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First thing that hits you is just how small the camera really's tiny I mean really small
Just over 9 cm long, 5.5 cm tall with a sllm body under 2cm (approx sizes)

The camera is quite nice looking with the two tone effect quite stylish really and smart.
In terms of specficitaion it's par for the course with budget models pretty straight forward and bare bones.
My quick fire list of good and bad

+ Super compact size, and very light you want a really small compact you've found it
+ Useful 24 - 120mm (full frame equivalent range) nice to have a good wide 24mm setting
+ Simple easy to use point and shoot operation (no manual modes here) though you do have exposure bracketing and exposure compensation
+ Takes full HD video 1920 x 1080 pixels 25p (mono sound) quality was "ok" for a compact in this price range
+ Autofocus and metering were quite good acceptable speeds, good hit ratio (use the AF assist in low light though) Metering was quite predictable and consistent didn't need much adjustment bar very contrasty scenes
+ 5cm macro is "ok" for a camera in this range, not bad for close up work (some are 10cm quite a difference)
+ 2.7" 230K LCD is fairly good in most lighting, it's not a high res panel but this is what you get at this price range
+ Biggest get 200MB of onboard memory which is great (certainly enough to get you out of a tight spot if you forget or fill up the card) it's a bit odd Panasonic can include this on a budget model and not on their higher end models (TZ range)

- Fairly ho hum image quality, the lens is quite weak at the widest setting (lots of smearing in the edges and corners), not as bad telephoto end some edge softness. Central area is quite sharp. Not the best lens on this camera being honest
- Jpeg processing is quite crude, aggressive noise reduction makes high ISO images painterly in effect
- Lens is slow, starts off at F2.8 (just at the widest setting that's ok) and drops to a snail like F6.9 top end. This isn't going to be your "go to camera" in low light
- Flash Images prone to "red eye" and the in camera removal wasn't always effective
- Battery life around 190-200 shots (in real world use), you don't get much power in super slim compacts, worth picking up a spare

I quite liked the camera, it's neat and very small easy to carry around and ideal if size is an issue (you can take this anywhere)
For budget models I don't expect great image quality, the biggest problem on the XS3 is the distinctly mediocre lens Panasonic has used it's just not that sharp esp at the wider settings (bar the middle part) There is room for improvement on the image processing side too, so stay away from the higher ISO settings if possible

I don't want to be too hard on the camera, it does an ok job for a simple compact. And I have to say it's nice to see some decent built in memory too. The price is quite appealing it's fairly competitive with rival models in this segment.

I'd forget about shooting at full resolution and set the camera to 5mp and you will be much better served. You'll get nowhere near the 14mp advertised in terms of real detail. Being honest the images are no better than my older 4mp Canon from years ago (larger and softer but resized to 4mp they are simlar) and not as good as my 2010 F70exr (which was a more expensive camera granted) but things have not moved on in the compact sector

Lots of potential, but ends up falling down a bit on the image side of things. If you're not pixel peeping or mostly doing social media snaps or small prints, it's worth considering.
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on 1 July 2014
My first thought, on taking the XS3 out of its remarkably small box, was that it looked like a small plastic toy. It almost doesn't look real, more like a Chinese Christmas-cracker present with a fake Lumix logo on it. And does it really need that big plastic ring around the lens that cheapens the look and feel of the camera? But I have checked it carefully all round, and tried it out, and it does seem to be a real camera that actually works.

This is a tiny, very light, truly shirt-pocket camera that costs little more than £60. It is not going to be hand-crafted from aluminium ingots, or perform like a DSLR, or anything else to write home about. But for the size and price it is remarkably good. It powers up very quickly, it finds focus quickly - ideal for those 'grab' shots - and even has AF Assist for low light. I find the menus a little confusing as there are 'menu' and 'quick menu' and they do different things at different times. It's easy to confuse 'Play' and 'Display', the latter being given a rather too valuable space on the main dial, and you can arrive in roughly the same place from different directions - but that's probably me having to adapt from a Leica C-Lux 2. And whilst the Leica was infinitely better built, the tiny XS3 actually works faster and no less well. You can set the shooting display to give a live histogram, and combined with direct access to exposure compensation (+/-EV) this makes it fairy easy to allow for difficult subjects.

It's the first time I've had a 'panorama' function and with a little care this works well, like a cine camera with instant stitching. It works well in all four directions, but if you move too quickly the result will be blurred, and if you move too slowly the camera times out before you've gone as far as you want. Exposure is fixed as you move, so if your scene varies significantly in brightness, it's best to start at the bright end to avoid overexposure, and recover the shadows later in Photoshop or similar. Avoid subjects too close to the camera as they won't stitch properly - but that's a limitation of physics not the camera.

