15x zoom power. 20MP 1-inch image sensor. EVF. Touch LCD. 4K video. Wi-Fi.
Narrow aperture. LCD doesn't tilt.
- Bottom Line
Panasonic ups the zoom range on its premium ZS100 pocket zoom with the ZS200, extending the reach from 250mm to 360mm.
We loved the idea of the Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS100, a premium pocket camera with a long zoom lens and large 1-inch sensor. Its lens was a disappointment, however, delivering so-so results when zoomed in. The ZS200 ($799) increases the zoom power to 15x, covering a 24-360mm field of view. The lens design is all new, so we'll see if it delivers better images than the ZS100 when we have a chance to review it.
The ZS200 follows the design motif of most pocket superzooms. It's a small camera (2.6 by 4.4 by 1.8 inches, HWD) with a lens that retracts into the body when not in use. It weighs 12 ounces and is available in black or silver.
The 24-360mm (full-frame equivalent) zoom doesn't cover as much range as 30x lenses we see in superzooms with smaller image sensors like the Sony HX90V, but the 1-inch sensor is four times the size. That means it should net better quality images, assuming its lens is up to the task.
The lens aperture is narrower than the f/2.8-5.9 design used by the ZS100. It opens to f/3.3 at the wide angle and narrows all the way down to f/6.4 at 360mm. We've seen other 1-inch cameras with brighter lenses, like the f/1.8-2.8 zoom used by the Canon G7 X Mark II, but with much shorter zoom power. If low-light capture is a priority, consider sacrificing zoom in exchange for a lens that captures more light.
The top plate houses a pop-up flash, centered behind the lens. The mode dial, video record button, control dial, zoom rocker, shutter release, and power switch are also on the top plate, all situated on the right side.
On the rear you'll find the Fn4/LVF button, which switches between the viewfinder and rear LCD, a mechanical flash release, and the AE/AF Lock button, all running in a row along the top. To the right of the LCD you find Fn1/4K Photo, Fn2/Focus Stacking, Fn3/Q.Menu/Delete, and Display buttons. A four-way control pad, with Menu/Set at the center and directional presses to adjust EV, White Balance, Drive, and Macro focusing round out the control buttons.
The 3-inch LCD is a fixed design—it doesn't swing out or tilt—with a 1,240k dot resolution. It's sensitive to touch, and does support Touch Pad AF when using the EVF. Touch Pad AF lets you change the active focus area by sliding your finger across the LCD when framing shots with the EVF.
The EVF is slightly larger than what you get with the ZS100. Its magnification is 0.53x (full-frame equivalent) and it packs 2,330k dots into a 0.21-inch LCD.
Wireless communication is included, both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, so you can transfer images to your smartphone. It works with the Panasonic Image App for Android and iOS. Images are saved to an SD, SDHC, or SDXC memory card.
The battery is removable, but is charged in-camera via micro USB. It's rated for 370 shots using the rear LCD, 250 shots using the EVF, or 350 shots using the EVF in conjunction with a power-saving mode.
Performance and Imaging
We haven't had a chance to test the ZS200's autofocus performance. But if it does as well as the ZS100 it will be a solid performer, and we've no reason to believe that it will take a step backward.
In terms of burst shooting, the ZS200 captures full-resolution Raw and JPG images at 10fps with fixed focus and 6fps with tracking. It can also capture 8MP JPGs at 30fps, with fixed focus, using 4K Photo mode.
The image sensor is a 1-inch 20MP design. A combination of in-lens and in-body stabilization delivers five-axis stabilization. We've seen the same sensor in other cameras from Canon, Panasonic, and Sony, and expect it to deliver solid JPG results through ISO 3200 and strong Raw detail through ISO 6400.
The lens is an all-new design. We'll need to test it, both in the lab and the field, to have an idea of how well it performs.
Video is available at 4K, which isn't something you see on every point-and-shoot, even an expensive one like the ZS200. It can shoot 4K at up to 30fps (24fps is supported), but you can also drop down to 1080p and shoot at up to 120fps.
On paper the Panasonic Lumix DC-ZS200 looks like a formidable premium compact. It has the longest zoom of any pocket-friendly 1-inch sensor camera, promises to focus and fire quickly, and includes an EVF in its design. The long zoom is especially appealing for travel, as it can cover a wide range of photographic situations.
The narrow maximum aperture, a trade-off required to pack this much zoom into a small camera, somewhat limits the options for flash-free photography in very dim conditions. But it should still do better than a smartphone with a bright lens in dim light, due to the large size of the image sensor.
The ZS200 goes on sale on March 20. We'll see if it improves on the ZS100 when we get it in for review.
Other Panasonic Digital Cameras
About the Author
Jim Fisher Senior Analyst, Digital Cameras
Senior digital camera analyst for the PCMag consumer electronics reviews team, Jim Fisher is a graduate of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where he concentrated on documentary video production. Jim's interest in photography really took off when he borrowed his father's Hasselblad 500C and light meter in 2007. He honed his writing skills at re… See Full Bio
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