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Panasonic Lumix TZ3 - Panasonic Lumix TZ3

By Cliff Smith



  • Recommended by TR
Panasonic Lumix TZ3


Our Score:


My biggest surprise with the TZ3 is its overall performance. The TZ2 was about average in this respect, and so I naturally assumed the TZ3 would be much the same, or possibly slightly slower due to larger file sizes. In fact the TZ3 is faster, and by a very large margin. Start-up time is the same at roughly two seconds, but in single-shot mode the TZ3 can take a picture roughly once every 1.2 seconds, which is over twice as fast as the TZ2. In continuous mode too it is quicker, shooting approximately two frames a second up to the capacity of the memory card. The TZ2 could only manage a shot every 1.3 seconds. The autofocus system is also very fast, focusing accurately in good light in well under a second, and not slowing much in low light. It did slow down when focusing at telephoto zoom in low light, but focusing was still accurate under these circumstances. Movie recording is also above average, with the ability to shoot 16:9 aspect ratio video at a resolution of 848 x 480 at 30fps. Battery duration is good too. Panasonic claims 270 shots on a full charge of the 1000mAh li-ion battery, and my experience with the camera tends to bear this out.

In terms of image quality too the TZ3 stands out from the crowd. As with the TZ2 the superb lens can take a lot of the credit, producing pin-sharp corner-to-corner detail with virtually zero distortion at all focal lengths. The TZ3's 1/2.3-inch sensor has better dynamic range than most of its more powerful rivals, and combined with very accurate exposure metering it produces good shadow detail with very little highlight clipping. The TZ3 also goes some way toward repudiating Panasonic's reputation for image noise. Like the TZ2 it is limited to a maximum of 1250 ISO in normal shooting modes (3200 is high-sensitivity mode), but even at this level colour reproduction is fairly accurate, with only a little loss of saturation. Images at 800 ISO show unmistakable signs of noise reduction, but the level of sharp detail is still higher than most other comparable cameras. All in all the TZ3 is a very capable and versatile snapshot camera that succeeds in its aim to be the perfect holiday accessory. If the new TZ4 and TZ5 are anything like as good then they will be formidable contenders in this expanding area of the market.


The Panasonic Lumix TZ3 is sold as the perfect travel snapshot camera, and it delivers in every respect. With solid build quality, fast performance, comfortable handling, simple operation, a massively useful zoom range all topped off with excellent picture quality, it's no wonder that the TZ3 has been such a big hit for Panasonic. It is still an expensive camera a year after its launch, but you get a lot of camera for your money.


October 8, 2008, 11:30 pm

I have owned a TZ3 since about August 2007. I took it on Safari with me to Kenya in Sept '07. It is a superb camera. The lens is amazing and allowed me to get some excellent shots of the wildlife that would have been beyond most compact cameras. It really is a fantastic compact. Comparing my shots from the TZ3 to my dad's from his Ricoh Caplio R6, there was no contest, the quality of the pictures was far superior in every mode EXCEPT macro where the Ricoh excels and the TZ3 struggles a bit.

A wonderful camera. On the strength of my experience with the TZ3 I have just purchased a Panasonic FZ28 to increase my photographic creativity, but I would not hesitate to take my TZ3 anywhere I wouldn't want to carry the bigger camera as I know the images will be superb still.

Doug Sinnott

March 23, 2009, 5:58 pm

I also have a Panasonic compact,a FX35,and it takes great pictures,even close-ups!

It makes you wonder sometimes why we bother with big,heavy DSLR's,as my little FX35,although there's not many manual controls,delivers sharp,well-exposed photos time after time,if left to it's own devices,so why complicate things by interfering!

I often leave my Nikon DSLR(when I can be bothered to use it) on the automatic "P" setting anyway,(as do many "Pros" if they were truthful)which seems to work fine.

And the FX35 is so small,but beautifully made,a truly pocketable companion for holidays,etc.

However,your FZ3 looks very tempting,with its bigger screen and zoom lens,and a Panasonic,but looks only marginally bigger than the FX35,so I'm seriously considering looking for one on Ebay at a good price.

I see you have an FZ28 as well.

I also have an FZ18,with it's bigger lens,and I took it,and my little FX35,on a recent cruise holiday,and found,for sheer convenience,the FX35 was often the camera of choice,and the pictures were superb.

Even the 4x zoom lens was not too much of a handicap,as often the prints could be cropped to make up the limited lens power,but were still good quality.

Plus the extra wide 24mm setting was useful for church interiors,etc.

Panasonic do seem to be the current masters when it comes to compacts,combining Leica lens quality,excellent build quality,and capable of sterling photo quality.

I have been a keen amateur photographer for 45 years,using and owning many cameras,from a Zenit E Russian "brick",which had a geat Helios lens,to several 35mm SLRs then on to digital cameras,and I really now want is something light and portable,as the days of carting heavy camera bags,stuffed with lenses,a flash gun,etc.when I am on trips, are over for me.


October 13, 2009, 6:23 am

I've had my TZ3 for a long time now, and still love it. I rarely carry my Nikon D70 DSLR now.

I love the video mode despite the much-maligned inability to zoom during video shooting. Great for anything from a short clip to a 2GB file. You should spend at least 4x$5 for extra Chinese batteries on eBay, and 2x$15 for 8GB SDHC Class 6 cards to use this camera with fewer worries.

The sound is OK for most non-musical purposes but I wish it were better. Here is a continuous 75+ minute clip driving on a remote road/trail in Nevada, in the snow at night: ****** http://vimeo.com/6939153 ******

To post it under 500MB, I degraded the beautiful 848x480 10fps original to 320x240 at 5fps, and Vimeo then compressed it to a stupid 400x300 size. The video artifacts are not on the original MOV or the AVI.

10fps (vs its normal 30fps) conserves file size and increases the light gathering. The MOV file was 1.06GB vs the 2GB limit, so you might even get a 2h20m clip if you hacked external power.

I'm not sure if newer point/shoots with their smaller HD video pixels can duplicate the low-light, long duration performance of the TZ3 at 848x480 WVGA.

RAD Video Tools (free, uncrippled, from a company selling videogame development tools) is great for doing the MOV to AVI conversion. I hate MOV files like everyone else, but any good free file converter like RAD eliminates that problem.


John aka NikonF7


January 7, 2013, 12:42 pm

I loved this camera while it lasted but after 3 years service it has packed it in and when turned on gives me the message that the dial is in the wrong position. With 3 DVD players, 2 CD players and now this camera giving up the ghost after an average of 3 years work I wonder is a lot of our modern tech - esp laser operated machines - not adequately tried and tested.

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