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Old Nov 18, 2010, 4:54 PM   #1
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Default What should I expect of Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS6 (Costco)?

I was perusing the cameras at our local Costco last night to see what they had. One of their employees saw me looking at the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS6 and told me it was the best compact camera they carried. I asked him what made him say that and he went on to tell me he had a professional photographer friend who uses it as his pocketable camera.

Well, that wasn't a huge selling point for me and it seemed to be a bit bulky for a pocketable camera. However, I was enamored by the 25mm wide angle, the 12x optical zoom, and the fact that the full optical zoom was live during HD (720p) video recording. I decided to go ahead and buy it while I was there and go home to try to learn more about it before completely committing to it.

I went online to try to find reviews for this bad boy and didn't come up with much other than it was probably most like the ZS5. I had really grown to love my now-demised Canon SD890IS for its IQ and 5X optical lens in a smooth pocketable body, even though I do like to zoom in to distant subjects (namely sports like my boys' soccer (both indoors and outdoors) and baseball). I had grown quite comfortable with the 5X zoom - often not using all of it - and depend on cropping the great IQ picture as opposed to having a longer zoom camera and its inferior picture. The SD890IS also did a very respectable job of unflashed indoor pictures, bringing out details I couldn't get with any other pocketable cameras I had tried.

What can I expect with the ZS6? Is it going to have a tougher time with crystal clear pictures due the long zoom? How might its unflashed indoor pictures compare with what I'm accustomed to from the SD890IS? Are there better cameras for my purposes (kids, pets, sports, unflashed indoor shots, pocketable)?

Thank you!
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Old Nov 18, 2010, 9:11 PM   #2
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Check reviews for the ZS7 which is nearly the same camera w/ a GPS and some other very minor upgrades.

The ZS7 has great IQ for a pocket cam and is extremely versatile. The lens is excellent for this type of camera and I personally don't think any other camera in this group offers a better lens. Like all cameras of this type, the tele end of the lens doesn't provides the best IQ but it's better than the competition and doesn't start to affect IQ until the end of the 12x range. Indoor pictures without the flash are a weakness of the ZS series though due mainly to the small sensor and the slower lens. The SD890 isn't a great indoor performer either but it does have a higher pixel density and imho Canon handles high ISO noise a little better.

If you actually want a camera that is going to give you a noticeable improvement in low light and you want to keep in or under this size range, the S95 is literally the only option. I actually own both the ZS7 and the S95 and am quite happy with both. The ZS7 is extremely versatile w/ its long range, great IQ, etc. The S95 has a 40% larger sensor, a brighter lens and performs better at high ISO (800+) so it has much better low light performance.
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Old Nov 19, 2010, 10:45 AM   #3
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I had the ZS6 and loved it. Then I got a real good deal from Amazon on the ZS7 and decided to get that instead. I regretted that swap to this day. Unless you really must have GPS and shoot a lot of video, the ZS6 is a better unit. It shares the good features of the ZS7 (i.e. excellent LCD) and add some better features like much larger internal memory, ability to shoot video in B&W, etc. Battery consumption is also better with the ZS6 and you get 90-day return policy + 2 yrs of technical support. If the price is right (and it should be by now), then go for it. My local Costco no longer carries the ZS6 so it will be a matter of time before this model is not available anymore.
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Old Nov 19, 2010, 2:36 PM   #4
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GPS functionality would be cool, but I almost always know where I was when certain pictures were taken. I could make up for that fairly easily if I had a free (or cheap) EXIF editor that could add this info en masse.

I see that that ZS7 can encode video in AVCHD Lite, which I believe is a more efficient format than the motion j-peg that seems to be used by the ZS6. Is that a very significant benefit or does the higher compression of AVCHD degrade quality and smoothness?

