Panasonic ZS40 Photo Credit Becky Davenport

Panasonic ZS40
Photo Credit Becky Davenport / Missouri TravelingMom

The most important feature on your camera is the zoom. After all, we cannot always be five feet in front of our children to catch that perfect shot, right? The Panasonic ZS40 now offers 30X Optical zoom, giving you those beautiful images from far away.

When I first picked up the Panasonic ZS40, I was skeptical. There is no way I am going to get the crystal clear images that I get with my Canon EOS Rebel T3 with this, I thought – even with the ZS40’s 30X Optical zoom.

I like to be able to sit on my front porch and shoot amazing images from across the field. (Yes, I am that lazy.)


To me, photographs should be works of art with a minimal amount of labor.  I like to point, shoot and have a fabulous image – just like that.  I am not a huge fan of cropping, editing and fixing my images.That is why I feel it is important to have a good camera that offers good zoom quality and other features that make my life easier.

How doesProductReview optical zoom help make fabulous photographs?

Optical zoom uses the internal glass elements of the lens to bring the image closer to the camera and still record the image at full resolution.

If you  have a 7 megapixel camera, an you optically zoom, you will always have 7 megapixels available to record your image. In terms moms like me can understand, if I am standing 150 feet away from my son and zoom my Panasonic ZS40 with 30X optical zoom, he will look like he is about 5 feet away from me. The image will record as clear as I am standing next him. I put this feature to test. Check out these shots of my geese feeding in our front yard:

Zoomed In Picture with Panasonic ZS40 Photo Credit:  Becky Davenport

Zoomed In Picture with Panasonic ZS40
Photo Credit: Becky Davenport

For this photo, I am standing on my front porch about 75 feet away from the geese.  The images are clear and I can see more of the geese than I ever would in person. They’d fly away if I get this close.

Now in comparison to my Canon EOS Rebel T3, it is hard choice to decide which zoom is better.  I find myself leaning toward the Panasonic for more than one reason.

  • I can zoom in closer, because the Optical zoom gives me the ability to shoot more detail.
  • I also compared the size and the flexibility of the two cameras.  When needing to zoom in with my Canon, I have use my big lens which is a EFS 55-250mm lens.  See images below to compare the size of the cameras. Having the smaller camera is nice and convenient.
Panasonic ZS40 fully expanded.   Photo Credit:  Becky Davenport

Panasonic ZS40 fully expanded, fits nicely in my purse.
Photo Credit: Becky Davenport


Canon EOS Rebel T3 Fully Expanded.  Photo Credit:  Becky Davenport

Canon EOS Rebel T3 Fully Expanded, has to be taken apart to fit in my camera bag.
Photo Credit: Becky Davenport


Size and convenience are not always the most important things. Bottom line: I still want good images that I can print in large format if I desire to.

Here are two photos shot from the same spot on my porch. Can you tell the difference between the Canon and the Panasonic image?  

Zoomed in with Panasonic ZS40  Photo credit Becky Davenport

Zoomed in with Panasonic ZS40
Photo credit Becky Davenport


Zoom Image with Panasonic ZS40 Photo Credit Becky Davenport

Zoom Image with Canon EOS Rebel T3
Photo Credit Becky Davenport

If you notice, I could zoom in a lot closer with my Panasonic ZS40. The image is not as crystal clear as  the one from my Canon, but I used a fairly high powered lens with the Canon. Both images are printable in large format – that is, if I wanted to print a large picture of a man on a lawnmower.

Overall, I would say the Panasonic ZS40 is a great camera whether you are a hobby photographer or a semi-professional like me.  The camera not only has awesome zoom, but offers other features such as great video quality, amazing in-camera editing and creative controls, night mode, and much more.