Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZS15 12.1 MP High Sensitivity MOS Digital Camera with 16x Optical Zoom (Black) Reviews

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  1. Randy Wakeman "Randy Wakeman" says:
    439 of 455 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Review: Panasonic Lumix ZS15 12.1 MP 16x Digital Camera Vs. Canon SX230 HS, May 2, 2012
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    This review is from: Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZS15 12.1 MP High Sensitivity MOS Digital Camera with 16x Optical Zoom (Black) (Electronics)

    Review: Panasonic Lumix ZS15 12.1 MP 16x Digital Camera Vs. Canon SX230 HS

    (Please note: embedded images are not possible, so I’ve uploaded a few of the referenced images here on Amazon separately, along with several other representative images.)

    From left, the Panasonic ZS-15, Canon SX230, Sony HX5V, and a Panasonic ZR-3. There isn’t a huge difference in envelope dimensions. Only the older ZR-3 is significantly slimmer.

    From the back, the thin profile of the ZR-3 is easily discernible. Between the two primary subject cameras discussed here, the new ZS-15 and the SX230, there isn’t enough difference to worry about.

    Recently, I reviewed a battery of compact point and shoot genre digital cameras suitable for hunting and the outdoors. The losers were the Nikon S9100 for poor build quality, very poor video, and sounding like a tractor when you operate the zoom. Not a healthy tractor at that. The Sony HX7V exhibited truly sea-slug slow shooting performance. The middle of the road was taken up by a previous Sony model, the Sony HX5V, while connecting to a PC with a truly wacky proprietary Sony adapter, often took very good pictures, is well-built, but is still noticeably slow compared to several Canon and Panasonic models. The winners were the Canon SX230 overall (easily) with an honorable mention to the older Panasonic DMC-ZR3 for its slimness, responsiveness, very low price, and excellent battery life . . . noting that the more current, but similarly performing Panasonic DMC-FH25K model was quite a bargain at its $140 street price or even a tad less.

    The Canon Powershot SX230, with its 14x optical zoom range, has produced some very good images for me. There are situations where the 14x zoom just isn’t enough, like the above image of turkeys shot from the far side of a clover field. For extended zoom range without additional bulk or great cost, the new Panasonic ZS-15 has the potential to fill the bill.

    In this genre of camera, it only makes sense to compare it to similarly configured cameras with similar envelope dimensions at similar price points. It makes very little sense to try to compare it to a camera with only 3, 4, 5, or 6x zoom. Nor does it make any sense to compare it with a bulky camera that isn’t fitting into a pocket.

    Most of the 2012 “travel zoom” models are out and as usual, there is a mix of hits and disappointments in what is called the travel zoom category, generally compact point and shoot cameras with 10x or better zoom ranges, often including a GPS. Already, a few of the newer models can be safely deemed a step backward. Inexplicably, the Nikon 9300 adds a GPS to last year’s 9100 and along with that dubious feature adds an even more dubious 16 megapixel sensor. Currently, it is way overpriced at its $345 street price and wouldn’t be competitive even if it was a hundred dollars or so less as far as I’m concerned. As a sad bonus, the image quality from the Nikon 9300 has taken a nosedive, even at base ISO.

    Last year’s Sony DSC-HX9V has been replaced by the DSC-HX10V, cramming 18 megapixels onto its tiny sensor resulting in a loss in image quality along the way. Still selling near its retail price of $329.99, it doesn’t compare favorably to Canon and Panasonic product. The new Canon SX260 stretches the optical zoom of the SX230 from 14x out to 20x, it runs $300 as of this writing, and it also adds a plethora of new scene modes. It is easy to generally recommend the SX260 as it yields essentially the same performance as the SX230 with the same sensor. It is an incremental improvement, though, and if the 14x zoom of the SX230 is enough for you the remaining SX230’s are a bargain at about $199 street price. 100% crops give a slight image quality benefit to the SX230 as well: something subtle enough to go unnoticed in a full image.

    You might be wondering when I’m going to get to the Panasonic ZS15, so am I, but I’ll get there. Though Panasonic has generally been credited with pioneering this branch of digital camera, their 2011 offerings fell flat. The DMC-ZS10 was described as ‘doing everything right except take good pictures’ by one reviewer, Jeff Keller, which about sums it up. The 2012 flagship Panasonic super-zoom, the DMC-ZS20, gets Panasonic back in the game with a 20x zoom, a comparatively full-featured GPS, currently offered at the equally full-featured price of $325 or so. While I debated, I decided it wasn’t worth reviewing the ZS-20 compared to this Lumix ZS15, a comparative screaming deal at $230 street, or less.

