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The best pocket-sized camera, period.

11 Jul

This review applies to the Panasonic DMC-ZS3, however there is a newer ZS7 on the market with GPS capability.

Over the years I had owned nothing but Casio digital cameras, ranging from a whopping 2 mega pixels to 10 mega pixels. I had always been happy with their cameras for a variety of reason, however their latest 10mp was lacking in image quality compared to the previous models. So I started researching different brands. I had a big trip to Yellowstone National Park planned. This was something I had wanted to do since I was a kid, so I couldn't just go there with a crappy camera. I could have bought a SLR, or prosumer camera (same size as SLR with a fixed lens). However I knew how much trouble lugging a large camera around can be, so I choose to search for the best pocket sized camera on the market. I wanted something that I could carry with on a hike, or for miles in Vegas without wearing me down or getting in the way.

I researched every possible camera I could find, here were my requirements: Good image quality is a MUST, the higher the zoom the better, good image stabilization, HD video, long battery life, and pocket sized.

I researched over a dozen websites, but the two largest are DPReview.com and Steves-Digicams.com. Both had reviews of cameras that fit the bill, some from Sony, Casio, Canon, Panasonic, Pentax, and more. What drove me towards the Panasonic was that every review for it was great, and in several head-to-head multi-reviews it won out. I had never owned a Panasonic device and I didn't know what the build quality or battery life would be like. But I ordered the camera based on the good reviews. If you are more interested in consumer reviews there are over four hundred 5-star ratings on this camera listed on Amazon.com.

I bought the camera, a case, a gorilla-pod, a 16GB SD card, and an extra battery. One item of note, and my only con about this camera, the battery has a chip built-in that makes it so only genuine Panasonic brand batteries work in this camera. At first this was a huge annoyance to me. It took a long time to find a good price on an extra battery. However in the end the battery in this camera lasts so long that I have only used my spare battery three times in the year I have owned the camera, and that is only after taking over 300 photos using the flash for most of them. So don't let that hold you back.

It has been a year since I bought the camera and I can say I am never looking back. If this camera is ever broken I will not hesitate to replace it with the same model or something a bit newer in the same line.

 

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