Best cheapest Panasonic with a long zoom to keep in car

Started Aug 18, 2013 | Discussions
toomanycanons
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Best cheapest Panasonic with a long zoom to keep in car
Aug 18, 2013

I'm no stranger to Panasonic point and shoots.  I started with a TZ4 back in the day, then got a few TZ5s and a ZS1.  The only one left is a beatup TZ5 with a lens cover that doesn't close but it does take pictures...mostly.

I'm not so concerned with "pocketable" as it will only reside in my car (cheap enough I won't be worried about theft) but will have at least a 12x optical zoom if not more have IQ better than my TZ5.

I know that from model to model Panasonics don't necessarily get better but then a model will come out that is indeed better.  I'm hoping for the best IQ and minimal noise reduction smearing of details, if all that is possible.

A refurbished model is what I'm looking for but there are so many past models out there it's hard to tell which one is the one I'd choose.  Thanks for your help.

Cyril Catt
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Re: Best cheapest Panasonic with a long zoom to keep in car
In reply to toomanycanons, Aug 18, 2013

I bought a ZS15  from B&H about 15 months ago. It was discounted to below $200. Lens zooms from 24 -384 mm. Suits my needs. Though now discontinued, newer models in the ZS range may suit. But you will have to check for similar special prices.

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Jerry045
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Re: Best cheapest Panasonic with a long zoom to keep in car
In reply to toomanycanons, Aug 18, 2013

I picked up a ZS19 reconditioned from Amazon for $130 a few months ago. I love it. It has a 20X zoom, takes great pictures and is very convenient size wise. The new ZS25's look really good also. I saw them at Costco for $225 the other day.

I was a touch hesitant buying reconditioned, but with Amazon's return policy, I felt I had an out, just in case.

Their small size make it easy to store out of sight in your car, so sticky fingered folks wont get tempted to reposess it.

There are a plethera of examples of great photos posted on this forum using this camera.

I can't think of any way of getting more camera for the price.

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Erik Ohlson
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Re: Best cheapest Panasonic with a long zoom to keep in car
In reply to Jerry045, Aug 18, 2013

Jerry045 wrote:

I picked up a ZS19 reconditioned from Amazon for $130 a few months ago. I love it. It has a 20X zoom, takes great pictures and is very convenient size wise. The new ZS25's look really good also. I saw them at Costco for $225 the other day.

I was a touch hesitant buying reconditioned, but with Amazon's return policy, I felt I had an out, just in case.

Their small size make it easy to store out of sight in your car, so sticky fingered folks wont get tempted to reposess it.

There are a plethera of examples of great photos posted on this forum using this camera.

I can't think of any way of getting more camera for the price.

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Jerry

Spot on.

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toomanycanons
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Re: Best cheapest Panasonic with a long zoom to keep in car
In reply to Jerry045, Aug 18, 2013

Jerry045 wrote:

I picked up a ZS19 reconditioned from Amazon for $130 a few months ago. I love it. It has a 20X zoom, takes great pictures and is very convenient size wise. The new ZS25's look really good also. I saw them at Costco for $225 the other day.

I was a touch hesitant buying reconditioned, but with Amazon's return policy, I felt I had an out, just in case.

Their small size make it easy to store out of sight in your car, so sticky fingered folks wont get tempted to reposess it.

There are a plethera of examples of great photos posted on this forum using this camera.

I can't think of any way of getting more camera for the price.

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Jerry

I have no problem buying "reconditioned/refurbished" I do it all the time.  $130 is an amazing price for that camera.  That's about what I'm looking at, seeing as my venerable TZ5 still does in fact take pics.

With the "ZS" series, I'd read reviews of one model, then the next model, then the next.  Comments like "IQ" is worse on this model (hard to believe it would go down but I'd read that), then another model would be the exact same as another one only with a few more features (that I wouldn't want or need).  I'll check out the ZS19.  Thanks.

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Jerry045
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Re: Best cheapest Panasonic with a long zoom to keep in car
In reply to toomanycanons, Aug 18, 2013

You have to take these IQ opinions with a grain of salt. My first question would be "What are you going to do with the photos?"

If you expect to sell them to National Geographic, then the ZS series is not the best choice. If you plan to view them on your computer and occasionally print out an 8x10, which is what I do, then the ZS series works just fine. IQ is most adequate.

16MP and good light make for great photos (set it on VIVID). Low light + small sensor is not a winning combination in any brand of camera.

What tool is going to work best for your mission?  Only you can answer that one.

