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Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ7 vs Canon Powershot S3 IS vs Sony DSC-H5 Review

Review Summary
Reader Score: 7.70 (out of 10)
Head to Head: "Consumers with somewhere upwards of $400 or $500 to spend on a compact camera can get plenty of great features – long telephoto zooms, movie capability, and 6-to-7-megapixel files. We looked at three leading cameras in this category: the Canon PowerShot S3 IS, the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H5, and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7. We found similarities and differences. All three cameras are capable, but the differences are significant enough that most users will have a clear favorite.

The Canon PowerShot S3 IS, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7, and the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H5 are closely matched in terms of image quality and performance. Their lenses have identical focal length ranges and very similar apertures. Their dimensions are close, and they are equally portable. For their target market, snapshooters who want some extra capabilities, all of the cameras are acceptable. However, there are clearly areas where each excels. While a clear winner is tough to distinguish, the cameras do differ substantially, with each offering advantages in certain types of situations."

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Other Reviews For This Model

Web Site Review Score Date Added Go To Review
LetsGoDigital 9.25  04-24-06 Read Full Review
Review: "Panasonic are putting in some serious effort. They are known to take the digital camera market very seriously, and although the brand is not typically photo industry related, you'd never be able to tell from their final products. On the contrary; Panasonic have embraced the Leica brand and equip a large amount of their products with a lens manufactured by Leica. When we look at the camera we see an impressive zoom range of 12x optical zoom, which is the equivalent of 36 - 432mm with a 35mm camera. To top it all off, the Panasonic FZ7 features an optical image stabilizer.

The 12x Leica DC Vario Elmarit lens performs excellently. The results are sharp and rich in detail. Only a slight form of chromatic aberration can be detected, but is, in my opinion, in fact virtually negligible. The effect of the optical image stabilizer is clear as daylight. The fact that you are able to capture handheld pictures with such a large optical range packaged in a compact and light housing is very convincing.

In addition to the quality of the end results, working with the camera in practice is very enjoyable. The compact size of the Panasonic Lumix FZ7 enables you to carry it with you easily; you will in fact be more likely to take the FZ7 than the heavy and larger digital SLR camera."

Web Site Review Score Date Added Go To Review
Megapixel 9.25  06-13-06 Read Full Review
Review: "The Panasonic DMC-FZ7, available in silver or black, squeezes a stabilized 12X optical zoom by Leica, a 6-megapixel resolution, and an electronic viewfinder into a body that fits easily into a compact camera pouch.

Shaped like a small SLR, the FZ7's tough plastic body provides a small but useable rubber-wrapped grip on the front and a sculpted thumb rest on the back, which together provide a secure and comfortable hold on the camera.

Clearly, the DMC-FZ7's primary appeal comes from its powerful, 12X, stabilized Leica lens. This is a lens that has little distortion at the wide end and none at the telephoto end. Similarly, there seems to be no serious chromatic aberration throughout its focal length range, and images are crisp from corner to corner. This, plus the fact that the FZ7 is equipped with a full range of shooting modes, makes it suitable for anyone and should ensure its success."

Web Site Review Score Date Added Go To Review
Photography Blog 9.25  06-19-06 Read Full Review
Review: "The Panasonic DMC-FZ7 offers a 12x ultra-zoom lens, equivalent to a focal length of 36-432mm, in a relatively compact and stylish body. The DMC-FZ7's Leica-branded lens doesn't just offer a massive focal range - it's also fast too, with a maximum aperture of 2.8 at wide-angle and 3.3 at full telephoto. As with all Panasonic cameras, the company's MEGA O.I.S optical image stabilisation system is present to help ensure shake-free photos.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 produced images of above average quality during the review period. The 6 megapixel images were quite soft straight out of the camera at the default sharpening setting and ideally require some further sharpening in an application like Adobe Photoshop, as you can't change the in-camera setting....

..overall, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 is a stylish, easy to use, advanced camera with that 12x zoom lens as its main attraction. The noise issue is by no means a show-stopper, particularly if you live in a sunny climate or tend to shoot mostly outdoors, but it does stop me from recommending this camera more strongly. If you're really interested in the massive focal range on offer, then the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 should definitely be on your shopping list."

