1/2.5in 10.0-megapixel sensor, 12.0x zoom (25-300mm equivalent), 206g
Along with the TZ7, Panasonic’s TZ6 comes top of the group in the design stakes.
The aluminium body is smart, compact and seems durable. The controls are well laid out, with a Quick Menu giving access to key settings. The only flaw is that the mode dial isn’t stiff enough and is too easily rotated when in transit. This led to regular onscreen warnings that it was not in the proper position when we switched it on. Still, it didn’t rotate by accident while in use, so this is just a minor irritation.
Fitting a 12x zoom lens in such a small camera is a remarkable achievement, and it’s even more impressive considering how sharp and free from distortions and chromatic aberrations the photos are. The 25-300mm focal length range means that this camera is equally well equipped for wide-angle and telephoto photography. Noise-reduction processing sacrificed some detail at anything above ISO 200, although ISO 400 shots looked fine and ISO 800 shots were passable when shrunk to fit a computer screen or when making 6x4in prints.
When we compared low-light photos from the six ultra-zoom cameras in this test, first place was too close to call between this, the TZ7 and Sony’s H20. Automatic exposures were nearly always perfectly judged, and although there’s no manual exposure control, exposure compensation is within easy reach.
Our only real criticism of the TZ6 is that its video is recorded at 848×460 rather than the increasingly common 1,280×720 pixels. This is clearly a deliberate move to attract buyers to the more expensive TZ7, but lots of other models, including the budget Samsung WB500, capture 720p video. The TZ6’s videos were still excellent, though, with responsive autofocus, working optical zoom, a smooth, sharp image and clear soundtrack.
The TZ6 leaves the luxury features to the more expensive TZ7, but with a fantastic lens, reliably excellent photos, responsive performance and a smart design, this is an excellent camera at a very reasonable price.
|CCD effective megapixels
|LCD screen size
|LCD screen resolution
|Zoom 35mm equivalent
|optical, lens based
|Maximum image resolution
|Maximum movie resolution
|Movie frame rate at max quality
|JPEG; QuickTime (M-JPEG)
|3.6V 895mAh Li-ion
|Battery Life (tested)
|USB and AV cables
|ISO range (at full resolution)
|80 to 1600
|auto, 4 presets, manual
|Additional image controls
|Closest macro focus
|multi, centre, tracking, face detect
|multi, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
|auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction
|single, continuous, self-timer