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Jerrich
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Re: Best cheapest Panasonic with a long zoom to keep in car
In reply to Jerry045, Aug 18, 2013

In the summer my car gets to 140-150 degrees with the windows up.  What would that do to a camera?

JR

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J C Brown
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Re: Best cheapest Panasonic with a long zoom to keep in car
In reply to toomanycanons, Aug 18, 2013

toomanycanons wrote:

Jerry045 wrote:

I picked up a ZS19 reconditioned from Amazon for $130 a few months ago. I love it. It has a 20X zoom, takes great pictures and is very convenient size wise. The new ZS25's look really good also. I saw them at Costco for $225 the other day.

I was a touch hesitant buying reconditioned, but with Amazon's return policy, I felt I had an out, just in case.

Their small size make it easy to store out of sight in your car, so sticky fingered folks wont get tempted to reposess it.

There are a plethera of examples of great photos posted on this forum using this camera.

I can't think of any way of getting more camera for the price.

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Jerry

I have no problem buying "reconditioned/refurbished" I do it all the time. $130 is an amazing price for that camera. That's about what I'm looking at, seeing as my venerable TZ5 still does in fact take pics.

With the "ZS" series, I'd read reviews of one model, then the next model, then the next. Comments like "IQ" is worse on this model (hard to believe it would go down but I'd read that), then another model would be the exact same as another one only with a few more features (that I wouldn't want or need). I'll check out the ZS19. Thanks.

When my TZ7 (ZS3) developed a fault last August, as the ZS19 wasn't available in the UK, I bought a TZ30 (ZS20) to replace it. With full manual control, higher resolution, improved IQ at high ISO and a greater zoom range I regard the TZ30 (ZS20) as a significant upgrade from the TZ7 (ZS3).

Resolution measurements derived from tests on my TZ30 are available here.

http://www.dpreview.com/forums/post/51215396

Jimmy

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Condor
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In reply to J C Brown, Aug 18, 2013

TZ30/ZS20 was my choice for that same purpose.  And I'm so happy for that decision.

Being my other main cameras  GH3, A57, FZ200, SX30, LX3 and TS2, this one is my in-car camera and also my normal trave and meetings camera. Great photos (14 Mp), great videos (Full HD) and an amazing 60fps at 3.5 Mp (I checked it), Panorama Shot and 3D Photo Mode, just to mention some features.

Ed

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toomanycanons
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Re: Best cheapest Panasonic with a long zoom to keep in car
In reply to Jerry045, Aug 18, 2013

Jerry045 wrote:

You have to take these IQ opinions with a grain of salt. My first question would be "What are you going to do with the photos?"

If you expect to sell them to National Geographic, then the ZS series is not the best choice. If you plan to view them on your computer and occasionally print out an 8x10, which is what I do, then the ZS series works just fine. IQ is most adequate.

16MP and good light make for great photos (set it on VIVID). Low light + small sensor is not a winning combination in any brand of camera.

What tool is going to work best for your mission? Only you can answer that one.

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Jerry

I mainly shoot with Nikon DSLRs.  The IQ of a typical point and shoot, however "great", well...

It's just that I look down at my TZ5 (short story:  I'd dropped it lens extended straight down on the lens on a trip to Utah BAM!! and it appeared to be permanently hosed.  I put it in a drawer, shot with the insurance replacement...fast forward a few years...took it out of the drawer, charged up the battery and it worked!) and think, well, it does take pics but maybe a "modern" Panny P&S is much much better. But, yeah, I have my optimism tempered with the reality of using a point and shoot for anything.

I have to say I refuse to take pics with my phone.  I just won't do it.  And I've had a camera in my car for years and years.  If someone breaks into my car and steals my TZ5, once they look at it they're going to think they're the ones that got ripped off!

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toomanycanons
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Re: Best cheapest Panasonic with a long zoom to keep in car
In reply to Jerrich, Aug 18, 2013

Jerrich wrote:

In the summer my car gets to 140-150 degrees with the windows up. What would that do to a camera?

JR

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It maxes out at about 120 in my car in the summer.  I've had a point and shoot of one kind or another in a case in my car since 2004 and they've never fried to the point of not working.  I know people worry about that but I've never had a problem.  Maybe I hide mine down below stuff well enough.

In the winter it's the battery that gets too cold to work (-15 F at times at night) so when I get in my car I put the battery under my self as I drive.  The things we do for photography!

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Jerry045
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Re: Best cheapest Panasonic with a long zoom to keep in car
In reply to Jerrich, Aug 18, 2013

JR, you bring up a very good point. Cars easily reach 140F or more in the summer. While this is tolerable for most electronic circuitry, it is not good for your battery.

