Testing of the ZS30/TZ40


In this Section:

Features of the ZS30 Compared with the ZS20

Example images from the ZS30

Resolution of the ZS30 compared with the ZS20

Small Sensors - Depth of Field and Diffraction

An Adapter for the ZS30

Filters with the ZS30: Infrared and Closeup

The ZS30 with Teleconverters

ZS30 with iResolution/iZoom

ZS30 on a Trip

Image Transformations using SeamlessMaker

Setup for GPS and Wifi on the ZS30

Features of the ZS30/TZ40 and ZS20/ZS30 Compared

The two models share a similar body size and weight, although the ZS30 is slightly slimmer and slightly lighter in weight.  The two models have the same lens, with the same available apertures and the same zoom range (24-480mm equivalent) but they differ in some important ways.

The ZS30 has an 18MP sensor while the ZS20 is 14MP, and the ZS30 has an improved Venus engine for processing JPGs.

The ZS30 has an improved image stabiliser, and for movies it has five-axis correction which aids in obtaining steady footage when shooting movies while walking.

The ZS30 has considerably improved High Speed (Slow Motion) video, which provides 1280x720 HD MP4 at 120fps, and 640x480 VGA MP4 at 240fps.  The ZS20 High Speed video is just 320x240 Motion JPG at 220fps.

The ZS30 has a higher resolution LCD with 920K dots and multi-touch gestures, versus the 460K dots of the ZS20.

The ZS30 has a Level Gauge but the ZS20 does not have this feature.  The Level Gauge is a very useful feature as can assist in keeping the horizon level (left to right tilt) as well as helping to correct up-down tilt of the camera (for buildings, etc).  The gauge can be quickly hidden from view by using the “Display” button.

An additional use for the Level Gauge is as an aid for keeping the camera still while taking shots at slow shutter speeds.  In addition to the help of the improved OIS, by watching the gauge while trying to keep the green lines steady on the LCD, I found that I was able to obtain acceptably sharp shots at full WA (24mm) at a shutter speed of 0.8s.

Another important improvement on the ZS30 is a change to the way playback of images is controlled.  Instead of a switch, as on the ZS20, the ZS30 has a playback button which, when pressed while the camera is in the record mode, quickly changes to the playback mode for viewing captured images.  Another press on the playback button returns the camera quickly to the record mode.

Another very useful aspect of the new playback control is that with the camera switched off, if the playback button is pressed briefly, after a short delay of a few seconds the camera will switch on in playback mode without the lens being extended.  A press on the playback button will then change to record mode and the lens will extend.

These changes to the playback control mean that missed shots can be avoided.  I found with the ZS20 (and earlier models) that sometimes I left the camera in playback mode when I switched the camera off.  Then, when I wanted to quickly take a shot and switched on the camera, I discovered I could not take the shot because the camera was in playback mode and I needed to change the switch to record.  Because of the delay caused by this process, sometimes the photo opportunity was missed.  With the new playback control button such a delay can be avoided.

Example Images from the ZS30

Outdoors at 100 ISO and 800 ISO

Below is a shot of an Allamanda vine after rain, taken hand-held with the ZS30 at 100 ISO.  The shutter speed was 1/13s, which is 5 stops better than the reciprocal rule, showing the effectiveness of the image stabilisation (the full sized image can be viewed here):

Allamanda Vine: hand-held, 100 ISO, f/6.2, 1/13s, 434mm FL (equiv.)

The shot below is another shot taken under the same conditions but at 800 ISO (the full sized image can be viewed here):

Allamanda Vine: hand-held, 800 ISO, f/6.2, 1/100s, 434mm FL (equiv.)

The 800 ISO shot looks comparable with the 100ISO shot, and has good colour retention.  It seems quite acceptable, even though there is some noise visible when viewed at 100%.


If a full sized 4896 x 3672 pixel image taken with the ZS30 at maximum zoom (480mm) is cropped to a size of 4000 x 3000 pixels, the image then has the same 12MP image size as the Panasonic FZ200. This cropped image has an effective focal length of (3672/3000 x 480) = 588mm, which is quite close to the maximum focal length of the FZ200 of 600mm.  Of course, the ZS30 cannot match the f/2.8 aperture of the FZ200 at maximum zoom.

Low Light Indoors

Another advantage of the 18MP image size of the ZS30 is that is can be downsized to yield an image of improved apparent IQ at high ISO settings.

Below is a shot taken at 1600 ISO of a small orchid flower indoors with the ZS30.  I used telemacro mode at 480mm FL under indirect (fairly dim) tungsten lighting, hand-held at 1/10s.  The flower was about 5cm across, and the wall behind was pale cream/beige in colour.  (The full sized image can be downloaded here.)


Above: Orchid at 480mm telemacro, f/6.4, 1/10s, 1600 ISO

Using PSE, I altered the levels slightly and downsized the image to 4000x3000 (12MP, the same as the FZ200) as shown below.  (The full sized image can be downloaded here.)

Above: Previous image adjusted and reduced in size

After the downsizing, to my eyes the noise is less obtrusive and the flower looks sharper.

Continue to Resolution of the ZS30 vs the ZS20

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