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You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Panasonic TZ5

Panasonic Digital Cameras

   

Panasonic TZ5 Review

Review Date: Apr 21, 2008

Category: Point-and-Shoot

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5

Photoxels Editor's Choice 2008 - Compact UltraZoom
Photoxels Editor's Choice 2008 - Compact UltraZoom 

HANDLING & FEEL

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 is a compact 10x ultra zoom digital camera that can be carried in a large trousers or coat pocket. It uses the Secure Digital (SD and large capacity SDHC) memory card.

The TZ5 is available in 3 or 4 different colours: black, silver or blue (and brown in some countries). My review camera is black with silver and chrome accents. The handgrip has a very nice black strip with a texture reminiscent of professional DSLR finish.

Panasonic has probably some of the best designed digital camera these days. Nothing gaudy or over the top, with seemingly every design element having a practical reason to be:

  • A strap eyelet that does not poke your hand and makes it easy to attach the strap.
  • An Easy Zoom button that takes you to maximum tele focal length with one press.
  • A plastic door for the I/O ports that opens -- and stays open -- for easy access to the USB port.

The build is very good with a professional and quality look. The controls feel right to the touch without being too soft or too hard to press. The chrome finish is very good but can get easily scratched so be careful what you carry into the same pocket.

The lens extends about 8mm (0.3 in.) from the body when the camera is off, but powered on, the lens extends approx. a further 19mm (0.75 in.) at wide-angle and 33mm (1.25 in.) at full tele.

Performance is very good for an ultra zoom: startup and shot to shot times are about 2 sec. With a contrasty subject and good lighting, there is no practical shutter lag and autofocus is quite fast and precise. In low light, AF lag can reach to just under 1 sec. This kind of performance makes the TZ5 quite responsive and a joy to use.

STYLE
- Colours: black, silver, blue or brown (depending on country)
- Looks: elegant, quality design
   
FEEL
- "Hefty" though not heavy
- Controls are well positioned and spaced, and have right touch and feel
   
DIMENSIONS & WEIGHT
- Compact, pocketable though weight can be felt in trousers pocket; more comfortable to carry it in a coat pocket
- Dimensions: 103.3 x 59.3 x 36.5 mm /
4.07 x 2.33 x 1.44 in.
- Weight: 240 g ( 0.53 lb) with Battery and SD Memory Card
- Takes 1 rechargeable Li-ion battery CGA-S007A 3.7V 1000mAh (@ 300 shots/charge)
   
SPEED OF OPERATION
- Startup with lens extension and LCD turning on in approx. 2 sec.
- Shot to shot time approx. 2 sec.
- No practical shutter lag with contrasty subject in good lighting; under 1 sec. in low-light
   

Included in the box is a rechargeable Li-ion battery that can take about 300 shots with LCD on (CIPA standard) on a fresh charge and a Battery Charger DE-A45B that will recharge a new battery in approx. 120 min. The Battery Charger is of the type that conveniently plugs directly into a wall electrical socket.

Controls

Panasonic TZ5 top view

The top of the camera has, from right to left, the Easy Zoom button, the Shutter Release Button, the Zoom collar around the Shutter Button, the Power ON/OFF switch, and the Mode Dial. The Mode Dial has iA (Intelligent AUTO), Normal Picture, Scene Mode (Scene 1 and Scene 2 allow you to default two scene modes), Motion Picture, Clipboard.

Virtual Representation of Mode Dial

A visual representation of the Mode Dial displays on the LCD monitor whenever you turn the dial (if you have set that option in SETUP) so you don't have to take your eyes off the LCD monitor as you change shooting mode (and it is also perfect in low-light situations where there may not be enough light to read the dial). The Mode Dial rotates freely clockwise or anti-clockwise (i.e. you can keep rotating in any one direction). You can easily rotate it using the thumb and it clicks positively in place. During a shooting session, I've not had any instance where it accidentally moved off the selected shooting mode. However, when I take it out of my pocket, I've noticed that I've sometimes inadvertently changed shooting mode, so it's worth checking you're in the right mode.

The Clipboard mode can be quite useful if you are travelling and want to save pictures of time tables and maps. These are saved into Internal Memory. You can zoom in and position to a particular position on the picture, then mark it with a press of the OK button. In Clipboard Playback, simply toggle the Zoom lever toward the Tele position to immediately zoom and reposition to the marked position.

Zoom Indicator with min. focusing distance and zoom factor

Zoom Indicator with min. focusing distance and zoom factor

The Zoom Lever is around the Shutter Button and it takes about 3 sec. to zoom from wide to max. tele. I counted about 30 intermediate steps, which is very good. There is a zoom indicator displayed on the LCD as you zoom, together with the min distance the camera will focus as well as the zoom factor.

