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Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10 - Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10

By Cliff Smith

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

7

The camera's overall performance is very good. It takes approximately three seconds to start up, and about two and a half to shut down again which is a bit slow, but its shooting speed is much better. In single-shot mode its shot-to-shot cycle time is approximately 1.7 seconds. In unlimited continuous mode it was even more impressive, shooting at a sustained two shots a second, apparently until the memory card is full. The AF system is quick and reliable, and works well even in very low light. I found it would focus in the dark at a range of approximately four meters with the AF assist lamp. One slight concern however is battery life. Panasonic claims that a set of alkaline AA batteries are good for between 160 and 180 shots, but the two Panasonic-branded batteries that came with my review sample gave up after only about 40 shots. To be fair they may have been sitting in a cupboard in Panasonic's press office for a while, so newer batteries may perform better.

So far then we have a surprisingly capable, relatively cheap camera with good performance, design and handling; it's all looking good for the LZ10. Unfortunately, we finally come to picture quality, and as is so often the case with Panasonic cameras, all that potential is wasted. It's a real shame, because in some ways it is very good. The lens lives up to its Leica branding, producing relatively little distortion at wide angle and none at telephoto, with excellent sharpness from corner to corner and no chromatic aberration. Exposure is generally very good, and default colour reproduction is very accurate. The problem is that the small 1/2.33-inch CCD and the supposedly improved Venus Engine IV image processor simply don't produce good fine detail. At all ISO settings, images viewed in close up look very processed, with fine detail smeared out in a haze of small artefacts. This is not helped by the rather severe image compression, even at the best quality setting. The LZ10 produces JPEG image files averaging around 3.2MB, which is pretty small for a 10MP camera (most are around 4.5MB). This is doubly annoying, because the LZ10 shows yet again that Panasonic has overcome its traditional bugbear of image noise. Shots at 100, 200 and 400 ISO are very good, and although shots at higher settings do show very strong noise reduction effects, the overall contrast and colour balance remain good.

Verdict

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ10 is an almost unique camera. It is a sensibly designed and well-made camera which has some genuinely useful features, enough controllability to keep the enthusiasts happy and surprisingly brisk performance, all at a very reasonable price. The Leica-branded lens is very good too, but unfortunately it is badly let down by a small sensor and inferior image processing, resulting in relatively poor image quality.

Sarah Joyce 1

August 22, 2008, 5:12 am

I happen to own the Panasonic LZ-8, and as a professional digital camera instructor, I think that it offer a lot of bang for its low price. Just as does the Kodak Z-712 which is selling in the USA at $(US) 169.00.

Tom MacFarlane 1

August 27, 2008, 2:07 am

I recently bought the LZ10 and it is certainly a flawed camera.


I found it to be at its best at the widest setting, and also for macro work.


At it's default setting I found it to be lacking in sharpness.


The ezoom settings - unlike Canon's - are a waste of time.


The movie mode is poor.

Kitcat

December 10, 2008, 9:37 pm

I am a professional photographer, but don't carry my pro equipment 24-7. I need a little point-and-shoot to carry all the time.





I have a Panasonic DMC-LZ5 and it is the best-point-and-shoot camera I own! Several reasons:





1) It uses AA batteries - I buy rechargable AA's but if you travel and cannot recharge you can buy new AA batteries anywhere! I found that out the hard way while on a trip and no access to plug in dead batteries. A quick stop at a local convenience store is now my backup battery plan.





2) The 6X optical zoom exceeds MOST pocket cameras in the price range. The New LZ10 is 5X zoom and again for a pocket camera it's OK - better than most!





3) It uses SD media cards which are the most universal.





I dropped the LZ5 and need to replace my favorite pocket camera now. I'm researching the series since the LZ5 to make the right choice, but I won't get anything other than a Panasonic DMC-LZ( )filling in the blank.





I recommend it for anyone needing an easy low cost pocket camera. Most people not shooting professionally will find that this economical camera will do a fine job.



drumdrum

January 16, 2009, 8:47 am

Panasonic's new 10 mega pixel Touch Screen - FX520 - uses similiar internals ( with a wider lens )and it retails for $750...photoreview.com.au


YOU DO THE MATH !!!


They both have a great lens coupled with a undersized sensor - but the implementation and resulting features make for a pretty fine camera !

grumpydoc

February 4, 2010, 12:00 am

My wife bought an LZ10 and her main complaint is that it eats batteries. Your review said that you only got 40 pictures from a set of new alkaline batteries, but implied that they might have been old. No they weren't! Don't use ordinary AA batteries and expect to recharge others frequently.

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