Panasonic has a new compact camera, but what else is new?

by Haadi Bakar
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Look, I may have been too hard on digital compact cameras as of late, but I still do have a little soft spot for them, which is why I still insist on writing about them in this piece.

In today’s smartphone-driven age, it’s really hard to justify getting a new point-and-shoot camera. Even enthusiast snapshooters are perfectly fine with their smartphones.

So when Canon launched its PowerShot SX730 compact camera a couple of weeks ago, I’ve had a tough time figuring out who it was aimed for.

But I did point out in my previous article that should you really need one, I would immediately recommend the premium compact cameras with 1-inch image sensors such as the Sony RX100 and the Canon G7X Mark II.

And yet, we see more of these compact cameras with teeny tiny image sensors coming out this year.

Just weeks after Canon’s SX730 was annouced, Panasonic unveiled the Lumix DC-ZS70, which the company marketed as the “Travel Zoom” compact camera for people on the go.

The ZS70’s selling points? It can shoot 4K video, has a 30x zoom and a swivelling LCD preview screen for selfies.

… and no 1-inch sensor to be found. It’s 2017 and Panasonic chose to fit a 1/2.3-inch sensor in its latest point and shoot.

For those wondering why I loathe digital cameras with tiny 1/2.3-inch sensors, I have been spoilt by the superior image quality produced by 1-inch sized sensors on enthusiast compacts such as the RX100.

Once you get used to using small cameras with 1-inch sensors, you’re never going back to a regular point and shoot.

But if you don’t mind owning a point and shoot with tiny sensors today, then the Panasonic ZS70 might be worth a look.

Panasonic’s new Lumix DC-ZS70 (TZ90 outside the US) is the company’s latest “Travel Zoom” compact camera for people on the go. Image courtesy of Panasonic.

Also known as the TZ90 outside the US, the ZS70 uses a 20.3-megapixel, 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor that is capable of shooting 4K resolution video.

This compact shooter uses a 24-720mm Leica lens with 30x optical zoom, a tad shorter than the Canon SX730’s 40x zoom, but still a significant zoom reach for a camera of this class. The lens barrel has a control ring.

Along with the 3-inch, 180-degree-tilting LCD screen on the camera’s back is a 0.2-inch, 1.166-million-dot electronic viewfinder.

The ZS70 performs quite admirably as a stealthy compact camera. It has a 5-axis Hybrid optical image stabilisation, an autofocus speed of 0.1 seconds, 10fps burst mode, Focus Stacking, Wi-Fi, and shoots RAW.

It comes in black or silver and will retail for US$499 upon release in May.

My advice? don’t hesitate to spend a little more for a compact camera with a 1-inch image sensor, which will guarantee higher quality images than any camera with a tiny sensor in the market.

Fortunately, Panasonic actually has an enthusiastic compact camera with a 1-inch High Sensitivity MOS sensor, the Lumix TZ110, and that one’s going up against the Sony RX100 Mark V and the Canon G7X Mark II.

The TZ110 costs around S$900, way cheaper than the Sony’s.

If you must have a Panasonic compact camera, go for the TZ110 instead of the ZS70/TZ90.

The only reason you want Panasonic’s new ZS70/TZ90 is for the 30x zoom, which is not really a must-have feature unless you’re planning on using it for an espionage mission in Prague anytime soon.

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