Image Stabilizer Mode1 and Mode 2

To select an Optical Image Stabilizer mode, you'll need to go into the Menu (or Quick Menu): set it to OFF when putting the camera on a tripod; MODE 1, if you want to see the effect of image stabilization at all times; MODE 2, for the most effective stabilization, which takes place just before the image is taken.

Burst Mode

Burst Mode allows you to take up to 3 or 5 images (depending on Quality selected) at 2.5fps, and an unlimited number of images (depending on the space available on your memory card) at approx. 2fps in Unlimited mode.

# Images (Fine)
50MB
4GB
4:3
3456x2592
9M
10
892
3072x2304
7M EZ
14
1127
2560x1920
5M EZ
20
1611
2048x1536
3M EZ
32
2481
1600x1200
2M EZ
51
3877
640x480
0.3M EZ
248
17729
3:2
3552x2368
8.5M
11
946
3072x2048
6M EZ
15
1265
2560x1712
4.5M EZ
22
1797
2048x1360
2.5M EZ
36
2757
16:9
3712x2088
7.5M
12
1024
3072x1728
5.5M EZ
18
1494
2560x1440
3.5M EZ
27
2102
1920x1080
2M EZ
47
3649

 

# Images (Standard)
50MB
4GB
4:3
3456x2592
9M
22
1747
3072x2304
7M EZ
28
2215
2560x1920
5M EZ
40
3101
2048x1536
3M EZ
62
4772
1600x1200
2M EZ
97
7299
640x480
0.3M EZ
405
24821
3:2
3552x2368
8.5M
23
1851
3072x2048
6M EZ
32
2481
2560x1712
4.5M EZ
45
3446
2048x1360
2.5M EZ
69
5170
16:9
3712x2088
7.5M
25
2001
3072x1728
5.5M EZ
37
2885
2560x1440
3.5M EZ
53
4002
1920x1080
2M EZ
91
6894

You can record movies with sound (approx. 2GB clips until the memory card is full) at either 1280 x 720 (HD 16:9 aspect ratio), 848 x 480 (16:9 aspect ratio) or 640 x 480 or 320x240 pixels (both at 4:3 aspect ratio) at 30fps or 10fps. You can zoom while filming videos, though you will also record the zoom and autofocus noise.

Video Storage Capacity
4GB
16:9H
1280x720
30fps
8m 27s
15fps
16m 56s
16:9L
848x480
30fps
15m 00s
10fps
15m 00s
4:3 VGA
640x480
30fps
22m 34s
10fps
1h 07m 05s
4:3 QVGA
320x240
30fps
1h 07m 04s
10fps
3h 14m 55s

In my test, I was able to record up to 23m 10s of 4:3 VGA (640x480 pixels) at 30fps, which took 1.87GB of disk space -- and still had space left over for 450 still shots (9M Fine) on my 4GB SDHC card. If you plan to record lots of clips as well as still shots, a 4GB high-speed (at least 10MB/s) SDHC memory card will ensure you do not run out of memory space. [32GB SDHC cards are currently available.]

If you plan to purchase a 4GB or larger capacity card, ensure it is SDHC high-speed (at least 10MB/s) and has the "SDHC", and not just the "SD", logo.

Panasonic TZ5 with optional DMW-HDC2 component cable

Optional DMW-HDC2 Component cable

To enjoy still and motion pictures on a HDTV (which must have a 1080i input terminal), you need to purchase the optional DMW-HDC2 component cable.

Panasonic TZ5 back controls

FUNCTIONS ACCESSIBLE BY CONTROL BUTTONS
-

RECording / PLAYback switch.

-

CURSOR buttons.

UP ARROW (Exposure Compensation, Auto Bracket, WB Adjust); RIGHT ARROW (Flash); DOWN ARROW (Macro); LEFT ARROW (Self-timer 10s, 2s).

Bringing up Auto Bracketing using the UP ARROW (press twice) is super convenient!

MENU/SET button in the middle calls up the Menu; use CURSOR buttons to navigate the Menu screens; press MENU/SET again to accept a screen choice.

-

DISPLAY. Press button repeatedly to cycle through: Normal, No Info displayed, Guide Lines.

To display a Histogram, you have to enable it in SETUP, then the Live Histogram will display in Normal and Guide Line modes.

You can also specify in SETUP whether you want image info to be displayed when the Guide Lines display.

For Guide Lines, you can specify in SETUP whether to display the vertical/horizontal lines or vertical/horizontal/diagonal lines.

-

Q.MENU button.

Recording Mode: QUICK MENU. Press to bring up a convenient way to change options without going into the Menu proper.

Playback Mode: DELETE. Delete Single, Delete Multi, Delete All. Fast and intuitive and, best of all, no need to access the Menu!

