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Testing / Performance
If you take your LS70 outdoors to enjoy the red tulips and green grass, you will want to know how accurately it can depict those reds and greens. To test this out, we photographed a GretagMacbeth color chart in optimal studio lighting. The image shown below is modified by Imatest to show pieces of the original chart (vertical rectangle in each tile), colors produced by the Panasonic LS70 (outer frame of each tile), and the luminance-corrected version of the ideal colors (inner square of each tile).
From this image, the colors look good. Imatest also output the image below to show how erroneous individual colors are. The ideal colors from the chart are represented as squares and the Lumix DMC-LS70’s colors are shown as circles.
Colors remain true, with the most error in the blue end of the spectrum. Saturation is nearly perfect at 101.9 percent. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70’s mean color error came to 5.87, which is very good. For any model, the LS70 performed well. As a budget digital camera, the LS70 performed amazingly well.
*The Automatic White Balance setting isn’t always reliable. It was accurate when under fluorescent lighting, which is good because there isn’t a fluorescent preset offered. There is also no flash preset, and unfortunately the Auto White Balance didn’t handle it well: the chart was much too blue when the flash fired.
*The Panasonic LS70 doesn’t have a vast number of Preset White Balance modes, although it does allow for tiny adjustments to be made to the existing presets. Most of the presets are more accurate than the Automatic White Balance. Under tungsten lighting, the preset won out but still made the chart a yellowish green color. Under cloudy lighting, both the Auto and Cloudy settings performed accurately. Generally, users should choose the presets over the automatic setting, but the Manual White Balance is still the far better choice.
**Still Life Sequences
***Click on the thumbnails to view the full-resolution images. *
*This digital camera has a 7.2-megapixel image sensor that we tested by photographing an industry standard resolution chart. We shot the chart at several exposure settings because they often influence the sharpness of the image. After uploading the images to Imatest imaging software, they were sorted and the sharpest one found. It was shot at 16mm with an aperture of f/4.8 and its lowest ISO setting of 100.
Imatest output resolution results numerically in units of line widths per picture height (lw/ph). This unit describes the number of alternating black and white lines of equal thickness that can fit across the frame without blurring.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 resolved 1810 lw/ph horizontally with 3.6 percent oversharpening and 1746 lw/ph vertically with 8.6 percent oversharpening. These results are very respectable, especially considering this 7.2-megapixel camera sells for $149. The more expensive 7.2-megapixel Panasonic FX50 resolved 1342 lw/ph horizontally and 1232 lw/ph vertically. Overall, the LS70 performed well and will be able to enlarge pictures without too much worry.
We photographed a backlit Stouffer step film to test the dynamic range of the LS70. The film shows a row of rectangles that range from very bright to very dark and tests the camera’s ability to capture the many tones of the range in a single shot. We shot images of the test film at all ISO settings because the sensitivity generally correlates to the dynamic range. Below is a chart showing the manual ISO settings on the horizontal axis and the number of exposure values captured on the vertical axis.
The dynamic range is actually better at ISO 200 as opposed to 100, which is abnormal for a point-and-shoot. This has only happened with one other compact digital camera, also a Panasonic. The Panasonic Lumix TZ3 had better dynamic range at ISO 200 than 100, and its dynamic range was overall better than the LS70’s too – although it costs a lot more, as well. On the Lumix LS70, the jump is significant: there are almost 1.5 exposure values more at ISO 200 than 100. This may correlate to the amount of noise at those settings: the LS70 had more noise at ISO 100 than at 200, perhaps due to its noise reduction system.
The dynamic range at ISO 200 is excellent for a point-and-shoot digital camera. After ISO 200, however, the dynamic range drops significantly with each jump in ISO sensitivity.
*The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 seems equipped to take pictures in low light with its high ISO sensitivity. Using a tripod and the ISO 1250 setting, we took pictures of the color chart under 60, 30, 15, and 5 lux. The 60 lux test is approximately equivalent to a room lit by two soft lamps. The 30 lux test mimics the amount of light that comes from a single 40-watt bulb. The last two tests are quite dark and won’t be used in many photography situations often but are used in this test to challenge the image sensor and see if it has any serious limitations.
The sensor does indeed have limitations. Images at 15 and 5 lux were increasingly underexposed. At 60 and 30 lux, though, illumination remained intact, along with saturation and noise levels. The mean color error even stayed below 10, which is quite good.
