Panasonic DMC-ZS20 Digital Camera Review$349.99
Ease of Use
- Automatic Features
- Buttons & Dials
- Effects, Filters, and Scene Modes
- Instruction Manual
The ZS20 includes several automatic modes that will set the majority of the camera's many settings without requiring your input. The most obvious of these is the intelligent auto mode, signified by the red camera symbol with "iA" written in the middle. This mode takes over the majority of the settings from the user, taking into account subject distance and available light to properly expose each scene.
Intelligent auto mode also can decide to employ one of several built-in scene modes to better expose a scene. The camera does this automatically when it detects certain conditions—if its face detection and registry knows it's looking at a child under 3 years, or if it's looking at a landscape or sunset, for example—and switches to that scene preset. The camera indicates this switch by changing the symbol in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. You can manually select a particular scene (calling on a slightly larger library of scene mode presets), but turning the mode dial to the dedicated "scene" setting.
Buttons & Dials
The ZS20, despite having a 3-inch touchscreen LCD panel, does not require the user to use anything but the physical hardware keys on the camera itself. There aren't a great deal of these keys, as Panasonic has elected to keep things simple as they did on the ZS10, with just a shooting/playback mode switch, four-way control panel, center OK button, and menu, display, and exposure buttons rounding out the back panel of the camera. The top plate of the camera is similarly unchanged, with just a mode dial, shutter release/zoom toggle, power switch, and dedicated video record button.
Effects, Filters, and Scene Modes
The ZS20 includes a number of built-in scene mode presets, as well as several adjustments that can be made to the overall tone of your images. You can apply some of these (scene modes, for an obvious example) prior to capture only, while some can be applied after the fact through the camera's auto retouch and creative retouch playback settings.
The menu on the ZS20 is exactly as we've come to expect from Panasonic, with both a main menu and a "quick menu" setup that allows you to select from a number of basic shooting options for easy adjustments. The main menu has undergone some basic overhauling, with text that reads more clearly now. The menu is organized into four main sections, record settings, motion picture, GPS, and system settings. Each section is just one long list of options with multiple pages. You can easily swing between pages by using the zoom toggle, or scroll down options individually.
The Panasonic ZS20 includes a printed basic operating instruction booklet to get you started with the basic functions of the camera. For a more in-depth explanation of the camera's many modes and features, there is an advanced user's guide available on the included DVD-ROM. You can also download the manual for the camera online, though as of this writing it wasn't yet available on Panasonic's website.