New Panasonic Lumix SZ7 compact boasts a 10x optical zoom, 25mm wide angle lens and 14MP sensor

The SZ7 is the champion compact and first release in Panasonic’s latest SZ, or ‘Stylish Zoom’, Lumix compact camera series.

In a time when Smartphone cameras are rivaling (and often bettering) compact cameras, the SZ7 sets out to offer features that mobiles can’t yet muster.

The SZ7’s 10x optical zoom and wideangle 25mm lens provides a 25-250mm range and there’s a brand new 14.1-megapixel MOS sensor that Panasonic claims provides a 65% better signal than its previous 14MP sensors. A bold figure, no doubt, but any level of image quality improvement in the compact cameras sector is a welcome benefit.

The camera is also capable of a 10 frames per second (10fps) burst mode, making the Lumix SZ7 a speedy little shooter. Use continuous autofocus and this is reduced to 5fps, but that’s still a very impressive figure from a compact camera. And it’s not just burst mode that’s fast – the camera has adopted the ‘lightspeed’ AF system of Panasonic’s super-fast Lumix G Compact System Camera series. Focus can be acquired in a nippy 0.1sec at the widest-angle setting. An impressive stat that, if it is truly as good as the G-series models, will certainly give other compact cameras a run for their money.

Small size is also high up the list, as the SZ7 is a mere 21mm wide including the protruding lens. It’s even smaller when the lens is stowed at just 18.6mm.

The SZ7’s new MOS sensor is also far more movie proficient, able to capture 1080p clips at 25p or 50i and render using AVCHD or output straight from camera as MP4 files.

The cheaper SZ1 model comes kitted out with a higher resolution 16.1-megapixel sensor. Confusing in regards to resolution, we know, but this older technology is less proficient with capturing movie clips – it’s limited to 720p at 30fps. Although it won’t say so on the box, the SZ1’s sensor also won’t refresh at the super-fast pace of the SZ7’s and, therefore, the focusing won’t be quite as nippy either. But both models are built to suit difference audiences at different price points.

Available in March, the SZ7 will come dressed in black, white and brown, while the SZ1 comes kitted out in black, silver, red and violet options. There’s no word on pricing as yet, though we anticipate these cameras, which sit towards the middle-to-upper part of Panasonic’s overall compact range, to be affordable.

Panasonic Lumix SZ7: At A Glance

-   14.1-megapixel MOS sensor
–   10x optical zoom]
–   25mm wideangle lens
–   ‘Lightspeed’ autofocus can acquire focus in 0.1sec
–   1080p HD movie at 50i or 25p
–   Just 21mm deep including lens barrel