What it's like to use

Going on vacation and hoping to catch the elusive humpback whale on your cruise? Or maybe you're seeking a camera that you can carry around in a jacket pocket that can quickly snap and share photos and 4K video. Whatever your requirements, we've examined how the ZS200/TZ200 handles itself in a variety of use cases, based both on our real world experience and our studio lab testing.

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Travel

Out of camera JPEG.
ISO 200 | 1/1000 sec | F8 | 360mm equiv.
Photo by Scott Everett

The ZS200 is first and foremost a travel camera. It's portable, has a versatile lens and makes sharing photos easy. It's not amazing in low light conditions, but that's the trade-off for having a big lens in a compact body.

What we like:

  • Long 24-360mm equiv. lens in a small package
  • Very good image quality, assuming that you get a sharp lens
  • Well-implemented wireless system, with Bluetooth allowing for instant photo transfer, remote shutter release and location logging
  • Long battery life for this class; in-camera charging is handy for when on the road
  • Electronic viewfinder aids with shooting outdoors
  • Very good 4K video quality
  • Intelligent Auto mode picks the right scene mode for the situation
  • Touch interface makes camera operation easy
  • 'Level Shot' feature keeps horizon straight for video taken at 1080p and below

What we don't like:

  • Slow maximum aperture affects low light image quality and 4K video
  • Focus may 'hunt' in low light
  • Fixed LCD makes it hard to shoot over crowds
  • Some may find color artifacts on EVF distracting
  • Lack of external battery charger makes it hard to keep a spare ready to go
  • Large crop when capturing 4K eliminates wide-end of the lens

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Family / Lifestyle

Out of camera JPEG.
ISO 3200 | 1/250 sec | F3.3 | 25mm equiv.
Photo by Wenmei Hill

Hanging out with friends and family for an afternoon or evening? Then the ZS200 makes for a pretty good companion, thanks (again) to its portability, fast AF and wireless capabilities.

What we like:

  • Wide-angle lens lets you fit the whole family into a photo
  • Good photo quality for most purposes
  • Wireless features allow easy photo sharing
  • Flash can be bounced for better people pictures
  • Shadows in Raw files can be brightened without a big noise penalty
  • Auto modes lets you hand off camera to anyone and get good results

What we don't like:

  • Slow maximum aperture means less light captured, necessitating a higher ISO and more noise
  • Fixed LCD makes selfies difficult
  • AF system can struggle in low light

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Video

While it's not the best camera in its class for video (that award goes to the Sony RX100 V,) the ZS200 still produces some pretty nice footage.

What we like:

  • Good quality UHD 4K/30p and 24p video, even better 1080
  • Touchscreen makes rack focusing easy
  • Auto horizon leveling at 1080p and below
  • Manual exposure controls for those inclined
  • Lens moves slowly when zoomed for a more 'professional' look

What we don't like:

  • 4K video is noisier than best-in-class peers
  • Large 1.5x crop eliminates wide end of lens
  • Focus can 'hunt', especially in low light
  • Some 'jello' rolling shutter when camera shakes
  • Resolution of LCD/EVF drops when recording begins
  • Can't use exposure compensation with Auto ISO in manual mode
  • No mic/headphone jacks

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Candid and Street

Out of camera JPEG
ISO 125 | 1/800 sec | F5.2 | 95mm equiv.
Photo by Scott Everett

The ZS200's small body allows you to shoot without drawing attention to yourself, while its long lens lets you get candid photos from a distance. The ZS200 isn't a perfect camera for street photography, but it can pull it off.

What we like:

  • Good photo quality
  • Compact, easy to hold body
  • Electronic viewfinder makes shooting outdoors easier
  • LCD can be used to set the AF point when using EVF
  • Shadows can be pushed in Raw files without a big noise penalty
  • Electronic shutter won't draw attention

What we don't like:

  • Slow lens means more noise in low light
  • Lots of noise reduction in JPEGs
  • Fixed LCD prevents 'shooting from the hip'

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Our reviews are designed with real-world shooting scenarios in mind, and on this page we're looking at how the ZS200 performs for several popular use-cases. After considering the ZS200's features and target market, we have opted not to specifically address 'Weddings & Events', 'Landscapes', 'Portraits' and 'Sports & Wildlife' in this section.