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Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20 - Design and Features

By Gavin Stoker



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Weighing a manageable 219g with rechargeable battery and optional (yet essential) SD card loaded, and slipping reasonably comfortably into the front pocket of a pair of jeans thanks to dimensions of 104.9 x 57.8 x 33.4mm the TZ20 is eminently portable, even if it's not the absolute smallest. The matt black finish to our review model imbues it with a sense of sophistication and purpose. There's the hint of a handgrip to the left hand side of the body (if viewed lens-on) and a tiny pad of nine raised nodules at the back to provide some purchase for the thumb, so you'll generally want to use two hands for a secure and steady grip.

Changing settings is done via a combination of the 3-inch, 460k dot, touchscreen and physical buttons. Using the two in tandem can feel a little peculiar at first but in no time it becomes second nature. By touching the right hand side of the screen and swiping you finger up or down, you can even control the lens without otherwise nudging the lever encircling the shutter release button (though the physical control is less fiddly).

As with previous touch panel Panasonics, focus can be biased toward a particular subject simply by tapping it on screen, and the shutter can also be fired this way (though the latter can be deactivated to prevent accidentally taking a shot, which is otherwise fairly easy to do). Furthermore, when the camera's in intelligent Auto (iA) mode and the subject is touched on screen, the camera selects the most relevant mode to best fit the subject; for example selecting portrait mode if the user touches a face, or landscape mode if it's something more scenic. Screen brightness automatically adjusts through 11 stages depending on light conditions at the time so hopefully the best visibility is achieved without the user having to think about it. We were using the camera outside in bright sunlight and didn't feel the usual urge to cup a hand around the screen to see what was going on.

For squeezing those landscapes and group portraits into frame the TZ20's Leica branded lens starts out at a wide angle 24mm equivalent in 35mm film terms, running up to 384mm at the telephoto end (to the Fuji's 360mm). So, what you lose in sleekness is more than made up for in the quickness and convenience of not having to take steps forward and back to fit everything you want into frame. It's optically image stabilised too, to avoid the blurring effects of camera shake, which are more pronounced when taking pictures at the telephoto end of the zoom or in lower light. Whilst not 100% perfect, more often than not we achieved results we were pleased with. Its maker has coupled this with an Active mode to boost the effect of the stabiliser when not only the photographer but the subject is on the move.

In terms of operation speed, you can achieve up to an impressive 10 frames per second in consecutive shooting mode, or 5fps if you have continuous AF selected. If you don't mind a resolution drop to 3.5 megapixels then up to 60fps is also offered. Even in regular single shot mode the TZ20 remains a speed demon. The camera's auto focus is also fast - a whopping 49% faster than its predecessor, says Panasonic, something that seemed to be borne out in testing.

All of this inevitably costs though, and currently the TZ20 has a street price of £350, so you're paying an inevitable premium for the camera's combo of big lens, pocket-size chassis, and a payload of the latest must have features to round off the package. To put the Panasonic into context as regards rivals, this is not only dearer than the Fuji F300EXR, if only by £30 or so, but makes Canon's own big zoom compact in the 12x optical PowerShot SX130 IS look an outright bargain at £150. If you don't mind a slightly broader chassis still, Fuji also has the DSLR-styled 18x zoom S2800HD at the same price as the Canon, which is excellent value. None of them offer built-in GPS or 3D modes however. Have a look also at Casio's £330 Exilim EX-H20G if you want GPS and a larger than average zoom, even if 10x seems modest compared to what's on offer here.


March 17, 2011, 2:57 pm

"So perhaps the major nettle to grasp here is the TZ20's cost, with a high-ish street price of around £350 on launch making it just £50 or so cheaper than a starter digital SLR with kit lens. Moreover, you can pick up other very capable super zooms, like Panasonic's TZ20, for under £200 so, which until the price of this model drops it what we'd be inclined to do. "

I assume you mean TZ10 "like Panasonic's TZ10, for under £200 so" ???


March 17, 2011, 5:40 pm

Just wondering how you'd rate the video quality in the HD recording mode?
Can you zoom without losing audio and is the O.I.S effective at keeping a steady video picture?
(My days of lugging a DSLR and seperate video camera around are over. Nowadays I'm in the market for small "do it all" compact device that I'll always have with me. I can accept some trade-offs in image quality and video quality as long as they are not too pronounced.)

Tom MacFarlane

March 17, 2011, 8:13 pm


Also consider the Canon PowerShot SX220 which is about £70 cheaper in the UK.

Tony Walker

March 17, 2011, 9:37 pm


Take a brilliant camera - the TZ7 - change the superb sensor for an inferior one and increase the price to get the TZ10. Then take that one, put what looks like an even worse sensor in it, change the awesome lens for something that looks like it's been recycled from a beer bottle and **then** have the cheek to charge even more.

What are you doing Panasonic !!!!


March 17, 2011, 10:00 pm

Like Maxik, I am left wondering how the camera's video features stack up.

I've always bought separate Video Camera's, but with the increasing convergence of still & video technology, it'd be useful if TR could cover this off in their reviews.

Similarly, with multi-functional/all-in-one printers, there's usually very little coverage of features beyond basic printing (and then only with default driver settings).

Theese are not a criticisms, just suggestions that might bring increased readership through some value-add to the template-like review format TR have adopted. Formats are good - but they do need to evolve over time.


