Review Price £208.30
The TZ10's overall performance is slightly improved over the TZ7. It starts up in approximately 1.8 seconds, which is nice and fast, and shuts down again in 2.4 seconds. The shot-to-shot time in single-shot mode at maximum resolution is a brisk 1.6 seconds, but like the TZ7 the TZ10 has no full continuous mode, just a three-shot 1.5fps burst mode.
The TZ10 has what appears to be the same AF system as the TZ7, and it is still very good. It focuses quickly and accurately in all lighting conditions including total darkness thanks to an AF assist lamp with a range of at least three meters. It seems to focus better at full zoom in low light than the TZ7, but that might just be my perception. The flash too is the same as the TZ7, with a wide-angle range of 5.3m.
The TZ10's image quality is, I must admit, slightly disappointing. It's not that it's bad, but I was expecting it to be much better than it is. Exposure metering is excellent and focusing is accurate, but images lack a certain colour depth, and dynamic range is no better than average for a 12MP compact. The lens is very sharp in the centre of the frame with excellent fine detail, but there is slight barrel distortion at wide angle and also slight corner blurring. At the new lower minimum sensitivity of 80 ISO the image quality is very good, but noise reduction blurs out some detail at 400 ISO, and noise is visible at 800. Also there is a distinct colour cast at 800 and 1600 ISO.
I do have one very major concern about the TZ10, and that is battery duration. It is powered by the same 895mAh lithium ion cell as the TZ7, and it was stretched powering the big zoom motor in that camera. Now it has to power a GPS system too, which is also active when the camera is switched off. Wandering around taking pictures with the GPS system active, the battery indicator was down to one bar out of three after just 70 shots, and it ran out of juice completely after 85. This was on a full charge with a brand new battery; lithium ion batteries do improve slightly after a few charge cycles, but not by much. A second full charge with the GPS system off turned in much better results, with the indicator only dropping by one bar after around 80 shots. Panasonic's spec sheet claims 300 shots on a full charge.
Apart from that one concern, the TZ10 performed well. It's not the perfect camera, but it is an improvement to an already outstanding design, and is one of the most capable and versatile cameras on the market. However if you want to use the GPS feature regularly you might need to invest in a spare battery.
The Panasonic Lumic DMC-TZ10 is a well-designed, solidly built and extremely versatile camera with a lot of useful features. The 12x zoom, optical image stabilisation, HD video and excellent low light performance are the main benefits, and manual exposure is a nice bonus. The GPS feature is a bit of a gimmick, and drains the battery too fast to be much real use.
Trusted Reviews is part of the Time Inc. (UK) Ltd Technology Network