   
EXPOSURE COMPENSATION
- Exposure Compensation is accessed with the UP ARROW
- Once set, the Exposure Compensation Indicator conveniently stays displayed on screen until it is reset to "0"
- Range: -2 EV to +2 EV (13 steps in 1/3 EV increments)
- The screen brightness will increase or decrease to reflect the value you use
- Note: the exposure compensation value selected is retained even when the camera is turned off. So remember to reset to "0" after using it or the next time you turn the camera on, your shots may be over- or under-exposed.
- Press UP ARROW again to call up Auto Bracket. Very convenient.
- When a White Balance is selected, pressing UP ARROW one more time will call up WB Adjust.
   
SHUTTER SPEED RANGES
- P: 1 - 1/2,000 sec.
Fireworks scene mode: 1/4 sec. (O.I.S. ON) or 2 sec. (O.I.S. OFF)
Night Scenery scene mode: 8 sec.
Starry Sky scene mode: 15, 30, 60 sec.
   

The Q. MENU button brings up a row of the most common functions at the top of the screen. This makes for really quick (this is what the "Q." stands for) access to all the functionality you'll used most often. The Power LCD and High Angle feature are now accessed thru Q.MENU. A new Auto Power LCD selection will adjust the LCD or optimum viewing brightness depending on the ambient light.

LCD & Menus

There is no viewfinder but an extra large 3.0 in. LCD monitor with a very high 460,000 dots resolution. The LCD has a fast enough refresh rate for a smooth display. The LCD monitor's brightness can be adjusted in SETUP. The LCD gains up only very slightly in low-light.

Usually in sunny conditions or when there is a bright backlight, it can be difficult to see the image on the LCD of a digital camera. The TZ5 has an Automatic Power LCD option that will automatically brightens the screen and it works quite well.

At the max. tele range of 280mm, even tiny movement handholding the camera usually translates to large jerks of the image on the LCD screen. Fortunately, the optical image stabilizer on the TZ5 (O.I.S. Mode 1) is very effective and replaces the jerkiness with a smooth picture, allowing you to more easily compose your shot.

You can superimpose a handy grid (guide lines) to ensure your horizontals and verticals are so, and a Live Histogram -- which I have to say even many so-called prosumer compacts do not have.

A new Multi-Aspect scene mode allows you to take 3 shots of a scene in all 3 aspect ratios (4:3, 3:2 and 16:9) with one press of the shutter release button.

There is an effective AF-assist Illuminator and I've found auto focusing to be reasonably fast and precise in low-light situations (less than 1 sec.).

Panasonic's menu structure is probably the best there is. It is very easy to understand and use. Where necessary, the menu is transparent to allow you to see the effect of your choices (e.g. for WB and Color Effect). There are 4 RECord and 5 SETUP pages worth of menu settings.

REC 1 of 4

- Picture Size
- Image Quality
- Aspect Ratio
- Intelligent ISO
- Sensitivity

REC 2 of 4

- White Balance
- Metering Mode
- AF Mode
- Continuous AF
- Burst

REC 3 of 4

- Intelligent Exposure
- Digital Zoom
- Color Mode
- Stabilizer
- Minimum Shutter Speed

REC 4 of 4

- Audio Recording
- AF Assist Lamp
- Clock Set

PICTURE SIZE

- 9M
- 7M
- 5M
- 3M
- 2M
- 0.3M

IMAGE QUALITY

- Fine
- Standard

ASPECT RATIO

- 4:3
- 3:2
- 16:9

INTELLIGENT ISO

- Camera automatically selects Shutter Speed and ISO depending on subject movement in order to reduce blur
- Camera will not go above selected max ISO

- 400
- 800
- 1600

ISO SENSITIVITY

- Auto: 100 - 400, 100-1000 (Flash)
- 100
- 200
- 400
- 800
- 1600

WHITE BALANCE 1 of 2

- AUTO WB
- Outdoor, Clear Sky
- Outdoor, Cloudy Sky
- Outdoor, Shade
- Halogen Lighting
- Manual WB

WHITE BALANCE 2 of 2

- Set Manual WB

METERING MODE

- Multiple
- Center weighted
- Spot

AF MODE

- Face Detection
- 9-Area
- 3-Area High Speed
- 1-Area High Speed
- 1-Area
- Spot

BURST

- Off
- 2.5 fps (max. 3 Fine, 5 Standard)
- @ 2 fps (becomes progressively slower, until memory card is full)

Note: for even faster burst, see Hi-Speed Burst scene mode.

