AF options, burst mode and power LCD.

Start-up time is pretty average at 2.5 seconds. This includes turning the camera on, focusing and taking a picture. The Lumix DMC-SZ5 has three burst modes: Burst, Hi-Speed burst and Flash burst. In Burst mode, the camera takes 16 images in a ten second period averaging the rate at a respectable 1.6fps (frames per second). In Hi-Speed burst mode, the resolution is lowered to 3 megapixels - so this can't be a subject you want to print a big picture of - so there's less file information for the processor to deal with. It takes around 7fps in this mode.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20 Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20
Memory Card Slot Battery Compartment

The final burst mode incorporates flash, so it runs slower to accommodate the flash recharge cycle. Still, we managed to get ten frames in a ten second period but - and here's the unusual bit - after 5 frames, the camera stops and if you want to carry on, you have to take your finger off the button and start again. Not unusual in itself, but the second time round, the camera worked faster to still get 5 frames in the remaining four seconds. Panasonic have ensured that all the modes work to a point that the camera can cope with buffering and download. It only took the Lumix DMC-SZ5 a second or so to finish downloading to the card after we'd released the button.

Typically, playback on a digital compact camera can be enabled two ways. Panasonic usually opt for a switch between record and playback, then pressing the power button when the switch is on playback prevents the lens from opening. The Lumix DMC-SZ5 doesn't have such a switch - it's generally reserved for higher spec cameras - but if you press the playback button when the camera is off, the pictures you've taken will come onto the screen for you to review and the lens won't pop out.

Pressing the menu button will open up three options. Two of which are accessible in record mode;  Set-up and Wifi. In the Playback menu, you can add GPS data if you have it, Upload images to the internet, resize, crop and add favourites, protect or copy images.

Alongside the camera in the box there's a lithium ion battery, wrist strap, battery charger and two basic guides; one for the camera and one for the wifi usage. The CD enclosed provides a full user guide, a trial version of LoiLoScope and PHOTOfunSTUDIO 8.4 SE which is Panasonic's editing program.

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.


Looking at the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5's images in controlled light, the low ISO settings give very good results in lighter parts. Darker sections do tend to look a bit painted as though they've had some noise reduction software applied. It's doing a good job at controlling whatever noise is there, though, because it's not showing up. Edge definition is great and there's tons of detail.

Noticeable changes appear at around ISO 400 with definite blobs of colour appearing in the darker areas of the picture. Moving on to ISO 800 seems to have the biggest effect on the image quality. Picture definition becomes poorer with areas except the sharp, in focus parts bleeding colours over edges. More noise is evident with orange colour smothering the darker and mid-tones. ISO 1600 seems to take an eerily opposite approach. Image quality still isn't all that hot but colour noise has been all but vanquished. Detail is still present and images appear sharp. Kudos to the Panasonic noise reduction system. It's not perfect but it's a lot better than we were expecting.

There are 5 ISO settings available on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5. 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)



When looking at the pictures taken by the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5, we were impressed with the sharpness. In fact, the sharpest parts of the picture don't need a boost. As you move out to the edges of the frame, the pictures do benefit though (not out of focus areas, obviously) as the sharp area gets expanded.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)


Focal Range

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5's 10x zoom lens provides a very versatile focal length of 25-250mm in 35mm terms, as demonstrated below.



Chromatic Aberrations

Chromatic aberration isn't something that's seen that much on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5. That's not to say it isn't absent. We did find some instances of it, but we had to look harder than normal. There were some moments when we thought we'd found it but it's actually lens flare.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Example 2 (100% Crop)


The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5 has a close focusing of 5cm which is pretty standard of a camera at this specification. In this setting, edge sharpness doesn't seem too bad. We've seen it go quite badly in normal focusing modes but our test shot shows a minimal drop in image quality.

Macro Shot

100% Crop


The lens of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5 produces a slight amount of vignetting at wide-angle and it dissipates to a degree as the zoom is used. Using flash doesn't eradicate it unfortunately, it simply evens out the light in the centre of the frame.

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)


If you're shooting at night without using flash, it's best to use the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5's night scene mode as the auto mode vastly under exposes. Night has done it's best to get the picture looking like daylight which we think is wrong, but it does provide an overall better exposure. However with auto, you can control the ISO which could be a deciding factor.

Night Auto

Night Auto (100% Crop)


Night Scene

Night Scene (100% Crop)

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5 camera, which were all taken using the 14 megapixel Fine JPEG setting. The thumbnails below link to the full-sized versions, which have not been altered in any way.

Sample Movie & Video

This is a sample movie at the quality setting of 1280x720 at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 29 second movie is 37.2Mb in size.

