Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 Review

| Published Date
14 - Jun - 2012
| Last Updated
14 - Jun - 2012
Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7

    Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 Price in India

  • 12290/-

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 Rating 0100100

Our Verdict

Paying Rs. 13,000 for a camera that can hide unnoticeably in our pockets, while packing a 10X optical zoom Leica lens along with a 14 megapixel sensor seems like a great deal! This is definitely one of the slimmest and the lightest travel zoom cameras we've played around with, bur, there a nagging question remains - "does a cheaper price also mean cheaper performance?" The answer to that question is a little more complicated than a simple yes or no, but the bottomline remains, if we needed a travel zoom under 15K, this is probably the one we'd go for.


  • Very slim form factor for a 10X optical zoom
  • Leica Lens offers good sharp images
  • Simple user interface and menu navigation
  • Great ergonomics


  • Obvious JPG artefact at 100% magnification
  • Loss of detail at ISO 1600 and above
  • Video quality average at best

Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7: Detailed Review

Panasonic has always kept a low profile when it came to their cameras, especially when compared to the likes of Canon, Nikon and Sony. However, there is no doubt that Panasonic has earned quite a reputation in the imaging product segment, especially with the likes of the FZ-150.

In fact, Panasonic was the first company to launch a true “travel-zoom” camera, the DMC-TZ1, which ruled the roost for a while, at least till the other camera makers, could play catch up. Today, we look at the Panasonic DMC-SZ7, a long departure from the TZ1 of 2006, but yet, very similar in many regards.

Build & Ergonomics
The first thing you’ll notice about the Lumix SZ7 when it is pulled out of its cardboard box, is its ridiculously thin and small form factor. For a minute, we scratched our heads, wondering if the claim of the 10x optical zoom was real or not. It is also extremely lightweight (we played a 15 minute game of basketball without realizing the camera was in the pocket of our shorts) despite the battery and the SD card being in the camera.

The body of the Panasonic Lumix SZ7 is made of high-grade plastic, which feels rather sturdy. While we wouldn’t drop the camera (we love our toys way too much to let them take a tumble), we’re pretty confident it would survive a small drop or two, even if not cosmetically. The black body of the camera is supplemented with slate grey metallic bevels that adorn the sides of the camera , giving it quite an elegant look overall.

The button layout on the top is absolutely minimal, with just the on-off switch, the shutter button, the customary zoom control and a dedicated video recording button. The back features the usual dial that can be spun to sift through options. There’s also the usual menu, display and mode buttons that do pretty much what their name suggests.

The overall build is sturdy and the camera feels good in the hands. It’s just the right amount of “light” for its dimensions, not too heavy, not too underweight. Even at the various focal lengths with the zoom barrel extended to different lengths, the camera doesn’t become unbalanced.

We are always sceptical about gadgets that seem too good to be true. With a travel zoom this size, we were left wondering whether Panasonic had dumbed down the innards of the DMC-SZ7, so we picked it up and took a long walk through the city, taking a lot of random (well thought out, of course) shots. We started with the standard image quality assessment at the wide and telephoto end, with the Leica lens performing rather well in keeping sharpness at the centre and the edges intact. Of course the centre was sharper than the edges (as it is to be expected), but that doesn’t mean that the edges seemed lacking in any way.

Sample Shots

Macro shots revealed that the DMC-SZ7 lens has a barely noticeable barrel distortion, which is great! Don’t want that regular house fly looking like an over-fed, well-taken-care-of house pet now do we? Shooting under the mid-day sun, we did find that the camera’s ability to handle dynamic range isn’t all that stellar, with the emphasis being more on retaining/exposing for highlights than shadows. Of course, when exposing for shadows, the highlights in all our shots were consistently blown out.

The one issue we did encounter during shooting was with the LCD screen. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 employs a 460K dot TFT LCD screen, which in several scenarios, tended to exhibit a lag or jitter under several shooting conditions. For example, when we were zoomed into a scene that was low on illumination or just when we tried to pan around too quickly, the screen would not work fluidly. Unlike its elder siblings, the TZ20, TZ25 and TZ30, the SZ7 does not include a touchscreen, which we feel is a good thing especially given how the screen can become sluggish in just rendering the lens view.

Moving into the studio for our customary test target shots, we examine the SZ7’s ISO performance at each of its ISO 100-3200 steps. While JPG compression artefact is present in all images when viewed at 100%, the aggressive noise reduction becomes a prominent around ISO 800. At ISO 1600, the JPG artefact is enhanced due to the aggressive noise reduction algorithms, giving the details in the images a smudged look. The images at ISO 3200 convinced us to use it only in dire emergencies, as a last resort.

ISO 100% Crops

ISO 100

ISO 200

ISO 400

ISO 800

ISO 1600

ISO 3200

In terms of sharpness, well, there’s only one word – Leica. Leica has always had quite a reputation for superior optics and Panasonic’s association with the wonder-boy of lens-making has made it possible for Panasonic to really shine with respect to sharpness. The centre sharpness as revealed in our studio tests holds strong through the entire ISO range. The edges also held their own, being not as sharp as the centre of course, but still sharp enough to look good in large prints.

