Panasonic C-3000ZM

Panasonic C-3000ZM (Zoom 28) Review – A No Thrill Camera with Brilliant Optics – By Thang Nguyen

At first glance, the Panasonic C-3000ZM (also Zoom 28)  might not spark any interest. It’s black, chunky and plasticky just like other typical zoom cameras from the 90’s. However, it’s one of the pioneer compacts that packs a wide 28mm that extends to a good 80mm. The lens has quite a big aperture of f3.2 at its widest focal length, considering it’s a zoom compact. That’s faster than many prime lens points and shoots that often have an aperture of f/3.5.

Because this camera boasts the Panasonic brand it’s not very popular and not that many circulate around in the used market today. Apparently there was a Vivitar rebranded called the Vivitar 680pz but it’s so rare that I couldn’t find a real life image of it. So I’m under assumption that this camera was never released under the Vivitar brand at all.

Panasonic C-3000ZM front
Panasonic C-3000ZM’s front view with lens cap on.

Panasonic C-3000ZM Features Overview

Panasonic C-3000ZM top
Panasonic C-3000ZM’s top view.

While the Panasonic C-3000ZM doesn’t have any feature to write home about, it does have few quirks that makes it unique. For instance once it detects that there is not enough light for a good exposure and you are using the flash override mode, it will automatically switch to bulb. In bulb mode, the shutter will open as long as you hold the shutter button.

Additionally, this camera also has a cable release port that you can use in conjunction with the bulb mode to reduce motion blur. I figure for anyone who likes doing long exposure at night, this feature coupled with the lens on this camera will make a perfect combo for interesting results.

Panasonic C-3000ZM shutter release
Panasonic C-3000ZM’s release cable port, the cover cap that cover the port when not in use is not shown.

Ergonomics and Design

The Panasonic C-3000ZM doesn’t have a lens cover but uses a lens cap that automatically pops out as the camera is turned on. The lens cap is quite sturdy and it won’t fall off once it’s put on. As far as features go, the Panasonic C-3000ZM is loaded with the necessities for most people’s basic needs. It has infinity focus lock, red eye reduction, fill flash, flash off, self timer, step zoom and a continuous shooting mode that only works in auto mode. The settings will be reset to auto after each shot but the mode button can be held for 3 seconds to stay on the mode for multiple shots until the camera is turned off.

Panasonic C-3000ZM lens
Panasonic C-3000ZM’s lens housing with markings that helps with focal length identification.

I quite like the design of the Panasonic C-3000ZM, the balance between its boxy shape and gentle curves along with the elongated body make it a rather attractive camera. The camera is very nice to hold due to its shape and the big grip in the front. The built quality is solid, every button is responsive and easy to engage.

The viewfinder is rather small and not very clear beside the 28mm and 80mm focal length. One of my pet peeves about this camera is its power switch, it’s easy to accidentally switch to step zoom when you turn on the camera. Noisy is another thing I do not like about this camera, it’s EXTREMELY loud, it sounds very much like a drill and it’s just about as loud as a drill.

The back of the Panasonic C-3000ZM, the N button is used in step zoom mode, which set the lens at a Neutral focal length of 50mm.

The Panasonic C-3000ZM Optics

The lens is the main selling point of the Panasonic C-3000ZM, so much that it makes the camera’s other flaws forgivable. Not only the lens starts at a wide 28mm, it also has a rather generous aperture of f3.2. I just love how it renders the scene, sharp and yet dreamy, the very subtle blur and softness that guides your eyes toward the center of the image which draws more attention to the subject. The lens’s characteristics result in images that pop.

I like the color rendition of this lens as well as the subtle glow from lens flare similarly to the lens on the C600AF (Vivitar Tec 45). The lens is sharp across its zoom range, the vignette is rather minimal even at its widest focal length. The lens exhibit more contrast compared to the C-600 AF and Vivitar Tec 45. Here’s some sample photographs taken by the Panasonic C-3000ZM to give you an idea of the lens’s performance.

The nature elements and the branches create depth and nicely frame the rock in the center . Shot on Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400.
The vignette is well controlled in this wide shot with strong back lighting. Kodak Ultramax 400.
Widest focal length, Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400.
The bloom from the lens flare really adds to the mystic atmosphere. Kodak Ultramax 400.
Middle of the zoom range, good contrast and sharpness. Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400.
Widest focal length, Kodak Ultramax 400.

Zoomed in shot, Kodak Ultramax 400 renders the yellow very nicely.

Subtle blooming at widest focal length, Kodak Ultramax 400.
The subtle glow from backlight. Kodak Ultramax 400.
Longest focal length, not bad in-term of sharpness. Fujifilm Superia X-tra 400.
This shot demonstrate how contrast-y the lens can get, Kodak Ultramax 400.

Panasonic C-3000ZM – Final thoughts

Overall, the Panasonic C-3000ZM is worth getting just for the lens alone, it has the best IQ out of all compacts starting at 28mm I have tested so far. If you’re willing to sacrifice some portability for image quality then I’d definitely recommend pick this one up if you find one!

You can find more of my point & shoot reviews on 35mmc here

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20 thoughts on “Panasonic C-3000ZM (Zoom 28) Review – A No Thrill Camera with Brilliant Optics – By Thang Nguyen”

  1. These Panasonics seem fly under the radar even more than the Samsungs..
    Have you tried the Panasonic C900ZM as well? Lens is also supposed to be really good on that one too.

