Why I voted for TZ-7 / ZS-3?
Originally Posted by Fillmore
The side by side comparison was very useful ..
thanks everyone for your inputs .. yet to finalize ..
Initially Sony was not on my radar .. but looking at the ratings and reviews I'm beginning to change my mind ...
The first and most imp criteria (if all others are equal, hypothetically) is range of the lens.
Sony H20 - 38-380
Panasonic - 25-300
From my own personal use, you will not use the far range as much as the near range, and each time you will click with H20 and feel wish I could have gone a bit wider (Bigger coverage area), you will feel that I should have gotten the Panny. 25 vs 38 starting range is A LOT. For that reason alone, you could just go ahead and discount Sony.
Beside that, Panasonic ZS3 is the new model name of TZ3. Even though Sony H20 is showing about 4.5 compared to 4.2 something of TZ7, the previous shootout, which I'm unable to find on DPreview, shows that TZ7 picture quality was better than Canon SX10 and H20 & 550Z/560z/565z (one of them, not all). Nikon was the last in that shootout with their 9 MP or whatever they had & it is a consistent quality with Nikon Coolpix throughout the range.
On a different plane, talking about picture quality, Sony tends to sharpen or saturate colors excessively. It is a trait common in all cybershot serious and something that I've seen not consistently found in Oly, Pana & Canon. Panasonic gets you the most neutral picture of all, with Oly and Canon following closely. Also as you go about using higher ISO, things quickly start getting worse with Sony and Nikon.
As for video, TZ7 records HD video with Stereo sound and I'm not sure if H20 does that.
Beside that, TZ7 and others will take in both SD and MMC memory while Sony is MMC only, which is more expensive. Add that to cost.
And last, something out of the review,
The DMC-ZS3 offers movie capture up to HD resolution (1280 x 720 pixels, 16:9 format) at 30 frames per second or 60fps in AVCDH Lite format (for playback on HD television sets). Like on the ZS1 you can use the optical zoom but you'll have the same zoom and AF speed issues. The ZS3 uses QuickTime MJPEG (.mov) format too and burns approximately 3.7 MB/sec. at the highest quality settings. The maximum movie file size is 2GB.
Panasonic officially markets the ZS3 as a Hybrid camera and so it's not a surprise that the ZS3 offers the best specced video mode in this group test. It is the first digital stills camera to offer AVCHD Lite video recording, a video format that is better known in the world of camcorders and is ideal for direct output onto HD TV sets via the built-in HDMI interface (or for importing and editing with video software, note: In the specification Panasonic lists the ZS3's maximum AVCDH frame rate as 60fps which is slightly misleading in so far that the camera records 30fps and then doubles each frame in order to achieve 60fps at output).
For playback on a PC there is the usual 720p HD mode and it does a very good job on the ZS3. The image is clear and only very few artifacts are visible. The camera has a built-in stereo microphone which results in a noticeably clearer and more 'dynamic' sound recording. Background noise can be reduced with the wind-cutter function.
Again you can zoom, with the lens motor running more slowly in an attempt to avoid adding sound effects to your movies. The slowed-down zoom also gives the focus more time to adjust as the focal length changes. It's not perfect but it's a nice feature to have.
Sony Cyber-shot H20
The Sony H20 is one of four cameras in this comparison that offer 720p HD video (1280 x 720 pixels, 16:9 format). The optical zoom works during movie recording but again is slower than in still image mode. Having said that zoom and AF in movie mode appear to working very slightly quicker than on the competition in this test. The H20 uses the MP4 video format and writes approximately 1.0MB per recorded second on the memory card. The maximum recording time is 29 minutes.
The Sony offers very detailed and clean output at its highest quality video setting but we had some minor focus hunting issues, even when not using the optical zoom. Sound quality is decent too but cannot match the ZS3's stereo output.
Looking at the rankings above the Panasonic twins ZS1 and ZS3 emerge as the obvious choice for general use, offering an extremely versatile 12x zoom range from proper wide-angle to 300mm equivalent and good all-around performance and image quality.
The Sony H20 is more or less on par from an image quality point of view but offers, due to its non-existent wide-angle lens, much less versatility than the other cameras in this test and its user-interface is really designed for point-and-shoot operation only. If you're mainly working at the long end of the lens and don't usually tend to set parameters manually it should be very high up on your short list though.
The image quality of both cameras is up there with the very best in almost any shooting situations, be it bright daylight or low light conditions. As we've written throughout this review the gap between the best and worst is in terms of image quality is fairly narrow but the Panasonics have the slight edge over the competition at low ISOs producing images that are consistently sharp and detailed across the frame. At higher sensitivities none of the cameras in this comparison can cut the mustard but the ZS1 and 3 are simply not quite as bad as some of the competitors.
If I quote the real world comparison
sections, I'll offend most Sony H20 owners. So it is not here. But you should go through those pages to see why they write Panasonic is just a bit above the rest. It may look like a Panasonic Advertorial but the fact is there.
PS : Sorry for the long post.
Last edited by given2fly : 17th September 2009 at 12:55.