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Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4 - Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4

By Cliff Smith

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4

Summary

Our Score:

9

There's no denying that you do get a lot of camera for your money though. The big selling point is that big zoom range. The 10x zoom lens has a focal length range equivalent to 28-280mm, incorporating genuine wide angle and a decent telephoto in one fairly compact package, and providing enough versatility to cope with panoramic landscapes, distant highlights and anything in between. It incorporates Panasonic's proprietary MegaOIS optical image stabilisation system, which as we've seen on previous models is one of the best on the market. Since few people will pack a tripod on their holidays (unless they're like me, of course), image stabilisation is essential for a camera with such a long telephoto capability. The lens is also fairly fast for a big zoom, with a maximum aperture of f/3.3 - f/4.9, although it's a bit slower than Canon's 36-360mm lens on the SX100 IS.

Apart from the obvious increase in sensor resolution the TZ4 has several other improvements over the TZ2. The LCD monitor is still 2.5 inches but now has a resolution of 230k dots. It is nice and bright with a good refresh rate, but the normal angle of view is rather restricted compared to some other recent cameras, approximately 45 degrees in either direction, which is a problem if you're holding the camera above your head to shoot over a crowd. There is a high-angle setting available in the menu, but it only increases the downward angle by a few degrees. Maximum sensitivity is also increased from 1250 ISO to 1600 ISO.

The TZ4 is designed to be a snapshot camera. The main mode dial has only four main shooting options, including Panasonics's Intelligent Auto mode, in which the camera automatically selects the appropriate scene mode for the subject. As well as this there is a standard auto mode in which all menu options are available, and two scene mode settings, allowing rapid switching between two pre-selected choices from the 22 available scene programs.

Like a lot of compacts the TZ4 has both a main menu for major camera settings, and a shooting menu allowing quick access to frequently used options such as IS mode, drive mode, AF area, white balance, ISO and picture size. The main menu holds some useful options, including a selection of colour modes, three different aspect ratios (4:3, 3:2 and 16:9) and three light meter modes (spot, c/w and multi-zone). The control layout is concise and logical, the menus are quick and responsive and the camera is very easy to operate.

Roddion

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!

spolky

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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