Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ2 Review
It's not the prettiest camera on the block, but the LZ2 is very compact when you consider it is packing a full 6x optical zoom lens. The all-plastic construction keeps the weight down (though with a set of AA batteries installed it does feel fairly hefty), and seems very well put together. The control layout will be immediately familiar to users of any recent Panasonic Lumix camera (it's almost identical to the FZ5, for example). As is increasingly the case with compact cameras, there is no optical viewfinder, but the LCD screen has been upgraded to a 2.0-inch (though it's only 85,000 pixels). The front grip is well placed, though the lack of any textured surfaces makes the LZ2 feel a little unsafe in the hand (I had a few near-misses where I lost grip on the smooth camera body) - something you can help by using the wrist strap and using two hands to shoot.
In your hand
Despite the current vogue for ultra-compact cameras, there's no denying the advantage of a slightly bulkier camera when it comes to the actual business of taking pictures. Everyone who tried the camera had reservations about its design, and everyone agreed it was a lot easier to handle than very small models, such as Canon's IXUS range or Panasonic's own FX7. Aside from a slight lack of purchase when you've got very dry hands (the glossy plastic surface mentioned above), the LZ2 feels very secure - and very well balanced - in the hand. It's one of the few cameras I've tested recently that offers real stability for single-handed use (though, again, I'd recommend using both hands - it makes using the zoom easier, and feels safer).
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