Product Type: Panasonic digital cameras
Newest Review: ... hole on the back of the flash when it is flat down. Then there's a dial control that lets you select the different ways to shoot the p... more
A nice step up from being simply nosey to actual stalking...
Panasonic Lumix DMC LZ20
Member Name: blissman70
Panasonic Lumix DMC LZ20
Advantages: easy to use, looks the part, many features and a low price
Disadvantages: screen isn't the best and the flash doesn't pop up on it's own
I like taking pictures, mainly of landscape, travelling to the middle of nowhere in the hope of getting that perfect shot that I can add to my picture collection. But I'm not a professional photographer by all means, in fact, for most of my life I have used nothing more than one of those simple to use compact digital cameras in order to get a nice picture. You know the cameras? They call them 'point and shoot', Point the camera at something and press the button.
I have tried using some rather expensive camera, although I've never actually thought of spending hundreds, if not thousands of pounds on such a camera in order to own it. I have simply borrowed them from friends who are more into taking photographs than I am.
But a few months back I decided to step up on the 'point and shoots' without splashing out the money that I really didn't have to start with. Plus the fact that I was not that confident when it came to actually taking a top quality image using something that would not look out of place sat in the Space Shuttle ready to orbit Uranus, (tee hee).
This made me go for what is called a 'bridge camera', which is the sort of nick name for a camera that is supposed to be better than a compact yet not as good as an SLR, (Single Lens Reflex), which may sound like something you might take gaviscon for but it's not.
My main issue at the time was getting the right one as there are several out there on the market, but my mind was made up when I saw one on offer, less than half price in fact, which was music to my ears.
The bridge camera that I had got my eyes on, which I have used quite a lot over the passed few months, is the Panasonic Lumix DM LZ20.
When I first took it out of the box, unwrapping everything and laying the contents out on the table, checking if everything that was supposed to be there was actually there. And it was.
There is the camera itself, a lends cap which has a piece of cord strung to it so that it can be tied to the camera. There's also a leaflet, a booklet, a CD with some software on it and, which his nice, there's four AA batteries in a plastic bag so that you can get going straight away.
For the record...
You may want to buy yourself a case, some spare batteries, (maybe lots of rechargeable ones), and an SD card so that you can store more images as the internal memory on the camera can only hold a small amount of images.
But anyway, the camera...
* What does it look like then..?
To me it looks like a compact digital camera that has over done it on the pork pies a little, with its chunky grip area and protruding lens, but lets have a closer look as it is a lot more than a greedy compact isn't it.
First of all it's a good size, being about 120mm x 75mm x 80mm weighing in at no more than 390grams, which means that it is easy to hold and use without looking like you need a scaffolding crew in your wake to help you keep it steady.
As for the actual looks, well, let's start with looking at the rear.
There is the 3 inch screen on the left, although to be honest, this screen takes up three quarters of the rear.
Then, on the right of the screen there are a few control buttons, such as an exposure button on the top, which is next to a little rubber patch that acts like a thumb rest. Below this patch and button there is a play button, which has a little arrow icon on it to let you know it is the play button.
Then we have a cursor type button surrounding a menu button. This cursor type button gives you the options of using the flash, up, macro and timer.
Finally, along the bottom, below the cursor, there is the delete button and a display button.
When we, (with we I mean me, but I like to sound like I know what I'm talking about. and, I think I may be related to the queen, according to 'areyourelatedtoroyalty.com').
Anyway, when we take a look at the top of this camera there are a few things to help you get that perfect picture. There's a little hatch that hides the flash when you don't need it, with a tiny little microphone hole on the back of the flash when it is flat down. Then there's a dial control that lets you select the different ways to shoot the picture.
Next to this dial there's the on/off button and in front of this, on top of the main handle/grip area, there is the zoom in/out slider which surround the 'shutter' button.
There is one more little button, which is just next to the flash hatch. This is to manually release the flash itself as it doesn't come out automatically.
On the left side, as we look from the rear, there is a tiny little speaker and another little hatch that hides away the AV/out/digital socket.
So that's the basic look of the camera. But before I go into what it can do I would like to tell you what you will need if you want to install the CD software onto you PC.
* PC system specs...
