Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3: Small 10 Megapixel Camera, 12x Zoom, HD Video

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Canon PowerShot G9, Panasonic Lumix DSC-ZS3, Canon PowerShot SD200

I mentioned earlier that I almost decided not to take a standalone digital camera with me on my conference trip. I’ve been traveling with a Canon PowerShot G9 since the summer of 2008. It is a great camera and take what I think are good photos and HD-level video. However, as you can see from the photo above, it (left) is relatively large and bulky. This is, perhaps, fine for a family vacation trip. But, it is not something I wanted to take on a conference trip again.

I used to travel with the old Canon PowerShot SD200 (right in the photo above). I think it is a great camera for its size. You can read a review I wrote about it for O’Reilly Media way back in 2005…

Canon PowerShot SD200: A Big Little Camera

The problem I see with current generation PowerShot SD models is that Canon is skimping on control quality (buttons and knobs) as well as features (some don’t even shoot full 30 frames per second video). And, of course, optical zoom in cameras this small are genearlly limited to 3x to 5x.

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I was impressed by the still photos and videos recorded by other Panasonic Lumix cameras over the past two years. So, when I saw the ZS3 for under $250, I made an impulse buy the day before my flight out and bought one. You can see that it is literally right in between the size of the G9 and SD200. It has a 12x optical zoom and can record HD (720p) video.

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Unlike some earlier high-optical-zoom compact cameras, this one can also has a macro setting for close-up photos. I think you can see why the ZS3’s combination of price, features, and size convinced me to buy it and take it on this conference trip.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 press release (2009)