The Panasonic TZ100 is the very model of a modern advanced compact camera. It has a good-size 1-inch sensor, solid zoom range and enough manual controls to offer a complete photo experience. It may be a small camera, but it can outdo a smartphone unit by some distance.
But, if having a 10x zoom rather than a 3x one will mean that you use a camera more often, then the smaller, wider-aperture competition might prove more compelling. This includes models such as the Sony RX100 III and Canon PowerShot G7 X. Now that it’s available for £500, the Panasonic Lumix LX100, too, will be a better match for image quality obsessives.
Nevertheless, for £549, the Panasonic TZ100 makes a great travel camera – one that's capable of far better image quality than the zoom compacts of previous generations.
Related: Best Cameras 2016
The Panasonic TZ100 is a fairly small camera; you can grasp it easily in one hand.
However, it can't quite boast being pocketable. By including a fairly chunky 10x zoom, the Panasonic TZ100 will fit comfortably only in your coat pocket; not in your jeans. I find the lens housing protrudes just that little too much, more so than on Panasonic TZ80 I reviewed recently.
The TZ100 is more visually appealing than that lower-end model, though. An all-black version of the camera is available, but the model I'm reviewing here sports a two-tone finish: a bit of silvery grey in the top-left corner, bordered by a red trim.
It reminds me a little of the Sony RX100 range with its smooth anodised metal curves; the Panasonic TZ100 is a little larger, however.
The Panasonic TZ100’s front plate, top panel and the control dials are all metal – these are the parts of the camera on which your fingers will rest most often. There’s no rubbery grip around the front, just a slight raised "bump", so you’ll probably want use the strap most of the time. There’s enough here to hold onto to avoid your grip feeling precarious, however.
The Panasonic TZ100 has pretty effective manual controls. There’s a smooth lens ring that juggles lead roles as a zoom control and an aperture ring, depending on the mode you’re using. Plus, there’s a chunky control dial up on the top plate, where your right thumb would naturally sit.
This is a neat upgrade over the D-pad wheel found on the back plate of the smaller TZ80 and Sony RX100. In both cameras it sits right next to other interface controls, and can be a little fiddly.
There’s an edge of seriousness to the TZ100. Even the chunky power flick-switch exudes it. This doesn’t impact on its ease of use, however. If you want to treat this as a superior full auto camera, then go ahead. It’s more than up to the task.
However, real enthusiasts may miss a dedicated exposure control dial. To alter exposure your have to hit the D-pad, then tap left and right. If you’re after a DSLR-like feel, then I'd recommend considering the Panasonic LX100 over this model.
A consummate box-ticker, the Panasonic TZ100 has an EVF. Its specs are identical to those of the cheaper TZ80. It’s a fixed, 1.16 million dot display with magnification of x0.46.
Sharp enough, but a little small, I’ve been using it as a backup for the rear display rather than a replacement. It is handy, though. Unlike the Sony RX100 cameras, it just sits there rather than popping out of the camera body, and the Panasonic TZ100 automatically switches to the EVF when you put your face up to the camera's rear.
The Panasonic TZ100 screen is three inches across and has a 1.04 million-dot resolution. It’s a clear, fairly colour-accurate screen, but doesn’t tilt or flip out at all. Most other 1-inch sensor compacts offer some kind of tilt to the display, so the use of a totally fixed one here is disappointing.
It is a touchscreen, however, enabling you to pick your focus point with a prod of a finger. If you’re going to make good use of the manual controls, though, picking focus with the D-pad on the rear feels more natural.