We tested the LS70 in the Auto mode during the low light test. It does have Night Scenery and Starry Sky scene modes that allow longer exposures but lock the ISO at 100. We test long exposures only at ISO 400, and when the camera was set to this its longest exposure came to a quarter-second.
Overall, the Panasonic LS70 doesn’t have many manual controls but does decently in low light as long as there is at least 30 lux. However, anything lit with less than a 40-watt bulb will be underexposed.
Noise – Auto ISO*(1.38)*
We let the Panasonic LS70 do what it wanted in the bright studio lighting. At 3000 lux, we set the camera to its automatic ISO setting and snapped some pictures. We analyzed the image and resultant noise, which came out to way too much. In this lighting, there shouldn’t be much noise. However, the LS70 selected an ISO that was a bit too high: ISO 160. That explains the awful 1.38 overall auto ISO noise score.
Noise – Manual ISO*(4.28)*
We shot images of the resolution chart at every manual ISO setting in optimal lighting and let our software program quantify the amount of noise in each picture. Below is a chart showing the results: the manual ISO settings are on the horizontal axis and the accompanying noise is expressed on the vertical axis as a percentage of the total image.
The lowest ISO setting of 100 starts out noisier than most digital cameras. The amount of noise actually drops at ISO 200, indicating some kind of in-camera noise reduction system. From there, the noise only climbs until it’s nearly 4 percent of the image at ISO 1250. These results aren’t very good: at best, 1.5 percent of the image is still lost to noise.
Startup to First Shot (6.9)
The Panasonic LS70 took 3.1 seconds to start up and take its first shot. This is quite leisurely, even for compact digital cameras. Start this camera long before any action may happen; there’s always a Sleep mode to save the batteries, and it’s easier to awaken from that and take a picture.
The LS70 has one Burst mode that takes a shot every 1.5 seconds until the memory card is filled up. This isn’t very impressive; even most compact digital cameras can shoot two or three frames per second. The fact that the burst can shoot to the card’s capacity is a plus, though.
Without the exposure locked, the camera takes a good 0.4 seconds to meter and focus before actually taking the picture. If you want a picture in no time at all, better have the exposure locked beforehand. This is inconvenient for those candid seat-of-the-pants shots, but works just fine for portraits and landscapes.
One shot takes one second to process. Easy enough. It's pretty slow though.
Video Performance *(4.75)*
Bright Indoor Light - 3000 lux
Under the same bright lighting that we performed the color tests, we videoed a colorful video test chart. Imatest analyzed the footage and output similar color error charts. The Movie mode is quite poor on this digital camera. The mean color error shot to 19.5, with warm colors looking the most erroneous. Colors were completely oversaturated at 128.6 percent. The average amount of noise in the video was 0.39 percent. These results are disappointing, but all too common on budget digital cameras.
*Low Light - 30 lux
*When the lights were turned low, the color error dropped to 15.5, which still isn’t great but is better than in bright lighting. The saturation reversed: this can be seen in the color chart below. The circles representing the camera’s colors seem to gravitate to the center of the image where it is unsaturated. Indeed, the saturation dropped to a dull 63.2 percent. The average amount of noise jumped to 1.67 percent, as well. Avoid shooting in lighting that is too bright or too dark to avoid the horrid saturation problems.
Imatest imaging software looked over the footage and analyzed its resolution in much the same way it looks at still pictures. The units of measurement are the same too. In the 640 x 480-pixel Movie mode, the Panasonic LS70 resolved 284 lw/ph with 13.2 percent undersharpening and 513 lw/ph vertically with 1.7 percent undersharpening. These results aren’t incredible, but aren’t bad for a $149 camera, either.
Like most digital cameras’ video, the LS70 had some stuttering with moving objects, especially when they were leaving the frame. This phenomenon occurred less frequently than in other cameras, though. There was also some moiré when objects moved, but there was great contrast and videos overall looked quite good outside.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 isn't equipped with a viewfinder and users will have to rely solely upon the 2-inch LCD screen for all shooting situations.
**LCD Screen ***(2.0)*
With the frame included, the Lumix DMC-LS70's LCD consumes over two-thirds of the back of the camera. It maintains the 2-inch LCD screen from last year's model, the LS2. It has a meager 86,400-pixel resolution. Many higher-end models now have 230,000 pixels of resolution. The higher the resolution the screen, the easier it is to check for things like focus and blinking eyes.
