Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 Review

December 13, 2012 | Matt Grayson | Rating star Rating star Rating star Rating star


The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 is a smart, snazzy digital compact camera with a 14.1 megapixel MOS sensor, Leica DC Vario-Elmar lens which sports a 10x optical zoom (25-250mm in 35mm terms) and a bright 3 inch LCD screen. One of the main features of the camera is that it records in FullHD (1920x1080) incorporating the AVCHD format. Another is the 10fps continuous shooting at full resolution. Priced at £219.99, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 is available in white, black or brown.

Ease of Use

When it comes to camera design, Panasonic have got it pretty much nailed. It's like they can't make an ugly camera - and that kind of makes our life difficult. You see, because the cameras are so nice looking, we tend to fawn over them when they arrive in the office. Then when we're writing the reviews, we have to remain unbiased while not actually finding anything wrong with how it looks. The same can be said for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7. It's a simple box with an enlarged lens barrel that makes the top of the camera bow out slightly. This is to incorporate the large 10x optical zoom in a small body. Panasonic have exploited this and placed the stereo microphone on the bulge.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7's lens is a Leica DC Vario-Elmar consisting of 9 elements in 7 groups. Four of the elements are aspherical and six have aspherical surfaces. We assume that the six include the previous four.  The lens is stabilised by Panasonic's Mega OIS. We'd prefer to see Power OIS for an extra stop compensation but maybe that would push the price up?

One other thing we like about Panasonic cameras is that they have switches. We like switches because they're definite. They're a visual confirmation that the action you've performed has been completed. The camera has a power switch over a power button and it's great to see it. The shutter button would be no good as a switch so we're happy to see the faithful design of a round button remain. Operating the 10x optical zoom is performed by using the rocker wrapped around the shutter release. Located on the right shoulder is the dedicated video record button.

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

On the back is a switch to flick between playback and shooting. You can put the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 in playback while switched off, flick the power switch and look at the pictures you've taken without the lens popping out and getting in the way. Not a lot of people know that by holding down the playback button, a lot of cameras will start up in a similar fashion.

The rest of the layout is standard Panasonic with a mode button at the top of a navigation pad that also doubles up and a Q. Menu at the bottom with a Display options button. Modes simply scrolls through the different shooting types that are available such as Intelligent Auto, Auto, Scenes, 3D and Miniature mode.

In Q. Menu, the camera opens up the most used features of the camera such as resolution, ISO, white-balance, AF modes, continuous shooting and screen brightness. This sub-menu is less cluttered than the full menu which is accessed by pressing the centre of the navigation pad. Pressing that button brings up a white screen with three options for recording menu, video menu or set-up. In playback, the set-up remains while the previous other two are replaced with a playback menu. It's still possible to change all the options from the Q.Menu if you decide that using the more comprehensive menu is your thing.

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

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 is a metal construction and is made to a reasonable standard. Essentially, it's made to the price tag; the screen is bright and flush to the camera and it has a lithium ion battery. The battery compartment door could be more sturdy but again, cost would be a deciding factor. For your £220 you get a good quality lens from one of the best lens makers in the world today and SDXC memory card compatibility. The buttons are a bit small so it wouldn't be a suitable camera for anyone with large hands. WE often pressed multiple buttons because they're quite close together. Especially the ones on the navigation pad. However, this is the price you pay for a smaller camera.

Panasonic menus have always been easy to navigate and the SZ7 is no different. As we mentioned before, the options are split into two menu systems; Main and Q.Menu. The menu is a white screen with black writing. It looks pretty but people who are hard of sight could find that the white background bleeds over the black writing. If you have this issue then it's worth looking at the camera first. There's no option to change the colour co-ordination in the menu system.

It seems that to get the full 10fps continuous shooting, you have to have the perfect conditions. We fixed the ISO to ensure a fast enough shutter speed and got loads of light before realising the issue: It doesn't take 10 pictures. It takes four in 0.36 of a second. That translates to roughly ten per second.

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

As we mentioned earlier, playback is performed by flicking the switch down on the back of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7. This can be done when the camera is off and subsequently powering it up will prevent the lens from coming out. The default setting is the image taking up the entire frame with some basic info such as the date, image number and resolution used skirted around the edge. Pressing the display button will scroll through alternative views such as shooting info (aperture, ISO, white-balance and shutter speed) and no information.