    What you give up in saving a hundred dollars is what I find of little value: the GPS, the longer zoom (16x is generous enough), and stereo video recording. If anything, the ZS15 nets you slightly better image quality, better battery life (no GPS or touch screen) and you lose little else. There is no particular reason to avoid the 20x ZS20, I’ve tested one example,…

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  2. Spicerpro says:
    90 of 93 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    An absolute winner and quality product!, May 4, 2012
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    This review is from: Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZS15 12.1 MP High Sensitivity MOS Digital Camera with 16x Optical Zoom (Black) (Electronics)

    I loved this camera right out of the box! I own mid-size digital SLR’s and previous Panasonic pocket cameras. For my purposes, the Lumix DMC-ZS15 is the best of both worlds.

    This P&S sports a distortion-free 24mm wide angle with an amazingly sharp 383mm zoom. The auto-focus is very responsive and works as one would hope. Image stabilization is accomplished through the lens and works well when shooting video, especially at long focal lengths. The Intelligent Auto Mode is a wonderful feature when you just want to shoot and move on. And yet, the manual controls offer excellent control when you need it. Low-light shooting is terrific.

    Like with any new camera, you get use to the menu layout as you gain experience using it. Of course, reading the manual front-to-back serves as a necessary overview, plus there are neat features you would not otherwise know exist.

    The video performance is excellent. As a professional filmmaker, I particularly appreciate the true 29.97 frame rate. Previous Panasonic models were 30 fps, which played havoc with DVD’s and BRD’s. The dynamic range of the MOS sensor is much better than previous CCD’s I have owned. Also, the audio is clean and quiet at 48,000 kHz.

    I could go on and on about my sheer delight with this camera. My only suggestion is that they include an external battery charger rather than requiring users to charge in the camera. For that reason, I bought a Panasonic DE-A65BA Battery Charger and Panasonic DMW-BCG10PP ID Secured Battery. Charging time is much faster and the extra battery is a must if you plan on doing a lot of shooting.

    The Lumix DMC-ZS15 is highly recommended!

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  3. ImageMD says:
    44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Best of the Lumix Series, June 3, 2012
    By 
    ImageMD (Miami, FL USA) –
    (VINE VOICE)
      

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    This review is from: Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZS15 12.1 MP High Sensitivity MOS Digital Camera with 16x Optical Zoom (Black) (Electronics)

    The Lumix series of Panasonic pocket cameras have a loyal following. This is my fourth Lumix, preceded by the TZ3, TZ5 and ZS5. The ZS15 is by far the best of the series. Although the hardware of the ZS15 sports several improvements, I find the greatest improvements are with the software.

    Let me describe six of the features which I really like:
    a. Custom Function Switch: This allows for 4 user selected settings. I set the C1 to a burst of 3 images at different exposures for HDR processing. These 3 images shoot rapidly, at a much improved rate. (I find the in-camera HDR almost useless). I set C2-1 to the night image mode which allows for in-camera processing of four images to reduce the noise of the high gain on the sensor. You will be amazed at the images you can take with this feature. I set C2-2 to the horizontal panorama from left to right. I set the C2-3 to the vertical panorama from bottom to top. As with the night images, you will quickly fall in love with these features.
    b. The Time-Lapse Video: By shooting video in the miniature mode of the Creative Control menu, you can record time lapse images at 2 second intervals. The camera saves the time-lapse video in .MTS format. A convenient red button turns the video recording on and off.

    I did not buy the more expensive ZS20 because I do not need the 20x zoom, the GPS, the 16MP sensor or the touch screen. I’m indifferent to some of the other new features. The 12MP images have more pixels but I find that the processing requires more sharpening. The smaller size of the ZS20 would have been convenient but I’ve gotten used to the original size. The charging via the USB port means I will not need to carry the charger with me when I travel, but I did like the possibility of having a spare battery in the charger. You cannot operate the ZS15 while it is charging. The camera has a built-in demo program and Panasonic includes a comprehensive digital manual on a CD. A new feature has the description of most menu selections scrolling across the bottom of the screen.

    In summary: I am very happy with my ZS15 and would recommend it to nearly everyone, professional, semi-pro or amateur. There are many good reviews if you want to make a side by side comparison of features with other cameras or with the ZS20.

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