• Recommended by TR
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4


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The TZ2 was by no means a slow camera, but the TZ4 is even quicker. It starts up in a touch over two seconds and shuts down again in about the same. Single-shot shooting speed has been dramatically improved, with a shot-to-shot time of approximately 1.6 seconds, while in continuous mode it can manage a very impressive two frames per second and maintain it until the memory card is full.

The autofocus system is also fast, locking on in about half a second even in poor light. It focuses well in very low light and even darkness thanks to a decent AF assist lamp. In cases where it can't focus, the camera automatically sets itself to a pan-focus setting, producing acceptably sharp results at medium range. As befits a camera designed for travel, battery life is exceptionally good. It is powered by a chunky little 1000mAh Li-ion cell that Panasonic claims is good for 330 shots. I took about 150 and the charge meter was still showing two out of three bars, so this is probably accurate.

If you're choosing a camera for a once-in-a-lifetime holiday you want to be sure to get some good pictures, so image quality is a crucial issue. Fortunately the TZ4 does not disappoint. Most of the credit goes to that excellent lens, which as usual lives up to its Leica badge. It produces pin-sharp detail right across the frame, even into the far corners, with no trace of barrel or pincushion distortion at any focal length.

The sensor too performs well, despite Panasonic's insistence on using a tiny 1/2.5-inch CCD as usual. I'm of the opinion that eight megapixels is pretty much the optimum resolution for this type of sensor, producing the best compromise between colour depth and dynamic range versus image noise at higher ISO settings. The TZ4 would seem to back me up on this, producing outstanding colour reproduction, good shadow detail and few blown-out highlights.

Image quality remains good up to 400 ISO, and while there is a lot of noise at 800 and 1600 colour balance and exposure remain consistent and the results could at least make small prints. All in all a very impressive performance from what could be another classic from Panasonic.


Having enjoyed well-deserved success with the TZ2 and TZ3, Panasonic has followed up with another excellent camera. The TZ4 has bullet-proof build quality, excellent ergonomics, is extremely easy to use and performs well. It doesn't have much in the way of creative features, but it is versatile enough and capable enough to produce a good picture under almost any circumstances. It really is an ideal travel camera.

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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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