Pros Compact, 12x zoom, loaded with Scenes, Quick Menu handy and fast, automates most everything.
Cons LCD unreadable in sunlight. Automates most everything. Zoom lag. Costly accessories.
Summary First impressions: Very nice size and grip, easily pocketable. Versatile and capable, with numerous features and scenes. Automates most everything. The Quick Menu is wonderfully convenient for changing basic settings, like resolution or metering, on the fly. Clipboard for keeping a few special low-res images is handy, without having to scroll though all your images.
Problem is, I hoped for an all-in-one, everyday pocket camera, an SLR zoom range in a compact body. But, it automates most everything. ("Your own settings" consists just of the "press shutter button halfway" trick!) Lacks even Aperture and Shutter Priority modes, handy when shooting Macro or motion. Workarounds (like Portrait vs. Scenery for depth of field, or Sporst for fast shutter speed) are incomplete. So, despite its potential, this is a Consumer, not Pro-sumer camera.
Furthermore, LCD is unreadable outdoors due to small size, sunlight, or reflections from face, so I cannot see what is in focus. So, put a black cloth over your head, like olden days, yah, right! This is a Point-and-Hope Camera. Having to hold the camera away from face to peer at LCD (compact cameras lack viewfinders!) makes for jitter and reflections, and screen icons are tiny. Don't give this camera to anyone shaking with eagerness, or age. The Zoom has a wide range, but it lags the lever control, overshooting or undershooting while I try to jockey it into position. Also, due to the 25mm Wide end, the Tele end may be shorter than you expect with a 12x (forceable to 21x with lower resolution). When shooting, my finger keeps running into the zoom lever knob rather than the shutter button behind it, on the midline inwards of the mode dial (other cameras have the shutter button on the front edge, right?). Defeat the annoying shutter lag (due to auto-focusing) with the halfway shutter button trick. It does not seem possible to defeat autofocus with pre-set focus ranges.
Has 16 usual scenes, plus 8 special modes that affect appearance of images (including Panorama Assist [for ArcSoft Panorama Maker on CD], Bursts, High ISO, Distortion). High-Angle setting (ZS1 only) makes LCD more visible when shooting with camera raised high. Audio recording for picture or movie is monaural (ZS3 is stereo). ZS1 has Face Detection, while ZS3 adds named Face Recognition. "Direction detection" feature means rotation of portrait/landscape orientation, not built-in compass or GPS! About 160 his-res pictures per battery charge. Plays built-in music.
Optional AC adaptor ($80) does not recharge battery, plus requires a special connector ($50, to connect included USB or AV) if you want AC power while transferring pictures to TV or PC (an exorbitant $130 list together)! An SD/SDHC memory card is not included with camera (40 MB built-in); some Panasonic TVs read the card directly.
Instructions are in English, with a briefer Spanish supplement, plus a French-Canadian warning. Software for PHOTOfunSTUDIO editor is PC only (instructions in French and English)..
Pros Compact, easy to pack, zoom potential is what most point and shoots are missing; image stabilization. Menus are well thought out and intuitive
Cons Controls are a little delicate
Summary I have a Nikon D90 dSLR and was looking for a P&S that would allow me to take quick pix without breaking out the dSLR. The one feature that most P&S cameras lack is a good quality zoom and the ZS1 fits the bill. Most pictures I would take with the camera are outdoors, on vacation, etc. so I don't need the low noise high ISO sensitivity. . . I'll pull out the D90 for that. The camera meets the basic needs of what I would want from a point and shoot because I'm not looking for a replacement for my dSLR, just a fun camera with some of the features of an SLR without the weight, size, and cost. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my D90, but there are times when I don't want to pull it out (out with friends at a restaurant or ball game, for example) and would rather give up the features for a quickie pic.
Pros Easy to use
Seems to take great pics w. just point & shoot
nice button layout
Cons Odd, proprietary USB cable - DEAL BREAKER!
A bit larger than I like
Summary I've ALWAYS been a Canon elph fan, but the last 2 Canons that I have purchased have really been bad. Also, I didn't want to spend $300+ for a point & shoot. I decided to get this camera at Costco for well under $200. I take the usual point & shoot pics as well as some candid photos for my company. My products are black nylon with clear pockets, so it's important to me to have a camera that can take decent photos of that sort of thing, and give me pictures where I can distinguish the black velcro from the black material. This camera seems great. I'm NOT a photographer and I don't want to have to mess with settings much. This camera seemed to fit the bill UNTIL I went to download the photos....
THAT'S when I discovered that this camera has a very odd, proprietary USB cable. That was a deal breaker for me. I'm taking it back. I am on the road a LOT and often need to upload photos to my website on-the-fly. I don't always carry every single USB cable with me, nor do I want to. Every Canon camera that I have had has used the same mini USB, of which I have one tucked into every bag, carry case, etc. This USB cable is beyond common and I have a proliferation of them: I have never had to worry about connecting my other cameras. I can easily foresee needing to download some pics from this camera and not having the correct cord with me.
Too bad, this seemed ideal for me, but sometimes it's really the little things that matter most.
Pros Compact size for a 12x Zoom
Cons Terrible software, pictures downloaded very poor quality, low light pictures were terribly dark. Many times there was a bright flash at the subject while the background was very dark, almost black.
Summary Was suggested this camera, I tried to like it based on the 1 other review I read, but just don't. I had 3 other Kodak cameras that took much better pictures than this one. Don't wast your money on it, the pictures all turned out very dark, no matter the setting.
Pros Great photo and video quality; easy to use; good software for photo and video editing;
Cons Will not read my two 32GB sdhc cards; manual implies it will; my other cameras and laptop see them; was on hold with Panasonic tech support for 23 minutes, gave up. Also new firmware won't allow aftermarket batteries;
Summary Good camera that would be great if it read the 32GB cards.