Capable Travel Zoom - I'm pleased, and it's the camera most often with me

Started 6 months ago | User reviews thread
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RIkenberry New Member • Posts: 1
Capable Travel Zoom - I'm pleased, and it's the camera most often with me

I have used the ZS200 since it was first available on the West Coast (US) about 3/28/18, and have taken about 5,000 images with it since then. Almost all my images have been stills (I've taken a number of videos, but just "snapshot" equivalents and have not edited or carefully reviewed them), mostly in a travel or landscape genre. Overall, I'm pleased with the camera and the value, with one big caveat.

First the bad news. It appears I have a few spots of dust on my sensor and I have no way to clean it and don't even find a sensor auto clean function that I can engage (let me know if I'm missing something in the menus here!). So it looks like it will have to go back to Panasonic for cleaning with less than 6 months use. I have not been gentle, but not abusive either. I'm aware that it's not weather sealed and didn't take the camera along when, for example, we went sandrail riding on the Oregon dunes at 50mph with winds about the same speed (my cheeks hurt again just thinking about it), but it is often in my pocket or around my neck when we're out hiking or sightseeing.

The lens is not as sharp as I would have liked, but it does appear to be equal or better than the ZS100, which I considered, but ultimately didn't purchase. The price is higher than I would like to have paid, but fair, I think, especially compared to the new Sony RX-100VI, which is probably a bit better, but at 1.5X the price and with only about 70% of the reach.

I very seldom use the 4K video or numerous 4K still features. 4K video is a bigger crop than I like and most of my display options really only handle full HD 1080p, anyway. But I did find that the preroll feature was great for capturing golf swings! Hit the shutter when one contacts the ball and you have pretty much a perfect 2 second clip from back swing to follow through.

The size and reach are a perfect match for me when traveling. I don't want to lug around a DSLR and multiple lenses. I have both Full Frame and Crop sensor DSLRs but they stay home. I had used a Panasonic GM-5 as my travel camera and this is about the same size, maybe a tad larger and a bit heavier, but eliminates carrying extra lenses. I now travel with a GX85 M4/3 mirrorless as well, but most of the time I have the ZS200 with me and GX85 stays in the car or the hotel room.

The 1" sensor likes light and I generally cap the ISO at 800 to avoid excessive noise. It seems fairly ISO invariant, so I can push the images 2-3 stops from moderate ISOs, without adding too much noise. Shooting above 800 locks in higher noise.

The 20MP image size seems to be a sweet spot for the 1" sensor. Enough detail, but doesn't show the limitations of the lens too badly. Here's a full resolution (uncropped) image of the Blue Angels from the recent SeaFair show at 360mm (35mm equivalent) (compressed to 2MB by Lightroom)

The original image shows enough detail to clearly see the helmets of the pilots. Most of the lettering on the planes is not visible in this view, just the numbers 1-4 in deep shadow on the tails.

I recognize that there are some tradeoffs with a camera like this and that some of the rules of physics and optics always apply (although some of the latest smart phones seem to be able to ignore many optical and physics laws with enough computing power!) I'm pleased with the ZS200, but had what I think are reasonable expectations.

I'm glad the Sony wasn't available when I made my purchase.  That choice would have been harder...

Some snapshots of China with the ZS200 are available on my Flickr album here:

 RIkenberry's gear list:RIkenberry's gear list
Panasonic ZS200 Canon EOS 7D Nikon D750 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 Canon EF-S 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 IS +10 more
Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS200 (Lumix DC-TZ200)
20 megapixels • 3 screen • 24 – 360 mm (15×)
Announced: Feb 13, 2018
RIkenberry's score
Average community score
bad for good for
Kids / pets
Action / sports
Landscapes / scenery
Low light (without flash)
Flash photography (social)
Studio / still life
= community average
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX85 Panasonic ZS100 Panasonic ZS200
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