July 30, 2009

It's been a week since I got my Panasonic LZ8 Digital Camera. I have used it extensively indoors and to be frank I am a little dissapointed with the performance. The photos are too noisy for my liking. I'd expected much more.
The outdoor performance may make up(I'm counting on it).

My first observation when I first held the camera was that it is chunky. Way too chunky actually, considering the uber slim cameras companies are rolling out these days. It weighs almost 120gms with the batteries.
The boxy look howewer has it's advanteages as in case of the handgrip which is nicely designed. The camera is strictly ok in the looks department.

A quick look at the specs:

-8.1 effective Megapixels
-32 mm lens with 5x optical zoom
-2.5-inch LCD with 230,000 dots resolution
-Optical Image Stabilizer
-ISO sensitivity up to 6400
-9-Point Autofocus with Face Detection
-11 shooting modes including Intelligent Auto Mode
-Program, Shutter-Priority, Aperture-Priority and Manual Exposure Modes
-20MB Internal Memory ,SDHC card Support

The 32 mm equivalent lens gives a wider view compared to cameras in the same category. The telephoto end extends upto 160mm. The optical image stabiisation works flawlessly though it has it's limitations like when using full zoom. The LCD is 2.5 inch with good viewing angles and the easy to use menu system complements it nicely. The most noteworthy feature of this camera is that it provides PASM mode which is hard to find in the segment. It provides full freedom to the user on Aperture and shutter control. There are various focussing modes and even a provision for custom setting of white balance which is commendable. The continuous burst mode is fun to use. I shot twenty shots straight in 2MP mode and the camera didn't slow down. High speed photography is wicked fun with this cam. check out my older posts for samples. Starry sky mode is one more noteworthy scene mode seldom seen elsewhere.

Now the brickbats.Noise is simply too high in indoor shots,even at ISO 100! I don't know if it's a production fault but it's very annoying. I took some shots from my balcony of nearby buildings and tress and they came out fine. I'll do some further study on the noise issue later. Next, the camera uses only two compression modes(others use three). I'd have loved to see a RAW shooting on this one(I know it's asking too much). The flash performance is questionable too.

All in all,a great point and shoot camera with incredible manual control. Noise is my only problem with this camera so using ISO higher than 400 is out of the question.
Hope someone writes a CHDK like program for panasonic cameras. If that happens, I bet all other cameras are doomed.

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