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Panasonic TZ70 review

Ben Pitt
3 Feb 2015
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
349
inc VAT

Solid image quality and lots of useful features, but the Panasonic TZ70 costs more than its direct rivals.

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Specifications

Sensor resolution: 12 megapixels, Sensor size: 1/2.3in, Viewfinder: Electronic (1,166,000 dots), LCD screen: 3in (1,040,000 dots), Optical zoom (35mm-equivalent focal lengths): 30x (24-720mm), 35mm-equivalent aperture: f/18.4-35.7, Weight: 243g, Size (HxWxD): 66x112x37mm

The Panasonic TZ70 is a compact camera with a 30x optical zoom, making it the perfect complement to a zoom-less smartphone camera. The only trouble is that fitting a 30x zoom into a pocket-sized camera comes at the expense of image quality in low light. It's a basic limitation of optical design that a small camera can have either a big zoom or a wide aperture for improved image quality in low light, but not both.

Panasonic is looking to address the balance this time around. Whereas its predecessor, the TZ60 used an 18-megapixel sensor, the TZ70 drops down to 12 megapixels. That means less detail, but having fewer pixels means more light hits each one, which pushes down the grainy noise that blights most compact cameras. We found that the TZ60's 30x lens wasn't quite sharp enough to match the 18-megapixel sensor, so the prospect of a lower resolution and less noise seems promising.

As with the TZ60, Panasonic has positioned the TZ70 at the top of the price range for a pocket ultra-zoom camera. There's plenty to justify it, including an electronic viewfinder, full manual exposure and focus control, RAW format support, a 10fps top burst speed, 1080p video at frame rates up to 50fps and slow-motion capture at 720p and 100fps. Photo shooting modes include HDR, panorama and 3D capture.

There's a mode dial, rear wheel and lens ring for quick access to settings. The lack of a touchscreen is disappointing, though. Moving the autofocus point without one was a bit of a chore, although it was less so after we reassigned the Fn1 button to this task.

The handgrip on the TZ60 was just a slender ridge, so the nicely contoured rubber grip on the TZ70 is welcome. The flash is just as impractically placed as before, though. There's a high risk of obscuring it with a finger, and it's liable to throwing shadows above the subject in portrait orientation.

Panasonic is currently the only manufacturer to include a viewfinder in this type of camera. We weren't hugely impressed with the TZ60's viewfinder, as the view was small and the 200,000-dot resolution looked pixelated. The TZ70's viewfinder is much sharper at 1.16 million dots, but the view is still pretty small, and not much different to using the 3in LCD screen. Still, any viewfinder is welcome when direct sunlight makes the screen hard to see, and it makes it easier to hold the camera steady too.

Wi-Fi is to be expected these days, but Panasonic's implementation is among the best around.  There's comprehensive remote control in the companion iOS and Android apps. There are options to send photos directly to mobile devices, computers and various other destinations, either on demand or as soon as they're captured.

GPS was built into the TZ60 but it has disappeared this time around. It's still possible to geo-tag photos with the help of the app, which uses the iOS or Android device's GPS radio to log the location and then retrospectively tag photos later. It's a bit cumbersome, and there's no excuse for not having clear instructions for use in the app, but we managed to get it working.

Performance used to be one of the TZ series' main strengths but we've seen it dwindle in recent years. As such, it's disappointing that the drop from 18 to 12 megapixels hasn't come with a hike in performance. We timed one second between shots in normal use, which is marginally slower than we got from the TZ60. RAW shooting is much more responsive, though, at 1.1 seconds rather compared to two seconds from the TZ60. The fastest continuous mode managed 8.5fps and lasted for six frames in our tests. Whereas the TZ60 kept us waiting for around five seconds before it was ready for another burst, the TZ70 was ready to go again after 1.5 seconds. There's also an option to shoot at 6fps (5.3fps in our tests) or 3fps with updating focus between each shot. Its ability to keep up with moving subjects was hit and miss but it's better than most cameras' fixed focus for the duration of the sequence.

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