I wish I could afford two cameras, because the S95 would probably be the perfect pocketable for me if it had a bigger zoom. Indoor sports seem to be extremely challenging for any pocketable camera. When it comes to picking between detail and close framing, I've always opted for detail and cropping out vast unwanted chunks of real estate in the past. That's probably a huge waste of the sensor, isn't it?
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Old Nov 19, 2010, 2:41 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tullio View Post
I had the ZS6 and loved it. Then I got a real good deal from Amazon on the ZS7 and decided to get that instead. I regretted that swap to this day. Unless you really must have GPS and shoot a lot of video, the ZS6 is a better unit. It shares the good features of the ZS7 (i.e. excellent LCD) and add some better features like much larger internal memory, ability to shoot video in B&W, etc. Battery consumption is also better with the ZS6 and you get 90-day return policy + 2 yrs of technical support. If the price is right (and it should be by now), then go for it. My local Costco no longer carries the ZS6 so it will be a matter of time before this model is not available anymore.
What?! The ZS6 doesn't add anything. The ZS7 has all of the features of the ZS6 and adds a few as well. Battery consumption will be identical if you turn off the GPS, not that the GPS consumes much battery anyway. The ZS7 can certainly shoot in B&W so I have to wonder if you ever owned the ZS7 at all?? As for the internal memory - what are going to do with an extra 25MB? As a matter of fact, what are you going to do with the internal memory at all aside from use it for the clipboard? (which is only 1 image that will never even take up 15MB let alone 40MB)

As I said before, they share the same hardware, the same image processing, the same lens, the same chip - nearly the same everything. The ZS7 adds a few features - it doesn't lack anything that the ZS6 has except for the lower amount of internal memory.
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Old Nov 19, 2010, 3:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FiveO View Post
What?! The ZS6 doesn't add anything. The ZS7 has all of the features of the ZS6 and adds a few as well. Battery consumption will be identical if you turn off the GPS, not that the GPS consumes much battery anyway. The ZS7 can certainly shoot in B&W so I have to wonder if you ever owned the ZS7 at all?? As for the internal memory - what are going to do with an extra 25MB? As a matter of fact, what are you going to do with the internal memory at all aside from use it for the clipboard? (which is only 1 image that will never even take up 15MB let alone 40MB)

As I said before, they share the same hardware, the same image processing, the same lens, the same chip - nearly the same everything. The ZS7 adds a few features - it doesn't lack anything that the ZS6 has except for the lower amount of internal memory.
FiveO, can you READ ENGLISH? If so, do it properly before you post obnoxious, offensive, inaccurate, rude, etc. comments here at Steve's. I DARE you publicly doubt my integrity and honesty. I have been participating in this forum much longer than you and I have never ever suggested having a camera that in reality I did not owned. When I comment on cameras I don't have, I say so. For you to come here and accuse me of not having the ZS7 is unacceptable. Even if I stated something that is incorrect, you have absolutely no rights to make the suggestions/accusations you made. Period.

Now, go back to my post a reeeead very carefully....I wrote that the ZS7 does NOT have the "ability to shoot VIDEO in B&W". I did not say that the ZS7 does not shoot B&W, did I? Your comments were just full of it.

So dude, do some searches here and you'l find a post (by me), in which I specifically point out the differences between the two models (which I had IN MY HANDS for a short period of time). If you don't believe me, go buy the ZS6 (I assume you do have the ZS7) and compare the two yourself. Then (and ONLY THEN), you come and say whatever. Until then, I have no respect for you or your opinion.
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Old Nov 19, 2010, 3:21 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FiveO View Post
...If you actually want a camera that is going to give you a noticeable improvement in low light and you want to keep in or under this size range, the S95 is literally the only option. I actually own both the ZS7 and the S95 and am quite happy with both. The ZS7 is extremely versatile w/ its long range, great IQ, etc. The S95 has a 40% larger sensor, a brighter lens and performs better at high ISO (800+) so it has much better low light performance.
Is the S95 a successor to the S70? The S70 was my "small" camera for several years before getting the SD890. It was built so well that it's still working today and yields terrific photos considering how outdated it is. It had a viewfinder, offered a great deal of tweak-ability, and could even capture RAW (do any compacts offer those things anymore?)

I've certainly enjoyed the SD890 I replaced the S70 with in early '08, but I've gone through three of them due to build quality issues and if the S95 is more robust like the S70, that might be the pocket-able camera for me even with a smaller zoom.

