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My Panasonic Lumix ZS60 review shows a camera with a host of high end features, while remaining easy to use. This model features a 30X optical zoom range, a touch screen LCD, an electronic viewfinder, and the ability to shoot 4K resolution video. Is it the best travel camera out there? Read on. And when you’re done with this review, check out this best digital camera list for more recommendations.
Having advanced features paired with a model that’s easy to use isn’t a common combination in the digital camera market, so it’s understandable why the Lumix ZS60 ranks as a best compact digital camera. (Before continuing, it’s worth mentioning that the ZS60 is called the TZ80 in some parts of the world, so this also serves as a Panasonic Lumix TZ80 review.)
Summary: The Lumix ZS60 is an easy to use camera that also offers plenty of advanced features, including a 30X optical zoom lens, 4K video recording, a touch screen display, and a viewfinder.
WHY IT’S A TOP PICK: Tremendous zoom capability and desirable viewfinder in a pocket sized camera.
Price: $449 from Amazon
Available: January 2016
What We Liked
What We Didn’t
Although the Lumix ZS60 has a host of impressive features for a fixed lens camera, the best feature is its 30X optical zoom lens in a model that’s relatively small. Panasonic gave the ZS60/TZ80 a strong optical image stabilization feature, meaning that you can hand hold the camera — even when making use of the maximum zoom setting — and still create a sharp photo much of the time without the worry of blur from camera shake.
For those who are new to the world of the best thin super zoom cameras, the types of photos you now can create thanks to the large zoom lens on the Panasonic ZS60 will amaze you. And for those who’ve only used smartphone cameras in the past, which have no optical zoom capability, the 30X zoom lens included here will blow you away.
Related: Check out the Panasonic Lumix LX15 review
If you’re looking for a best travel camera, the Lumix ZS60 would also be an option, thanks to its large zoom lens and its 1.5-inch depth measurement, allowing it to fit in a pocket … as long as it’s a large pocket.
Panasonic provided the ZS60 with a sharp electronic viewfinder, which is not a common feature of thin, fixed lens cameras. Viewfinders are more common on interchangeable lens models, such as the best DSLR camera for beginners. Many photographers like having the option of framing scenes using either a viewfinder or an LCD screen.
Related: Read our Panasonic Lumix ZS70 review
Speaking of the LCD screen, Panasonic gave this model a touch screen LCD, which is an outstanding feature on cameras aimed at beginning photographers. Having a touch screen simplifies the operation of a digital camera, especially for people who are familiar with using a smartphone camera. The display screen quality on the Panasonic TZ80/ZS60 is sharp with more than 1 million pixels of resolution.
If you choose not to use the touch screen on this camera to navigate through the Lumix TZ80/ZS60’s settings, Panasonic provided a large collection of buttons on the back of the camera body to control the settings. The camera also has four function buttons to which you can assign whatever camera function you want, allowing you to personalize the operation of the camera.
The Lumix ZS60’s image quality is a little bit of a disappointment for a camera in this price range, as it includes only a 1/2.3-inch image sensor, the smallest type of physical sensor available in a digital camera. This model contains 18.1 megapixels of resolution, which is another upgrade over the ZS60’s predecessors.
This is one area where the Lumix ZS60 versus a Lumix TZ100 shows that the more expensive TZ100 (also called the ZS100) has a significant advantage, featuring a 1-inch image sensor with 20.1 megapixels of resolution.
Panasonic provided the ability to shoot photos in RAW with the Lumix ZS60, which is an extremely rare feature among cameras that have 1/2.3-inch image sensors. The sensor is also paired with a Venus Engine image processor. RAW image format photos are recorded without any compression applied to the photo file, as occurs with JPEG image format photos to save recording space on the memory card. Avoiding using compression gives the RAW files better image quality than JPEG files, although the difference between the two image formats isn’t quite as noticeable with the ZS60’s small image sensor as it is when you’re working with a camera with a much larger image sensor.
As this Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS60 review shows, it’s great to find 4K video resolution with this model. While digital camera makers are starting to include 4K video resolution alongside full HD video, it’s still not a common feature, especially in a fixed lens camera. It also has 4k photo modes, 4k post focus, and a max shutter speed of 1/2000 sec.
One problem that this model has that affects both its 4K video and its low light photography performance is the introduction of noise in its images. Because the image sensor is small in physical size, it has some problems with incorrectly recorded pixels (noise). The image sensor’s noise problems are part of the reason Panasonic limited the Lumix ZS60 to a maximum ISO setting of 3200, because higher ISO settings would create unusable photos as a result of noise.
Rather than increasing the ISO, you likely will want to use the embedded flash when faced with low light situations. Just be certain that your fingers on your right hand aren’t blocking the flash, as Panasonic’s design team oddly chose to place the flash in the upper left corner of the front of the camera (when viewed from the front), which is where many people naturally have their right-hand fingers while holding a digital camera. Most small cameras have an embedded flash in the upper left corner.
Versus other thin cameras, the Panasonic ZS60 has an above average battery performance. The manufacturer estimates a maximum of 320 photos per charge, and tests show that the number is pretty accurate. You’ll receive better battery life if you choose to shoot with the viewfinder more often than accessing the touch screen LCD.
A Panasonic ZS60 vs. ZS50 comparison shows that both cameras have the same 30X optical zoom lens. But the Lumix ZS60 has quite a few other improvements over the ZS50, including the addition of a touch screen and 4K video recording capability. In a fixed lens digital camera market where manufacturers often offer only minimal upgrades when introducing a new model, these impressive new features help the Lumix ZS60 stand out from its competitors … and from its predecessors.