The SZ7, like most point-and-shoot digital cameras these days, is capable of shooting full 1080p HD footage, though the smaller sensor limits the quality of output. The video recorded at full HD resolution (30 fps) is encoded at roughly 14mbps, meaning, the quality is just a little over average (GOOD Full HD footage is shot at 1080p encoded at 24mbps). We’re not really sure if it was a problem with our unit or just a general problem with this series, but the camera tended to underexpose by about 1/3 of a stop while shooting video. This wasn’t much of a problem during brightly lit day-time shots, but when shooting in low light, the level of noise would rise significantly. The audio, however, was of surprisingly good quality, thanks to the stereo mics.

The Panasonic SZ7 is a gorgeous little camera that can become incognito the minute it slips into your pant pockets. It rocks a 10x Leica lens and a 14 megapixel sensor, all packaged into a slim package for a small price of Rs. 13,000. However, with the SZ7, you get what you pay for. There is obvious JPG compression artefact and the noise performance at ISO 1600 and above isn’t great. The video is great in normal lighting, but once the illumination dips, the video quality dips with it. Despite the shortcomings, the SZ7 is a great travel zoom camera, especially if you’re looking to pick up a camera on a tight budget.

Latest Forum discussions on Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7

  • Panasonic lumix dmc-ls5 is good ??

    I am planning to buy Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS5. I dont know much about specifications details. someone help me through this. Here is the link of ebay : [url=]Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS5 14MP, 5x Optical Zoom With 3 Years Warranty | eBay[/url]

    1. Nac20/06/2012
      It's one among the very few low end cameras with OIS. And this is one helluva deal... Go ahead and buy...
  • How is panasonic lumix dmc-ls5 ?

    How is panasonic lumix dmc-ls5 ?

    1. Sujoyp19/10/2011
      looks like a nice entry level cam 5x optical zoom optical image stabilization 720p recording
  • Is panasonic lumix dmc-tz25 still worth under 10k

    My canon A70 is almost dead & Panasonic Lumix LZ8 has some focusing issues so I'm in search of camera around Rs.10000/-. Purpose: small family functions, short outdoor trip indoor [low light]. Basic videos shoots will do. Occasionally taking snaps of small 3 yrs old kid, Should be snappier/fast capturing image so that I do not miss the...

    1. Nac01/08/2014
      Though TZ25 is 2+ yrs old, you can't find this many features in other similarly price cameras. Only thing is, it records mono sound. See if you can find TZ30. It was selling for around ~11k few weeks back. S6500 is also good, more zoom, wifi. But poor battery life, lacks manual controls. Not many cameras are announced this year. There is no...
    2. Sandynator01/08/2014
      [QUOTE=nac;2145040]Though TZ25 is 2+ yrs old, you can't find this many features in other similarly price cameras. Only thing is, it records mono sound. See if you can find TZ30. It was selling for around ~11k few weeks back. S6500 is also good, more zoom, wifi. But poor battery life, lacks manual controls. Not many cameras are announced this...
    3. Nac01/08/2014
      IQ is not that obvious from camera to camera in this price range and that too from a compact. If you don't pixel peep, pretty much all the above cameras produce decent images. HX9V? That's even older, you can only find it from a reseller :) Less likely you can find these cameras in local stores.
    Show More
  • Panasonic lumix dmc-lz20, worth a buy for learning photography?

    Hello guys I was wondering if Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ20 is a fair choice for learning the basics of photography for someone who wants to move on to an entry level DSLR say a year from now. Its available for less that 8k in the market at the moment. Or is it better to wait for sometime gather some more cash and get an entry level DSLR say Nikon...

    1. Nac20/06/2013
      I don't suggest LZ20. It was announced a year back, but there are no reviews for this camera. Better look for some other option.
    2. Abirthedevil24/06/2013
      Then how about the Nikon L320 and Nikon L820? available at around 11k and 13k also give your thoughts about my second point
    3. Nac24/06/2013
      Both of them don't have manual exposure controls, so they won't be much of a help in learning photography. Yes, you can wait and save some money to get a dslr or you can buy a used one and start learning photography. For the budget of Lxxx you can get used entry level dslr with kit/50mm prime lens.
    Show More
  • Confused between panasonic lumix dmc-sz1 and nikon coolpix l610

    I need this camera for learning photography... I cannot spend more than the cost of these cameras... If there is a better one, please tell... Otherwise tell which one I should buy... I will be using this camera for very long... Hence, i need a sturdy one which will last long too... This is a little urgent... I require the camera within a...

    1. Nac27/01/2013
      Assuming your budget is 10-12k. It will be helpful to have a camera with manual exposure controls when you wanna learn photography. In this budget you can consider SX160, one of the best you can find in this price range. From ebay you can get better deal than Flipkart. Buy it from a reputable seller... As far as camera built is concern, almost...
    2. Confusedbuyer27/01/2013
      this website [url=]Canon SX160 IS vs Samsung WB150F - Our Analysis[/url] says "We are not aware of any reasons to consider buying the Samsung WB150F over the Canon PowerShot SX160 IS." and yet says that it is better... wth?!?! anyways, is it better to go for a camera that has...
    3. Nac27/01/2013
      SX160 powered by 2xAA batteries WB150F powered by Li-on battery My personal choice between those two is SX160.
    Show More