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 Features Overview
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.
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.
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 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.
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