The LCD screen brightness can be adjusted in +/- 3 steps of brightness in the setup menu. The ability to adjust LCD brightness will help when shooting in bright light.
The amount of onscreen information shown on the screen can be adjusted by pressing the display button on the back of the camera. Features include the surprising and helpful inclusion of a live view histogram display in the lower right corner of the LCD screen.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 has a small sliver of an in-camera flash located in the camera’s upper right corner above the lens ring. The flash will likely be covered by fingers when holding the camera with both hands, which will oftentimes be necessary as the camera wasn't designed for one-handed shooting.
The flash is controlled with the right arrow of the four-way navigational control. Once engaged, an onscreen display appears over a live view of the screen and the user can scroll through the options with the up and down arrows on the four-way controller. The flash settings are auto, auto/red-eye, slow sync/red-eye, forced flash on, and flash off. The list appears in a drop-down menu, which is actually quite helpful, and should save users from having to continually depress the button to navigate through the various settings.
The flash range is 0.98 to 15.42 feet when shooting in wide-angle and with auto ISO set to on. Despite its petite size, this flash unit certainly packs a punch. Overly bright portraits can certainly be expected if taken in close range - if possible the subject should be moved further from the camera or to better lighting.
**Zoom Lens ***(7.0)*
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 is equipped with a Lumix DC Vario 3x optical zoom lens that telescopes when the camera is turned on. This lens has a maximum aperture of f/2.8 in wide-angle and shrinks down to a slow f/5.0 in telephoto. The lens' focal length is 5.8 to 17.4mm, equivalent to 35mm to 105mm in the 35mm format. The optics are supported by Panasonic's MEGA Optical Image Stabilization system, which should offer at least two additional stops of flexibility in low light situations.
Focal length is adjusted using the zoom ring that surrounds the shutter button, located on top of the camera body. Making slight adjustments with the zoom control can prove to be challenging, but with a bit of patience, users will be able to hit 17 distinct steps within the zoom range. There is, however, some delay between moving the zoom control and the time the adjustment is registered by the camera. This also proved to be a bit frustrating.
Overall, the LS70's optical design is adequate; however, the camera's optical image stabilization system is excellent. Optical image stabilization is still fairly unique among budget offerings and should entice consumers to take a strong look at this Panasonic model.
Design / Layout
Functionality seems to have been on the mind of the designers when creating the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70. The camera has a stripped-down body and rectangular form that rejects innovation in favor of practicality. It is composed of metallic silver plastic with polished silver highlights on its front and top. The only protruding feature is the 3x optical zoom lens located on the front of the camera. This camera isn’t stylish or flashy, but its simple style will get the job done.
The LS70 is definitely not back-pocket compatible, unless you're hoping to bring Jnco jeans back like it’s 1995. This camera has a thick rectangular frame that measures 1.17 inches deep, 3.69 inches wide, and 2.44 inches high. Although it's not the heaviest budget camera, with batteries and memory card the DMC-LS70 weighs in at 6.38 ounces. With an eyelet on the right side for the included optional wrist-strap, the user will have a quick and easy way to tote the camera around. A carrying case or other protective device is ideal for longer periods of travel.
**Handling Ability ***(5.5)*
The camera handles like a small brick, which should come as no surprise considering the bulky rectangular frame and lack of any real grip or textured areas. Many competing cameras are designed with a bulging right side hand-grip for added comfort and control. The LS70 has a small ridge in the upper right corner of the camera’s back face and eight inset dots that, due to their design and positioning, do nothing to aid in grip and handling. The grip would have been far more effective if the dots were inverted and the ridge was expanded. However, with the current design the only way to get a good grip on the camera is to hold it like a vise from the top and the bottom. Due to the thick rectangular body, the lack of ergonomic design and grip for the right hand, one-handed shooting with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 may prove difficult.