Looking at the photos on a proper monitor we can see that the camera struggles with exposure sometimes, and dynamic range is an issue - though the camera has an 'Auto Retouch' feature that, whilst it doesn't recover highlights, does a decent job with shadows. It would be nice if this could be enabled at the time of shooting, like Nikon's D-Lighting (ie slight HDR). Colour outdoors on a sunny day is a little on the blue side, but for anything decent I'd put it through Photoshop anyway, and exposure issues can be sorted out properly then. Midtones lighten well with noise not being noticeable in real-life viewing.

Ergonomically I think the buttons on the back could have been a little bigger, and I prefer to have the wide/tele control on the top plate rather than the back - but that may be a limitation of a camera body that's only 18mm thick. The battery door underneath has a tiny hinge that looks as if it could easily be broken. But as I said before, this is a cheap camera. Small niggles aside, it punches its weight very well. Having tested this camera fairly thoroughly over two weeks, I'm upgrading this from 4 to 5 stars.
33 comments|6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 10 September 2014
Its been a week that I am using this camera. I already own a DSLR and hence wanted a point and click camera which is very slim so that I can carry it in my pocket everywhere I go. Of course not to forget descent images. Also to mention that I am not a fan of smart phone cameras though in recent times they have improved a lot and offers various image processing schemes on the spot. Hence I needed something to go with my iPhone. Then came across this product and bought it. Delivery was very prompt as I had opted for the express delivery. To say about the camera it takes descent images. Daylight images are very good. Even at night it took some very nice portrait and landscape images meaning the exposure(ISO, Aperture, shutter speed) of the camera for night times are good. Overall I am very happy with the product mainly because of the size and it does what it says.
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on 12 February 2014
this camera is beautiful, tiny but easy to hold and operate, has intuitive menus and controls, is very fast and has stunning video and clear audio recording. so what's missing? a picture that isn't full of noise. maybe some won't notice or can overlook this. maybe i got a bad camera and was unlucky but other reviews have pointed out the sensor is yet again with lumix not good enough for the high 14mp resolution and so produces noise even at 100 iso. what's the point in having such superb electronics in a stunning package if it can't take a clear noise-free picture? please panasonic will you stop climbing for the highest mp rating and concentrate on fitting a great sensor again, like you used to do. if you can overlook the noise or get a better camera than i received then this is a great buy. otherwise like me i'll stick with my old lumix and wait cash in hand for them to get it right next year, sigh.
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on 17 September 2014
This is a brilliant product. I was going to buy a cheap video camera but a review on Amazon put me off and recommended the Panasonic. Really good advice. It is a really good camera and has an excellent video function too.
It has really useful special effects including sepia and black and white for stills AND movies.
As a very keen photographer I can't praise this highly enough. I hardly ever use my digital SLR anymore! This does it all.
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on 11 April 2014
Bought this camera back in January and paid the full £100 for it but in my view, it's worth it. I also have a Panasonic FZ8, which I've had for some time now and been very pleased with but I wanted something smaller to keep in my pocket when I'm out walking and climbing. As others have commented, it certainly is pocket sized and looks pretty stylish too.

Most of the photos I have taken have been landscapes and generally in bright conditions and I reckon the quality of the pictures is superb, certainly good enough when viewed on my iPad. The panorama facility is quite good too. Also taken a few portraits and have been pleased with they have been fine.

One reviewer commented about using this for serious photography and I guess if you are after 'serious photos', you probably wouldn't use a camera like this. But if you are after a little compact that takes a pretty decent photo, I reckon this camera fits the bill (especially as the bill is not £100 anymore!).
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on 17 September 2014
For" fussy" photography I have my LX5. For "fun" photography I now have a DMC-XS3. It feels good, looks good, takes good photos and is flat," dinky " and a pretty hard" punching" featherweight..........even the stabiliser works fine. I RATHER LIKE THIS LITTLE BEAUTY.........*****!
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on 14 November 2014
I'm really pleased with this great little camera. It was a replacement for a canon IXUS 100 that has stopped working after 5 years use. It is really compact and lightweight, it fits into any pocket and looks quite retro too. As with all panasonic cameras, it is well made and should last a long time. The picture quality is good for the price and suits my needs - I use a larger high zoom camera for a lot of my photography but keep this on me for quick snaps. It has lots of scene modes and options as well as the standard auto mode. My favourite feature is the wide angle lens so that you can fit more into your picture.
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on 8 January 2014
Ideal size to fit in pocket and the resultion is good for a compact camera. The controls are very easy to master without requiring a manual. Very simple and easy to use. Would recommend this for anyone wanting a decent compact camera easily carried in ones pocket.
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on 28 February 2015
Fantastic camera!! I consider myself technically challenged but I can use this! High resolution results and enough manual abilities for
those who want a bit of a challenge. I use it on AUTO needless to say and this dear little camera sorts everything out. Love it.
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