Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60 Review

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60 squeezes in a 30X (24-720mm full-frame equivalent) zoom lens, a photographic superweapon that lets you snap anything from local fare on the dinner table to exotic wildlife or architectural details that are too far away to see with your eye. What are the compromises? Primarily low-light image quality. And while the ZS60 boasts 4K video capability, it isn’t especially impressive.

Design

The ZS60 style is utilitarian, in a good way. At 4.4 x 2.5 x 1.5 inches and about 10 ounces, it can just squeeze into a front jeans pocket and is an easy fit for anything else. A control ring around the lens barrel provides tactile control of fine adjustments such as manual focus.

A 3-inch capacitive touch screen allows you to tap the exact item you want to set focus on and even tap to shoot. You can also flick to scroll through photos and videos you’ve taken and pinch to zoom. However, the handsome LCD doesn’t tilt as on some other bridge cameras like the Canon PowerShot G7 X. This makes some photos harder to frame and requires holding the camera awkwardly in front of your face when shooting video.

When sunlight overwhelms the rear screen, the 0.2-inch LCD electronic viewfinder allows you to preview and review your photos. It’s a bit small, and can be choppy when you are panning, but the EVF is still a nice bonus feature.

Image Quality

If you are going to carry a camera (in addition to your phone), that camera had better offer something special. And nothing justifies bringing a real camera better than a serious zoom lens. These four photos show how far you can go with the ZS60’s 30X zoom. Just the first two represent the roughly 3X zoom range (24-74mm, full frame equivalent) of a typical camera. The ZS60’s optical image stabilization keeps photos sharp throughout.

The physics of placing a big zoom lens on a small camera body mean the image sensor must be small. The ZS60 has a 18-megapixel chip measuring just 6.17 x 4.55 mm, not much larger than a smartphone’s. Displayed at laptop-screen size (2560 pixels across), images start to look mottled beyond ISO 400 sensitivity, which wouldn’t get you past shooting during the brighter part of twilight. That makes the ZS60 no match for bridge cameras that have larger sensors (though much shorter lenses) like the top-tier Sony RX100 III bridge camera (whose 1-inch sensor is about four times larger).

Video

While on a par with smartphones, the quality of ZS60’s 4K video is below that of higher-end bridge cameras such as Panasonic’s own LX100. In particular, video sometimes experiences a lot of rolling-shutter, a wobbly, Jell-O-like effect when dealing with motion. You can see the effects in the right half of this video when the camera, which is handheld, jitters even a bit.

Video gets soft in low light, and the ZS60 is plagued by a skittish autofocus that drifts in and out on static objects. However, in fairness, you’re unlikely to shoot such low-movement scenes in real life.

The ZS60 also packs some fun bonus features that have come down from Panasonic’s higher-end cameras. These features include 4K Photo, a new twist on burst-photo shooting that allows you to select and extract any frame from a 4K video clip as an 8MP still photo. The ZS60 also utilizes 4K video for the Post Focus feature, in which the camera grabs video at different focus points. In reviewing the video, you can tap the part of the image you want to be in sharpest focus, and the camera provides an 8MP image to match your choice.

The ZS60 has all the prerequisites to be a great travel camera: an ergonomic, compact design; 4K video capability; and a powerful, 30X zoom lens. A so-so little image sensor holds the camera back, though, and it has poor low-light performance and video that’s less sharp than the specs would indicate. You can get some great photos by day, especially with the mega zoom, but quality just doesn’t hold up when the sun goes down.

 

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60

Body type
Body type Compact
Sensor
Max resolution 4896 x 3672
Image ratio w:h 1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9
Effective pixels 18 megapixels
Sensor photo detectors 19 megapixels
Sensor size 1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm)
Sensor type CMOS
Processor Venus Engine
Image
ISO Auto, 80-3200 (expands to 6400)
Boosted ISO (maximum) 6400
White balance presets 4
Custom white balance Yes (2 slots)
Image stabilization Optical
Image stabilization notes 5-axis hybrid OIS (video only)
Uncompressed format RAW
JPEG quality levels Fine, standard
Optics & Focus
Focal length (equiv.) 24–720 mm
Optical zoom 30×
Maximum aperture F3.3–6.4
Autofocus
  • Contrast Detect (sensor)
  • Multi-area
  • Center
  • Selective single-point
  • Tracking
  • Single
  • Continuous
  • Touch
  • Face Detection
  • Live View
Digital zoom Yes (2X-4X)
Manual focus Yes
Normal focus range 50 cm (19.69)
Macro focus range 3 cm (1.18)
Number of focus points 49
Screen / viewfinder
Articulated LCD Fixed
Screen size 3
Screen dots 1,040,000
Touch screen Yes
Screen type TFT LCD
Live view Yes
Viewfinder type Electronic
Viewfinder coverage 100%
Viewfinder magnification 0.46×
Viewfinder resolution 1,166,000
Photography features
Minimum shutter speed 4 sec
Maximum shutter speed 1/2000 sec
Maximum shutter speed (electronic) 1/16000 sec
Aperture priority Yes
Shutter priority Yes
Manual exposure mode Yes
Subject / scene modes Yes
Built-in flash Yes
Flash range 5.60 m (at Auto ISO)
External flash No
Flash modes Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction, Forced Off
Continuous drive 40.0 fps
Self-timer Yes (2 or 10 sec, 3 shots / 10 secs)
Metering modes
  • Multi
  • Center-weighted
  • Spot
Exposure compensation ±5 (at 1/3 EV steps)
AE Bracketing ±1 (3, 5, 7 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV, 1 EV steps)
Videography features
Resolutions 3840 x 2160 (30p), 1920 x 1080 (60p, 60i, 30p), 1280 x 720 (30p), 640 x 480 (30p)
Format MPEG-4, AVCHD
Microphone Stereo
Speaker Mono
Storage
Storage types SD/SDHC/SDXC
Connectivity
USB USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)
HDMI Yes (microHDMI)
Microphone port No
Headphone port No
Wireless Built-In
Wireless notes 802.11 b/g/n
Remote control Yes (via smartphone)
Physical
Environmentally sealed No
Battery Battery Pack
Battery description Lithium-ion battery and charger
Battery Life (CIPA) 320
Weight (inc. batteries) 282 g (0.62 lb / 9.95 oz)
Dimensions 112 x 64 x 38 mm (4.41 x 2.52 x 1.5)
Other features
Orientation sensor Yes
GPS None
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