As a traveling mom with special-needs kids, I’m on the continuous lookout for products that cannot only enhance my travel experience but help me save time and effort.
For some time now I been searching for my ‘perfect’ camera after systematically having gone through multiple point and shoots and DSLR’s –the first being too flimsy with a short battery life and the latter too bulky and cumbersome to carry around the Disney theme parks.
Like many other travelers, I turned to my I-phone and I-pad for the solution.
The main advantage, as I saw it was that I was already carrying the devices for my son with autism, but the downside (I soon discovered) was that though most pictures looked passable on small screens, they ended up too grainy to print or use when enlarged.
This spring I was introduced to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS40 camera at the Travelingmom conference in Walt Disney World, Orlando, where I had the opportunity to assess its performance in various park settings under the different weather(including pouring rain) and lighting conditions.
And I have to admit I was captivated.
When it comes to photography, this nifty gadget presents a distinct advantage in comparison to smartphones and tablets with helpful features that make it a user-friendly option for most.
The Lumix Panasonic has a creative settings mode that allows you to chose the filter you are going to photograph in before you take the picture. This, of course, is a huge time saver that was only available in the past only when you edited your images in Adobe Photoshop or Aviary.
My son loves playing around with the feature and creating new images.
Off the bat, I knew I needed a camera that doesn’t break easily.The ZS40, though quite compact and lightweight has a sturdy plastic case and is easy to hold onto (unlike I phone that can easily slip out of your hands) because of its design as well as the two nubs that hold the neck band securely in place.
This is a camera I could let my teen borrow to take on a roller coaster ride and not have to worry whether it would come back damaged in any way.
Powerful Zoom lens
The 30x lens on the camera may not be the best zoom lens I have ever worked with but certainly is a huge step up from any I -phone and I- pad, providing a good range for such a small-sized gadget.
Best of all it works well on video too, like you can see on my video of Epcot’s Illuminations shot at nighttime in the pouring rain.
Another issue I experienced when working on my I -phone and I-Pad was their short battery life.
I would have to recharge them after an hour or two, depending on how many pictures and videos I would take.
The battery on this camera has decent battery power that can last at least half the day with a minimum of 350 pictures.
Good video quality
Hands down the quality of video this camera shoots is superior to any I -phone, or I -pad especially in low lighting or nighttime settings. Here’s a video shot on my first try after having the camera for a few hours.
Extra features that I -phones, I-pads (and point shoot cameras) don’t have
- A separate electronic viewfinder (EVF)
The I -phone, iPad and all point and shoot cameras use an LCD screen that may be user-friendly but is rendered useless when you try to take a picture facing direct sunlight. That’s when you need a separate viewfinder!
The viewfinder can also help with keeping the camera steady and allows for optical correction, which my entire family found particularly helpful since we all wear glasses.
- Manual setting capacity
The camera’s manual settings enable the user to take his/her photography to the next level.
You can adjust the light, exposure and focus to shoot the shots you have always wanted. Moreover, the camera allows you to customize the C1 and C2 settings to the ones you regularly use akin to programming your favorite channels on your car radio. I have my C1 set to the sports mode perfect for capturing my snapshots when I’m on the Magic Kingdom roller coasters.
- Exposure bracketing
This ZS40 can take many shots in rapid sequence so you can go back later and pick the best one and never miss that particular moment your kid touches the finish line or scores that incredible touchdown in a game.
- Saving raw format
This is a more advanced feature that many won’t necessarily use but nonetheless a nice one to have on such a small camera.
The raw feature allows users to capture the entire information on a photograph, download the data into a computer and manipulate it to create the perfect JPG image.
But don’t ditch that I -phone or I -pad just yet.
The z40 is meant to work in tandem with your smart or tablet especially when it comes to WI-FI connectivity
The camera uses the free Panasonic Imaging app that enables users to share pictures and videos on social media.
It also comes with a GPS function that is helpful to use to pinpoint where particular pictures were taken.
What you do need to remember is to put your GPS on airplane mode when you are not traveling since the GPS stays on even when your camera is turned off and will drain the battery!
The ZS40 also gives the user the option of controlling the camera remotely by using the Panasonic application on the I-phone or I-pad. You can change the zoom, focus point, and shutter speed before taking that selfie at Cinderella’s Castle or photographing the wildlife at the Animal Kingdom.
Bottom line, the ZS40 is a user-friendly camera that can be used by people of all ages.You should consider purchasing one for your family and travel needs if you are looking for a way to upgrade your basic I-phone photography.
For additional conveniences buy a cheap $8 mini tripod( extra video stabilization) along with a spare battery and an external charger on Amazon.com to complete your ZS40 travel kit.
Discloser: I received the Panasonic Lumix ZS40 camera to review at the TravelingMom retreat in Walt Disney World, but all opinions are my own.