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Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ8 - Performance and Results

By Matt Tuffin

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ8 front angle

Summary

Our Score:

9

With such a large optical zoom on the front of the camera it would be surprising if the performance wasn’t affected in some way at the top end. In the case of the TZ8 it leads to the focus being a lot more temperamental. This can be quite frustrating, especially when the subject isn’t static for long periods, but once locked on the images are almost always sharp and well exposed. This means that if a soft image is returned it’s generally due to user error rather than the camera, which returns a number of red, flashing error messages to keep the photographer informed.

When the camera does decide the conditions are at optimum levels the images returned are superbly sharp, putting a number of similarly specified cameras to shame. With a multi-zone focusing system the frame quickly becomes filled with green squares, making it clear which portion will be concentrated on. When in manual mode a half press of the shutter also gives an exposure preview, which is a handy way of determining if the settings adopted are beneficial or detrimental to the end image quality. When stepping away from taking full control of the camera the iAuto mode is quite useful at the wider angle of the focal length, but zooming fully in can add an unnecessary delay to snapping the shot. For those who would like to avoid changing too many settings the Program mode is perfectly serviceable when utilizing the zoom at advanced lengths.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ8 top

Colour quality is impressively balanced when on the standard, automatic settings and in bright sunlight, not straying too far into the overly vivid territory. There can be a slight magenta cast on occasions, but it isn’t noticeable enough to spoil the images. In lower light the pixel smoothing comes into effect to keep the noise levels down to a minimum, making the colours a touch less graduated than in perfect conditions. Fortunately the smoothing isn’t overly aggressive as to ruin any detail, keeping just on the right side to maintain sharpness. At the wider angle dynamic range keeps things balanced enough to maintain a consistent exposure across the majority of the image, from the brighter areas to the shadowed corners.

Verdict

The Panasonic TZ8 isn’t a pleasant surprise, as its predecessor the TZ7 has similar pedigree, but an impressive continuation of previous form. The only criticisms are slight and infrequent, making the end performance of this compact some of the most balanced available on a compact currently on the market.

Evren

June 18, 2010, 4:06 pm

I find the past few camera reviews including this one a little bit unuseful only because of the new scenes used for the ISO noise tests. The subjects lack any gradient colours, sharp lines etc for me to judge whether the fuzziness is result of noise or noise reduction or simply the texture of the plush toy. Also the white balance of the test shots seem to be incorrect which further affects the quality of the test shots. Can't you start using the toy cars or something similar again for these ISO tests?

the near side

June 18, 2010, 4:43 pm

I agree with Evren. I appreciate that you may get bored taking the same photographs, but it does provide us with better comparisons.

Geoff Richards

June 18, 2010, 4:57 pm

Hi Guys,





Apologies for the switch. Our Digital Photography Editor, Cliff Smith, has been off work recently so we have enlisted the help of Matt Tuffin from our sister publication, WhatDigitalCamera, to keep the channel flush with fresh reviews.





Unfortunately the toy cars live in Cliff's studio in Devon, while Matt works out of IPC Media's HQ in London.





Cliff will be back on deck soon and I'm sure he'll add his thoughts to this thread.

Andrew 19

June 18, 2010, 5:39 pm

Recently the order of reviews has become confusing and editorial poor - this being an example. The newer TZ10 was reviewed on 26/Feb/2010. Obviously it's good to fill the gaps which were missed, but the way the review was commented in the opening paragraph was as though this was a new product! A better editorial would have commented this and placed the camera in context to the existing TZ7 and TZ10 reviews. Also, comparing the 3 reviews, this review reads oddly. I realise that there is a new editor, but this seems very basic editorial function to review content before publication. Furthermore in the previous comments that it was better to rush this review out (of an OLD product!) than wait - is poor judgment (in my opinion).

Andy0d2

June 18, 2010, 7:34 pm

I believe the TZ8 was released after the TZ10 or at the same time at least.





Is it just me or is the final shot is not straight.

Joel

June 18, 2010, 7:39 pm

@Andrew: That's a bit harsh, and not entirely accurate. The TZ8 isn't an 'old' product, and the TZ10 isn't a 'newer' version of the TZ8 - they're both part of the same line-up, but the TZ10 has GPS whereas the TZ8 doesn't. I honestly don't see what's wrong in TR reviewing the TZ10 before the TZ8.