Web Site Review Score Date Added Go To Review
CNET Reviews 9.20  04-11-06 Read Full Review
Review: "Compared to digital SLRs and some other megazoom cameras, the small, lightweight 6-megapixel Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 feels almost like a toy. Only after acknowledging its powerful 12X (36mm-to-432mm, 35mm-equivalent) optically stabilized lens, manual controls, extended selection of scene modes, and VGA movie capture do you realize that this camera's capabilities far outstrip its size and weight.

New for the DMC-FZ7, Panasonic introduces high-sensitivity mode, which adds ISO 800 and ISO 1,600 to the camera's range. Unfortunately, noise is noticeable as low as ISO 80-bad enough to obscure small details-and, not surprisingly, becomes worse at higher sensitivities. Photos are pretty much unusable at ISO 800 and ISO 1,600."

Web Site Review Score Date Added Go To Review
DCResource 8.91  03-08-06 Read Full Review
"The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 takes a very good ultra zoom camera (in the FZ5) and makes it even better. The new features, which include a larger LCD with better low light visibility, a more powerful flash, manual focus, and a new and improved movie mode, make the FZ7 one of the best cameras in its class.

Photo quality was very good for the most part, with noise being the FZ7's weak spot. The camera took well-exposed pictures, with accurate color and good sharpness. Panasonic has been good at minimizing purple fringing in their recent cameras, and the FZ7 is no exception. The otherwise nice photo quality is marred by above average noise levels, especially at higher ISO sensitivities."

Web Site Review Score Date Added Go To Review
Digital Camera Review 8.79  03-20-06 Read Full Review
Review: "The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 is an evolutionary rather than a revolutionary update of last year's very popular FZ5. Panasonic's product development folks fashioned the FZ7 to include many of the design/performance enhancements requested by users (larger LCD screen, faster response, more powerful flash, improved movie mode, and manual focus capability) while retaining all the best features of the FZ5. Unlike many updated high tech products, the FZ7 actually improves on its illustrious predecessor (and at a lower price).

Most digicam buyers use their images for 4x6 prints, on-line photo albums, an occasional 8x10 enlargement, and for sharing (via e-mail) with friends/relatives. The FZ7 will excel in all those applications. This camera comes tantalizingly close to the mythical ideal prosumer digicam. With very little in the way of genuine competition, the FZ7 may be the best prosumer digicam choice (based on features/capabilities/performance vs price and at this point in time) for serious shutterbugs and advanced amateur shooters."

Web Site Review Score Date Added Go To Review
PC Magazine 8.67  04-23-06 Read Full Review
Review: "In the past, we've awarded the Editors' Choice to a number of Panasonic superzoom cameras, such as the Lumix DMC-FZ30, specifically for their combination of excellent optics and image stabilization. The only caveat was that most cost about what you'd pay for a D-SLR nowadays. Thankfully, prices have taken a tumble. So it's no big surprise that the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 sells for about $400-not super-cheap, but more than $100 below what the Lumix DMC-FZ15, our former budget superzoom EC, listed for when it was introduced. This low price and the camera's excellent optics make the Lumix DMC-FZ7 our new Editors' Choice for budget superzooms."
Web Site Review Score Date Added Go To Review
Imaging-Resource 8.50  04-22-06 Read Full Review
Review: "Not too long ago digital cameras with advanced features and SLR-mimmicking long zoom lenses were considered "chunky" or bulky. But with the public's increasing demand for smaller and smaller cameras with longer and longer zooms-and with manufacturers' ability to put more power into petite packages, those chunky cameras have been on a diet lately. The new 6.0-megapixel Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 is just such a camera. Its remarkably trim body houses a Leica 12x optical zoom and Panasonic's MEGA Optical Image Stabilization (O.I.S.).

The FZ series of Panasonic long-zoom digital cameras have been very popular, witth good reason, as they've offered great value and image quality for the money. With the FZ7, Panasonic made a number of improvements over previous models, including better viewfinder visibility in dim lighting, greater flash range, a larger LCD display, and a much-improved movie mode."

