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Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ1

We haven't had a chance to fully test this product yet, but we've assembled this helpful overview of relevant information on it.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ1 presents users with 10x optical zoom range and 25mm wide angle focal length. A 1/2.33-inch CCD sensor captures images at 16.1-megapixels. A 3-inch LCD screen located at the back of the DMC-SZ1 utilizes Panasonic’s Power LCD technology, allowing the backlight to moderate ambient light conditions. Two ports can be found on the left side of the camera’s body under a small panel. These two ports feature a HDMI output and a USB/analog video output. Power supply is propagated via a 660 mAh Lithium Ion battery. 70MB of internal memory is integrated into this device, and it additionally provides SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card support.

Features List:

– 3-inch LCD screen

– 660 mAh Lithium Ion battery

– 10x optical zoom

– 70MB internal memory

– 1/2.33-inch CCD sensor 

– 25mm wide angle focal length lens

– 16.1-megapixel image capture

Digital Trends’ Camera Buying Tips:

Key differences between SLR and Point-n-shoot

Price: According to industry analysts, the vast majority of cameras sold go for less than $200. Making the leap to a DSLR will definitely set you back, but many shoppers obviously believe that the investment is well worth it.

Speed: Speed is the one of the most critical factors. If you’ve ever used a compact digicam, you know that these devices take time to focus and save images to memory cards. During these delays, you can easily miss a smiling face or a running child. To put things in perspective: Point-and-shoot digital cameras generally capture 1 frame per second, while most DSLRs take 3 frames per second or more, making them better suited for fast action shots or sporting events. The difference between snagging the perfect picture and missing it entirely is one of the biggest factors weighing heavily in DSLR cameras’ favor.

Image quality: Compact cameras use much smaller imaging devices. By cramming so many megapixels on a small chip, digital noise is a constant problem. In our reviews, we always recommend keeping the ISO (sensitivity) of a digicam at 400 or less. DSLRs have much larger APS-C sized imagers, meaning you’ll encounter less noise in low light situations and better picture quality overall. Using one, you can shoot in more dimly lit conditions without a flash with little image degradation. In addition, if huge prints are in your future-or extensive cropping-DSLRs should be in your sights.

What are some basics I should look for?

Your new digital camera should have these key features:

  • At least a 6MP imaging device for a D-SLR
  • At least a 7MP imager for a point-and-shoot
  • Optical zoom of 3x, not just a digital zoom
  • The highest quality optics
  • A large LCD screen; the more pixels, the better the quality
  • The widest range for aperture (f/stops), shutter speed and ISO
  • An AF Illuminator or AF Assist mode for best flash shots in dim light
  • A variety of Scene Modes for more convenient shooting in a variety of situations
  • Make sure you do your own ergonomic hands-on test

Don’t Buy Til You Try

One final bit of advice. Never, ever buy a camera purely on its specs or a few positive reviews. What looks good on paper, and what feels good to one person, isn’t necessarily going to be the perfect camera for you. Patronize shops that allow you to spend a lot of hands-on time with your prospective models. Cameras are extremely touchy-feely products, and the truth is that most of them include similar feature sets and take decent pictures. But they come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, and you’ll be spending many hours with one of them in your hands. Long-term comfort is perhaps the most important factor of all.

What are my options?

There are two basic types of digital cameras-point-and-shoot and D-SLRs (Digital Single Lens Reflex). Point and shoot digicams-or as we like to call them “aim and forget”-make up the vast majority of models sold (over 90 percent). The reason is simple: in a single gadget you have everything you need to take good photos. Just aim, zoom in on your subject, press the shutter and the camera does all the work. More sophisticated D-SLRs have interchangeable lenses that let you unleash your inner Annie Leibovitz-they offer higher quality, faster response time and more flexibility. They also are a lot heavier and cost much more. Your decision between the two is purely personal and totally dependent on your level of commitment to photography. No matter which way you go there are basics that hold true for all cameras. Learning them will help you make the right decision.

Flexibility and Options: SLR or Point-n-Shoot?

Lens Flexibility: Point-and-shoot cameras offer a wide variety of zoom lenses from the basic 3x up to 26x. If you’re thinking compact, you have many options, but we recommend starting out with a basic wide-angle view (28mm or so) then multiplying that to your heart’s content. A 24x model like the Nikon Coolpix P90 even offers 28-624mm options so you can take nice group shots and zoom into subjects you can barely recognize. There are many small cameras with wide focal ranges that are easily toted around-a huge plus for point-and-shoots.

Contrastingly, DSLRs are far from compact and typically are supplied with a 3x kit lens. From there you can go crazy, spending a small fortune on interchangeable lenses. Canon and Nikon, the two biggest DSLR sellers by far, each have over 65 to choose from. And these lenses use finer glass than point-and-shoots, adding to overall quality advantage of DSLRs. The downside is that they are much heavier, bulkier and require at least a backpack to lug everything around. Still, for the professional or prosumer, DSLR is the natural fit.

Options: Most point-and-shoot digital cameras offer limited manual options for adjusting aperture (f/stops) and shutter speeds. Granted, the vast majority of amateur paparazzi out there couldn’t care less about this small range of potential adjustments, and will be perfectly happy firing away in Auto mode. But while DSLRs have Auto settings too, they also let you unleash your inner Annie Leibovitz by adjusting depth of field, blurring subjects and going wherever the creative muse takes you. If you’re looking to get more creative with photos, a DSLR is the right choice.

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