Panasonic Lumix ZS20 – Pocket Camera With 20x Optical Zoom

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Panasonic Lumix ZS20 – 20x Pocket Superzoom CameraPanasonic has updated their venerable ZS line of pocket superzoom cameras with the new Lumix ZS20. Last year, one of my favorite compact cameras was Panasonic’s wonderful ZS10 pocket superzoom. Panasonic packed so much into the ZS10 – it’s the Swiss Army Knife of point-and-shoot cameras. I took it to Europe last summer and it was the perfect pocket travel camera – able to take pictures of almost anything at a moment’s notice (read my Panasonic Lumix ZS10 review). And now they’ve made a great camera even better. The resolution stays the same but the ZS20 gets an improved sensor, upgraded GPS, better video, and the zoom range has been increased from 16x to 20x. That means with the ZS20 you get a ridiculous 24-480mm optical zoom range that you can drop in the pocket of your pants or shirt instead of having to pack it in trunk of your car.

Panasonic Lumix ZS20 Key Features & Specs:

  • 20x 24-480mm Leica optical zoom lens
  • New 14.1-megapixel High Sensitivity MOS sensor
  • 3-inch 460k-dot touchscreen display with Touch AF, Touch Zoom and Touch Shutter
  • 1920 x 1080 full HD 60p AVCHD Progressive video
  • Stereo zoom microphone with Auto Wind Cut
  • Improved GPS with compass, altimeter, barometer
  • iA Intelligent Auto shooting mode
  • Full manual exposure control
  • 10 frames per second high-speed burst at full resolution

Panasonic Lumix ZS20 - 20x Pocket Superzoom Camera

There really wasn’t a hell of a lot to improve with the Panasonic Lumix ZS10. But you can always have more lens, better image quality and make it prettier, right? The lines of the ZS20 have been rounded off giving it a more refined look but the basic controls are still the same. As for the lens, I wouldn’t say the ZS10’s 16x 24-383mm (equivalent) Leica zoom was inadequate in any way. But as long as the optics are good, I don’t think anyone is going to complain about increasing the telephoto reach to 480mm. Happily, Panasonic says they’ve done more than just make the ZS20’s lens longer: “With a newly-redesigned lens system, the LUMIX ZS20 features a new mechanical structure and optical system to further improve image quality and with Nano Surface Coating technology, the LUMIX ZS20 offers stunning image clarity with minimized ghosting and flare.” Sounds good to me!

Video in the ZS20 has been updated from 1920 x 1080 full HD at 60i to 1920 x 1080 at 60p. Basically, the camera now captures more information while recording video. This will be especially valuable for people using the ZS20 to film action as there will be smoother motion and you can even slow down the video for high-quality slow motion clips.

The ZS20’s GPS has also been improved. Like the lens, there really wasn’t anything to complain about with the ZS10’s built-in GPS. But Panasonic turned it up to eleven in the ZS20 by including a DVD with maps of over 80 countries, including over a million landmarks and cities. You can transfer the DVD data onto an SD card and then load it into the ZS20 when you travel so that landmarks, regions and cities are automatically included in the EXIF data of your photos.

Like the ZS10, the ZS20 is also a 14-megapixel camera but it has a brand new High Sensitivity MOS sensor. That’s good news because my only real criticism for the ZS10 was I thought the image quality could be better. I like that Panasonic has left the resolution alone and instead improved the sensor. We don’t need more pixels in pocket cameras – we need better image quality. Hopefully the new sensor means better low light image quality and lower noise across the board. It’s not that the ZS10 was bad. But some of the competition have comparable cameras with better image quality. Since the Panasonic ZS pocket superzooms arguably have the best feature-set, it would be wonderful if they also had the best image quality. Who doesn’t want to have it all? In their pocket.

Along with the ZS20, Panasonic also announced the more affordable ZS15 pocket superzoom camera. The 12-megapixel Panasonic Lumix ZS15 gets the ZS10’s 16x 24-383mm (equivalent) optical zoom lens and leaves out the GPS. It’s a great option for people who want all the convenience of a pocket superzoom camera but don’t need all the bells and whistles. It also saves you about $70.

The Panasonic Lumix ZS20 and ZS15 should arrive at your favorite camera store and online dealers in March (2012). The ZS20 will come in red, white, black and silver finishes and sell for $349.99. The ZS15 will be available in silver and black and sell for $279.99.

Panasonic Lumix ZS20 Press Release >>
2011 Pocket Superzoom Camera Guide >>

Related Content:
All Panasonic Digital Camera User Reviews
All Digital Camera User Reviews
Digital Cameras Forum
More Panasonic Camera News
Panasonic Digital Cameras Web Site

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About the author: Photo-John

Photo-John, a.k.a. John Shafer, is the managing editor of and has been since the site launched back in 1999. He's an avid outdoor enthusiast and spends as much time as possible on his mountain bike, hiking or skiing in the mountains. He's been taking pictures for ever and ever, and never goes anywhere without a camera.

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