The playback menu gives the option to mark pictures for upload, add text, resize crop or protect from erasing among other things. More digital compact cameras are coming out with extensive editing tools and it's a shame not to see more here. It's not even anything to do with the price because cheaper cameras have more features on them.

There's usually very little in a digital camera box these days and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 is no exception. Aside from the camera and battery, there's a wrist strap, camera charger, basic owners manual and CD with the full manual, PHOTOfunSTUDIO 8.0 AE and LoiLoScope for Windows.

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.


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)


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.



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)


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


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)


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 (100% Crop)

Sample Images

This is a selection of sample images from the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 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 1920x1080 at 30 frames per second. Please note that this 27 second movie is 65.3Mb in size.

Product Images

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7

Front of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7

Front of the Camera / Lens Extended

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7

Isometric View

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7

Isometric View

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7

Rear of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7

Rear of the Camera / Image Displayed

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7

Rear of the Camera / Shooting Mode Menu

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7

Rear of the Camera / Scene Mode Menu

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7

Rear of the Camera / Quick Menu


Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7

Rear of the Camera / Record Mode Menu

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7

Rear of the Camera / Setup Menu

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7

Rear of the Camera / Playback Menu

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7

Rear of the Camera / Quick Menu

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7

Rear of the Camera / Image Playback

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7

Top of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7

Side of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7

Side of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7

Front of the Camera

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7

Memory Card Slot

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7

Battery Compartment


Panasonic have a bit of a problem here. There's no denying that the Lumix DMC-SZ7 is a very pretty camera. It has a decent build quality but could probably come down to £200 for what it offers in features. Yes, it has 3D, yes it has diorama and yes it has FullHD video but it's all been done before. We expected to see digital effects and filters in a menu system but they're not there.

It means that customers may not find the camera as fun as others. Or they could see it as a refreshing change that they don't always have to make a new picture look like it's 60 years old.

If it's the latter then great, but all we can see is a camera that is lacking in features against similarly priced models. It does have a Leica lens and that can count for a lot but will consumers at this price point know the importance of that? Or even care? We like to think they will but realistically, we're unsure.

Image quality is great on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 as long as you keep the ISO down to the lowest two settings. Any higher and you'll start to see noise poking through. Primary colours are punchy and real colours such as skin and earthy tones are sympathetically reproduced.

The high speed 10fps claim is accurate but at the same time – because the camera doesn't actually record 10 pictures – you can't help but feel let down. It would've been nice to have the buffer expanded to cope with 10 shots at least. The main reason being that if we were to use the 10fps it would be to capture a fast moving subject and hope that one of the pictures is accurate. With the stream of photos over in 0.33 sec, it's a lot more difficult to get the shot because of the small window of success.

Panasonic are a very successful company in the digital compact market and if you were to buy this camera, you wouldn't be displeased. We just think it could be better. The lens suffers from chroma, noise comes in too early and the high speed fps is over too quick to do anything worthwhile with. Other than that the pictures look nice. But if you're looking for a snazzy little number with a decent zoom, notable third party lens make, FullHD with stereo sound and 3D capability then take a look at the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7.

4 stars

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

Review Roundup

Reviews of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 from around the web. »

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 was announced in January 2012 alongside the SZ1 and is a super-zoom compact camera, available in black, white and brown for £179.00.
Read the full review » »

The Panasonic DMC-SZ7's small size gives little hint to the impressive lens, decent resolution and quality video features packed within. At £200, it's a keenly priced, feature-packed snapper that's perfect for everyday use.
Read the full review » »

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 is part of the 2012 range of compact cameras, combining a 10x optical zoom with a 14MP sensor as well as the ability to record HD movies. With a slender body this new compact looks the part, offering an impressive aesthetic and feature set.
Read the full review »



Dimensions (W x H x D) 99.0 x 59.4 x 21.0 mm / (3.9 x 2.4 x 0.9 inch)
Weight Approx. 116g without Battery and SD Memory Card (0.26 lb) / Approx. 133g with Battery and SD Memory Card (0.30 lb)


Camera Effective Pixels 14.1 Megapixels
Sensor Size / Total Pixels / Filter 1/2.33-type High Sensitivity Mos Sensor / 15.3 Total Megapixels / Primary Color Filter
Aperture F3.1 - F5.9 / 2-Step (F3.1 / 9.0 (W), F5.9 / 16.0 (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)
Optical Image Stabilizer MEGA O.I.S. (Off / On)
Digital Zoom 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
Focus Normal, AF Macro, Zoom Macro / Quick AFON/OFF(On in Intelligent Auto), Continuous AF(only for motion picture) / AF Tracking
AF Metering Face / AF Tracking / Multi (23pt) / 1pt / Spot
Shutter Speed approx. 8 - 1/1600 sec


