Excellent video quality is the highlight but photo quality is disappointing considering the high price
1/2.33in 12.0-megapixel sensor, 12.0x zoom (25-300mm equivalent), 218g
Panasonic invented the compact ultra-zoom concept with the TZ1 back in 2006, and the TZ range has picked up a string of glowing reviews since then. There are currently two models to choose from. Both the TZ8 and TZ10 have the same lens and sensor, but the pricier TZ10 also has a GPS radio, a larger, higher-resolution screen and a HDMI output. Plus, it records its 720p videos in AVCHD rather than Motion JPEG format.
The GPS radio is used to tag both photos and videos, but it took 45 minutes to calculate our position and failed to update again for the following 15 minutes. The 3in, 460,000-dot screen is more impressive, although various rival cameras go even further with 921,000-dot screens.
The main benefit of AVCHD over Motion JPEG is smaller file sizes, but we were surprised to find that there was better noise reduction applied to AVCHD clips. The TZ10’s video mode also benefits from silent lens motors, responsive autofocus and a high-quality soundtrack, making this a viable alternative to a dedicated video camera for casual use.
As with the Samsung WB650, the TZ10’s lens focuses light on a 12-megapixel central area of the 14-megapixel sensor, which helps to keep the lens dimensions down. The downside is that this camera has the high noise levels of a 14-megapixel compact, but without the benefit of this huge resolution.
Even so, sharp focus from the lens and expertly judged automatic exposures produced a string of excellent photos. However, aggressive noise reduction was evident throughout our test shots. Even in bright light, subtle textures such as skin and grass lacked definition.
Meanwhile, attempts to extend the 12x zoom to 16x using digital processing fell short of Panasonic’s grand claims, and resulted in blocky artefacts, especially on diagonal lines at higher ISO speeds.
The Panasonic TZ8 is a better choice than the TZ10, but the Samsung WB650 is better still, matching the TZ10 for features, beating it for image quality and costing less in the process.
|CCD effective megapixels||12.0 megapixels|
|Viewfinder magnification, coverage||N/A|
|LCD screen size||3.0in|
|LCD screen resolution||460,000 pixels|
|Zoom 35mm equivalent||25-300mm|
|Image stabilisation||optical, lens based|
|Maximum image resolution||4,000×3,000|
|Maximum movie resolution||1280×720|
|Movie frame rate at max quality||25fps|
|File formats||JPEG; AVCHD Lite, QuickTime (M-JPEG)|
|Mermory supplied||15MB internal|
|Battery Life (tested)||300 shots|
|Connectivity||USB, AV, mini HDMI|
|HDMI output resolution||1080i, 720p, 576p|
|Focal length multiplier||N/A|
|Kit lens model name||N/A|
|Accessories||USB and AV cables|
|Exposure modes||program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual|
|Shutter speed||60 to 1/2,000 seconds|
|Aperture range||f/3.3-6.3 (wide), f/4.9-6.3 (tele)|
|ISO range (at full resolution)||80 to 1600|
|Exposure compensation||+/-2 EV|
|White balance||auto, 4 presets, manual|
|Additional image controls||Intelligent Exposure, Intelligent Resolution, aspect ratio, contrast, saturation, sharpness, noise reduction|
|Closest macro focus||3cm|
|Auto-focus modes||multi, centre, tracking, face detect|
|Metering modes||multi, centre-weighted, centre, face detect|
|Flash||auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction|
|Drive modes||single, continuous, self-timer|