March 18, 2011, 4:20 am

I've had a TZ 3,5,6, and currently 7 so am fairly well equipped to answer the above questions ;)
I think the video is excellent, zoom is active and sound records while zooming, something you don't find on most zoom compacts. The zoom itself is quiet enough that it doesn't detract from video. I bought the TZ7 over the TZ10 and never regretted it, much cheaper, image quality identical, 12x zoom is plenty for most situations, and I have spare batteries :)

An example of the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... which I took at 6-12x zoom, unstabilised, in the barbican theatre in show lighting, at a significant distance. This isn't even at max quality. Considering I was 25m+ from the musicians, I think the sound comes out fantastically! Also there are stereo mics which you again don't get from all that many compacts.

Battery life is excellent, 300 odd photos per charge although the big zoom kills power if you keep zooming in and out. Rapid autofocus, good on moving objects, decent indoors compared to most equivalent cameras. I'm not a pro by any means but most of the time you get sharp, well coloured, balanced photos. There isn't that much by way of tinkering with settings possible but that can be a pro for some people.

All told, TZ7 is a fantastic piece of kit, cheap to boot. Buy one as a pocketable second camera or a main camera for casual users and you will be a happy bunny :)

chris elliott

March 18, 2011, 2:10 pm

I'm dissapointed with the 20. I've owned the 5, 7, and 10(No I don't collect them! The 5 got smashed by Delta airlines, and the 10 got nicked!), and I assumed that the 20 would be a good step forward.
It isn't
The sensor is so noisy, that for the first time ever, not only do I have shots that are unusable, but you can even see the poor quality on the screen at the back!
All the new "Features" aren't anything to write home about. The various hyper zoom options give a truly horrible result-and you might as well just crop the image to give a higher perceived zoom. The low light level options are really horrible, and the new touch screen is really badly implemented.
I could carry on, but the best advice is DON'T ASSUME, as I did, that a new offering from Panasonic would be better than the last-'cos it ain't. Go check it out in a retailer yourself


March 19, 2011, 7:20 pm

After doing all the usual reviews and write ups I have had a TZ20 for three days which was to replace my trusty TZ7. What a mistake!
The sensor is really noisy and the picture quality is not as good. But the worst thing that I have found is the touch sensitive screen. Turn the camera on and just inadvertently place a finger on the display and the camera takes a picture! I have looked through the manual to see if there is a setting to turn off this setting, but have not found anything as yet!
I would be interested to hear of anyone else experiencing this problem, or is it just me, my camera or a software glitch?
Oh, and the GPS has still not managed to find enough satellites for it to work, and yes I was outdoors.
Having had a TZ7 since they first came out, Panasonic seems to have lost their way with the TZ20.

Unhappy bunny


March 31, 2011, 5:36 pm

Power-hungry camera, certainly when using GPS, and TINY battery. Budget for buying a spare. Echo comments here about noisy sensor.

simple simon

April 7, 2011, 1:27 pm

Thanks everyone for your comments - I have a TZ3 and for a still image camera am delighted with it. 99.9% of the time I get excellent results. But its video mode is only 840x480 VGA with 8 bit mono sound so I am now looking for a combined digicam with better video. Having read comments here I can see that newer variants are not neccessarily better. Also, who wants / needs big brother 24/7 tracking with GPS? Simon


May 17, 2011, 6:51 pm

The TZ7 and TZ10 use the same batteries. I have both these models.


May 17, 2011, 7:02 pm

It's been really useful reading all the readers comments here. I have a Lumix TZ7, and a Lumix TZ 10. After reading all about the pros and cons of the TZ 20, the specs are maybe just to stay ahead of the competition. I have tried the camera, the 3D mode is interesting, the touch screen is a nuisance, but the comments about picture quality dropping with max zoom, and lens quality differing from the TZ7/10, maybe i will just stick to the 7 and 10., as the touch screen is enough to put me off. I will never ever part with the TZ7. p.s. My wife has a new Panasonic DMC FS 35. I can't find any comments on this site about it.

singh kami

August 22, 2012, 10:49 pm

Dear All Please note

Panasonic DMC Tz20 is the third class camera d'note buy this camera
picture quality bade pure night mode allways dark picture only
i was sent to panasonic service center two time this camera for
repair within 6 months i sujjest to all of one please do not to go
with panasonic camera very badd camera i have no word for this
camera is my bp is go high after purchased this third class camera
oh my god very horrible camera buy any onether brand camera rather than panasonic DMC TZ20

Neil Harvey

July 23, 2014, 9:29 pm

I have had a DMC TZ20 for almost 2 years and it goes everywhere with me as my second camera. It has taken thousands of images and I have yet to find a fault or annoyance with the camera.
I have read comments from other users about touch screen issues, but I'd had the camera for months before I even bothered to try using it. Having tried it, I felt more comfortable using the menu system as it was the same as the TZ10 I was used to. I still have my TZ10 but just leave it in my car as a spare and it never gets used because the TZ20 has not let me down.
Yes, the GPS is power hungry but I'm aware of it and have it 'off' most of the time. I always carry a spare battery (which is the same as for the TZ10), but on a days shooting of stills, I have never needed to change or replace the battery. No probs with noise, either from the sensor or on my zoomed images so I can't find anything to complain about.
Very happy with the wide-angle which is great for photographing building and the 16x zoom has provided more that adequate pics of aircraft.
If I had to find fault, it would be that it does not take good macro shots in poor light and there you have it! Otherwise it is perfect for my needs.

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