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Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10 First Thoughts
by JerryJ -  5/3/2008

Few camera companies seem to be creating waves with compact point-and-shoot cameras like Panasonic. Panasonic cameras are now widely respected thanks to Leica-branded lenses, combined with features, performance, and build quality that rival anything from Canon or Nikon. The new Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10 is a budget compact digital camera designed for ease of use and creative control for the least possible expense.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10
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The LZ10 features 10 megapixels resolution, a 2.5-inch LCD screen, Panasonic's new Venus Engine IV processor, Face Detection AF, 17 scene modes, macro focusing to 5cm (1.97 inches), and a 3 fps full-resolution burst mode or 5 fps burst mode at lower resolution.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10
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Camera shake is often a big problem for casual photographers working hand-held instead of on a tripod. Panasonic's excellent Mega Optical Image Stabilization reduces blur caused by involuntary camera/hand movement and helps your photos turn out nice and sharp.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10
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The LZ10 is an attractive, compact, and well built camera with a nice grip and a small telescoping lens housing. The grip is actually much nicer than most cameras in the same price range, but Panasonic loses points in my opinion for putting a hard plastic pad on the front of the grip rather than a soft rubber insert. In hand, the LZ10 is light-weight and well balanced, making it a joy to use. The control layout is well thought out and extremely capable. While the LZ10 has all of the standard automatic and scene modes, the LZ10 deserves praise for offering full shutter priority, aperture priority, and manual modes for photographers who want more control over their images.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10
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The Leica-branded 5x optical zoom lens covers a 35mm-equivalent focal length range of 30mm to 150mm. That gives you a slightly wider angle view than most budget compacts that start at 35mm or more and makes the LZ10 nice for landscapes and indoor group photos.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10
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Shutter lag is virtually non-existent once the zoom and focus are set, but the camera's auto focus system is bit slower than average, often taking one to two seconds to lock focus in normal mode or two to three seconds to lock focus in macro mode. On the bright side, Panasonic seems to have made clear improvements in the realm of ISO noise and the LZ10 has some of the better ISO performance we've seen on budget compact cameras.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10
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I'll address image quality, ISO noise levels, lens performance, battery life, and more in the full review. My initial impressions are that the LZ10 is essentially a "poor man's Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2" – a surprisingly capable budget compact with a nice lens that's perfect for vacations and casual shooting.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10
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Our full review of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10 is coming soon.