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Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20 Digital Camera Review

panasonic20110407a.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Simon Vrantsis

Progressing from tempting alternative to one of the market leaders in the compact camera industry over the last five years, Panasonic can attribute much of this to its TZ range of cameras, which consumers felt was the perfect travel companion. Much vaunted for its combination of ease of use and innovation, Panasonic has always been at the front of the pack when it came to groundbreaking features such as GPS. Although Panasonic has delivered solid and consistent image quality with its TZ series, they have always seemed to be a small step short of outstanding. So with most, if not all, boxes checked regarding features, the question is can they deliver image quality to compete with the market leaders and produce the best all-round camera available?

 

Image and Lens Quality


Panasonic have made several changes with the TZ20 from predecessors, not the least being a transition from CCD to CMOS in it sensor. And this is no better place to start. Fitted with a 14.1-megapixel CMOS sensor, not only has the type of sensor changed but so has the resolution. Paired with an extremely flexible Leica lens that has a focal range of 24-384mm, or 16x zoom, the TZ20 is perfect combination from landscape, travel and action/wildlife shooters, while maintaining a similar size to its predecessor, which was ‘limited’ to a 12x zoom. Image results produced by the TZ20 are good, however under testing conditions there was level of noticeable noise at 100% magnification even at its lower ISO sensitivities. Being a camera with this pedigree, there’s no doubt the resulting images are useable, especially with more modest size prints, but you cant help but want a little more.

 

panasonic20110407b.jpgAppearance and LCD


The TZ20 hasn’t changed dramatically when it comes to its physical design, but it’s more so about what Panasonic have included, or substituted. The sleek yet blocky styling remains with many of the controls seen on the TZ10 back again here. And this is a slight hint to what may be considered a semi-touch screen display, which Panasonic has implemented. Featuring a 3.0”, 460k-resolution touch LCD, there should be no doubt the new display is fully touch screen but the TZ20 isn’t overly reliant on needing to use the display as a way to change all camera settings. The display is bright and vibrant, and allow for really easy touch focusing as well as the ability to touch-shoot. Zooming in and out can be achieved with the traditional toggle surrounding the shutter button but the touch display allows for one-touch zooming through the full extent of the zoom range, which is fantastic when an urgent photo opportunity pops up near or far.

 

Panasonic has maintained its switch to move from record mode to playback and, for some, the inability to press the shutter to return from reviewing an image to shooting a new one will remain slightly awkward. In the cameras manual modes, pressing the ‘exposure’ button then using the directional dial makes changes to aperture and shutter speed. It’s a tad strange that the touch interface isn’t made use of in these instances but, for many, the chosen system combined with the Q-Menu is a more user-friendly option. The now traditional touch sweep system is available when reviewing images in playback, which is a nice addition.

 

 

panasonic20110407c.jpgFunctionality


Speed and efficiency is one area that the TZ20 excels. Its image-to-image transition is almost instantaneous with all writing to memory cards taking place in the background. Continuous shooting is also greatly improved over its predecessor with options to shoot at 2, 5 and 10fps at full-resolution, and the added ability to increase to 40/60fps at lower resolutions. The movie mode featured in the TZ20 has a peak resolution of 1920x1080 at 60fps interlaced, and makes full use of the cameras zoom range and image stabilisation. The ability to geo-tag movie clips along with still files is a much appreciated one. The GPS system is fantastic with location acquisition occurring accurately and fast. The user movement is track quite seamlessly and Panasonic have also included a large number of landmarks to its database. The ability to shoot in a variety of aspect ratios is great for those diligent about what output method they’re planning to use.

 

medal-platinum-r.jpgConclusion

 

It is truly tough to summarise what really is something of a two-faced beast. When it comes to features and useability, the TZ20 sets a great standard. Its fast, accurate and can do pretty much all that the travelling photography enthusiast would require. But the photographic game has always been determined by image quality, and this is where the question of noticeable noise at the lowest ISO level might possibly become an issue for some, especially considering the TZ20 is positioned just under the mirrorless camera market. With some stunning, focal range limited, alternatives available, it could be an interesting time for this cult classic.