I find myself taking more and more video with my digicam, so I might really prefer the ZS6 for it's 12X optical zoom during video. With my SD890, the optical zoom isn't live during video, but the digital zoom is. I wonder if it's the same case with the S95. Do you know?
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Old Nov 20, 2010, 12:16 AM   #8
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FiveO, can you READ ENGLISH? If so, do it properly before you post obnoxious, offensive, inaccurate, rude, etc. comments here at Steve's. I DARE you publicly doubt my integrity and honesty. I have been participating in this forum much longer than you and I have never ever suggested having a camera that in reality I did not owned. When I comment on cameras I don't have, I say so. For you to come here and accuse me of not having the ZS7 is unacceptable. Even if I stated something that is incorrect, you have absolutely no rights to make the suggestions/accusations you made. Period.
Well it's unfortunate that you took my post so personally. My post was not intended as an attack on your integrity but rather I thought perhaps you got the model numbers confused or perhaps you simply made a mistake about the features (and you did). I find your reaction to be way over the top regardless.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tullio View Post
Now, go back to my post a reeeead very carefully....I wrote that the ZS7 does NOT have the "ability to shoot VIDEO in B&W". I did not say that the ZS7 does not shoot B&W, did I? Your comments were just full of it.
You are mistaken. Of course the ZS7 can shoot video in B&W, Sepia and every other color effect. Go into P mode and set color effect. Record video. You also state in your comparison post that the ZS7 does not offer iE in video mode which is also an error - it does.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Tullio View Post
So dude, do some searches here and you'l find a post (by me), in which I specifically point out the differences between the two models (which I had IN MY HANDS for a short period of time). If you don't believe me, go buy the ZS6 (I assume you do have the ZS7) and compare the two yourself. Then (and ONLY THEN), you come and say whatever. Until then, I have no respect for you or your opinion.
I wasn't seeking your respect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nwtim View Post
Is the S95 a successor to the S70?
I think so.

Quote:
Originally Posted by nwtim View Post
With my SD890, the optical zoom isn't live during video, but the digital zoom is. I wonder if it's the same case with the S95. Do you know?
Sadly, there is no optical zoom during video on the S95 either. CHDK will add it but between the loud zoom and lack of continuous AF, I am not sure how beneficial that will be.
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Old Nov 20, 2010, 11:21 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FiveO View Post
Well it's unfortunate that you took my post so personally. My post was not intended as an attack on your integrity but rather I thought perhaps you got the model numbers confused or perhaps you simply made a mistake about the features (and you did). I find your reaction to be way over the top regardless.
Perhaps I over-reacted but you did question whether I have/had the ZS7 (here's your quote...The ZS7 can certainly shoot in B&W so I have to wonder if you ever owned the ZS7 at all??), which really ticked me off.


Quote:
You are mistaken. Of course the ZS7 can shoot video in B&W, Sepia and every other color effect. Go into P mode and set color effect. Record video. You also state in your comparison post that the ZS7 does not offer iE in video mode which is also an error - it does.
OK, now I must apologize. You are correct. The implementation of this feature between the two models is very different. The ZS6 has the color mode option under the video settings, isolated from the P setting, which IMO is a much better implementation. I might want to shoot still pictures in B&W but always want my videos in color (or vice-versa). With the ZS6, the settings are isolated while on the ZS7, one setting applies to both, video and still. I just checked iE and again, it does offer that, and again, the setting is not under video.

So, there are a couple of lessons to be learned here (at least for me): 1) not to take comments too personal; 2) not to assume certain features are not available based on the menu as they can be misleading when poorly implemented. Cheers.
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Old Nov 23, 2010, 4:54 PM   #10
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I'm sure I had more levels of zoom (smaller increments) in playback mode when I first used this camera (ZS6), and now there are only 4 (2X, 4X, 8X, and 16X). Is there some kind of setting for having smaller (and hopefully quicker) increments of zoom? I'm used to quickly zooming and panning into areas of interest to see how well a picture came out right after taking it, and this camera seems to do that extremely slowly now. I don't remember it being so obvious with the first pictures it took.
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