    And when it comes to 28mm zooms, have you tried the Pentax 928 (non-M version)? The lens seems very decent to me, and I really like the handling of the camera. It also has every mode and feature under the sun. Including actually useful ones like a diopter, snap-mode and (proper) exposure compensation. A little bit chunky, but both lighter and smaller than the C-3000ZM I think.

    1. I truly like the design of the the C-900ZM, that’s how I came across this C-3000ZM, though the C900ZM’s design is much better. As much as I love the C-900ZM, I’d avoid it as the grips on all of them are pretty much melted to a sticky mess, and they are expensive for some reasons. I have other semi-compact 28mm zooms that I’m planning to test out as well, including a Pentax. I’ve not tried the 928 yet but I think I found a similar one that’s also starts at 28mm.

      1. Yeah, I have seen the ugly melted grips on pictures. But I thought that’s something I could live with if I manage to find a cheap one.. Time will tell. The C-900ZM is quite a bit smaller and lighter than the C-3000ZM right? I’ve tried a few bigger “compacts” recently and have come to the conclusion that a camera of that size/wight is a bit too much for me. Even in my winter parka with huge pockets it doesn’t’ feel right.

        I have tired a few 28mm zooms lately. A Yachica Zoomtec Mini with a 28-50mm 3.6-6.0. Looks like the T4’s long lost brother. Doesn’t feel nearly as responsive though. I could find very little info on this modell. And also a Konica Lexio 70 that’s actually really nice and responsive, stylish, very compact, and also has a 28mm 3.6 lens. And maybe the best viewfinder I’ve seen in a small-ish camera. So bright and big, and even has distance indicators! But it has a problem with the sliding door that also doubles as the power switch, which unfortunately seems to be a VERY common problem with this model. The pentax seems the best of the bunch. Feels responsive and reliable and well thought out. And has a relatively fast and sharp 28mm 3.5 at the wide end.

        1. The C-3000zm is a little bit thicker than the C-900ZM but they are relatively the same size. If you really want to try the C-900ZM, here’s a little secret that I’ll share: the Canon Sure Shot Zoom (70) is the rebranded version of the C-900ZM, same lens, same manually twisting to zoom it doesn’t have the sticky grip. There’s plenty of the Canon Sure Shot Zoom (70) out there so they are cheap and easier to get a hold of. If you’re looking for a more modern refined version of both then look at the Yashica Zoomtec 70, it’s quite rare but still very affordable. The Yashica Zoomtec Mini is an interesting one it’s rare and I quite like the teardrop lens housing, it’s super rare and it goes for way too high than its worth. I like that the Konica Lexio is made of metal but it looks cheap to me, the zoom rocker is ugly and so are the buttons, but the body is very nice. Generally speaking the bigger the camera the better the IQ is going to be. If you’re looking at 28mm super compact then I’d suggest the Pentax 120SW/ Fujifilm Zoomdate 1000/1300, these are insanely small and have metal shell and good built.

          1. Thanks for the Canon tip! I found all of these 28mm compacts in charity shops. So not really looking specifically for 28mm zooms, but always happy to acquire more if they come my way cheaply.

            I saw a Yashica Zoomtec 90 at a shop a month ago. Looks kinda similar to the 70, no? But didn’t buy it as I was kinda broke and knew nothing about the model.
            And good to know that the Zoomtec Mini demands high prices 🙂 I have yet to develop the roll I shot so I can’t comment on the lens. But I really didn’t like using the camera all that much. Felt kinda slow, and had some problems focusing in some pretty ordinary situations. I think I might sell this one.

  2. @MAT Yeah, the Yashica Zoomtec Mini is just an economy model but people just throw random high prices because there’s little information about it and it’s rare. Though I suppose it should produces decent photos.

    1. As you seem to know a lot of the rebranding history, is the Canon Mega Zoom 105 also a Panasonic? It also reportedly has a very nice lens and the design looks kind of similar to the Panasonic zooms. I have also seen it rebranded as another camera, but what brand escapes me right now.

      1. Hello, I don’t think the Canon Mega Zoom 105 is a rebranded Panasonic but the Yashica Zoom Tec 105 and the Canon Mega Zoom 105 is the same camera I believe.

  3. Interested in buying one of these. Hard to find pics taken with camera online. Yours are the only ones, and one shot on Flickr. Both have purple tinge to the shadows. I wonder if that’s the lens, maybe a basic coating, or just the film and subject. All the pics are of foliage. The other main option for reasonably bright, wide zoom is Espio 928. Maybe that’s better even though it’s slightly slower? Has the famous SMC coatings, fwiw.

  4. Thank you for the review of this little known camera. I have been in the search of a decent wide angle zoom compact (28ish) and until now my only keeper was a canon sure short z90w (now lost). I tried some nikons 28-100 that didn’t impress me. Just after reading your review i saw one in a pawn shop for 5 euros. I am shooting the trial film and until now i like the camera, except for the viewfinder which i find rather blurry. Perhaps you know what is the last mode, the one with a “c”?. Also, how do you select the Infinity focus, just by keeping the button pressed while you fire the shutter?. And finally, the red led up in the viewfinder only lights when the flash is charging?. Thank you again gor the great review.

    1. I don’t have the camera anymore but I believe C is for continuous shooting if you hold down the shutter button. To select infinity press the mode button until the mountain icon shows up, iirc.

      1. Thank you!. The infinity symbol goes in a separate button, just near the red eyes one. Perhaps in my camera It does’t work (no big deal), because no symbol show up. Thanks again

        1. I think I remember now, you have to hold the infinity ♾️ button down while pressing the shutter button to set the focus to Infinity.

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