As well as offering an Auto ISO function, where the camera selects the appropriate ISO for the lighting conditions, the Panasonic ZS15 also features an Intelligent ISO setting. This also factors in any movement it detects to ensure you get sharp (albeit sometimes noisy) pictures - which is useful for photographing fast-moving kids.
The Power OIS does a sterling job at keeping pictures sharp at telephoto focal lengths. AF Tracking can be quickly activated for moving subjects, too.
Intelligent Auto mode has made a good fist of matching the camera setup to this tricky exposure. Given the drizzly, dank conditions, the colors are very lively without looking artificial. Purple fringing is evident along the edges of the backlit leaves and tree trunk, some of which is obvious when the image is viewed at normal size.
If Intelligent Auto has a weakness, it's that it too readily selects HDR mode when it detects backlighting. Here's a before and after example of the effect it produces. It can help boost a flat scene such as this, but portraits can look overcooked, particularly in low light.
Macro mode gets you to within 3cm of a subject when the lens is at its widest setting. At this distance you need to be aware of where the light is coming from - it's easy for the camera's shadow to cover part of the frame.
The Panasonic ZS15's lens is capable of resolving some very good levels of detail. None of the subtlety in this bloom has been lost, and the AF system has locked onto the right spot. As with the Panasonic TZ30, there are four main AF modes on offer: Spot, 1-Area, 23-Area and Face Detection.
Metering is generally good, although it's underexposed this pale wall a little. A comparatively large live histogram can be overlaid over the image to monitor for problems like this, while exposure compensation can be quickly activated by tapping up on the four-way control pad.
The Auto White Balance proved reliable throughout the test, striking a good balance between the warm backlight here and the approaching blue storm clouds. When shooting HD footage and moving from daylight to tungsten-lit locations, the Panasonic ZS15 quickly adapted to the changing conditions, too.
Panasonic ZS15 at 4.3mm (24mm equivalent)
Panasonic ZS15 at 68.8mm (384mm equivalent)