It’s good to see that Panasonic don’t sit on their laurels for their comprehensive and best-selling Lumix range of cameras.
Their range of point and shoot ones have undergone further upgrades in a bid to stay ahead of the field. Along with other manufacturers Panasonic seem to be concentrating on making their devices more sturdy and rugged (without losing their colours!) and in providing more versatility and options in the lens department. This seems to be mirrored by other point n’ shoot camera producers as well.
In the last few weeks Panasonic launched to new models in the ZS series: the 14-megapixel Lumix DMC-ZS20, and, the 12-megapixel Lumix DMC-ZS15.
What’s striking is that these camras come with very long zooms (20x and 16x, respectively). Astonishing when you look at the size and compactness of the cameras. Clearly lens technology has come a long way in a relatively short space of time! But the footprints of those ones’ bodies aren’t much bigger than those of most subcompacts. The ZS20 with a zoom of x20? That’s quite astonishing. Wasn’t that long ago that you’d never get a model with a zoom that size in a small bag let alone a shirt pocket!
These models come with a wide assortment of features: One is high-dynamic range (HDR), useful for expanding details in highlight and shadow areas. You’d be surprised at how many times that enhancement function can come in useful. You can also charge these cameras with a USB cord connected to a computer. That’s practical and economical. The ZS20 also has a large 3-inch touch screen with tap-to-focus and tap-to-shoot features. With tapping more widespread than on Eddie Van Halen’s fretboard, thanks in part to the bigger screen Android phones such as the HSC desire, this is a welcome addition.
The two TS-series models are Panasonic’s newest rugged cameras: The 12-megapixel Lumix DMC-TS4 has a 4.6x zoom and is waterproof to a depth of 40 feet and shockproof to withstand a 6.6-foot drop. The 16-megapixel Lumix DMC-TS20, has a 4x zoom; Panasonic say it is waterproof to a depth of 16 feet and can withstand a 5-foot drop. That’s quite a depth and quite a drop. Do they imagine that we are all clumsy klutzes, or perhaps cliff-climbers and scuba divers? I don’t want to test mine just yet and will closely at the terms of the guarantee!
Two of the new models, the ZS20 and TS4, have GPS capability for geotagging photos. Neat and handy! Both also include enhanced mapping functionality: You can place geographic data onto the cameras (via the bundled DVD), which gives you worldwide maps of major regions.
So what can you do with that? Well, you can copy the map data of a designated city to a memory card (SDXC, SDHC, or SD) and see geographic information about locations and landmarks on the display. Panasonic says there are more than one million landmarks and 82 countries/regions covered in the bundled DVD map. It’s like having a geography teacher!
Three of the four new models also have very wide-angle lenses: The two ZS-series have 24mm lenses, and the TS20 has a 25mm lens. These are,of course, useful for landscapes and group shots.
If that wasn’t enough, all four models include a Panorama Shot setting that lets you shoot a 360-degree horizontal or vertical panoramic image by taking consecutive shots that are stitched together in-camera. It used to take me hours to do that on the PC!
All models should be available now.