I just bought the Lumix ZS3 (TZ7 model for the rest of the world) yesterday after almost an entire year of "thinking about it". The reason for the slow response which is very unlike me where it comes to gadgets is due to the fact I've had many cameras lying around, many of which are still in good condition! With the financial disaster in Wall Street last year which translated to a sense of wastage in all areas, I've hold back this purchase since I figure I won't be traveling that much and also if I do, I still have 3 other Lumix cameras around which may be a little aged, but workable nonetheless.
So, Panasonic Lumix is one of the few brands that has all its cameras "Made in Japan"! It uses Leica lens and that means an awful lot to any serious photographer. It spells reliability & precision. Yes, no other brands has all its cameras "Made in Japan". Not Sony, not Nikon, not Canon, not Fuji. The reason why I ultimately decide to get this camera is its HD recording capability. It's not that I'm a video freak, it's a cool function I thought I should be getting acquainted with. Afterall, Youtube & Vimeo are now a craze with everyone. Who knows, I might have latent talent in cinematography, haha!
The Lumix is a powerful camera packed with many cool featurse despite its small and portable size. It's also ultralight and that's another contributing factor in the purchase. For a 12x optical zoom camera, that's a most important factor as weight will be a drag if it's not compact enough when I pick it up for traveling and hiking which are normally the main places I'd use my cameras. In this case, I know for sure weight will not be an issue like my last camera with 15x optical zoom, which is the Sony DSC H7. This is definitely a huge improvement where that is a concern. It might not be a contributing factor for you if you're a guy, but for the ladies, with the cell phones, cosmetics, netbook, etc all in a bag, weight turns out to be very important in the total scheme of things! As an added bonus, the camera also boasts a wide angle lens of 25mm which is a boon for all kinds of panoramic filming. Great for landscape and party photography where you can capture as much details as possible.
I'll leave all the special features and cool functions to the professional to deal with them, as per explained in the video below & the reviews. What I'll endorsed (even though I've not properly "played" around with this particular model as yet) is the brand Panasonic Lumix. I've had 4 cameras in the past from this brand and so far I've always been satisfied with my purchase. It is one that is not only reliable but does what it's supposed to do. Some better than others from the same range of cameras. Design may not be as cool as some others which have improved over the years (like Fuji and Olympus) but it is still up to date. It simply hasn't changed its own designs for a few years which I figure because that's the best result you could have with so much great features packed in a tiny camera which none others have been able to beat till today! So, no problem on that aspect. If there is anything, I'll probably rant a little about its pricing. Camera prices have dropped a great deal in recent years and with a price range of (C$400 or US$430), that's not entirely cheap. But with our resourceful readers, I'm sure you can find it cheaper when purchased online. I bought it from Future Shop in Toronto instead as I need the camera on this particular trip. For the same price, you can also get it from Blacks.
Panasonic AVCHD camcorders offer interlaced, progressive scan or native progressive recording and combinations of these modes depending on a particular model. 1080-line and 720-line recording is possible depending on a model.
In 2009 Panasonic introduced AVCHD Lite to selected members of its Lumix line of digital cameras. April 2009: DMC-ZS3(USA)/TZ7(rest of the world) (AVCHD Lite), DMC-TS1/DMC-FT1 (AVCHD Lite)