Menus and Playback


This is what you see when you first press the menu button The record menu, with descriptions of each item at the bottom

The DMC-ZS15 has the same, newly designed menu system as the ZS20, minus the touchscreen functionality. When you first press the menu button, you'll end up at the gateway screen you see above left. From there you can jump into the submenus, like the still shooting options you see above right. The menus look nice and feature descriptions of each item, though they're a little sluggish to navigate. Here are the most interesting options from the menu:

  • Aspect Ratio: the ZS15 can shoot at 4:3, 3:2, 16:9, and 1:1; do note that the focal range will vary depending on which ratio you choose
  • Sensitivity: the camera can boost the ISO based on brightness (normal Auto ISO) or based on subject movement (Intelligent ISO); you can also set it manually, with a range of 100 to 3200
  • White balance: you've got the usual presets (except for fluorescent) plus a custom spot, for which you use a white or gray card; you can also fine-tune white balance in the red or blue direction
  • AF mode: choose from face detection, subject tracking, 23-area auto, 1-area, and spot
  • Quick AF: starts AF when camera shake is minimized, which reduces focus times (at the expense of battery life)
  • Face Recognition: as with prior ZS-series models, the ZS15 can learn to recognize people, either automatically or manually; you can enter the person's name and birthday, and they will be given focus priority whenever they appear in the scene
  • Intelligent Exposure: attempts to improve overall image contrast by reducing highlight clipping and brightening shadows; see examples below
  • Min. shutter speed: choose the lowest shutter speed that you want the camera to use; there's an Auto setting, or you can selected a speed of 1 - 1/250 sec
  • Intelligent Resolution: actually two features in one; when set to "on" it intelligently sharpens your photos; the Intelligent Zoom options gives you a 2X focal length boost with a minimal reduction in image quality; see examples below
  • Redeye removal: in addition to using pre-flashes to shrink your subject's pupils, the ZS15 can digitally remove redeye after a photo is taken; we'll see if it works later in the review
  • Stabilizer: here's where you can turn the OIS system on or off; note that the camera will turn it off automatically in certain situations; the "active" mode, which improves IS performance in movie mode, is turned on automatically
  • Custom setting memory: save up to four sets of your favorite camera settings to the two "C" spots on the mode dial
  • LCD display: adjust the brightness, contrast/saturation, and color of the display
  • LCD mode: choose from Auto Power LCD (the best choice in most situations), Power LCD, high angle, or off (whatever that means)
  • Zoom Resume: returns the zoom to its last position when you turn the camera on, or return to record mode after reviewing photos


The two playback menus on the ZS15

The ZS15's playback mode has been nicely enhanced over past year's models. Here are some of the most interesting features:

  • Upload Set: photos and videos can be tagged for uploading to Facebook or YouTube when you connect to your PC and use the Lumix Uploader software built into the camera
  • Filtering play: view only still photos, 3D photos, videos, photos taken in a specified area (thank you, GPS), and photos taken in a certain category (portrait, landscape, etc)
  • Calendar view: quickly jump to photos taken on a certain date
  • Title edit / text stamp: print the date and time, location, names of recognized subjects, and more on your photos
  • Video divide: pick a spot in your video and split it two
By default, the DMC-ZS15 shows you just basic information about a photo you've taken. Press the Display button and you'll get more, including a histogram. The camera moves between photos instantly.

The ZS15 can do more than just rotate, resize, and crop an image. There are also retouching features, which you access by pressing "up" on the four-way controller. There's an Auto Retouch option, plus a Creative Retouch mode that lets you apply many of the camera's Creative Filters to a photo.