HarryGlass

June 18, 2010, 8:08 pm

Too many people bashing TR lately. You can never please everyone, we've all got enough intelligence to work things out; there's no need to bash them for every flaw. If you were such a person that just believed the first thing you read then you'd be buying everything in Jessops or PC World and wouldn't be here in the first place.





Anyway Dpreview's recent travel zoom test put the TZ8 (and TZ10) down a peg, saying they've now been caught up by their competitors. Wonder what the TR team make of that given they say this camera is still top of the heap.





http://www.dpreview.com/review...

Ripsnorter

June 18, 2010, 8:53 pm

I'm sorry to add my voice to the negativity, but this review is below the usual TR standard. This camera can shoot in HD and I can't find a single mention of how it performed.

ThatOne

June 18, 2010, 9:17 pm

Three good consistent reviews in one batch. Nice. Can we hope that cameras which under-perform on Image Quality will never again get high overall scores?





PS (1): Don't buy the Fuji S2500HD! Put in the extra money and buy this Panasonic. You won't look like you are holding a DSLR when you take the shots, but you will feel a whole lot better when you look at them.





PS (2): The English!!!! (OK, so it's consistently painful...)

Cliff Smith

June 19, 2010, 5:40 am

I'd like to thank Matt Tuffin for covering for me for the past two weeks, while I've been off work following an operation. He's done a great job despite being asked at very short notice, and taking on the workload in addition to his duties on What Digital Camera.





I'll be back to work next week with some interesting new cameras to review including the Panasonic G10 and the Sigma DP2S, so all you people missing your regular model car photos can relax!

Tony Walker

June 19, 2010, 7:19 am

Just spotted in the specs that the video recording is only to MJPEG format. That kinda kills it.





I've also seen reviews criticising the picture quality of the TZ10 and as this seems to use the same 12.1MP sensor, it would be fair to expect the same.





Easy solution. Buy a TZ7 while you can. Might not have the manual control stuff but picture quality and HD video quality are both top notch. An early adoptor posted some footage (in AVCHD format) over at DPReview of a Pink concert. Has to be seen.

supamario

June 19, 2010, 11:27 am

1. A nice review. Thank you.


2. TR provides good coverage on all products. If you want in-depth super-geek


specialised coverage, you can look elsewhere such as Anandtech which TR mention from


time to time.


3. My only suggestion to TR is to include a Feature Table or Spec Sheet where possible.


4. Some readers have a lot of nerve whining about a free top service like TR..

joose

June 19, 2010, 1:42 pm

Welcome back Cliff (also thanks Matt for covering in his absence). Looking forward to the DP2s review as alot of my Flickr friends do great work with them despite all the problems they have. Would also be great if you get the chance to choose, a review on the Fuji HS10.

Andy0d2

June 19, 2010, 3:26 pm

Lets not be too negative about this review, since whilst only marginally below par its still far better than most tech sites and even £5 tech mags. I have a TZ5 and these new TZ cameras are really tempting as the few niggles I had have been solved (chunky and no manual controls).

Clovis

June 19, 2010, 5:51 pm

Was the zoomed-in sample picture taken with digital zoom activated? It has a simply abysmal IQ, being artifact-ridden, blotchy and pixelated. Having used a TZ7 extensively (maybe 30,000 shots), I gotta say its photos look better than this, both at wide-angle and zoomed. The two extra megapixels on the same-sized sensor managed to "de-improve" an amazing camera.I say get the TZ7 in clearing sales while you still can.

John Shewsbury

June 19, 2010, 10:07 pm

In my opinion all the review in TR is simple and yet informative and so far I'm quite happy with it. If anybody still not satisfy with their review, no point complaining about it coz first and foremost it's free and second of all, you can always look for other review from other site that maybe offer many more information that you will need if it's not provided in TR, that's the great thing with internet isn't it? Just search and you will find.... By the way, I hope Cliff Smith or any other TR reviewer can review the Fujifilm HS10 soon... I already read the review from other sites but I still want to read the opinion of TR staff about it... Good luck to TR and welcome back Mr. Cliff Smith...

