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Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 Review

By on May 9, 2012

Panasonic has launched a travel-zoom compact camera known as Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20. With its unique features, the camera has set standards for this specific category. It is practically the slimmest camera available in the market. It comes with a 14.1 MP Live CMOS image sensor, a 20x optical zoom, a built-in GPS, a touchscreen LCD of 3 inches and video capability of 1080/60p.

panasonic lumix dmc-zs20 review

Features of Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20


The design of Panasonic ZS20 is quite different from that of ZS10. A noticeable change in ZS20 is that its front side is covered with a rubberized material that facilitates easy handling. The lens has a rounded hump above it that accommodates a longer zoom range. The controls are minimalist and placed at the back side of the camera. The top plate of the camera has a power switch, a shutter release and a mode dial.

Lens and Sensor

The camera comes with a 20x optical zoom range. It has a minimum aperture range of f/8.0 and a maximum aperture range of f/3.3-6.4. The lens is placed few inches above the body. You need to protect your camera from moisture or sand as its telescoping segments do not perform this function.

The ZS20 has a 14.1MP CMOS image sensor. It is a 1/2.33-inch point-and-shoot camera that comes with a color filter array.


panasonic lumix dmc-zs20 features

Panasonic ZS20 has a touchscreen LCD of 3 inches. It offers a resolution of 460k dots. With a responsive screen, the LCD features an auto-power function and an anti-reflective coating.


There are two connectivity ports in the ZS20. There is a USB and a mini-HDMI port. The information can be transferred from and to the camera through the USB/AV port. You can also output video to the television. The battery can be charged through this port. The camera charges the battery through USB or USB-AC adapter. However, there is no separate charging cradle available.

Image Quality

The ZS20 comes with an excellent zoom range. The high ISO performance of the sensor is amazing. It makes sure to offer fine details and keep the noise to the minimum level.


Panasonic ZS20 offers sharp images and performs fairly well in the sharpness tests. It gives a sharpness of more than 2000 lw/ph in the center of the lens. However, the sharpness stays at 600 lw/ph around the edges. The performance given by this camera is quite decent.


The ZS20 offers excellent color results. However, there are very few controls available for tweaking. There are four color modes offered by the camera: standard, black and white, vivid and sepia. The sepia and black & white color modes apply a firm colorization across the image. The vivid and standard modes offer a decent color accuracy. However, the standard modes are more accurate than vivid.

Color Modes

panasonic lumix dmc-zs20

You can go to the main menu of Panasonic ZS20 to change the color mode. Though there are less options for color mode but it is not an issue of concern as you will rarely want to shift to sepia from standard mode.

White Balance

The camera balances the color fairly well. However, the white balance cannot handle the indoor light properly. Though it balances the white color well but it cannot assign the RGB values properly in broad daylight. There is a slight hint of blue in the images captured in daylight.

White Balance Options

There are many options for white balance available in the ZS20. The camera has settings for cloudy, daylight, auto, custom white balance, shade and incandescent. Adjustments can be made to every preset.

Noise Reduction

The noise is kept to the minimum by the image sensor of the camera. The JPEG engine of the camera diagnoses the noise and reduces it. While doing so, it does not put any effect on the image details. The camera provides impressive results by returning only 1.7% noise at an ISO setting of 3200.

ISO Options

There are not very extensive ISO options in Panasonic ZS20. It offers an intelligent and automatic ISO option. The Intelligent option selects an ISO range up to 1600.

panasonic lumix dmc-zs20

It is required for brightness and subject movement. The scene menu of the camera lets you choose a ‘high sensitivity’ mode. It provides an ISO of 6400.


The video control of the camera is not very excellent. Motion is reproduced fairly well by the camera with its 1080/60p ACVHD mode.

Video Sharpness

Sharp images are provided by the camera using 1080/60p recording mode. Frequencies can be produced at 750 lw/ph horizontally and 700 lw/ph vertically. However, it is a little difficult to handle 1080/60p in terms of display because the compression format is new and there are not many delivery methods available.


You only need to get a hang of the camera to use it. The switches for shooting/playback and power modes are useful in preventing an accidental turn on. The key labels are not clear. Instead, a symbol is inscribed on each key. The symbols are not legible and you cannot read them in the dark. However, the quick menu and mode dial are the features that enhance the usability of the camera for advanced and intermediate users.

Ease of Use

Panasonic ZS20 comes with many unique features that are very easy to use.

Automatic Features

There is an intelligent auto mode that is represented with ‘iA’ inscribed on it. Each scene is exposed properly by this mode as it takes into consideration available light and subject distance. It also uses the built-in scene modes for giving more exposure to a scene.

Buttons and Dials

With the touchscreen LCD, there is no need to use the hardware keys. The camera does not have a wide range of these keys. It simply has a four-way control panel, a shooting/playback mode switch, menu, display, exposure button and center OK button.

panasonic lumix dmc-zs20

The top edge of the camera consists of a power switch, a mode dial, a video record button and a shutter release or zoom toggle. The keys are responsive and spacious. They are designed in different shapes so that they look different from each other.

Effects, Filters & Scene Modes

Scene Modes

There are many scene modes available in the ZS20 for portrait, panorama shot, soft skin, night portrait, sports, scenery, night scenery, HDR, handheld night shot, food, pet, high sensitivity, underwater, sunset and glass through. Exposure or color is altered in many modes. Some modes combine various exposures into one image.

Creative Control

The creative control mode is represented by a painter’s palette. There are ten digital filters available: expressive, high key, retro, low key, high dynamic, dynamic monochrome, miniature effect, soft focus and toy effect. You can choose any of them.

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In-Camera Editing

An image can be altered by creative retouch and auto retouch modes. The tone will be improved by the auto retouch mode whereas digital filters are applied by the creative retouch mode for making changes in an image.

Apart from these modes, the camera offers features for resizing, editing place name, text stamping, favoriting, cropping, copying, protecting, copying etc.


You can choose a shooting option from the main and quick menu of the camera. The main menu has four sections: motion picture, record settings, system settings and GPS. There are multiple pages and options in each section. You can use the scroll down options or zoom toggle to shift between various pages.


The rubberized material that covers the front of the camera facilitates easy handling and provides a strong grip. The camera is comfortable to hold. You can hear a click sound when the keys are pressed. However, the labels on the keys are not legible and are a major disappointment.


This point-and-shoot camera offers a lot of controls.

Shooting Modes

The camera’s physical mode dial offers a wide range of automatic, manual and creative shooting modes such as manual exposure, program auto, shutter priority, 3D shooting, aperture priority, scene mode, creative control, intelligent auto and user-savable modes.

Manual Controls

The camera offers many manual controls that can be used completely or partially. There are controls for ISO sensitivity.


The camera offers shooting up to 10 fps. Panasonic ZS20 delivers an excellent performance. There is a burst mode of up to 10fps. Self-timer and burst shooting modes are also available in the camera. You can choose the kind of burst you want to use from the ‘burst’ setting. This includes resolution and speed.

Price of Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20 is priced at $349.99. It is available in white, red, brown, silver and black.

Sum Up

Panasonic DMC-ZS20 is an excellent camera that can easily fit into your pocket. With its 14MP image sensor, a touchscreen LCD of 3 inches and a 20x optical zoom lens, it is gradually becoming a hot choice of the users. The image sharpness has been improved and the ISO performance is enhanced. Improvements have been made in color accuracy. With an effective handling, more grip and a better lens and sensor, this camera is worth buying.

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