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Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4 review




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Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4


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Two of the big success stories of the past year have been Panasonic's Lumix TZ2 and TZ3. In a market saturated with tiny over-powered 3x zoom compacts, the 6-megapixel TZ2 and the 7-megapixel TZ3 offered a unique specification, with a relatively large but ergonomically designed body, a high quality Leica-branded 10x optical zoom lens and a range of easy-to-use automatic functions. Both cameras sold very well, especially the higher resolution TZ3, so it's no surprise that Panasonic has followed up with two new TZ models, the 8.1-megapixel TZ4 and the 9.1-megapixel TZ5. I'm hoping to get the TZ5 in very soon, but for today I've got the TZ4, which replaces the TZ2 in Panasonic's lineup.

The TZ series are sold as travel cameras, and they are well suited for that task. Like the other models in the range, the TZ4 has a very robust all-metal body and is clearly designed to survive a few bumps and bangs. It is somewhat larger than the typical pocket compact, but the shape of the body with its large textured handgrip is very comfortable and secure to hold. It is actually a couple of millimetres smaller and few grams lighter than the TZ2, measuring 103.3 x 59.3 x 36.2 mm and weighing in at 208g empty or 234g including battery and memory card.

There are a few more high-zoom compacts on the market than there used to be, but it's by no means a crowded field. The main competition for the TZ4 is undoubtedly the excellent Ricoh Caplio R7 (£150), but the ever-formidable Canon has also entered this area of the market with the impressive PowerShot SX100 IS (£230). The TZ4 is currently on sale at around £250, which looks a little expensive compared to its rivals.


November 21, 2008, 6:31 am

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!


January 16, 2009, 5:15 am

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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