I have, in some of my previous reviews, been perhaps a little hard on Panasonic, and to tell you the truth I’m not entirely sure why. The company has produced some excellent cameras, such as the DMC-FX01 which I reviewed just before Christmas, as well as the models that it makes for Leica. Sure, it’s turned out one or two real stinkers as well, but then I can’t think of a camera company that hasn’t.
So I hereby apologise if I’ve been unfair, and to show there’s no hard feelings I’ll try to be nice about this week’s camera, the new Lumix DMC-TZ2. It shouldn’t be too difficult, because this is definitely one of the good ones.
Announced in January along with the 7-megapixel TZ3, the DMC-TZ2 is being promoted as the ideal travel camera. It certainly has a lot going for it, with a 6-megapixel CCD, a tough all-metal body, a high resolution 2.5in monitor and a big image-stabilised 10x zoom Leica-branded lens with a focal length equivalent to 28-280mm. It is available in either silver or black. The TZ2 will go on sale in April with a recommended retail price of £269.99, but is already available for pre-order from a number of retailers at prices as low as £226.
There aren’t many digital cameras on the market that can equal the TZ2’s specification. The closest matches are the Ricoh Caplio R4, which has a 28-200mm stabilised lens and costs around £160, the 12x zoom Kodak EasyShare Z612 for £195, the Canon PowerShot S3 IS with its 12x zoom for around £270, or Nikon’s disappointing 10x zoom twist-body S10, which is also around £270, although none of these last three have that important 28mm wide-angle setting. The TZ2 and its twin the TZ3 have the widest zoom range of any camera of their size currently on the market.
Considering the size and power of the lens the TZ2 is quite slim and sleek in appearance, although it is by no means a small camera. Measuring 105 x 59.2 x 36.7 mm and weighing a chunky 247g including card and battery it is too big and heavy to be considered pocket-sized, but then that’s why we have camera pouches.
Of course all that extra bulk does mean that there’s plenty there to grab hold of, and the TZ2 does have very good handling. The right-hand end of the case is sculpted into a small but comfortable handgrip, which carries round onto the back where it is joined by a small textured area for your thumb. There are only the barest minimum of controls on the back, so there’s nothing to get in the way.