Camera Redux

A few reflections on the new camera, a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ7K, now that I’ve had nearly a week to fool with it:

I like the image quality, and the 6x zoom is a treat after being used to the 3x of our previous camera. The long shutter settings work well for light painting (though the longest setting is 60 seconds, so it’s probably not well-suited to larger-scale projects). The movie functions are really nice: at the highest image settings one can record up to 20 minutes of continuous 16:9 480p video — more pixels than our dedicated video camera manages to handle. The UI is nice and clean, and a variety of “scene” settings make it easy to compensate for specific conditions. The macro mode works well, and captures a lot of detail. Additionally, the camera registers itself as a bulk storage device when connected via USB, so one doesn’t need any special software to download images and video — just drag and drop the images.

On the less positive side, there’s no audio when you play back video on the camera. This seems slightly ridiculous, since there’s already a speaker in the camera for its various beeps. Fortunately, the audio comes through fine when you play the video on a computer. The tripod mount is set far to the left, rather than in the center of the camera, which is a bit clumsy. Annoyingly, Panasonic seems to have done away with the exposure bracketing between the last revision of the camera and this, so I’ll still have to do HDR photos the hard (and unreliable) way. And finally, it only supports USB 1.1, which makes for painfully slow downloads when you’re using multiple gigabyte memory cards.

But overall, I’m quite happy with the new camera. It’s not the end-all be all of photographic bliss, but a pretty solid little performer for the price. I’ve put up two new images on Flickr already — more should be coming soon. (I expect there will be lots of interest at the Wiener Dog Races in Buda this weekend…)