High temperatures can cause the battery to fail. If the conditions are right, Li-Ion batteries can fail catastrophically. In addition to the battery you normally use in the compartment with your SD card, there is another internal to the camera used for remembering the date and time. Lose that one and the camera becomes a door stop.

If you are planning to keep a camera (or any other electronic device) in the car, be most careful of excessively high temperatures in the summer.

Very cold temperatures sap the battery capacity, so even in the winter, the batteries will just not put out their normal juice. Moving a cold camera to a warmer location may cause condensation to form internally. This is another bad thing.

Even the Panasonic manual cautions about subjecting the camera to temperature extremes. This is not just for cameras, but your laptop or iPad or cell phone can all suffer from extreme temperatures.

As they say.... Keep your cool...

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Jerry045
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Re: Best cheapest Panasonic with a long zoom to keep in car
In reply to toomanycanons, Aug 18, 2013

Will a point and shoot out best a DSLR?  No. Does a Prius out perform a Porsche? No. Will it get you to the grocery store and back? Yes.

Same analogy.  If you want a small, light cheap camera for snagging snapshots with fairly decent image quality, then point and shoots can work. If you need to sell your work to National Geographic, then you need that DSLR with good glass and a hefty price tag.

Like I said, you have to match the mission with the right tool.

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GeraldW
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Re: Best cheapest Panasonic with a long zoom to keep in car
In reply to toomanycanons, Aug 18, 2013

I just picked up a very clean used ZS7.  So far, I'm pleased with the color and resolution.  It's also pretty sharp in the corners.  It has two close cousins, the ZS5 and ZS6 that use the same lens and sensor.  25-300 mm f/3.3-4.9, 12 MP.

The ZS10 got really poor reviews from just about everybody.  14 MP.

The ZS15 was the next generation with a 24-384 mm f/3.3-5.9 (equivalent) lens.  I had one for a while, and didn't care for the color of grass and foliage; but a good lens and "only" 12 MP.  The ZS19 (no GPS) and ZS20 are the same generation but a different (longer and slower) lens.  Color is the same as the ZS15.  If you can get a good price on one of these, I'd go for it.  Buy from a place with a good return policy.  I had one ZS15 with a shifted element in the lens - sharp on the right, soft on the left.

Later models have upped the pixel count.  Might be OK; but I have no experience with newer ones.

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toomanycanons
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Re: Best cheapest Panasonic with a long zoom to keep in car
In reply to Jerry045, Aug 18, 2013

Jerry045 wrote:

Will a point and shoot out best a DSLR? No. Does a Prius out perform a Porsche? No. Will it get you to the grocery store and back? Yes.

Same analogy. If you want a small, light cheap camera for snagging snapshots with fairly decent image quality, then point and shoots can work. If you need to sell your work to National Geographic, then you need that DSLR with good glass and a hefty price tag.

Like I said, you have to match the mission with the right tool.

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Jerry

We agree.  What's your suggested camera?

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GingerBread
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Re: Best cheapest Panasonic with a long zoom to keep in car
In reply to Cyril Catt, Aug 19, 2013

I've been very happy with the ZS15, I chose it over the newer (and higher megapixel) models because I think that the 12 mp sensor is a very good sensor.  I primarily shoot with an Olympus OMD, Pany GX1 and Sony RX100.  While the ZS isn't the equal of those cameras, it is surprisingly good so long as I keep it from overexposing.  Mine tends to overexpose outdoors, and a little negative compensation helps the colors from being too bright or washed out as well as avoiding blown highlights.

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Jerry045
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Re: Best cheapest Panasonic with a long zoom to keep in car
In reply to toomanycanons, Aug 19, 2013

I opted for a reconditioned ZS19, and I have been very pleased with it. I think the performance for the price was excellent. No, it does not outshoot my FZ150, but it is more convenient at times. As I said before it serves my intended purpose very well.

I think anything in the ZS series will do well, as many fine postings here demonstrate. It does meet the "cheap and long zoom" requirement nicely.

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Pierre Couture
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Re: Best cheapest Panasonic with a long zoom to keep in car
In reply to Jerry045, Aug 19, 2013

My TZ5 is starting to act a bit finickiy after nearly five and a half years and over 27,000 shots, so I'm due to buy a new camera, but the ZS30 has two elements I don't need: GPS and Wi-Fi. The touch screen is a very nice touch, but I think I'll settle on the ZS25 instead. It's currently on sale with an extra battery and a belt case for $300 here (taxes paid by the store). Not too shabby considering I paid over $400 for the TZ5 back in 2008

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