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I have just bought this as a carry everywhere point and shoot camera to replace an Olympus FE-340 (with 5x zoom) I was not happy with and an old Olympus C770 (with 10x zoom) which I was very happy with but needed to be replaced.My reasons for choosing this model were the good review, the 28-280 effective zoom range and a special price of NZ$399 (about US$220) with free accessory pack which included a case, 2GB card and an extra battery. So far after taking around 20 good clear picture, I am very happy with my purchase. The 28mm wide angle zoom is great compared with both Olympus's 38mm, and while the images are not significantly better than the C-770 they are noticeably better than the FE-340 which suffers from very noticeable barrel distortion at the wide end and soft at the telephoto end.If anyone is curious about whether I considered the DMC-TZ5, the answer is yes. But I decided it did not offer me any real advantage that could justify the 50% higher cost no free accessory pack!
I bought the TZ4 as an everyday snapper instead of having to lug my E410 around. It was a close call between the TZ4 and the Canon SX110, and in the end I went for the one my local Currys had in stock! I compared it to the SX100, and whilst the Canon feels more 'natural' to use, the TZ4 is much more compact and feels much better made, being mostly of metal construction I think.Indeed, the Pansonic feels like quality as soon as you feel the weight. It looks the part, too. After two days experimenting I have come to terms with the limitations of the camera - basically it is a point-and-shoot with very little option to take manual control. As I have a DSLR I am not too concerned about this. One area where it does score highly over most other compacts, is in having that 28mm lens. I am not overly-impressed with the sharpness - in this respect it looks positively prehistoric when compared to my E410 - but colour reproduction and exposure seem good. I’m sure it is good, but just not as good as I expected based on the reviews.Digital compacts have moved on since my first Sony DSC going back 5-6 years in terms of speed and options, but image quality appears to have hit a block and I personally can't see a lot of difference between my old 3MP Sony and this 8MP model. However - and I'm surprised this has not been mentioned before - one area where compacts have rocketed ahead is in terms of their ability to shoot video. The TZ4 shoots a very respectable 16:9 aspect, 848 x 480 pixels, 30 fps. I didn't buy it as a movie camera as I already have one, but I shall certainly use it in place of my bulky old Digital 8 Handycam. Of course the sound quality is abysmal, but we can’t have everything!I am not a professional photographer or reviewer, and can only compare this to the half-dozen other digital cameras I’ve owned in the past few years. It is undoubtedly the best compact I’ve used, and the small size compared with long zoom make it a great travel companion. Being able to shoot decent video just about seals it as probably the perfect travel camera. It falls way short of a DSLR – even one with far fewer MPs - in terms of image quality, but is more than acceptable for small prints or computer use. It feels well made and is very easy to master, so should be a trouble-free holiday companion. But I would buy an extra battery because I seriously doubt the 300-shot life claimed by Panasonic. I would put it closer to 200 without flash, and with a two-hour charge time, it won’t make it through many parties!
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