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DMC-TZ1 - Digital Camera Review
this to say about the camera:
treasure - the small DMC-TZ1 boasts huge features to make travel photography
a real pleasure: The lens part of the super-compact TZ1 features the integration
of a retractable lens system with folded optics technology, realized by
the inclusion of a prism. Incorporating three aspherical lenses, the crystallization
of Panasonic optics technology, results in an amazingly powerful 10x optical
zoom LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT lens contained within a slim and stylish body."
You can find more information on their website.
The Camera: a visual tour: (Photos of the camera taken with the Panasonic Lumix FZ3)
Size Comparison: Compared to a Pentax 35mm film camera - a medium/compact sized 35mm film camera.
Specifications / Features:
Average box contents - There is limited memory provided with the camera. Some kind of case would be useful.
Battery usage: Battery life seemed good, I was able to take 250 - 300 photos between charge before the camera displayed "please replace the batteries". Panasonic rate battery life as 250 shots when tested to CIPA standards. If this isn't long enough for you, then you will need to purchase a second battery.
Operation and Options: The
top left dial selects the camera mode. This allows the choice of the following
modes: Photo, Macro, Video, Playback, Simple (Heart), Scene mode
1, Scene mode 2.
Photo mode/menus: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right below: (menu screens from the FZ7 - which are almost identical apart from a few options are different, detailed below)
Screen / LCD display in photo mode: (shown on the left) The screen has a high resolution of 207,000 pixels, and updates smoothly - the colours appear accurate. There is a live histogram available and the screen is clear and the text and menus are easy to read. Optical Viewfinder: There is no optical viewfinder.
Menu options: White balance (including custom), Sensitivity, Aspect ratio (16:9, 3:2, and 4:3), Picture size, Quality, Audio recording, Metering mode, AF mode, Cont. AF, AF Assist lamp, Slow shutter, Digital zoom (on/off), Colour effect (Cool, Warm, Black and White, Sepia), Picture adjust (Natural, Standard, Vivid), Flip anim.
Scene modes: (shown on the left, above) Portrait, Soft skin, Scenery, Sports, Night portrait, Night scenery, Self-portrait, Food, Party, Candle Light, Fireworks, Starry Sky (15, 30, or 60 second exposure), Beach, Aeriel Photo (for shots through airplane windows), Snow, High sensitivity, Baby 1, Baby 2, Under water.
Setup menu: (shown on the right, above) Clock set, World time, Monitor, Travel date, Auto review, Power save, Economy, Beep, Shutter, Volume, no. reset, reset, USB mode, highlight, video out, TV aspect, Scene menu, Language.
Playback (Review) mode/menu: The menu button brings up the menu screen as shown on the right, below:
Playback mode: Scrolling through the photos is fairly quick. The zoom is quick up to 16x.
Playback menu: Slide show, Favourite, Rotate disp, Rotate, DPOF Print, Protect, Audio dub, resize, trimming, Aspect conversion, copy (allows you to copy from internal memory to memory card and vice versa), format.
Picture Size / Quality: The camera takes the following size pictures, and the following number of pictures will fit in the provided memory:
As shown in the table above, higher quality images take a large amount of memory, and you can't fit very many photos in the provided memory, so a high capacity memory card is definitely recommended.
A large memory card is relatively cheap, and highly recommended, I would recommend at a bare minimum a 256mb memory card, and preferably a 512mb memory card, especially considering the relatively low prices - the larger the memory card, the more photos you will be able to take. If you are likely to be away from a computer for a long time (such as when going on holiday) then the largest memory card you can afford would definitely be worth investing in. This camera takes only secure digital memory. Listed below are links to memory cards that will work with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1:
Find the latest
prices for SD memory cards at Amazon.co.uk: 256mb: £6.59,
1gb (1000mb): £23.40,
2gb (2000mb): £49.95
Speed: The camera is quick to switch on and take photos, being ready in just over 1 second, it takes roughly 1.6 seconds to switch on, focus and take the photo. Focusing is quick at around 0.4 seconds set to wide angle. Shutter response is quick at around 0.1 seconds. Shot to shot time is quick at around 1.2 - 1.3 seconds (with review switched on), with flash switched on this shot to shot time is around 2.3 seconds. High speed continuous shooting allows you to take 3 shots at roughly 3 frames per second for 3 shots (with flash off). Infinite continuous shooting is still quick and takes a shot every 0.4 - 0.5 seconds, roughly 2fps. Playback mode is fairly quick, and its easy to zoom upto 16x on your last shot and check for blur with the zoom control. Moving from picture to picture is fairly quick, but not as instantaneous as others such as the Casio series, for example the Casio Exilim EX-Z120. Moving around the different menu options is rapid.
Ease of use: The camera is easy to use, although the camera does have quite a lot of options and features. The controls on the back of the camera are fairly easy to use - the menus are responsive and easy to read. The camera is very compact for a digital camera that has a 10x optical zoom lens. The menus are also easy to use, and the options are big enough and easy enough to see clearly. The modes are easy to access, quick and simple - there's even a basic mode for simple point and shoot operation (shown with a red heart). There don't seem to be any manual controls, other than custom white balance. The camera gives you numerous scene modes to enable you to take photos in different situations.
Ergonomics and Buttons: (Feel, placement, labels, etc) The buttons are fairly easy to use, and they are in a good position and in easy reach for using the camera with one hand. There seems to be the right amount of buttons. The buttons feel okay, the shutter release is quite decent. The buttons are labelled fairly well. I thought the camera felt very good ergonomically, and was the correct weight. The hand grip seemed good, with a decent sized front grip and a decent sized thumb grip on the back, I was quite impressed considering the small-ish size of the camera. All of the compartments and covers seem well positioned and are easy to open. The only design problem, which is a fairly minor one, is the location of the plastic tripod mount, which is quite close the the edge of the camera - this could cause problems if your tripod is quite small and light.