elizabeth

June 21, 2010, 10:32 pm

I was introduced to your site while looking for a new digital camera at John Lewis. As I am trying to get through the minefield which I have discovered when trying to decide on a new camera I thought you would probably be the answer. However having thought that the Lumix DMC-Tz8 may be the one I am more confused than ever especially by the comments from others who appear to be experts.I do agree with one comment about the video quality which seems to have been missing from your appraisal and as this is also a function which would interest me I would like more information.I have not read all of your reviews but would like to remind you that many of us are new to this technology and don't wish to be bamboozled by too much technospeak,but merely want good and reliable photographs and video with good sound and vision.

joose

June 22, 2010, 2:13 am

@elizabeth - this is the camera to buy from John Lewis





http://www.johnlewis.com/23099...





Here is the review from this site -





http://www.trustedreviews.com/...





Here is a link to a bunch of videos taken with the camera. If the video is jerky it's most likely to be your PC not being able run the video well. If it's not jerky make sure the HD button has been clicked. If it still isn't jerky then you have a nice PC :) + this is what the camera can actually do.





http://vimeo.com/videos/search...





Hope this helps

Ian Manning

June 28, 2010, 2:21 pm

Having finally decided on the TZ8 against the TZ7 because of a/ the manual controls and b/ the more effective Power O.I.S, I have to say I am disappointed that the review didn't point out some of the problems with the TZ8 that I have discovered AFTER purchase! The biggest of these is the woefully restricted aperture settings using the manual controls, namely that you can't shut down further than f6.3!! Even in M mode (which one would assume to mean fully manual), the same aperture restrictions are there. This really makes the addition of these controls effectively pointless. Why wasn't this pointed out in the review?


Almost as disappointing is the fact that when using the lens at full or near full telephoto in iAuto mode, the minimum focussing distance seems set at 2m! You have to change to P mode, then choose Macro Zoom from the menus, but then the zoom is restricted to 3x! I have used a friend's TZ7 and this is not the case with that camera. You just focus at full zoom from as close as 30 cm or so and the macro is there automatically. Stupidly, I assumed that as the TZ8 and TZ7 use the same lens the macro facility would be the same. This is another thing I think a reviewer should have pointed out.


And as for John Shrewsbury's comment about finding other reviews with more information, this is absolutely fair, but I make two points: 1/ I did do that and could find no other reviews which mentioned these failings of the TZ8 and 2/ a site entitled 'Trusted Reviews' really should make sure its reviews are as accurate and comprehensive as possible.


Finally, I appreciate that Matt Tuffin was drafted in at the last moment, but, frankly, if he hadn't the time to do the review properly, I think he shouldn't have done it at all. And TR should have realised this.


Sorry - moan over!

Tizer

June 30, 2010, 4:11 pm

I find the TR reviews very, very useful although I have to admit looking at the DPReviews site too! One glaring omission from the TR pages is a review of the Fujifilm Finepix HS10. This superzoom camera with its 30x zoom and its fancy sensor with what Fuji amusingly call `backside illumination' has caused quite a stir. It has other unusual features too and I'm surprised that TR have not rushed to publish a review. Any likelihood of one soon? Otherwise I will have to rely on the DP review!

Geoff Richards

June 30, 2010, 4:41 pm

@Tizer - thanks for the kind words. I am aware of the gap in our coverage for the HS10. I'm hoping Cliff will have a sample soon.

Tizer

July 1, 2010, 7:21 pm

Thanks Geoff. Fuji might prefer Cliff to wait for a chance to review the HS10 - they have released two firmware updates already, so the camera might only now be settling down!

Don 1

August 28, 2010, 12:37 am

I hope Cliff is OK. I bought a TZ8 today and have only just clicked off a few snaps to make sure it is working ok. I have read all the reviews and went out with this in back of my mind mind and wanting a Canon G10. I must say I found the G10 uncomfortable for me (I have MS AND FINGERS DONT WORK WELL)THE tz8 works fine for me and I can work it which is a bonus. Keep up the reviews I have been an avid reader for the last two years thanks.

tulipfield

February 1, 2011, 5:50 pm

purchased TZ8 special price to replace my TZ4, but picture quality for close ups and inside house are so much worser then expected, dont understand what they are doing at panasonic, keep my old one and ask for refund

Sue Slator

February 5, 2013, 9:27 am

found a great camera ..once take time to find all great features on it well worth it

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