“Camera” does not give full credit to the multimedia, Wi-Fi-enabled Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60 for all it delivers in imaging. This 8-1/8 ounce (245kg), 2-1/2 inch by 4-3/8 inch (63mm x 111mm) camera is capable of 18 megapixel still images and high definition, 4x video recording.
This camera is simple enough to use it can be handed off to the kids or anyone to snap a photo. It has much of the versatility of a digital single lens reflect camera without any of the bulk.
Lumix—light mixing with technology—is so versatile, I’m retiring my DSLR from everyday use. Here’s six reasons why:
The 4K burst image
Being able to capture moving images at 30 frames per second of ultra high definition video, and then select the perfect still image, is one of the coolest features of the ZS60. It took a little getting used to, and the bookmarking feature is great, but requires a little practice to really learn to use it. The feature is great when shooting anything moving from the kids and dogs to a NASCAR race.
The LED viewfinder
One of the major reasons I skipped meals to buy my first single lens reflex camera was the ability to see exactly what I was going to shoot. That imperative didn’t change when I stepped up to my DSLR. One of the features best features on the Lumix ZS-60 is that viewfinder that gives you a through-the-lens view on a miniature video screen. It worked in the rain, at night and in bright sunlight the one morning we had it in Orlando. It also lets you see your adjustments in real time—cutting down the “retakes.”
Simultaneous RAW and JPG recording
As a writer who illustrates stories with photos, I work with the RAW image to be able to adjust the photos as needed in Photoshop. RAW images are more accurate—recording exactly what the camera sees. The images are also substantially larger file sizes and better quality than the compressed JPGs used for email and web. It takes time to process the photos, and that generates gripes from close friends waiting to see the images. The ZS60 has a feature allowing a simultaneous RAW and JPG image. This means I have an immediate image I can email to a friend, upload to Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook, and take my time with RAW image processing without the incessant calls to “send me that picture you promised.” The dual photos slashes the number of photos held on a memory card. About 270 high resolution RAW images can be saved on a 2GB memory card. I have a 32GB card to hold around 3,600 images in my Lumix.
Wi-Fi file transfer
Smartphone, tablet, laptop…I’m traveling with a slew of devices grasping for bandwidth. I also need one USB cord for my iPhone 5, another for the old iPad 2, a third for the portable scanner, a fourth for the DSLR and now one for the Lumix ZS60. Nope. Don’t need that one. The Lumix creates a Wi-Fi hotspot that requires a before-the-trip one-time setup, and then works flawlessly to transfer all or selected images from camera to smartphone, tablet or laptop. It’s fast and once the initial setup is complete, painless.
30x (300mm) optical zoom
At one time, I carried both the DSLR and a portable digital camera. The latter was no better than a (I’m dating myself) Kodak Instamatic. Its zoom lens was limited and the switch for “optical” zoom to “digital” zoom was an instant quality loss. The ZS60 has a Leica lens – made by Panasonic – 30x zoom lens moving from 24mm wide angle to 300mm telephoto.
Essentially it functions the same as my primary DSLR lens. I will confess that the ability to change lenses on a DSLR is an advantage over the fixed lens Lumix. However, the DSLR is only needed for special circumstances where a very wide angle or long telephoto are needed. For about 80 percent of the illustrations I shoot, the 24-300mm lens is perfect. The ZS60 has the ability to be the equivalent of a 720mm lens on a 35mm camera.
As a writer, the ability to push your platform is becoming more important. I’m still having challenges wirelessly transferring photos to phones, and posting to Twitter and Facebook on the move. The ZS60 has built-in editing features that transform images with artistic effects and basic image edits. The artistic settings can be imposed while taking the photo or added afterwards. The available modes and options allow basic editing work that’s perfect for an instant upload.
The camera also has 4K ultra-high and standard high definition video recording capability. The microphone is tuned to the zoom, so without modifying settings, it picks up sound from the focal point as you zoom. Video is my weakness, so others will need to talk about the features. I liked the zoom and the simplicity of starting-and-pausing recordings. There is no place to connect an external microphone, which I think is a design error.
I found it priced online around $450, the same price as the DMC-ZS40 we used two years ago. Panasonic provided this Traveling Dad writer with a Lumix DMC-ZS60 at no charge. Photographs are the lifeblood of my travel stories, and I wouldn’t be writing well of this camera if it truly did not replace my DSLR.
I no longer print my photos, so one of the unknowns is how large the ZS60 images can be enlarged. On my DSLR, which is a 6 megapixel 1/2-frame camera, 20 inches by 30 inches was the largest. The ZS60 has a sensor about half the size of my DSLR, but with 18 megapixels, it can make 16 inch by 20 inch enlargements.