Panasonic offers this compact camera as an alternative to its diminutive Lumix DMC-FX7, which also specs out at a 5-megapixel resolution. While the Lumix DMC-LZ2B shares many features with its pricier ultracompact sibling, it boasts twice the zoom range, uses two AA batteries instead of a compact lithium-ion cell, sports a coarser, slightly smaller 51mm (2-inch) LCD, and comes clad in plastic rather than metal. For about £30 less, you can opt for Panasonic's 4-megapixel Lumix DMC-LZ1B, which aside from its resolution has virtually identical specs.
The DMC-LZ2B's vibration-damping optical image stabilisation is especially useful at the telephoto end of this compact's 6x zoom, helping to produce sharper photos at slower shutter speeds. High-performance burst shooting and easy operation increase the DMC-LZ2B's appeal for the casual photographer. But its lack of manual controls will disappoint photo enthusiasts and even snapshot takers may wish there were an optical viewfinder in extra bright or dim lighting conditions.
To price this camera at £170 less than the Lumix DMC-FX7, Panasonic bestowed it with a chunkier 102-by-64-by-33mm, 179g body and a 51mm LCD that has just 85,000 pixels (compared with the 64mm (2.5-inch), 114,000-pixel display on the ultracompact). The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ2B's larger size makes one-handed shooting easier, although manipulating both the top-mount shutter release and the concentric zoom lever with a single index finger takes some practice.