The looks of the Panasonic Lumix TZ8 aren't vastly different from those preceding it, adhering to a compromise between form and function. The body is impressively thin for a camera with such a large zoom, standing at just under 33mm thick. Thanks to the smooth lines the TZ8 avoids looking too boxy and dated, making itself appear far more modern in the process. Coming in either silver or black helps, as neither looks like some of the more gimmicky shades a number of manufacturers produce.
As with the majority of the compacts of this ilk, the TZ8 isn't exactly awash with buttons. Very little of the attractive shell is spoilt with dials and switches, with the majority of the work being done by the multi-use D-Pad. Beyond that there are minimal buttons, although the mode dial will be familiar to any DSLR users out there. The manual controls can be easily found here to allow for the majority of the settings to be altered. Neither does the small dial feel weak or flimsy, mimicking its removable lens siblings.
The zoom slider is similarly well put together, reacting well to each delicate flick or lengthy pull. The only real annoyance is the playback/record switch, which is a touch too small. It also has a nasty habit of getting caught when taking the camera out a case, changing the mode without the user's input, although this is a minor foible. The buttons dotted around the D-Pad do suffer somewhat from being recessed a touch too far into the body of the camera, especially where the body curves towards the screen. This means the corner of a finger or fingernail needs to be used in order to activate the relevant setting, especially true for those with larger hands.
Thankfully the menu system is clear and colourful enough that going beyond the buttons isn’t too much of a chore. The manual modes are accessed via the Exposure button once the correct setting is engaged, then toggled via the D-pad.