Image Quality: Here are some real world sample photos taken in various settings, such as Inside, Outside, Macro, to demonstrate the quality of pictures taken and also show different features of the camera. Larger versions of these photos, plus more photos are available in the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1 Sample Photo Gallery!
Inside: The camera has good colour - It took a good "Heather and Flower" photo - there is no red-eye in the photo (although there is some slight purple fringing around the flash reflection), and there is none in other group photos. It has a decent flash, and copes well with group photos, and on AUTO ISO, the ISO setting was kept at the quite low in these photos, although noise was fairly high and detail seemed to be lacking, perhaps due to noise reduction. The camera did a good job at focusing most of the time even in low-light. Colour is richly saturated.
ISO Noise Test: Noise: Noise is generally a bad thing - it removes detail, and gives a grainy effect over the image. With digital cameras noise can be a real problem as digital camera noise is often made out of blue, red or green dots. As the ISO setting increases, pictures tend to have more noise. Noise is most noticeable in dark areas of photos. The camera has an Automatic mode for ISO levels, and manual ISO settings (ISO: 80, 100, 200, 400, 800). ISO1600 is available in the High Sensitivity scene mode.
Below you'll find the noise test image, plus actual pixel crops from the image taken at different ISO settings, compared with the 7 megapixel, Olympus Mju 720SW. The difference in colour is due to automatic white balance being used on both cameras.
ISO Noise Test Photos - Flash is off. Panasonic Lumix TZ1 on the left, Olympus Mju 720SW on the right. The 7 megapixel Olympus was picked as a comparison due to the similar ISO range of ISO64 - ISO1600. The colour difference is due to automatic white balance / different lighting conditions.
Noise is visible at even the lowest ISO setting on the Panasonic Lumix TZ1. At ISO200 and ISO400 noise is very noticable and detail is being lost with jagged edges. At ISO400 and ISO800 the image becomes quite pixellated, especially around the red. The high sensitivity mode on the Panasonic TZ1 removes a dramatic amount of detail - so much so that at ISO1600 the 'W' is practically non-existant. The Olympus Mju 720SW has much lower noise and has a much better high ISO800 and ISO1600 mode - noise is high, but the camera keeps much more detail compared to the TZ1. You would expect a lower resolution digital camera such as the 5 megapixel TZ1 to have lower noise than a 7 megapixel camera, but unfortunately this isn't the case. With the Panasonic Lumix TZ1 I would say that ISO 200 and above is to be avoided.
Anti-shake / Optical Image Stabilisation effectiveness: Here are some test photos taken with "Mega Optical Image Stabilisation" on and off - these photos were taken without flash in low light. The Panasonic Lumix TZ1's anti-shake system moves a section of the lens to counter any camera shake. These photos were taken at wide-angle, set to macro.
As you can see - image
stabilisation is effective for low-light / high zoom, slow shutter speed
photography helping acheive blur free photos.
Outside: The camera has excellent, rich colour, with good saturation and contrast. There was fairly good detail, although images were slightly soft and noise was noticable in ISO80 photos. The quality was set to maximum to minimise any jpeg artefacts.
Zoom: This camera has a 10x optical zoom lens and a built in 4x digital zoom - in the case of this camera the digital zoom basically takes a smaller area of the photo and enlarges it using software blurring the image so that it is not pixellated. Generally it's best to avoid using digital zoom as it degrades the quality of the image and, often, better results can be obtained by using a photo package such as Adobe Photoshop. I've included examples below to show what the 10x optical zoom is capable of. (An example using the digital zoom can be seen in the gallery)
Exposure: The photos of the clock tower are exposed well with detail in the dark areas as well as the lighter areas - exposure in other photos was generally excellent. Purple fringing is low in the wide angle and 3x optical zoom photo, but high in the 10x optical zoom photo. If you intend to use the full telephoto zoom a lot this could be a concern.
Lens noise and zoom: The lens is very quiet in operation. The lens gives excellent control over how you frame your subject with at least 28 steps between wide and telephoto zoom.
Quality issues: Purple fringing was difficult to detect in the majority
of normal photos, however in some extreme test cases, by looking closely
at the images some fringing might be noticed (particularly at full optical
zoom in the clock tower photos), or in flash reflections.
The custom white balance helps get better colours in the macro mode - however the closest the camera can get to the subject is about average at around 5cm. Noise is visible, even when the ISO is as low as ISO100. If flash is left on and the subject is too close then the camera can wash out the image.
Video mode: The camera features a high resolution wide-aspect ratio 16:9 video mode (848 x 480) at 30 fps with sound plus a VGA 640 x 480 video mode at 30 fps with sound. These modes are not available when recording to internal memory. Unfortunately the compression isn't very high so even with large memory cards the video length is limited. Videos are recorded as .MOV files.
Summary: The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1 is a very good all round digital camera, compact and pocketable (in large pockets) yet features a Leica 10x optical zoom lens with image stabilisation. The camera produces very good images with excellent colour, saturation and exposure, assuming you use the lowest ISO settings. Purple fringing was slightly higher than average and was noticable in flash reflections on when using the full 10x optical zoom but isn't a huge problem. If you want to record videos then this camera has a very good high resolution wide-aspect ratio video mode. The camera is very easy to use (in auto mode), and would definitely suit a beginner. The camera offers good battery life, with good controls, good build quality and quick performance. To finish things off, the Panasonic Lumix TZ1 is good value for money and therefore Recommended!
What I like:
What I don't like:
Additional Test Images are viewable in the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1 Sample Photo Gallery.