File Format Still Image: JPEG(DCF/Exif2.3) / 3D Image: MPO / Motion picture: AVCHD, MP4
Mode Dial / Mode Button Intelligent Auto, Normal Picture, SCN, Miniature, 3D Photo Mode
Still Image Scene Mode Portrait, Soft Skin, Scenery, Panorama, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Hand Held Night Shot, Food, / Baby1, Baby2, Pet, Sunset, High Sensitivity, Glass Through, Photo Frame
Continuous Shooting Mode Full- Resolution Image: 10 frames/sec Max. 4 images (Standard / Fine Mode), / with AF Tracking: 5 frames/sec, 2 frames/sec / Intelligent Burst Shooting
Motion Picture Recording (*2) [HD Video] 1920 x 1080 pixels, 50i (FSH: 17Mbps / AVCHD) (Sensor output is 25p) / 1280 x 720 pixels, 50p (SH: 17Mbps / AVCHD) (Sensor output is 25P) / 1920 x 1080 pixels, 25 fps (FHD: 20Mbps / MP4) (Sensor output is 25p) / 1280 x 720 pixels, 25 fps (HD: 10Mbps / MP4) (Sensor output is 25P) / [STD Video] VGA: 640 x 480 pixels, 25 fps (4Mbps / MP4)
AVCHD (Continuous recordable time [motion pictures]) approx. 60 min (FSH), 65 min (SH)
MP4 (Continuous recordable time [motion pictures]) approx. 60 min (FHD)
AVCHD (Actual recordable time [motion pictures]) approx. 30 min (FSH), 30 min (SH)
MP4 (Actual recordable time [motion pictures]) approx. 30 min (FHD)
Exposure Auto(Program AE)
Exposure Compensation 1/3 EV step, +/-2 EV
Auto (AE) Bracketing 1/3 -1EV step, Max +/-1, 3 frames
Light Metering Intelligent Multiple
ISO Sensitivity Auto / i.ISO / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600 / 3200 / 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)
Image Quality Fine / Standard (3D mode: MPO Fine / MPO Standard )
White Balance Auto / Daylight / Cloudy / Shade / Incandescent / White Set
Color Mode / Color Effect / My color Color Mode : Standard, Black&White, Sepia, Vivid(in normal / video), Happy (only in iA Mode)
Digital Red Eye Correction (Red-Eye Removal) Yes
Optical Zoom in Motion Picture Yes
Self Timer 2sec / 10sec


Playback Mode Normal Playback, Slideshow, Filtering Playback (Picture Only, Video Only, 3D, Category, Favorites), / Calendar Playback
Thumbnails / Zoomed Playback 12,30-thumbnails / Yes
Calendar Display / Dual-Image Playback Yes / No
Set Favorites / Rotate Image Yes / No
DPOF Print Setting / Set Protection Yes / Yes
Resize / Cropping / Aspect Conv. / Leveling Yes / Yes / No / No
Copy / Title Edit / Text Stamp Yes / Yes / Yes
Cut Animation Yes
Video Divide Yes
PictBridge Support Single / Multi / All / Favorites / DPOF


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


LCD Monitor 7.5cm(3.0") TFT Screen LCD Display (460K dots)
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.70MB
Microphone / Speaker Stereo / Mono
Interface miniHDMI, AV Output (NTSC/PAL), USB2.0 High speed
Power Li-ion Battery Pack (3.6V, Minimum: 680mAh) (Included) / AC Adaptor (Input: 110-240V AC)(Included, connect with USB cable)
Battery life (approx.) 250 pictures (CIPA Standard)*1
Included Software PHOTOfunSTUDIO 8.0 Advanced Edition / Adobe Reader
Standard Accessories Battery Pack, AC Adapter, 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. / - The number of recordable pictures decreases in Auto Power LCD Mode and Power LCD Mode. / *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. / *3 / - Motion pictures can be recorded continuously for up to 29 minutes 59 seconds in European PAL areas. Also, motion picture recorded continuously in [MP4] is up to 4 GB.

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