ZS40 "First Light" tests & impressions v/s ZS25

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Erik Ohlson
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ZS40 "First Light" tests & impressions v/s ZS25
9 months ago

OK, I got my ZS40 after Fed X's slowest delivery: It sat in Chicago for 3-4 days.

I have to say my very "First Light" impressions were scarey: It did NOT appear sharp, although the OIS was AMAZING. I can easily keep a distant target in the viewfinder at 30x !! Its almost like having the camera mounted on a shoulder stock.

I was feeling a good deal of "First buyer's remorse".

Did I mention that the OIS is AMAZING ?

Yesterday evening I got a chance to take the cameras out for a spin. The ZS25 is brighter, and does have the vivid setting we Kodachrome/Velvia folks enjoy, but I didn't notice the discrepancy until this morning, and the sharpness doesn't seem affected, so I'm posting these now, while people may still be "on the fence". I'm pretty sure the "vivid" selection will be available.

SO - "second light". What I'm posting is the images - SOOC onto my iMac screen, and copied with "ScreenShot" so the photos are presented together. Use "original size".

Both cameras @20x looking across my neighbor's pasture, the same shot I usually do for tests. As always, hand held since that's how the camera will be used. ZS40 on the left, ZS25 on the right. It's easy to tell - the ZS40 has much lower exposure numbers at the top:

The ZS25 is "Prettier" - vivid setting and the ZS40 needs neutral EV, it looks like.

Next, a local vinyard. Again, the ZS25 (R) is "Prettier" due to exposure settings, but the ZS40 may have a sharpness 'edge':

A field of canola flowers, same exposure commentary:

Then we get to the "Big One" - 30x zoom. For these "super zoom" tests, I always go to a local road that is dead straight for a measured mile. Here's what it looks like at the widest setting:

And now the 30x shots, ZS40 purely optical, ZS25 with iZoom:

No contest here - the "Cougar Ct." sign ia clearly readable in the ZS40, 30x shot. I repeat: handheld.

Shot in late evening to avoid unstable air from sunlight on the road.

Additionally, I note a LOT less jpeg artifacts on the back of the large sign, left center.

SURE !, But Hows the EVF?? I Hear you shouting.

Nice little thing, but the LCD screen has 920,000 dots, the ZS25 has 460,000. That gives the ZS40 TWICE + 100,000 dots, and OMG does that look good with my Clearviewer - It's like "HD TV", so crisp & clear.

I won't be using the EVF - it's nice, but just for general composition. If it were removable, I'd sell it.

The ZS40 menues are quite different, the color palette is different, but using the "Painter's Palette" Icon on the top dial, that should be fixable, and maybe I can shoot at neutral E/V instead of the -.66 I've used on the ZS25.

I have not even tried all the new controls, front & rear rings and all. It will take a while. My way of doing things is to find my preffered settings, and then stick with them.

I'll report on other aspects of the camera as they come up, as I'm sure others will.

Did I mention it's worth it JUST for the OIS?

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"Measure wealth not by things you have but by things for which you would not take money"
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS25 (Lumix DMC-TZ35) Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS40 (TZ60)
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