Windows XP SP3 with 500MHz CPU, Windows Vista with an 800 Mhz CPU, both with a minimum of 512MB of RAM.
If you're running Windows 7 then you'll need to have a minimum of 1GHz CPU with a minimum of 1GB of RAM on a 32 bit, 2GB using 64bit.
But what ever your system you are going to need a minimum of 45MB of free HDD space to fit the program onto.
You do not have to use the software if you don't want to. I have tried it out and found it to be nothing special to be honest, so I did end up uninstalling it after a while as the other software that I have on my PC does the same job in image editing and printing.
As for transferring the images to my PC, well, that's just a matter of taking the SD card out of the camera, slotting it into my PC, transferring the images then replacing the card back into the camera... job done.
So if you only want to transfer you images via the SD card then you don't really need to install the software.
* Can I get a few of the actual camera specs out of the way with too...?
I know some people skip the section on specs so I won't be offended...
It is a 16MP camera, (maximum), and a 4X digital zoom lens with a minimum focus range of 300mm.
Max video resolution of 1280 x 720
Automatic and manual focus
Face detection and priority
Macro range of 20mm
Pop up flash on the top
3inch LCD display
Optical image stabiliser
SD memory card slot
Connection types are USB, video/audio input
Uses 4 AA batteries
A good quality set of batteries could get you a good 350+ photos
* How do you get it going then..?
The first thing you have to do is slot in the four AA batteries that came in the hear shrink wrapped piece of finger slicing plastic. Then, if you have got one, you slot the SD card into the port, which is next to the battery compartment.
To get at the battery compartment you simply turn the camera upside down, or sideways, as long as you can see the little slider that is on the flap. you push this slider forwards, it can only slide one way so you can't go wrong. Then you push the flap sideways slightly and the entire flap should just 'pop' open to reveal the battery/SD card section.
Once you've put the batteries and the card in place you then just push the flap back down, sliding it into place, listening for a little click as the lock kicks in, securing the lot inside.
Now you're ready to start shooting... images, not baby dears or rabbits, although you can shoot pictures of dears and rabbits if you want to, but don't shoot shoot them, if you know what I mean.?
To actually take the 'final' picture, once you've gone through the settings and decided what's best for the atmosphere you are in, you then just gently push the 'shutter' button, about half way down , which seems to focus the image in the screen without actually taking the picture itself, this allows you to decide whether the final shot should be taken. Then, once happy, you just press the shutter button right down and the picture is taken.
You can just press the button right down and take the picture but I have found that I get more 'out of focus' shots if I do that.
It's all a matter of trial and error, finding the right settings, getting used to what does what on the dial and how close or far you need to be from that elusive shot that you've been aiming for since camera's were invented.
The focus button, or more a slider type motion rather than a button, is in easy reach my trigger finger, sliding it to the right for close up and then to the left to bring the shot back again.
You can hear the motor running as the lens protrudes outwards and back in again, sliding along with the grace of Torvill and Dean on ice.
* Is it easy to understand..?
I'd have to say yes it is really, although it is a little more complicated than a compact I suppose, in some ways. But once I got the general idea I was snapping away like a crocodile in a chicken coop.
The dial on the top has a few functions, such as the automatic setting, which is more like the point and shoot system where you just point and shoot, letting the camera choose the best settings for your picture.
There's also an array of other different types of auto settings, sort of, such as sports, scenery, motion and portrait. All giving you the best options in their specific area.
Then there's the manual program mode which is where you are in full control of the picture taking and can blame no one else but yourself when that once in a life time picture of that Elephant driving a Ford Ka down the B5258 comes out all blurry, looking more like John Prescott in one of his jags, which isn't worth keeping really is it.
Then there's the screen which shows you several different setting and information just to let you know how you have the camera set up and what's happening.
Such things like the battery levels, which are displayed on the screen in an easy to understand manner, with a full battery showing up as full white battery icon, to a flashing red icon telling you that the battery need either replacing or, if rechargeable, recharging.
Then there's whether you have an SD card inserted, how many pictures have been taken and how many more you can take, depending on the memory of course and the size of the pictures. There's also other visual indication, many of them in fact, time, date and more, too much to tell you about here.
