Panasonic DMC-ZS20 Digital Camera Review$349.99
The Panasonic ZS20 features four color modes: standard, vivid, black & white, and sepia. The black & white and sepia apply a pretty firm colorization (or desaturation, in the case of B&W) cast across the entire image, thus we didn't bother testing their relative accuracy. The standard and vivid modes did yield somewhat decent color accuracy, with standard being the more accurate by far. In the standard mode we saw a color error of 3.35, with a saturation level 112% of the ideal. The vivid mode is not intended to be purely accurate, but it returned a color error of around 4.9 with a saturation level of 132% of the ideal. More on how we test color.
NOTE: Because of the way computer monitors reproduce colors, the images above do not exactly match the originals found on the chart or in the captured images. The chart should be used to judge the relative color shift, not the absolute captured colors.
Color mode is changed on the Panasonic ZS20 by going through the camera's main menu, without the option to change it in the camera's quick menu. With the lack of color mode options, this is hardly a nuisance, though, as it's unlikely you'll want to change from standard to sepia all that often.
The ZS20 balances for color temperature fairly well, if not spectacularly. It had some of the typical problem areas, namely the automatic white balance's inability to properly handle indoor incandescent light. The camera did pretty well when balancing for the color white, but in daylight it seemed to have trouble assigning proper RGB values through for gray areas, as they came out significantly more blue.
Automatic White Balance ()
Automatic white balance worked well on the ZS20, save for the aforementioned issues with incandescent lighting. Under incandescent lighting conditions the camera returned a white balance error in excess of 1000 kelvin. That fell sharply under temperatures that are easier to account for, with average errors of only around 200 kelvin in daylight and fluorescent conditions.
Custom White Balance ()
When taking a custom white balance measurement the camera improved significantly better. Under incandescent lighting the camera had a white balance error of only 121 kelvin on average, though again the grays were much cooler than the white error. Under daylight conditions the camera performed about as well as with the auto white balance, while test shots under white fluorescent lighting had very accurate whites, but very inaccurate gray levels.
White Balance Options
The Panasonic ZS20 features a typical collection of white balance options and presets, with settings for daylight, cloudy, shade, incandescent, auto, and custom white balance. The camera allows you to make slight adjustments to each preset, but only on a +/- 10-stop red/blue scale, which just applies a standard warm or cool cast over the whole image.