Small wonder | HT Tech

Small wonder

It may not score high on looks, but the ZR1 performs well and possesses great features.

| Updated on: Jun 08 2010, 13:19 IST

Simplicity is what a handful of us look for in a camera. Imagine having one ready at all times without needing to get into complex modes. If ease of use is what you, too, look for, you should get your hands on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZR1.

The first thing that you'd notice is the camera's size. It's so small that you can pocket it without much fuss. At first glance, you might mistake it for a point and shoot camera but in reality it falls just short of being categorised as a mega-zoom. At 97.8 cm x 54.8 cm x 26 cm, the ZR1 packs in quite a punch with a whopping 8x optical zoom. The camera weighs just about 160 g and apart from the 12.1 MP sensor, comes with a 25 mm wide angle lens.

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The ZR1 comes in a plain aluminium matte silver body and its overall build is very good. The matte finish ensures that the camera doesn't attract any fingerprints. Going by its size the ZR1 sports a decent 2.7-inch LCD screen that works quite well on a sunny day. There's an easy-to-use navigation menu system and decently sized buttons that make using it even easier.

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There are a couple of handy shortcuts like the Quick Menu button and the Extra Optical Zoom button. The Quick Menu allows you to change various settings without the need to juggle through the various settings. The E.Zoom gives you an increased zoom value of 15.6x but at a lower resolution of 3 MP. This feature only allows you to shoot at either 8x zoom or 15.6x zoom — helpful if you need a closer view of the subject.

The normal zoom rocker encircles the shutter release button on the top. However, the placement is a bit off since the mode selection dial comes first rather than the zoom and shutter release button.

The interface of most Panasonic cameras are a little too kiddish. While the navigation is considerably easy, the overall interface does need a facelift. Total number of scene modes is 26, and there are a few decent ones including Flash Burst and Hi-Speed Burst which are useful if you need to capture a series of shots. However, it's the outdoor shoots that fare well over indoor ones. Also, the images are scaled down to 3 MP and below to actually make such hi-speed shots possible.

The camera's video capture quality is commendable and does a good job at capturing videos even under low light. Moreover, the ZR1 is capable of recording videos at a max resolution of 1280 x 720 (HD) at 30 fps. That apart, video can also be recorded at lower resolutions of 848 x 480, 640 x 480 and 320 x 240. The overall image quality of the ZR1 is definitely worth taking note of. The contrast and saturation are maintained extremely well, and colour, too, has a decent level of saturation. But there are instances where the reds and yellows stand out.

Most cameras fail to capture the overall details of the sky leaving it bright and overexposed. However, the ZR1 does well when it comes to picture sharpness and saturation.

Overall night performance is quite acceptable at a low ISO level, but for an image to be acceptable at higher ISOs it will need to be resized to a resolution of at least 1024 x 768 pixels. However, do bear in mind that an ISO greater than 400 will make the overall picture grainy when viewed at maximum resolution.

The ZR1s macro range falls in at 2 cm, which is quite good but cannot be considered the best in the range. The camera does well in capturing the finer details and maintains a decent level of sharpness. There is a some fringing towards the edges but nothing severe to complain about.

What we like
Ease of use
Good reproduction of colours and contrast
8x optical zoom
HD recording

What we don't
Jog dial feels a little lose
Kiddish interface

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZR1 might not be the best looking camera but it's an excellent compact camera. Also, there isn't much one can complain about with the ZR1 making the camera a winner in almost all aspects.

The Panasonic DMC-ZR1 costs 21,990, so if you have the budget and want a good compact camera, then the ZR1 should be your choice.

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First Published Date: 08 Jun, 12:57 IST