The ZS series inherits the fine rendering and outstanding quality of the LEICA ELMAR lens, enabling these easy-to-carry cameras to deliver beautiful pictures any time, any place……
The ZS5 plays little brother to the more expensive ZS7, but honestly if you don’t need GPS this could be the better choice. With a superb zoom range and HD video what’s not to like? Image quality is the same as the ZS7 too, so check out our review of the ZS7 for more on that.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS5 has a maximum resolution of 12 megapixels from a 1/2.33-inch RGB multi-aspect CCD image sensor, and Panasonic has coupled this to an image stabilized, Leica DC Vario-Elmar branded 12x optical zoom lens with an excellent 25mm-equivalent wide angle. There’s no optical viewfinder, but this is understandable given the strength of the zoom. The Panasonic ZS5 opts instead for a 2.7-inch LCD display with 230,000 dot resolution on which images and videos are both framed and reviewed. The Panasonic ZS5’s lens has a maximum aperture that varies from f/3.3 to f/4.9 across the zoom range. The minimum focusing distance for the Panasonic DMC-ZS5 is ordinarily 50 centimeters, but drops to just three centimeters when switched to Macro mode.
The 25mm wide-angle lens* lets you easily capture large groups of people indoors or expansive architectural structures and scenes with dynamic width and rich perspective, even from short .
The Panasonic DMC-ZS5 has an 11-point multi-area autofocus system which also includes a single-point “high speed” focusing mode. As with many digital cameras these days, there’s also a face detection function, with Panasonic’s implementation using the information to adjust both focus and exposure to properly capture your subjects’ faces. The Lumix DMC-ZS5 can also be programmed to recognize specific individuals’ faces, and prioritize these over other detected photos when capturing photos, or search for photos containing a specific face in playback mode. The Panasonic Lumix ZS5 also has an implementation of autofocus tracking, which can monitor a subject as it moves around the frame, continuing to update autofocus as required.
ISO sensitivity ordinarily ranges from 80 to 1,600 equivalents, with the ability to extend this as far as ISO 6,400 equivalent in High Sensitivity Auto mode. Shutter speeds from 1/2000 to 60 seconds are possible. The Panasonic DMC-ZS5 uses Intelligent Multiple metering by default, with Center Weighted and Spot metering options available. The ZS5 offers six white balance settings including Auto, Manual, and four fixed presets. A whopping selection of twenty nine scene modes let users tailor the look of their images with a minimum of effort, and the Panasonic ZS5 also offers aperture-, shutter-priority, or fully manual modes when more control is desired. There’s also an Intelligent Scene Selection function, which can automatically select from a subset of the available scene modes. A five mode flash strobe includes red-eye reduction capability, and has a rated range of up to 5.3 meters at wide angle, or 3.6 meters at telephoto when using Auto ISO. There’s also digital red-eye correction, and Panasonic’s Intelligent Exposure, Intelligent ISO, Intelligent Auto functions as seen on past models.
As well as JPEG still images, the Panasonic ZS5 can capture movies with stereo sound at up to 1280 x 720 pixel resolution or below, but the compression used is the older QuickTime Motion JPEG type, so file sizes will likely be hefty. A new Video Divide function allows in-camera movie splitting, letting users trim away the unwanted portions to keep just the parts of movies that they desire.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS5 stores its images and movies on Secure Digital or MultiMediaCards, including the newer SDHC and SDXC types. There’s also a generous 40MB of built-in memory. Connectivity options include a USB 2.0 High-Speed connection, plus standard definition NTSC / PAL video output (NTSC only for North America).
Power comes from a proprietary Lithium Ion battery with ID-Security feature that prevents use of counterfeit or third-party batteries, and is rated as good for 340 shots on a charge to CIPA testing standards. The software bundle includes PHOTOfunSTUDIO 5.0 Edition.
What’s different? Instead of a 3.0-inch LCD, the Panasonic ZS5 has a 2.7-inch LCD. There’s no built-in GPS, and Movie captures are HD but monaural, encoded in Motion JPEG instead of stereo AVCHD Lite. There’s also only one instead of two custom Scene modes on the Mode dial. Oh, and the Movie button has turned into an E.Zoom button for quickly zooming in.
One thing I did not question, though, is that long 12x zoom lens. Between Panasonics, I’d been shooting with two 4x zoom Canons. They were very attractive and certainly competent, but I really did miss that 12x zoom. I spent far too much time using digital zoom with these more compact Canons.
Like the ZS7, the Panasonic ZS5 sports a large lens of more sophistication than you’ll find on most digicams. The Panasonic ZS5’s Leica glass is a 12x zoom ranging from 25mm to 300mm, the same as its big brother.
The grip is small enough not to protrude, but large enough to help secure the Panasonic ZS5. Still, I wouldn’t and didn’t use the ZS5 without the wrist strap.
The Panasonic ZS5 relies on a Mode switch to set the camera into either Record mode or Playback mode. It’s simple, but the disadvantage is getting caught in Playback mode when a photo opportunity strikes: Cameras with a button to switch between modes can return to Record mode with a half-press on the shutter button, while Panasonic ZS5 shooters will be fumbling for the Mode switch.
Other back panel buttons include the Panasonic ZS5’s Exposure button, active in Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual modes to enable adjustment of the aperture, shutter or both respectively. There’s also am E.Zoom button to zoom into the Intelligent Zoom range and then beyond to digital zoom. Below the four-way navigator is the Display button to cycle through the LCD options and the Q.Menu button to bring up a tool bar on the shooting screen for quick changes to options that might change from shot to shot.
- 12 megapixels.
- 12x optical zoom.
- Optical image stabilization.
- 2.7-inch LCD monitor.
- 720p HD video (motion JPEG format).
- Venus Engine VI image processor.
- Full manual controls.
- Captures to SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards.
- Rechargeable lithium-ion battery.