Product Images

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5

Front of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5

Front of the Camera / Lens Extended

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5

Isometric View

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5

Isometric View

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5

Rear of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5

Rear of the Camera / Turned On

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5

Rear of the Camera / Quick Menu

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5

Rear of the Camera / Scene Mode Menu


Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5

Rear of the Camera / Record Mode Menu

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5

Rear of the Camera / Main Menu

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5

Rear of the Camera / Main Menu

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5

Rear of the Camera / Wi-Fi Menu

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5

Rear of the Camera / Playback Menu

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5

Top of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5

Side of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5

Side of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5

Front of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5

Memory Card Slot

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5

Battery Compartment


The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5 is one of those digital cameras that delivers exactly what you'd expect it to. We expected a camera that was easy to use and the menu has been arranged to make it that way - more so than other cameras at this price point. Because it's Panasonic, we expected a certain level of image quality and we got it. But does that make the Lumix DMC-SZ5 boring?

If it were just for those points alone then we'd say yes. However, the Lumix DMC-SZ5 has wifi connectivity. Although that's not exactly new these days, what Panasonic have done is broadened the horizon of what is available to you through the wireless options. The app for remote shooting (along with the Samsung version for their cameras) is a great idea and perfect for budding macro enthusiasts. It's also useful for self portraits - by setting the self timer. Wildlife shots will also be easier to do because you can back off from the camera.

As with the features, the build quality is good enough for the price point that the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5's set at. Three things we do like are the Leica branded lens, lockable battery cover and snap shut USB port cover. It's little things like that which could in fact be a deal breaker now that resolution has lost it's edge.

We liked the pictures that we got from the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5. They're sharp, colourful and well exposed. Obviously, we have a natural talent for photography but the camera helped a lot as well. We did notice a limitation on the dynamic range but you can't have everything. In these circumstances, the camera rightly prioritises the highlights.

If it wasn't for the wifi system, the price of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5 would be too high at £180. We think nearer £150 is right for a camera without it. It's worth paying out the extra money though, if you're going to use the features. The menus have been simplified so that literally anyone can use it.

The slim design and large zoom are perfect features for going on holiday and in that scenario, the wifi would be useful for uploading pictures to a photo storage account, such as Flickr, to ensure their safety. If you're the sort of person that does that then you should definitely take a look at the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5.

4 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 3.5
Features 4
Ease-of-use 4.5
Image quality 4
Value for money 3.5

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5 from around the web. »

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5 consistently produced high-quality images in my tests, with good low-light performance, bold colours and a great level of detail, right into the corners of the frame. The built-in Wi-Fi is very tempting as it's been paired with free iOS and Android remote control apps, but rivals with similar specs undercut its price.
Read the full review »



Dimensions (W x H x D) 104.1 x 57.6 x 20.8 mm / (4.10 x 2.27 x 0.82 inch)
Weight Approx. 120g without Battery and SD Memory Card (0.27 lb) / Approx. 136g with Battery and SD Memory Card (0.30 lb)


Camera Effective Pixels 14.1 Megapixels
Sensor Size / Total Pixels / Filter 1/2.33-type CCD Sensor / 14.5 Total Megapixels / Primary Color Filter
Aperture F3.1 - F5.9 / 2-Step (F3.1 / F9.0 (W), F5.9 / F16.0 (T))
Optical Zoom 10.0x
Focal Length f=4.5-45.0mm (25-250mm in 35mm equiv.) / (27-270mm in 35mm equiv. in video recording)
Extra Optical Zoom (EZ) 11.8x (4:3 / 10M), 16.9x (4:3 / 5M), 21.1x(4:3 / under 3M)?
Intelligent Zoom 20.0x
Lens LEICA DC VARIO-ELMAR / 9 elements in 7 groups / (4 Aspherical Lenses / 6 Aspherical surfaces)
2-Speed Zoom -
Optical Image Stabilizer MEGA O.I.S. (On/Off)
Digital Zoom Max. 4x
Focusing Area Normal: Wide 50 cm - infinity / Tele 150 cm - infinity / Macro / Intelligent AUTO/ motion picture: Wide 5 cm - infinity / Tele 150cm - infinity
AF Assist Lamp Yes (On/Off )
Focus Normal, AF Macro, Macro Zoom / Quick AF (Always On), Continuous AF(only for motion picture) / AF Tracking
AF Metering Face / AF Tracking / 23-area / 1-area
Shutter Speed approx. 8 - 1/1600 sec
Viewfinder -