But what ever is showing on the screen the symbols are easy to understand, with them coming up in red if there's something that the camera doesn't like, such as too little light and you haven't got the flash on, or too close to the subject without the macro, then something will show up red to let you know.
* Is there anything else to mention..?
This is more than a stills camera. It doubles as a video camera as well, which is activated by simply turning the dial on the top to the little video camera icon. Then you simply use the shutter button to start and stop the video camera.
* What about the images and video you have taken..?
You can even see the images or footage that you have taken on the screen, using the buttons on the back of the camera, the buttons next to the screen. Selecting the images by scrolling through them using the cursor, or watching the video by pressing the play button above the cursor.
* My opinion...
I find this camera to be a nice step up the ladder from the compact ones, although it's no way near as good as some others that I have tried out. It can still take a cracking shot and is almost as easy to use as a compact.
I like the entire feel of the camera, particularly the way that the main grip section, for right handed people, feels like a solid mass even though it is hollow inside to house the four batteries that this needs to power up.
Talking of the batteries. I'm in two minds whether I like the idea of using four standard batteries or, like my old compact, having a purpose built battery. I mean, when I used my old compact I always had a spare battery on charge so I could do a quick swap. But with using normal AA batteries there's always a shop open somewhere that sells a good set of copper coloured top batteries... you know the ones.
So maybe AA batteries in a camera are a good thing then...? Time for a debate in Prime Ministers question time me thinks...
Anyway, the setting on this camera are so similar to a compact that there's no real trouble in converting to this upgrade in the camera world, although I did have spend some time using the manual settings so that I could at least look like I knew what I was doing when I was out and about.
As with many cameras of its kind it offers several light sensitive settings, including automatic to make it easier for the user.
It has auto flash but, for some reason the flash, which is on top of the camera, doesn't pop out automatically, you have to manually push it up or the flash makes no difference at all when you take a picture.
It has the good old fashioned macro, which means that you can take a close up picture of something without it looking out of focus. This is great for taking pictures of flowers, insects or other things that stay still for a while and look rather impressive close up.
Sadly though, I have found that it has one flaw in its design. A flaw which is mor annoying rather than troublesome. That is that even though the LCD screen is a good size, for some strange reason the actual image on it is not the best that I've seen. At first I thought it was maybe the way I was taking the pictures, wobbling a bit, causing the dreaded out of focus syndrome. But after several attempts at taking pictures, even going as far as resting this on a tripod, I came to the conclusion that it's not the way I'm shooting it is in fact the screen itself.
I say this as when I put the images onto my PC they are nice and clear but still show up a little 'funny' on the camera's screen.
It's not that bad, not enough to make you want to throw a tantrum, but it's not that good either considering the camera itself.
Also, I'm not too impressed with the image stabiliser either as this is a bit of a let down to, meaning that I have to keep my hands as steady as a rock in order to get a decent picture.
As for the video function, well you can not zoom in when you're in the recording mode, you have to either pause or stop, then zoom in, they continue recording. This is a bit time consuming and can make your finished recordings look like they've been edited by the Spice Girls editing team, but it's nothing worth crying about, (unless you're on that editing team of course and you are still having nightmares about that film they made...)
* What about the price of this 'Bridge' camera..?
This is the good part.
If I said that this camera sells for £850 you'd probably faint on the spot..? But believe me there are cameras out there that cost more than the price of a small cottage in the highlands.
Luckily though, this is not one of those. This one actually sells for the price of a night out with the wife, (meal, drink, a late night show and then,...... who knows..?).
This camera sells for between £80 and £120, which at the low price is well worth the money. Come to think of it, even at the higher range it's money well spent.
May I add that at the time of writing, there a certain online site that sells many things, (think rainforest), who are selling this one for £79.99. Grab it while you can.
* Would I recommend this..?
I'd have to say, after weighing up the pros and cons, that it has to be a yes, I would recommend this. In all, it is a lovely camera and is a great introduction into the more expensive range of SLR cameras that you see some professional stalkers using.
It feels nice to use, takes some good pictures and won't make you look like a Chinese tourist in Lake Windermere, carrying more equipment with you than the BBC news crew
Summary: More than a compact - less than an SLR.... with a price tag so low you'll think it's stolen
|Ease of use:|
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