HD Video Record Time Limit: Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 vs DMC-TZ7 (AVCHD Lite)

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 is a compact digital camera that is also known as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7 in Europe. These two models, the ZS3 and the TZ7, both can record HD video in the AVCHD Lite video format and the Motion JPEG video format. The ZS3 and TZ7 are identical except when it comes to their HD video recording time limits. The main difference is that the Panasonic ZS3 can record continuous video of unlimited length for HD video (no time limit, maximum video length depends on memory card), while the TZ7 has time limits on the length of continuous HD video it can record.

To find out if the Lumix ZS3 or TZ7 that you are considering has a HD video recording time limit, the only factor to consider is the model number. No, the ZS3 does not have any time limits for recording HD video. Yes, the European model TZ7 does have time limits for recording HD video.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 – No Video Time Limit

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 is capable of recording 720p HD video (1280×720) in the AVCHD Lite video format.

There is no video time limit, or maximum video length, for the video while recording in the AVCHD Lite video format. The video length is only limited by the size of the SD memory card.

On the ZS3, the Motion JPEG video format has a 2 GB size limit, but no specific time limit or maximum length. The video length will only depending on the SD memory card capacity and the ZS3 video quality setting (HD, WVGA, QVGA, VGA) that is used.

From the DMC-ZS3 manual (p. 61):

A maximum of approx. 2 GB of continuous motion pictures can be recorded in MOTION JPEG format. (Even if there is more that 2 GB of available space on the card, the available recording time will be calculated for a maximum of 2 GB.) To record more than 2 GB, press the motion picture button again. In AVCHD Lite format, recording may be continued until the card is full.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7 – Video Has Time Limit

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 is known as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7 in Europe. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7 has the same HD video capabilities of the ZS3 when it comes to video quality, but the video lengths of HD video are restricted by certain time limits.

The TZ7 model has a 15 minute video time limit for AVCHD Lite HD Video:

Individual video clip is limited to 15 minutes.

This time limit is also referred to in the original press release for the ZS3/TZ7:

*Motion pictures can be recorded continuously for up to 15 minutes in some countries.

There is also a time limit for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7, when recording in the Motion JPEG video format:

For Europe, motion pictures can be recorded continuously for up to 29 minutes 59 seconds. The maximum continuous recording time (up to 29 minutes 59 seconds) is displayed on the screen.

Approximate Lengths of Panasonic Lumix ZS3 Videos

For the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3, the approximate maximum video lengths are shown at the official ZS3 product page for different size memory cards and different video quality settings:

AVCHD Lite Video Motion JPEG Video
L (9 Mbps) H (13 Mbps) SH ( 17 Mbps)
2 GB 29 min 20 min 15 min 8 min 20 sec
4 GB 1 h 40 min 30 min 16 min 20 sec
8 GB 1 h 54 min 1 h 20 min 1 h 33 min 30 sec
16 GB 4 h 2 h 40 min 2 h 1 h 7 min
32 GB 8 h 5 h 20 min 4 h 2 h 15 min

Related Information

» Sample AVCHD Lite HD Videos: Is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 A Camcorder Replacement?

» Reduce Noise in Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3/DMC-TZ7 Photos For Free


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  2. sb

    Regarding the “language lock”, I just bought a Japanese model, and I can confirm that there is NO language selection menu entry: Japanese only if you buy in Japan. Off to google to look for a language unlock trick…

  3. Dave

    Hi there

    I have a friend who sellin a zs3 bought from japan. He said the camera is in Japanese but can’t be changed to English. Is that true? It doesn’t make sense for a camera to have no language option

  4. Daniel Liuzzi

    Apparently, the recording time limit in the European model is to avoid the 4.9% EU tax on devices classified as camcorders, and affects other models as well:

    “Any digital camera that records 30 minutes or more of video is classified by the EU as a camcorder and is therefore subject to 4.9% import duty”




  5. Jim

    I have purchased a camera from eBay from Hong Kong and its DMC-ZS3, I live in Australia where TV is PAL … From my many reading on many forums I understand that the difference is when you output AVCHD via an HDMI cable it is not compatable wih the PAL system which uses 25/50 fps (NTSC 30/60)… On the box it states “NTSC OUTPUT ONLY … However outputing video via the AV cable supplied in the box works OK on a PAL TV for both MJPEG and AVCHD but I beleive the AV output is analog, tell me if I am wrong or confirm please …

  6. Paul Thomsen

    Hi, I have just got a dmc-zs3 but expected it to be a tz7 with pal. (I live in Spain). On the box it states that output is NTSC only.
    PAL has a better quality than NTSC so what happens when it is changed in the menu will the quality be better like 576 pal instead of 480 ntsc or ?

    1. Changing the “Video Out” in the menu, only affects the output (NTSC/PAL) for video playback direct to a TV from the camera. The video file is not changed. As far as I know, the video file record settings (NTSC/PAL) can not be changed in the ZS3 camera menu.


      But for some more info, PAL should have a video frame rate of 25 fps, and NTSC has 30 fps. AVCHD Lite format videos can appear doubled in some software, so that PAL videos can be 50 fps and NTSC videos can be 60 fps.

      You could check your video file properties using a program like MediaInfo ( http://mediainfo.sourceforge.net/en ). From my ZS3 files, based on the file frame rate, AVCHD Lite format files are 25/50 fps and Motion JPEG format files are 30/60 fps. I’m not sure but, based on frame rate, maybe for my ZS3 the AVCHD Lite is PAL and Motion JPEG is NTSC.

      But in any case, since TZ7/ZS3 is basically the same camera, I’d guess any noticeable quality differences between NTSC and PAL would be minor, if there are any. Just my opinion, but main things are if you can view the video properly on your TV/computer and that the ZS3 has no time restriction on AVCHD Lite video.

      1. Dino

        I too ordered a Lumix TZ7 for use in the UK but had a US Lumix ZS3 delivered. AS Paul says the settings can’t be changed from the US normal NTSC to Europe normal Pal. Will that mean the quality of image when showing HD videos on TV will be poorer on a UK Pal TV ?
        Any help would be much appreciated.

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