Control Button/Dial Positioning/Size*(7.0)*
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70's external controls are concentrated on the top and back of the camera body. The controls located on the back of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 are surprisingly small but well-spaced so that users won’t have to worry about accidentally pressing a nearby control. The controls are well-labeled with either black text or icons. The top of the camera is a bit more visually cluttered, but the function of each control is clear. The controls on the top of the camera are somewhat awkward to engage depending on how the camera is being held. Overall, the buttons are well-placed and labeled, allowing the user to move through settings and menus with veritable ease.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70's sub-menus are comprised of both text and icons. Both the shooting and playback menus for the camera are accessed by pressing the Menu button on the back of the camera body. Access to the setup menu is only possible once either the playback or shooting menu is open. The user must press the left arrow to highlight the Shooting/Playback tab and then press downwards to highlight and select the setup menus.
The shooting menu's first page allows quick access to manual controls and key picture settings. There are two additional screens of setting options and, while a bit lengthy, the clear and concise layout should appeal to the novice user who may find in-menu alterations somewhat intimidating. Although opaque, certain settings like white balance will change the menu design in order to temporarily provide the user with a live view screen to preview changes made to camera settings. Once the given sub-menu is exited the menu returns to the original opaque interface.
Like the shooting menu, the playback menu is displayed on an opaque background that has both text and icons to indicate each function. The controls provided in the playback menu are limited but will provide photographers with control over basic image parameters like resize, trimming, copy, and rotate.
The setup menu has the same layout, font, and style as the shooting and playback menu. The setup menu is accessible once the shooting or playback menu is open. The setup menu option is listed on the left side of the LCD screen directly beneath the shooting or playback menu tabs.
Ease of Use*(7.5)*
Though handling the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 is a bit of a challenge, it is otherwise beginner-friendly. The menu systems make sense, the layout is straightforward, the external controls are limited, and transferring images to a laptop or printer occurred without incident. It even has a Simple mode for novice users, represented by a heart on the mode dial. Overall the camera layout and shooting modes will serve beginners well.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 employs a Simple mode rather than an Auto mode, represented by a red cartoon heart. The Simple mode strips down menu options dramatically while still allowing the user to select from the following options: Picture mode, battery type, beep and clock set. Controls available outside the menu structure are: backlight on/off via the up arrow, flash auto/red-eye and forced off via the right arrow, review via the down arrow, and self-timer off or 10 seconds via the left arrow. With such a limited shooting system, the Simple mode is quite obviously geared to the digital-phobic user who wants a camera that requires little intervention on their part.
**Movie Mode ***(4.0)*
The LS70's Movie mode - or Motion Picture mode - is accessed by setting the mode dial to the filmstrip icon. Settings such as white balance, Picture mode, AF mode and optical image stabilization can be adjusted. Image resolution and frame rates for the Pansonic Lumix DMC-LS70 are: 30fpsVGA (640 x 480 at 30 fps), 10fpsVGA (640 x 480 10 fps), 30fpsQVGA (320 x 240 at 30 fps) and 10fpsQVGA (320 x 240 at 10 fps). If switched to 16:9 aspect the camera is capable of recording at 30fps16:9 (848 x 480 at 30 fps) and 10fps16:9 (848 x 480 at 10 fps). The focus, zoom, and aperture settings will all be fixed from the moment that recording is initiated. The major omission from the Movie mode that is bound to disappoint is the lack of audio recording.
**Drive/Burst Mode ***(4.75)*
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70's Burst mode is accessible through the shooting menu. The Burst mode shoots continuously once the shutter button is pressed and held until the memory of the camera is full or the shutter is released. The photographer can record images to the internal or memory card of the camera when shooting with the Burst mode. Users should be aware that the Burst mode will slow in situations where the ISO is over 400. In addition, only one picture can be captured at a time if the flash is turned on, and three images if the self-timer is set. The Burst mode is not available when shooting in Starry Sky or Simple mode.
**Playback Mode ***(6.75)*
The Playback mode can be reached through the Playback mode dial setting or by pressing the down Arrow/Review button. The Playback mode for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 allows the user to review images in the following four layouts: one image, nine image, 25 images, and calendar displays. Thumbnail images are scanned using the four-way navigational control, and highlighted images are displayed individually by pressing the Menu/Set button. In addition, the user can engage up to 16x playback zoom. This is done by rotating the zoom ring to the right (telephoto) in order to enlarge the image up to 16x. Once the image has been enlarged, the user can navigate the image through the four-way control.
In-camera editing options for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 are: resize, trimming, copy, and rotate. Users can also select images for printing, protection, date stamp, rotate display, and favorite status. However, users should be aware that in-camera editing isn’t the quickest process. The delay between editing and recording the new image to memory may be more tedious than just exporting images from the camera to a personal computer and using the editing features found in the included software package.
