The digital imaging revolution shows no signs of slowing down. On the point-and-shoot front, the marketing war for consumer dollars grows more competitive each year each. Competition drives manufacturers to add features and cut prices, which provides consumers with more options.
Many photo enthusiasts don't want to drag a DSLR, a full sized tripod, and a bag of lenses everywhere they go - they want small, quick, inconspicuous, responsive, high performance cameras designed by photographers for photographers. Straight shooters especially like compact point-and-shoots. Panasonic's new Lumix ZS10 is the successor to last year's ZS7, which legions of photography enthusiasts crowned the best prosumer point-and-shoot of 2010.
Manufacturers regularly tout the features and performance of their new cameras at consumer electronics shows, but they rarely address consumer complaints about a specific model's design, features, ergonomics, and performance. Though the ZS7 was very popular, it was not a perfect camera and consumers spoke up about what they thought needed improvement. Panasonic listened and tailored the ZS10 to meet those expectations. In many significant ways the ZS10 represents a much larger step forward than its predecessor did over Panasonic's earlier generations of point-and-shoot cameras.
The ZS7 was a 12 megapixel digicam, while the ZS10 boasts 16 megapixel resolution - more pixel power for sure, but it could spell more noise at higher ISO sensitivities. The ZS7 featured a 12x (25-300mm equivalent) Leica zoom, while the ZS10 features a 16x (24-384mm equivalent) Leica zoom.
The ZS10 features a new MOS image sensor (the ZS7 featured a CCD image sensor). The ZS7's slower-than-the-competition continuous shooting mode has been noticeably improved, the GPS landmark database and lookup features have been expanded, and the ZS10 captures 1080i (the ZS7 captured video at a maximum resolution of 720p) HD video. Other new features include slow motion video, composite noise reduction and a 3D capture mode for those who want to view their stuff on a 3D TV.
The Panasonic Lumix ZS10 is a typical looking and fairly inconspicuous black and silver point-and-shoot. Fit and finish are first rate and all controls are logically placed and easily accessed by right handed shooters with the exception of the one touch video capture button. Most digicams with a one touch video capture button place this control in the upper right corner of the camera's rear deck - since that placement allows the camera user to simply push the video start/finish button with their right thumb. The ZS10's tiny one touch video capture button is on the camera's top deck - right where the shutter button is traditionally located - which in my opinion is counterintuitive.
The ZS10's metal alloy body shell seems tough enough for just about anything and the weather/moisture and dust seals appear to be more than adequate. Though it is small enough to slip into a pocket, the Panasonic ZS10 is a solidly built compact - when you walk around with this camera in your shirt pocket you (and everyone else) will know you are carrying something fairly substantial.
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