Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZR1 digital camera
A tiny LUMIX camera with a huge 8x zoom
- Compact body, huge zoom, relatively crisp shots, excellent focusing
- Mode dial is too loose and is easily knocked out of place, wide-angle shots have some distortion
The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-ZR1 is a versatile camera with specifications that belie its small size. It can take photos at a maximum wide angle of 25mm, and its 8x zoom can reach up to 200mm. It's easy to use, has excellent focusing, and can take vibrant and reasonably clear photos.
Price$ 549.00 (AUD)
Fine control of the zoom is lacking after you get past the lens’ halfway point. For example, there are approximately 31 zoom steps that you can land on when you dab the zoom lever, but approximately 25 of those are before you reach the 6x zoom level.
Leaving aside old churches for the moment, the long zoom can come in handy at sporting events and concerts, too. The picture below was taken inside a basketball stadium (for the Australia versus New Zealand match) using the normal picture setting, ISO limiting at ISO 800 (ISO limiting tells the camera not to use a value more than what you've specified) and maximum zoom. You can see that the picture looks soft (it was shot at a shutter speed of 1/60 while the players were moving) but the definition is actually quite good; the colours look vibrant and there isn’t any chromatic aberration. There is some noise, which manifests as discolouration in the dark areas, but you can’t really notice it unless you view the picture in its full size.
The LUMIX DMC-ZR1 comes in useful at sporting events and concerts: depending on your vantage point, you can get nice and close to the stars of the show (Nathan Jawai and Brad Newly) and even get some candids of famous faces in the crowd if you’re lucky.
The above picture was shot with steady hands — elbows resting firmly on knees. To allow plenty of light in through the lens, the aperture needs to be big. However on the ZR1, the maximum that the camera can select is f/3.3, and this is when you are zoomed out (you can't change the f value or shutter speed manually). When you are zoomed in all the way, the aperture closes to f/5.9. As such, the camera has to boost the ISO speed, which increases the sensitivity to light and produces noise, and slows down the shutter, which introduces blur. If you hold the camera in the air, without any support at full zoom, the images will come out blurry. This is despite the ZR1 having new and improved methods of image stabilisation technology to counter hand shake.
Without steady hands or something to rest the camera on, full zoom shots in low light can end up containing noticeable blur.
Like all recent Panasonic LUMIX cameras, the DMC-ZR1 is easy to use. It has a simple control layout and a quick menu button that allows you change its focus, metering, ISO, and shooting settings when it’s in ‘normal picture’ mode. You also get intelligent auto mode, which picks all the settings for you automatically. There is also a comprehensive collection of scene modes (29) including film grain and pin-hole modes.
One of the best features of the camera is its focus. It focuses fast (thanks in part to the parallel processing performance of the camera’s internal chip) and it focuses accurately, even in low light.
We particularly like the face recognition and object tracking focus modes. Face recognition can be programmed to pick up faces that you register. It will then focus on those when it recognises them, rather than unregistered faces. Meanwhile, tracking mode will follow your desired target across the entire screen (you can see the little yellow crosshairs dip under the icons of the screen, even go off the screen and then come back onto the screen when the object comes back into view. It’s a very useful feature for keeping pets and kids in focus while you snap them at playtime. However, similar shaped objects can confuse the tracker, and fast moving objects can be lost.
The build quality of the camera is acceptable for a compact digital camera with a 2.6in LCD screen, although its mode dial is too easy to knock out of place. Its battery life is long, although it will drain quicker if you take videos. It can take videos at 1280x720 using the Motion JPEG format and you can see an example video below.
There’s nothing really wrong with the LUMIX DMC-ZR1, although its images are feathery when you scrutinise them at the maximum 12-megapxel resolution. It’s easy to use, small, yet has an 8x zoom. It’s capable of capturing good looking shots and we think it’s just the ticket for anyone who wants a small camera for taking photos at sporting events, concerts, or while travelling.
Follow @GoodGearGuide on Twitter: @GoodGearGuide
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Garmin Fenix 5 fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 2 LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- 3 Tag Heuer Connected Smartwatch and Android Wear 2 review
- 4 Subaru XV 2017 review
- 5 Samsung 2017 QLED Q7 TV: Full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Boom: SanDisk just dropped the world's largest SD card
- Camera app makers tap into RAW power with iOS, and look forward to dual lenses
- Google Camera 3.2 lets you snap pictures while recording video
- CES 2016: Top 10 trends
- Sony α7S II aimed film-makers and low light photographers
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- Garmin Fenix 5 fitness tracker smartwatch review
- MSI GE72 7RE Apache Pro gaming laptop review
- LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media Executive / Specialist (Facebook) - online gamblingNSW
- CCCloud Architect - AzureVIC
- FTSenior Training CoordinatorQLD
- FTCustomer Account Officers x3NSW
- CCCommercial ManagerVIC
- CCSQL Server Database Specialist l Bathurst LocationNSW
- CCFront End DeveloperNSW
- FTIteration ManagerQLD
- CCSoftware EngineerNSW
- TPProject Manager | Applications and Project InitiationQLD
- FTProject CoordinatorVIC
- FTImplementation Engineer - Cisco UCSWA
- TPProject Test ManagerQLD
- FTProject Manager Performance & ControlsQLD
- FTTechnical WriterACT
- CCSalesforce DeveloperNSW
- CCChange AnalystVIC
- TPNetwork and Systems AdministratorNSW
- CCSenior Project CoordinatorNSW
- FTSoftware EngineerWA
- FTProject Support OfficerQLD
- TPSolution Architect - InfrastructureQLD
- FT.NET DeveloperNSW
- TPETL DeveloperNSW
- FTSoftware and Applications Programmer (Java Developer)ACT