The user can view images in a slide show display that can play all or selected favorite images in the following durations: one second, two seconds, three seconds, four seconds, five seconds, or manual.
Custom Image Presets*(8.25)*
The custom image presets for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 are accessible through the scene setting on the camera’s mode dial. The Scene modes for the LS70 are copious, and users will find the options represented in a "cute" animated icon picture format that can be scanned using all directions on the camera’s four-way control. The scene settings for this camera are: Portrait, Soft Skin, Scenery, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Food, Party, Candle Light, Sunset, Baby 1, Baby 2, Pet, High Sensitivity, Beach, Starry Sky, Fireworks, Snow, and Aerial. These small thumbnails will display a text label when highlighted. The list of options can be a bit overwhelming when trying to move quickly through the settings, but can be advantageous to the novice still wary of manual controls.
Manual Control Options
Manual controls are not an area where the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 excels. The settings for manual controls are listed in the more expansive shooting menu system and the shortcut function menu that pulls down from the top of the LCD screen. Manual control over exposure compensation is accessed through the up arrow of the four-way control when the camera is not in the menu system. The shortcut menu system is a handy way to speedily correct control settings without having to enter the opaque shooting menu. The Function menu is displayed as a graphic semi-transparent screen overlaying a live view of the composition. While not an expansive list, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 does provide the user with control of exposure compensation, white balance, ISO, and three shutter speeds through the Starry Sky shooting mode.
Auto focus is the only focusing option available. The 3x optical zoom lens focuses normally from 1.64 feet to infinity. In Macro, Simple, Intelligent, ISO, and Motion Picture modes the camera can focus from 0.16 feet to infinity.
The Auto Focus mode is controlled through a sub-menu listing in the shooting menu structure. Auto Focus options are: five-area focusing, one-area focusing high-speed, and one-area focusing. There is a difference in focusing speed between the one-area focusing modes, and it will make a difference when trying to focus quickly on subjects. Adjustments to the AF mode setting can't be made in Simple mode. The Auto Focus really struggled in low light, even with the AF illuminator lamp engaged; the necessary time needed to attain a proper focus is too long for moving subjects.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 does not come with manual focus, which is no great surprise when considering the price range, intended audience, and overall simplicity of this camera. That said, cameras like the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W55 provide a set of preset focal depths that the user can choose from.
Metering is an area where the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 leaves everything fully automatic. The DMC-LS70 engages a Multiple Metering mode that, while adequate in well and evenly lit scenes, will struggle when shooting backlit subjects or other compositions with complicated lighting.
The exposure compensation settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 are accessed by pressing the up arrow on the four-way control. This action will open an onscreen horizontal scale that overlays a live view on the LCD screen. As users make adjustments to the exposure compensation scale by using the left and right arrows of the four-way control, changes to the image settings can be viewed on the LCD. The exposure compensation range for this camera is +/- 2 EV at 1/3 steps, which is typical of most point-and-shoot currently on the market.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70's white balance is controlled through a series of presets or manually. The white balance settings are listed in the shooting menu. The white balance preset options are: Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, and Halogen, and manual. When the white balance sub-menu is opened, the user is provided with a live view on the LCD screen so adjustments can be seen immediately, a helpful feature for novices still unsure of manual controls.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 is able to shoot with both auto and manually-set ISO levels. The ISO settings for the camera are listed in the shooting menu, entered by pressing the Menu/Set button located in the center of the four-way control. These settings can be scrolled through using the up and down arrows of the four-way control after the sub-menu is entered.
The ISO settings span a wide range; ISO 100 to 1250. There is also a High Sensitivity mode that sets the ISO to 3200. When the camera is set to Auto mode, the range is truncated to ISO 100 to ISO 400.
**Shutter Speed ***(0.0)*
Like aperture, metering, and focus, the shutter speed for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 is mainly automatic. The automatic shutter speed range for the camera is 8 seconds to 1/2000th of a second. The most control the user will have over shutter speed comes with the Starry Sky mode that allows the user to shoot at 15, 30, and 60 seconds. The Motion Picture mode adds a unique shutter speed range of 1/30th of a second to 1//6400th of a second.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 has a maximum aperture of f/2.8 (wide angle), and f/5.0 (telephoto). The widest aperture will come in handy in low light. The aperture can't be manually adjusted by the user.