Web Site Review Score Date Added Go To Review
DPReview 8.44  02-20-06 Read Full Review
"Almost a year to the day since the introduction of the hugely popular FZ5 (and 4MP sibling the FZ4) - itself an upgrade to the FZ3 - Panasonic has announced its successor, the 6 megapixel DMC-FZ7. As well as a design facelift and an extra megapixel, the FZ7 introduces several handling and performance improvements over the FZ5, not least of which is the inclusion of manual focusing and significantly easier control over exposure settings via a new joystick (as seen on the DMC-LX1)."
Web Site Review Score Date Added Go To Review
About.com 7.82  03-30-06 Read Full Review
Review: "If you're in the market for a massive 12x zoom, you really only have two choices: the DMC-FZ7 or the Canon S2 IS (the S3 SI will also have a 12x zoom, but you can't get it until May of 2006).

With a zoom this powerful, optical image stabilization is a necessity: this reduces the effect of camera shake on your photos when you're holding the camera in your hands. The Mega OIS build into the FZ7 does the job remarkably well.

I am used to the fast response times of digital SLR cameras, and was pleasantly surprised by the Panasonic DMC-FZ7. Focusing was instantaneous except in the most challenging low-light conditions. There is little delay between the time you press the shutter and when the camera takes the shot, great news for action photographers."

Web Site Review Score Date Added Go To Review
Photoxels 7.56  04-24-06 Read Full Review
Review: "The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 remains the ultra zoom digital camera with the best bang for the money. It has pretty much everything a beginner to serious amateur photographer could wish for: very good to excellent image quality, superb 12x optical zoom with an effective optical image stabilization, flexible exposure control, and very fast operations.

The Panasonic FZ7 is fast, with no practical shutter lag. In fact, auto focus is incredibly fast, approaching dSLR speed. The camera is very responsive and this responsiveness makes it a pleasure to use.

....In a compact, light and solidly built body, it includes all the features desirable in a digital camera and throws in a couple that are hard to find in many other digital cameras: an effective image stabilization (the real type) and an accurate High Speed AF. All of this wrapped in an interface that is now even more intuitive to use."

Web Site Review Score Date Added Go To Review
Digital Camera Info 7.50  02-19-06 Read Full Review
"The Panasonic DMC-FZ7 replaces the FZ5 from last year, retaining the excellent 6-72mm Vario-Elmarit lens, but boosting resolution to 6 megapixels and dropping the list price by $150 to $349.95. All Panasonics have excellent image stabilization, and to this the FZ7 adds a range of manual controls. Given its specs, the FZ7 could appeal to some users as an entry level camera, and to others as a step-up."

The FZ7 should attract a loyal following. It's easy and fun to use. It's versatile, and cheap for what you get. In our experience, no one does image stabilization better on compact cameras than Panasonic up to this point, and we give the company credit for its work on the technology. We also really like the lens. Not only does it have a nice range, but it maintains a wide aperture throughout that range. The FZ7 is a very useful camera and is easily transportable."

Web Site Review Score Date Added Go To Review
DigiCam Review 6.00  03-11-06 Read Full Review
Review: "Announced on the 23rd of January 06, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 is a new 6 megapixel digital camera with a Leica 12x optical zoom lens with built in "Mega Optical Image Stabilisation". The cameras 12x optical zoom lens is equivelant to 36 - 432mm in 35mm film terms.

The camera produces very good images with good colour, detail and sharpness straight from camera - unfortunately noise is high, and purple fringing is higher than average. I've had the FZ3, an earlier 3 megapixel version, and been immensely happy with it, I suspect I would be very happy with the FZ7 if I were to upgrade. With the FZ7 (and FZ3) it is necessary to learn to live with the lower ISO settings to avoid noise, something that shouldn't be a problem as the rest of the camera is so well thought out and put together. The FZ7 is fast and easy to use with scene modes or full manual controls to suit every level of experience. "

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