Picking up blogging again it became clear that for some days out and about, I would need an alternative to the camera on my phone, especially when it came to zooming in, which the iPhone 6 does poorly.
It was time to pick up a dedicated camera again.
I didn’t think I was in the market for a DSLR, I certainly didn’t want to spend that kind of money at the moment anyway, so went hunting around for good compacts. A good place to start for me is always the Stuff top 10 lists.
From here I identified a Panasonic compact camera that had a rather nifty feature I liked the look of. The fact the you could turn the view screw 180 degrees around, and see the screen as you took a selfie of yourself. Yes, I know, how vain. As I would probably be going out and about on my own to some things, I thought it was a nice feature. I was also intrigued by the ability to wireless control the camera with my phone. Probably not a massive groundbreaking feature, but new to me.
That particular model was quite expensive, but what I did find was the similar looking DMC-SZ10, which packed all the same features I liked. I’m not a massive cameraphile so despite the less than stella reviews on Amazon, averaging it at 3/5 I decided to take the hit.
As people on the Amazon reviews had mentioned, for whatever reason, this model does not come with an English instruction manual. The camera has been sold in the UK, but I guess this particular batch of stock was not intended for the UK market. Either way, in this day and age it’s not exactly difficult to find a manual in English in digital form, Panasonic’s website is as good as you expect it to be from an A* tech company. If you’ve stumbled upon this page looking for the manual, it can be found HERE.
It’s worth noting the DMC-SZ10 packs a 16megapixel still resolution image, a 12x optical zoom, has image stabilisation, weighs a mere 162lbs and was first released in 2015. So considering it’s now 2 years old, it’s held it’s price, and is still on sale.
So what’s it like to use.
I used a trip to Baddesley Clinton, a National Trust house just outside of Solihull to test it out. Giving it the opportunity to deal with good light, low light, outdoors, wildlife and some water scenery.
The outcomes can be seen in the below gallery.
Overall, I’m happy with the camera, for the purposes of what I will be using it for. I thought it dealt with the scenery I gave it quite well, but not always perfect, but for approx £150 this wasn’t a bad little camera. The zoom is especially a million times better than the iPhone 6, and that’s because it’s got the hardware to do it, while the iPhone relies on software.
It is worth downloading the English instructions and giving them a read. For example, if you don’t press in the button that takes a photo first, you’ll probably find all your pictures are not really in focus, a common complaint on the Amazon reviews, clearly from people who have not read the instructions. Once it’s focused in on the subject you can then press the button in fully to take your photo.
Obviously this slow way of getting things into focus, makes attempting to grab something quickly, a bit of an art form. This camera probably isn’t for you if you want something to take to sports events for example or anything where you need to get something into focus quickly.
There are various pre-set modes which you can set the camera to, depending on where you are, and again, as a novice. I would recommend you do this, and read the manual on how best to use and apply them. The modes are Portrait, Soft Skin, Scenery, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Food, Baby1, Baby2, Pet, Sunset, High Sensitivity, Glass Through, HDR, Starry Sky, Birthday only.
It’s worth touching on that Starry Sky Mode long shutter speed option. Which I am yet to test out. This enables you to take a picture where the exposure can be between 15/30 and 60 seconds. As the night’s draw in, I will probably get a tripod and see if I can catch the International Space Station when it goes over, or even try some arty traffic pictures.
The menu system is a little clunky, and not very intuitive. It’s also not touch screen, which in this day and age seems a crime. As already stated, I really do recommend giving the instructions a good read first to ensure you understand what all the options in the menu do.
Below is some photos of the menu system, and how to enable the wifi, as well as pictures from my iPhone once it was connected to the camera’s wifi and using the Panasonic Image App
At the start of the review I mentioned about controlling the camera with your phone. To do this, you set the camera up to broadcast it’s own Wifi network. Join that network with your phone, and then launch the Panasonic app. From the app you can transfer pictures from the camera to your phone, making it much easier to post your pictures to services such as Instagram, and you can also do it the opposite way if you felt the need to. Being able to take photos from the camera with the app is also useful. I tried it out on myself. The camera does have the option of delaying the photo, for up to 10 seconds, so being able to start the countdown from your phone and then hide the phone out of view, was quite useful. The annoying thing with that feature was however, it defaulted back to no delay straight away. So if you want to re-take the picture, you need to again, set the self timer each and every time after a picture has been taken. You also don’t get as much options from the phone as you do from the camera itself, such as to change the scenery. You can however control the optical zoom. Which is very useful.
The camera also supports recording video, which I am sure will come in handy at some point. It records at 720p HD resolutions at 30 frames a second. However there is a limit of 15 minutes per recording time, or 2GB. So if you intend to record for longer than 15 minutes, it’s probably not the device for you. Below is a video I took with the camera at an event called Gatecrasher Classical. Please upscale the video to 720p if it doesn’t do this for you automatically. Youtube can be funny like that sometimes.
The camera comes with it’s own battery, which you can recharge via USB. Again as this didn’t seem to be a UK version, it doesn’t come with a UK plug for charging, but as everyone charges their phones and tablets via USB plugs, this isn’t really a problem. Just pop the USB lead into one of those plugs and charge away. Having its own battery is both a god send and a pain in the backside. On one hand it obviously enables the camera to be much thinner. On the other hand, if you forget to charge the battery, you’re screwed. You might be lucky enough to be able to charge it on route if your mode of transport has power sockets available. Also the battery tends to only last for about 2 hours of usage. So you may want to invest in some additional batteries, and try and remember to keep them all charged. In the end I pretty much agreed with those other Amazon reviews with my final score.
Pick it up yourself, from either of the links below.
*I was not paid or approached to do this review. I paid for the camera with my own hard earned cash, and continue to use it as my main compact camera.