Picture Quality/Size Options*(7.0)*
The picture and quality settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 are listed in the shooting menu system and the shortcut function menu option. The 7.1-megapixel DMC-LS70 allows users to move through picture size options easily using the up and down arrows of the four-way control. The picture size settings will, however, depend on what aspect ratio is chosen by the user, a setting also found in the shooting menu system. The Lumix LS70's aspect ratio options are 4:3, 3:2, and 16:9. When shooting with an aspect ratio of 4:3 the picture size options for the LS70 are as follows; 7M (3072 x 2304), 6M (2816 x 2112), 5M (2560 x 1920), 3M (2048 x 1536), 2M (1600 x 1200), 1M (1280 x 960), and 0.3M (640 x 480). When the aspect ratio is set to 3:2 the image sizes will change to 6M (3072 x 2048), 5M (2816 x 1880), and 2.5M (2048 x 1360). And when shooting in 16:9 the camera’s image size options will be 5.5M (3072 x 1728), and 2M (1920 x 1280).
Of course, none of the 16:9 options are actually providing users with a wider angle than when shooting in 4:3 and 3:2. If you don’t believe this, just compare the identical horizontal pixel count found with the maximum image size of each aspect ratio. You’ll note that every one of the aspect ratios have a maximum horizontal pixel count of 3072. The 16:9 aspect ratio is in fact nothing more than a letter-boxed wide-screen simulation that crops the top and bottom of the image and reduces the total pixel count of the final image.
The picture quality settings are listed directly beneath the picture size options in a separate sub-menu that allows the user to switch between fine and standard settings. The fine setting for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 applies a low level of compression to the image, while the standard setting employs higher compression levels.
Picture Effects Mode*(6.75)*
The picture effects settings for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 are listed within the color mode sub-menu of the camera's shooting menu. The options are available when the camera is shooting in Normal, Intelligent, and Macro shooting modes and will enable the user to capture images with the following digital effects: Natural, Vivid, Black & White, and Sepia. While it isn't the overly expansive list of options like those found in more expensive models, the options will certainly be adequate for the novice user looking to customize their photographs prior to export or printing.
Connectivity / Extras
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 ships with two software programs: ArcSoft PhotoImpression 5 and PhotoBase 2.5. These two programs installed easily enough and ran without issue. The ArcSoft PhotoImpression software is a rudimentary program that is graphically dated - we felt it should have premiered around 1998.
When the ArcSoft PhotoImpression 5 program opens the user can import photos using the Get Photo tab in the upper left corner of the program window. The pop-up window that opens enables the user to import photos from folder, camera/scanner, video, removable media, or ArcSoft album. Additionally, the user is able to import recent photos via a scroll bar displayed along the bottom of the pop-up window. Other options along the top of the PhotoImpression 5 window are Enhance, Create, Project, Print, and Send. The user can choose to navigate images on the left side of the screen by folder, camera/scanner, or ArcSoft album.
In the main display window the user can view images in the following display options; single photo, large thumbnails, small thumbnails, photos with details and full screen view, and slide show view. Users can rotate images clockwise or counter-clockwise in the single photo display.
Once an image is selected the user can alter it using the Enhance option. This parameter allows the user to select, crop, fix, and resize photos. The Fix sub-menu enables the user to access blur/sharpness, color adjustment, red-eye removal, and enhance (which lightens or darkens the image). When adjustments are made, the user can view changes on a preview screen. To confirm the alteration, the user must press the apply button located in the bottom right corner of the window.
Further image editing can be done in the Create window. The options listed here provide an abbreviated list of controls similar to, but certainly not as in-depth or expansive, as those found in more advanced programs such as Adobe Photoshop. The user can adjust images with paint, frames, effects, clip art, and text features listed on the right side of the screen. All options are tacky and rife with annoying imagery like "cute" devils, a sun with sunglasses and a grin, and a rocket, amongst other tacky drawings which first became popular around the time Van Halen released "Jump."
The Project option allows the user to build photo books or calendars. In the photo book option, users select and import options into a simulated scrapbook with general themes such as Beach, Halloween, and Hearts. Panasonic would be wise to update their interface, settings, and controls to remain competitive.
