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Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3 review
|DATE REVIEWED: 28th Apr 2011||Add Camera To Comparison Chart|
|Camera Type||Compact||Shutter Speeds||8 - 1/1600 sec|
|RRP||£130||ISO Range||100 - 6400|
|Megapixels||14||Focal Length||28 - 112mm|
|Weight||117g||Aperture||f3.1 - 6.5|
|Dimensions||99 x 29 x 21mm (WxHxD)||Focus Distance||5cm - inf|
|LCD Size||2.7 inches||Zoom (Opt)||4x|
|Zoom (Dig)||4x||Storage||SD / SDHC|
|Max Resolution||4320 x 3240||Battery Type||Li-Ion|
The Panasonic DMC-S3 is just one of the many budget compact cameras on the market today. Supporting an impressive 14-megapixel sensor, HD movie mode and a 4x optical zoom, at first glance this compact certainly looks like excellent value for money at £130.
The funky bubble design of the S3 comes in a range of colours, including bright red, deep purple, or a more understated black or silver. The aesthetics of the S3 will appeal to the younger generation, the model is petite and will fit comfortably into a pocket or handbag. There may be some issues with the longevity of the camera as the build quality is a bit tacky, but for £130 this is to be expected.
The layout of the S3 is simple to use and the on/off switch and shutter release can be sourced on the top panel. One problem with these buttons is that they are flush to the body, and they would have been easier to operate if they were slightly raised. On the back panel there’s one main dial and a couple of mode/playback controls. When the menu systems are selected there’s a limited number of settings you can alter; however, this is beneficial as often compact cameras are far too complicated for their own good. There is the option to select a scene mode manually, although we doubt many will bother with this as the DMC-S3 works best as a point-and-shoot camera.
For those wanting to use the S3 on the simplest setting, Panasonic has included its Intelligent Auto function. When tested in a variety of scenarios the camera was quick to respond and changed efficiently between modes. This setting is great for beginners or for those who have no interest in controlling any aspect of their shooting.
The optics of the S3 boast a 28mm wide-angle lens that extends four times on itself to a 112mm equivalent. The zoom control, which can be found on the top of the back panel, is slow to use and the shutter release is also a little unresponsive. However, on the plus side the processing engine recorded images to the memory card at a decent speed and the playback system displayed images quickly.
Despite having a very reasonable price tag, which is a massive bonus, it appears that the S3’s image quality has been compromised. The 14-megapixel sensor in a camera this size is completely unnecessary as the optics cannot deliver anything decent. Having a sensor this size means bigger files to store, so the cheaper Panasonic S1 that features a 12-megapixel sensor could be more appealing.
In low light there is a lot of noticeable noise in the results, and the camera struggles to lock onto a focal point. The S3 also has problems when there are vast differences between the highlights and shadows – in most of our landscapes the highlights had lost all information in the pixels if there was a significant difference in the dynamic range. However, this shouldn’t be seen as too major an issue as most budget compacts perform to this standard, and on the plus side the colour balance is good. There’s an even balance across the spectrum and the saturation in daylight conditions is spot on.
There have been a lot of new budget cameras arriving in the past few months, leaving a vast selection for the consumer to choose from. But the S3 is an average camera, and there is nothing in particular that makes it stand out from the crowd.
The budget price of the Panasonic DMC-S3 is easily its best feature; however, image quality has been compromised and in low light the noise is a big problem
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|The budget price of the Panasonic DMC-S3 is easily its best feature; however, image quality has been compromised and in low light the noise is a big problem|
Claire started studying photography over six years ago where she was intrigued by the act of image making. Claire has a great passion for traditional photographic methods however she’s found the change to the digital medium to be a fascinating advancement.
|Total Camera Reviews||142|
|Average Camera Rating||2.3|
|Claire's Last 5 Reviews|
|Canon EOS 600D||4 / 5|
|Canon Powershot A3200 IS||4 / 5|
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-S3||3 / 5|
|Ricoh CX5||4 / 5|
|Nikon COOLPIX L23||2 / 5|
|Click here to view Claire's profile »|