This scarcity of external controls reflects the TZ2’s essential simplicity. It is really just a simple point-and-shoot snapshot camera, although it does have one or two clever features to help your snapshots turn out well. However it also has a few features that may have just seemed like a good idea at the time.
The main mode dial on the top plate bears a ring of symbols, and the meaning and function of some of them are far from obvious, even with the helpful new on-screen display that shows changes to the mode dial. Fortunately the TZ2 comes with a decent 94-page printed manual, so it’s easy to discover that the notepad-and-pen symbol represents the clipboard mode, in which one can shoot low-resolution pictures that are stored temporarily in the camera’s 12.7MB of internal memory, and can be instantly reviewed at the touch of a button. Why? That’s anyone’s guess.
Also rather puzzling are the two scene mode settings. I suppose the idea is that if you need to alternate quickly between say the sunset and sports scene modes, you can use these two dial positions to switch between them. The problem is that they don’t take you directly to the selected mode, but instead both take you to the same scene program menu, so the time saving is minimal at best.
Fortunately the other modes are rather more useful. The red heart-shape on the dial is the Simple mode, in which virtually all user control is eliminated, useful if you’re in the habit of lending your camera to the kind of person who finds light switches terrifyingly complicated. The menu is reduced to just four entries, and even changes its appearance to a delicate pastel blue, so as not to frighten anyone of a delicate disposition.
In the standard shooting mode there is thankfully a little more control available. White balance, ISO setting, aspect ratio, image resolution and compression quality can be quickly adjusted via the small “Func” button, while flash mode, self timer (2/10 sec) and exposure compensation are controlled via second functions on the D-pad. The “Func” button options are repeated in the main menu, along with adjustments for the metering mode, AF mode, burst mode and other typical camera settings.
There is one other mode dial setting that is both unusual and useful, and this is the “Intelligent ISO” mode. This is used in conjunction with the Mega OIS image stabilisation system to ensure blur-free pictures by setting a higher than usual ISO speed, although it can be limited to 800 to reduce the effects of image noise.
Also on the mode dial is the movie setting. The TZ2 can shoot in both 640 x 480 and 848 x 480 widescreen at 30fps, with a 1GB card providing just under 10 minutes of shooting time. The zoom lens cannot be used while filming, although the zoom setting can be changed between shots.