File Format Still Image: JPEG(DCF/Exif2.3) / Motion picture: MP4
Mode Dial / Mode Button Intelligent Auto, Normal Picture, SCN, Miniature Effect
Creative Control mode -
Still Image Scene Mode Portrait, Soft Skin, Scenery, Panorama Shot, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Food, / Baby1, Baby2, Pet, Sunset, High Sensitivity, Glass Through, Photo Frame
Continuous Shooting Mode Full- Resolution Image: 1.5 frames/sec
Motion Picture Recording (*2) [HD Video] / 1280 x 720 pixels, 25 fps (HD: 10Mbps / MP4) / [STD Video] / 640 x 480 pixels, 25 fps (VGA: 4Mbps / MP4)
AVCHD (Continuous recordable time [motion pictures]) -
MP4 (Continuous recordable time [motion pictures]) approx. 90 min (HD)
AVCHD (Actual recordable time [motion pictures]) -
MP4 (Actual recordable time [motion pictures]) approx. 45 min (HD)
Exposure Auto (Program AE)
Exposure Compensation 1/3 EV step, +/-2 EV
Auto (AE) Bracketing No
Light Metering Intelligent Multiple
Aspect Bracketing -
ISO Sensitivity i.ISO / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600 / High Sensitivity mode (ISO 1600-6400)
Still Picture Recording [1:1] / 3232x3232(10.5M) / [4:3] / 4320x3240(14M) / 3648x2736(10M EZ) / 2560x1920(5M EZ) / 2048x1536(3M EZ) / 640x480(0.3M EZ) / [3:2] / 4320x2880 (12.5M) / [16:9] / 4320x2432 (10.5M)
Zoom in Motion Picture Yes
Image Quality -
White Balance Auto / Daylight / Cloudy / Shade / Incandescent / White Set
Photo Style / Film Mode -
Color Mode / Color Effect / My color Color Mode : Standard, Black&White, Sepia, Vivid(in normal / video), Happy (only in iA Mode)
Picture Adjustment -
Digital Red Eye Correction (Red-Eye Removal) Yes
Wi-FI IEEE 802.11b/g/n / 2412MHz - 2462MHz (11ch) / Wi-Fi / WPA / WPA2 / Infurastracture mode / Wi-Fi Button
Self Timer 2sec / 10sec


Retouch Auto Retouch
Playback Mode Normal Playback, Slideshow, Filtering Playback (Category, Favorites), / Calendar Playback
Thumbnails / Zoomed Playback 12,30-thumbnails / Yes
Calendar Display / Dual-Image Playback Yes / No
Set Favorites / Rotate Image Yes / No
Show Histogram -
Show Highlights -
DPOF Print Setting / Set Protection Yes / Yes
Resize / Cropping / Aspect Conv. / Leveling Yes / Yes / No / No
Copy / Title Edit / Text Stamp Yes / No / Yes
Cut Animation -
Video Divide Yes
PictBridge Support Single / Multi / All / Favorites / DPOF


OSD language Japanese, English, German, French, Italian, Spanish


Battery life (approx.) 250 pictures (CIPA Standard)*1
LCD Monitor 7.5cm (3.0") TFT Screen LCD Display (230K dots) / Field of View : approx. 100% / Power LCD mode, AUTO Power LCD mode, High Angle mode
Built-in-Flash Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction, Forced Off, / 0.6 - 5.6m (Wide/i ISO), 1.5 - 2.9m (Tele/i ISO)?
Recording Media Built-in Memory, SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card, SDXC Memory Card
Built-in-Memory Approx.55MB
Microphone / Speaker Mono / Mono
Interface AV Output (NTSC), USB Multi
Power Li-ion Battery Pack (3.6V, Minimum: 680mAh/2.5Wh) (Included) / AC Adaptor (Input: 110-240V AC) (Optional)
Included Software PHOTOfunSTUDIO 8.4 SE / Adobe Reader
Standard Accessories Battery Pack, AC adaptor, USB Cable, Hand Strap, CD-ROM

Further Specifications

NOTE *1 / Recording conditions by CIPA standard / - CIPA is an abbreviation of [Camera & Imaging Products Association]. / - Temperature: 23 oC (73.4 oF)/Humidity: 50%RH when LCD monitor is on. / - Using a Panasonic SD Memory Card (32 MB). / - Using the supplied battery. / - Starting recording 30 seconds after the camera is turned on. (When the optical image stabilizer function is set to [ON].) / - Recording once every 30 seconds with full flash every second recording. / - Rotating the zoom lever from Tele to Wide or vice versa in every recording. / - Turning the camera off every 10 recordings and leaving it until the temperature of the battery decreases. / *2 / - These are standard times taken at a temperature of 23 oC (73.4 oF) and a humidity of 50%RH. / - The time available for recording varies depending on the environment, the interval between recordings, and the manner of use. / - Actual recordable time is the time available for recording when repeating actions such as switching the power supply [ON] / [OFF], starting/stopping recording, zoom operation etc. / -Motion Pictures can be recorded continuously for up to 29 minutes 59 seconds in European PAL area. Also, motion picutre recorded continuously in [MP4] is up to 4GB.

Your Comments

Loading comments…