Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7

The GPS-enabled Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 is a great camera to bring with you on the road. No it won’t lead you to safety if you’re lost in the Himalayas — it might not even get you home from a trip the mall — but it will geotag your shots so you can digitally place them on a map in programs such as Apple’s iPhoto 09 or Aperture 3.

Not only does the Panasonic ZS7’s GPS embed latitude and longitude coordinates into your photos, it will display the image’s city, state and country details right on the 3-inch LCD along with nearby points of interest from a library of more than 500,000 landmarks. We took this pocket-friendly camera on a five-borough photo tour of New York City and were jazzed by what it found, including an art gallery we weren’t even aware of in one of our neighborhood shots in upper Manhattan. Red Stripe–sipping, moped-touting hipsters aren’t this “in-the-know.”

But the 12.1-MP ZS7 sometimes felt a step behind what we were shooting, carrying over info and coordinates from a previous photo op. For instance, even though we were practically standing on top of the massive George Washington Bridge, the camera insisted we were still at the art gallery which was a mile behind us. Later, when we took some night shots of the East River from Queens, the ZS7 said we were at a park in the middle of Brooklyn we had passed half an hour before. D’oh!

Despite its occasionally absent-minded site-seeing skills, the ZS7 had the best image quality of all the GPS cameras we tested. Photos we shot in Staten Island of Fort Wadsworth at sunset were beautiful, with sharp detail and bold but natural-looking color. It was also the fastest to use overall, with blazing autofocus speed and no shutter lag.

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