PhotoImpression 5 lagged a bit throughout use, and users intending to regularly post-process images should consider a different editing and compiling program, both for the slow response time and lack of real and immediate control over image properties. But if you're merely looking for a software package that provides basic editing and printing, PhotoImpression 5 should be adequate.
All-in-all, the LS70's software package offers a host of editing and sorting alternatives, but the interface and efficiency of the software is lagging.
Jacks, ports, plugs (4.5)
The jacks and ports on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 are located on the sides and bottom of the camera body. The DC IN and video out ports are found underneath a gray port cover on the left side of the camera. The cover opens via a tab located along its back edge and rotates neatly out of the way while remaining tethered to the front-upper corner of the port’s cover. The cover won’t block the ports or hinder the user while connecting or disconnecting cables.
On the right side of the LS70, a second cover slides towards the back of the camera before swinging out on a hinge to reveal the SD/MMC memory card slot. This cover is labeled and easy to locate and use since it isn’t placed on the bottom of the camera. This means the user can swap out memory cards without having to remove the camera from a tripod, a perennial problem when the memory card slot is found on the bottom of the camera body.
The battery slots for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 are on the bottom of the camera body. This cover is poorly designed, and users will find it’s far too easy for this cover to slip open when jostled or pressed lightly.
Whenever opened, the batteries immediately slip out of the camera body. While this isn’t a huge hassle when opened on purpose, there was more than one instance when the cover opened by accident and the two AA batteries spilled out onto the ground.
*Direct Print Options (6.0)
*The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 is capable of direct printing with PictBridge- compatible printers. The camera connects to the printer via the digital port located on the left side of the camera body. When direct printing using the DMC-LS70, the user can simply scan captured photographs using the left and right arrow of the four-way control, then press the Menu/Set button when the appropriate images are displayed. If multiple prints of a single image or more control over the printing process is wanted, the user can print using the single select menu structure, with options to print with date and alter the number of prints, paper size, and paper layout. For a more expedited process, the user can choose the multi select display to print multi select, select all, DPOF picture, or favorites.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 is sold with two AA oxyride batteries and can be powered on oxyride, alkaline, and Ni-MH rechargeable batteries once the included batteries are drained of power. The life of AA batteries is drastically lower than lithium ion batteries, and thus requires the user to carry additional batteries when shooting for long periods of time. Manufacturers often choose to use AA batteries rather than lithium ion in an attempt to reduce manufacturing costs to keep retail prices lower. If concerned about having to constantly buy new batteries to keep the LS70 running, invest in a pack of rechargeable batteries and a charging station.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 comes with 27 MB of internal memory. An SD/MMC/SDHC memory card slot on the right side of the camera body can be used for additional memory storage. Purchasing a memory card is recommended, especially for photographers shooting many photos, capturing at higher resolutions, or recording video files.
Mega O.I.S. – The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 's optical image stabilization system is definitely a feature that distinguishes this digital camera from the competition at this price level. Users can choose to turn the stabilization system on and off through the shooting menu system in the stabilizer sub-menu. Once the sub-menu is entered, the user can switch between Mode 1, Mode 2, and Off. Mode 1 engages the stabilization system continuously, even during photo composition, while Mode 2 only compensates for camera shake and jitter when the shutter button is pressed. Mode 2 is recommended for situations where camera shake is more apparent, since it has a greater stabilizing effect.
Intelligent ISO Mode – The Intelligent ISO shooting mode is listed on the mode dial located on the top of the camera body. This mode alters both the ISO level and the shutter speed based on readings taken from the center of the composition, based on movements and brightness of the subject.
Histogram Display – Users looking for more precise exposure information will be excited to find the inclusion of a live histogram display on the right edge of the LCD screen during capture. Histograms provide tonal information on the image file and indicates precisely when an image is exposed properly, regardless of the accuracy of the LCD screen.
Easy Zoom – This feature is initiated through a button on the top right side of the camera. Easy Zoom is designed to help users quickly zoom from 1x to 3x, from 3x through the digital zoom range, then back to 1x again. But why it’s necessary to have this additional control to move through the zoom range is unclear. While the zoom ring that surrounds the shutter button isn’t lightening fast, it would seem unlikely the user would save any time. As it is, the Easy Zoom button just clutters the exterior of the camera with an extraneous control that will likely go unused.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 had an initial price of $149, but since its release in February can be found online for around $125. The DMC-LS70 comes with a 7.2 MP CCD, a 2-inch LCD screen, 27 MB of internal memory, SD/MMC memory card slot, 3x optical zoom lens, and an interface and shooting modes that will definitely appeal to the novices. However, the distinguishing feature that makes the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 stand out from the flooded low-end point-and-shoot digital camera market is the inclusion of its MEGA optical image stabilization system.
