Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ40 review
1/2.3in 18.0-megapixel sensor, 20.0x zoom (24-480mm equivalent), 198g
Image quality is normally our number one priority when we review cameras, but last year's Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 was an exception to the rule. Its image quality was perfectly respectable, with sharp focus from its 20x zoom lens and well-judged automatic exposures, but its sensor produced more image noise than rival cameras from Canon and Fujifilm. However, its superb video mode, lightning-fast performance, responsive, friendly controls and built-in GPS made it the best all-rounder.
These pocket ultra-zoom cameras are all about flexibility and convenience, so while the TZ30 wasn't the best choice if you want to make large print-outs, features like its ability to move the autofocus point using the touchscreen are arguably more important.
The TZ40 picks up where the TZ30 left off. In many respects the two cameras are hard to tell apart, both in terms of their spec sheets and their appearance. They use the same lens and the layout of controls has barely changed, although we preferred the TZ30's power switch to the TZ40's power button, which is a little too easy to press by accident. The 3in screen's resolution now stands at 920,000 dots, and its quality is excellent.
There's one new button on the back to access the Wi-Fi menu, and there are a lot of functions on offer. Transfers to a PC over a home network simply involved entering our Wi-Fi password, Windows log-in and password and selecting a shared folder. Setting up uploads to social media sites was a lot more complex – there are only so many times we can retype a Wi-Fi password via a navigation pad (the touchscreen didn't work here) before our will to live starts to fade. It was easy after this initial setup, though, thanks to a Connection History and Favorites list to track down previously used settings.
The new Wi-Fi button gets pride of place in the top right
The accompanying app for Android and iOS provides a much more convenient route to online sharing. If your Android device supports NFC you can skip the log-in process altogether. The camera we were sent for testing was an early sample and its NFC radio wasn't functioning, but establishing a Wi-Fi connection manually wasn't any trouble.
You can browse photos and (MPEG-4 but not AVCHD) videos in the app, transfer them across and forward them elsewhere. Alternatively, transfers can be managed using the camera's controls, and even sent across automatically as soon as they're captured – an extremely useful option that most other Wi-Fi cameras don't currently offer.
The iOS app is the best we've seen to date
The app also serves as a remote control, complete with a detailed live view and comprehensive control over settings. Since we last tested the app, it now includes a video record button. We were also able to adjust shutter speed and aperture settings in manual exposure mode, but the lack of an ISO speed control is a bit of an oversight. Overall, though, this is the best Wi-Fi implementation we've seen on a compact camera.