Appearance rating 4.5 stars
Functionality rating 4.5 stars
Image quality
3.5 stars
Lens quality
4.5 stars
View finder / LCD screen 4.5 stars
Value for money 4 stars
RRP (AUD) $599
SPACER.GIF  
Effective Pixels Approx. 14.1 Mega-pixels
Sensor Type
1/2.33-inch MOS sensor
Image Sizes 9 Sizes
Lens 1/2.33-inch MOS sensor
Resolution Settings 3232 x 3232 pixels - 1920 x 1080 pixels
Shooting Modes Still Images
Portrait, Soft Skin, Transform, Self-Portrait, Scenery, Panorama Assist, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Handheld Night Shot, Food, Party, Candle Light, Baby1, Baby2, Pet, Sunset, High sensitivity, Flash Burst, Starry Sky, Fireworks, Beach, Snow, Aerial, Pinhole, Film Grain, High Dynamic (standard/ art/ B&W), Photo Frame, Under Water, High Speed Movie
Face Detection Yes Photo/Movie
ManualFocus Focus
Auto Focus Yes
Aperture Priority Yes
Shutter Speeds Still: 60 - 1/4000 sec
Starry Sky Mode : 15, 30, 60sec
Shutter Priority Yes
ISO Auto / i.ISO / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600
High Sensitivity mode (ISO 1600-6400)
LCD Monitor Yes,  TFT Touch Screen LCD Display
LCD Size 3.0" TFT Touch Screen LCD Display (460K dots), AR Coating
Field of View : approx. 100% Wide Viewing Angle
AUTO Power LCD mode, Power LCD mode
Viewfinder No
Flash Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction, Forced Off
0.6 - 5.0m (Wide/ISO Auto), 1.0 - 2.8m (Tele/ISO Auto)
Hot Shoe No
White balance Auto / Daylight / Cloudy / Shade / Incandescent / White Set
(Selectable at Portrait, Soft Skin, Transform, Self-Portrait, Panorama Assist, Sports, Baby, Pet, High Sensitivity, Pinhole, Photo Frame, High Dynamic, High Speed Movie)
Self Timer 2/10 seconds
Movie Options

Yes. 4:3 - VGA: 640 x 480 pixels, 30fps (Motion JPEG), QVGA: 320 x 240 pixels, 30 fps (Motion JPEG)
HD Movie - 1920x1080 pixels, 50i (GFS: 17Mbps, FSH: 17Mbps / AVCHD) (Sensor output is 50p)
1280x 720 pixels, 50p(GS: 17Mbps, SH: 17Mbps / AVCHD)
1280x 720 pixels, 30fps (Quicktime Motion JPEG)

Video Out
Yes, mini HDMI, AV Output (PAL), USB2.0 High speed
Storage Type Built-in Memory, SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card, SDXC Memory Card
Image / Audio Formats Still Image: JPEG (DCF/Exif2.3)
3D Image: MPO
Motion picture: AVCHD, QuickTime Motion JPEG
Connectivity mini HDMI, AV Output (PAL), USB2.0 High speed
Power Source ID-Security Li-ion Battery Pack (3.6V, Minimum: 895mAh) (Included) AC Adaptor (Input: 110-240V AC) (Optional)
Dimensions 99.7 mm x 55.2 mm x 20.6 mm
Weight Approx. 126g without Battery and SD Memory Card
















 


 

 

About Panasonic

 

Panasonic Australia is a proud member of the Australian corporate community. With long standing links to local manufacturing and with hundreds of employees, Panasonic Australia is committed to fostering good relationships with consumers, businesses and governments alike.

 

On both a Local and International basis Panasonic is deploying long term strategies related to stable economic growth, responsible use of resources and being friendly to the environment.

 

The pages contained within the 'About Us' area will give you an insight into how Panasonic Australia operates and an overview of our companies history.

 

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