In most regards the Panasonic SZ7 is pretty much my ideal camera - a very compact size, huge 10x 25-250mm equivalent zoom lens, 14mp CMOS sensor (also available as the SZ1 with a cheaper CCD sensor) and great image quality and high ISO capability for the sensor size. While it lacks the manual controls of many higher end cameras, you have control over the usual range of compact camera options, and Panasonics excellent iAuto mode for point and shoot style photography.
Almost my ideal camera, were it not for the very poor viewing angle of the 3" LCD screen - I found that when shooting with the camera held at head height the screen was great - bright, colourful, and with great clarity and sharpness - but as soon as you move the camera away from eye height the screen quickly washes out and proves useless for gauging exposure and makes framing and shooting much more of a chore. The menu does contain a setting for shooting with the camera held in the air (for shooting over the heads of a crowd for example) which does help alleviate the problem, but only for shooting held high, and requiring you to delve into the menu to turn it on and off as needed. Shooting lower level - such as shooting at the eye height of a child, or for a unique low level perspective - was a hassle. In comparison the screens of my Panasonic GF2 or my Canon IXUS 220 HS were perfectly viewable in full colour at near enough any angle until you are at such an angle that viewing the screen full stop becomes a problem.
Nearly my perfect camera, and for many people it will be perfectly usable and a great combination of size and features, but the issues with the screen were enough for me personally to return my sample.
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