Panasonic's TZ range of compacts has produced cameras with impressive zoom lengths for a fair few years now, of which the TZ8 is one of the latest additions. This slim camera somehow manages to contain a 12x optical zoom, making it TARDIS-like in its ability to conceal such a feature. This aside the TZ8 can also shoot 720p HD video and gives the user full control of shutter speed and aperture.
The Leica name on the front of the lens gives this camera a degree of prestige, and with a 25mm wide angle it seems as if Panasonic has approached the optics in the correct manner. The slight frame on the TZ8 belies the features within, which also include a high definition movie mode that allows the full magnification to be used when recording. Much like a DSLR the TZ8 also gives complete control of the shutter speed to capture fast moving subjects and the aperture to increase the amount of the photo in focus.
There's an intelligent auto mode for those looking to give control over to the camera, as it caters the scene mode to the subject or lighting conditions. The 12x zoom also has an amount of automatic assistance in the form of an optical image stabiliser. This is something of an impressive extra for a compact camera as few come with the feature, and should make finding focus at the top end of the zoom far easier. With such a small, light body to hold, the stabilisation should come into play frequently.