**Canon PowerShot A550 – The Canon PowerShot A550 was released earlier this year and will provide stiff competition for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70. The A550 has a 7.1 MP CCD, 2-inch LCD screen, real-image optical viewfinder, a 4x optical zoom lens, a number of manual controls, and a 16MB memory card all originally for $199 and now available for slightly more than the DMC-LS70 online. This camera also has the ability to record audio and video at full resolution and can capture video files at a fast 60 fps frame rate, which outshines the Lumix DMC-LS70. The A550 has an abbreviated list of custom image presets in comparison to the plethora of options with the DMC-LS70, which is bound to be a setback for the novice user looking for shooting modes to bridge the gap between full auto and manual controls. Also, if users are concerned about the handling issues discussed in this review, the Canon PowerShot A550 might be a great alternative due to the pronounced right hand grip that will aid in one- and two-handed shooting.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S700 – This Cyber-shot sells for the same price as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 and is equipped with a 7.2 MP CCD, a Carl Zeiss 3x optical zoom lens, 24 MB of internal flash memory, high ISO of 1000, a 2.4-inch LCD screen, and a Movie mode with audio recording. The Movie mode is underwhelming when compared to the DMC-LS70 and shoots at 30 fps at a maximum resolution of 320 x 240. The S700 comes with manual controls comparable to those found with the DMC-LS70. For consumers unimpressed by the styling and design of lower-priced point-and-shoot cameras, the Cyber-shot DSC-S700 should be a welcome relief with its all-metal brushed silver body. One drawback that always comes up with Sony electronics is their reliance upon proprietary media, and in this case users will have to purchase Memory Stick DUO PRO media cards to maximize the camera's performance.
Nikon Coolpix L3 – The Coolpix L3 is a small point-and-shoot digital camera that is part of Nikon’s "Life" series, and can be found for around $149.95. The camera was released last year, which means it can be found online for much less. This camera has the lowest pixel count at 5.1 MP but has some features that may appeal to the point-and-shoot consumer on a budget. The Coolpix L3 has 15 preset shooting modes, video recording at 640x480 at 30 fps maximum, a face-priority auto focus mode, and an in-camera D-Lighting setting for lightening underexposed images. Other features include a 3x optical zoom lens, 2-inch LCD screen with 86,000 pixels, 32 MB of internal memory, and SD/MMC memory cards for additional memory storage. Of the cameras compared here, the L3 is likely to win the award for most boring design, with its dull external body and mundane, matte silver color.
Who It’s For
Point-and-Shooters – Point-and-shoot users will definitely be interested in this reasonably-priced $149 digital camera by Panasonic with its simple external layout, logical menu system and features such as a 2-inch LCD, optical image stabilization system, and 27 MB of internal memory.
Budget Consumers – For the budget consumer, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 is attractive with its initial price of $149.99. The camera comes with features not normally found at this price, including an optical image stabilization system.
Gadget Freaks – The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 lacks the innovative features that would make this budget-priced point-and-shoot camera appealing to the gadget freak market.
Manual Control Freaks – While the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 has manual controls over settings like exposure compensation, ISO, and white balance, it unfortunately lacks access to focus, metering, aperture, and shutter speed, making it a less attractive option for the manual control freak.
Pros/Serious Hobbyists – There is no reason for the pro or serious hobbyist to consider the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70.
**With a budget-friendly $149 price tag, clean layout, and inclusion of custom image shooting modes and a Movie mode, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS70 appeals to the consumer who wants picture-taking made easy. Panasonic falls short of the mark for the manual control enthusiast; the LS70 only offers control over white balance, exposure compensation, and ISO. Other drawbacks include a lack of audio recording in Movie mode and a sluggish relationship between the lens and the zoom ring. But even with these shortcomings, features such as optical image stabilization are definitely not a common feature found on cameras in this price range, and their inclusion at this price gives the DMC-LS70 an advantage over competing manufacturers.
***Click the thumbnails to view the high-resolution images. *
Specs / Ratings