The SZ5 offers Wi-Fi connectivity and technology in a compact package. The question is - how does it perform on the whole?
Panasonic’s SZ5 is targeted towards the more affordable end of its Lumix range, although it still features a strong specification and a healthy range of advanced technology.
The SZ5, despite being just 21mm thick, still manages to feature an impressive 10x optical zoom covering a focal range of 25 – 250mm in 35mm equivalent terms. The lens is comprised of LEICA optics and is supported by Panasonic’s Mega O.I.S. stabilisation technology. At the heart of the camera sits a 14MP CCD sensor with an ISO range of 100-6400, while the rear of the camera houses a 3in LCD screen with a 230k-dot resolution – some way below the competition. Those keen on shooting video will also no doubt be disappointed by the 720p video capture, rather than full HD 1080p variety.
What the SZ5 lacks in conventional terms regarding specification, it more than makes up for with gadgetry. The compact is Wi-Fi enabled – dubbed a ‘Communication Camera’ by Panasonic no less – offering a variety of wireless functionality. Images can be backed up remotely to Panasonic’s ‘LUMIX CLUB’ service, as well as posted to social networks on the go. The real standout feature of the SZ5’s Wi-Fi functionality is its Smartphone compatibility – simply install the ‘LUMIX LINK’ application to any Android or iOS device and you’re instantly offered wireless functionality including remote shooting, set focus, shooting distance and playback, directly on your smartphone’s screen.
The Wi-Fi functionality performs very well and is smoothly integrated in to the user experience. As for shooting itself, the menu system and general make-up of the SZ5 does have a firm entry-level feel to it, as found on the much cheaper models in the Lumix range. If you’re looking for a point-and-shoot then you won’t be disappointed, but any further control over shooting is sadly missing.
Image quality is as reliable as ever when considering a Lumix compact. Colours are rich without appearing over-saturated, while a pleasing tonal range is displayed. Edge sharpness is a touch disappointing – more so towards the tele end of the zoom – although other elements of the lenses performance are pleasing. ISO noise, however, becomes an issue above ISO 400, although to that point it’s well controlled.
There's a lot to like in the Panasonic SZ5, with some impressive features. It offers full Wi-Fi connectivity in a small package, and is a pleasure to use. It's only really let down by some image quality issues and some entry-level elements of its specification, but on the whole it's a good performer and well worth a look