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Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20 review

Ben Pitt
17 May 2011
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
285
inc VAT

A fantastic collection of features, but it's spoiled by serious noise problems from the excessively high-resolution sensor.

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Specifications

1/2.33in 14.0-megapixel sensor, 16.0x zoom (24-384mm equivalent), 219g

The TZ20 is the most feature-packed compact camera we've ever seen. There's a 16x zoom lens with highly effective optical stabilisation. 1080p video is recorded in AVCHD format, while an HDMI port streams it to HDTVs. A GPS radio tags both photos and videos with their capture location. Continuous shooting is at 10fps. There's the full range of priority and manual exposure modes plus lots of interesting specialist modes, such as 3D photo capture and an 8x slow-motion video mode. The 3in touchscreen enables a powerful touch-for-spot focus function, while most other functions are accessed using good old-fashioned buttons.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20 front

It's an extraordinary list of features, but at this price the TZ20 needs to get the basics spot on too. We've no qualms about its performance, taking just over two seconds to power up and shoot, and just one second between shots. The 10fps continuous mode lasted for 12 frames, while another option shot at 5fps with continuous autofocus to keep track of moving subjects.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20 top

The 1080p video mode is an unequivocal success, with crisp details and smooth autofocus and zoom without spoiling the stereo soundtrack. The interlaced capture, where each frame is made from two sub-frames 1/50th second apart, is unusual for a stills camera and gives smoother motion that's more akin to TV footage than film. We'd have liked manual exposure control in video mode, but none of its competitors offer this feature either.

We can forgive a few hiccups to the GPS tagging function, as no camera we've seen gets this feature exactly right. The TZ20 was often slow to update its position, sometimes tagging photos with the last known position even though it was miles away. A few other tags were about 50m out but the majority were accurate, with the data correctly interpreted in Google Picasa.

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