COLOR MODE 1 of 2

- Standard
- Natural
- Vivid
- B/W
- Sepia
- Cool

COLOR MODE 2 of 2

- Warm

OPTICAL IMAGE STABILIZER

- Off
- MODE 1 - Stabilizer is continuously on (useful when trying to compose at full tele)
- MODE 2 - Stabilizer is most effective and acts only when the shutter button is pressed

MINIMUM SHUTTER SPEED 1 of 2

- This is the slowest shutter speed camera will use before bumping up the ISO

- 1/200
- 1/125
- 1/60
- 1/30
- 1/15
- 1/8

MINIMUM SHUTTER SPEED 2 of 2

- 1/30
- 1/15
- 1/8
- 1/4
- 1/2
- 1

 

SETUP 1 of 5

- Clock Set
- World Time
- Monitor Brightness
- LCD Mode
- Beep

SETUP 2 of 5

- Volume
- Guide Line
- Histogram
- Travel Date
- Economy

SETUP 3 of 5

- Auto Review
- Zoom Resume
- No. Reset
- Reset
- USB Mode

SETUP 4 of 5

- Video Out
- TV Aspect
- m/ft
- Scene Menu
- Dial Display

SETUP 5 of 5

- Format
- Language
- Demo Mode

WORLD TIME

GUIDE LINE

- Rec. Info
- Pattern

LANGUAGE 1 of 2

 

LANGUAGE 2 of 2

 

 

QUICK MENU - STABILIZER

- Off
- Mode 1
- Mode 2

QUICK MENU - BURST

- Off - Single
- Burst
- Unlimited

QUICK MENU - AF MODE

- 1-Area High Speed
- 1-Area
- Spot
- Face Detection
- 9-Area
- 3-Area High Speed

QUICK MENU - WB

- AWB
- Daylight
- Cloudy
- Shade
- Halogen
- White Set

QUICK MENU - ISO

- Auto
- 100
- 200
- 400
- 800
- 1600

QUICK MENU - INTELLIGENT EXPOSURE

- Automatically adjusts contrast and exposure

- Off
- On

QUICK MENU - ASPECT RATIO

- 4:3
- 3:2
- 16:9

QUICK MENU - PICTURE SIZE

- 9M
- 7M
- 5M
- 3M
- 2M
- 0.3M

QUICK MENU - LCD MODE

- Off
- Auto Power LCD
- Power LCD
- High Angle

 

PLAYBACK MODE

- Normal Play
- Dual Play
- Slide Show
- Category Play

PLAYBACK MENU 1 of 3

- Calendar
- Title Edit
- Text Stamp
- Resize
- Trimming

PLAYBACK MENU 2 of 3

- Aspect Conversion
- Rotate
- Rotate Disp.
- Favorite
- DPOF Print

PLAYBACK MENU 3 of 3

- Protect
- Audio Dub.
- Copy

PLAYBACK INFO

 

REVIEW ENLARGE

- 2x, 4x, 8x and 16x using Tele

PLAYBACK CALENDAR

 

 

PROGRAM AUTO

- Normal (Programmed Auto), Flash Off, WB Preset, ISO 400, Picture Size 9M, Image Quality Fine, Battery Indicator
- Stabilizer Mode 2, Macro On, Space left for 89 images
- Multi-Pattern Metering Mode
- Burst Mode, Live Histogram
- Intelligent Exposure Mode
- Auto Power LCD
- Exposure Compensation, Min. Shutter Speed
- Horizontal & Vertical Grid

SCENE MODES 1 of 2

- Portrait, Soft Skin, Self-portrait, Scenery, Sports
- Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Food, Party, Candle Light
- Baby1, Baby2, Pet, Sunset, High Sensitivity

SCENE MODES 1 of 2

- Hi-Speed Burst (4:3 2M, 3:2 2.5M, 16:9 2M), Starry Sky, Fireworks, Beach, Snow
- Aerial Photo, Underwater, Multi Aspect

- Hi-Speed Burst allows you to take up to 100 pictures at a fast 6fps (resolution limited to 4:3 2M, 3:2 2.5M, 16:9 2M)

SCENE MODE - MULTI ASPECT

- Takes 3 shots at 4:3 9M, 3:2 8.5M and 16:9 7.5M with one press of the shutter release button
- Note that 16:9 captures a slightly wider scene and crops at the top and bottom

 

MOVIE MENU 1 of 3

- Picture Mode
- Aspect Ratio
- White Balance
- Metering Mode
- AF Mode

MOVIE MENU 2 of 3

- Continuous AF
- Digital Zoom
- Color Mode
- Image Stabilizer
- AF Assist Lamp

MOVIE MENU 3 of 3

- Clock Set

MOVIE MENU - PICTURE MODE 4:3

- 640x480 @ 30fps
- 640x480 @ 10fps
- 320x240 @ 30fps
- 320x240 @ 10fps

MOVIE MENU - PICTURE MODE 16:9

- 1280x720 @ 30fps
- 1280x720 @ 15fps
- 848x480 @ 30fps
- 848x480 @ 10fps

MOVIE INFO

 

 

SELF-TIMER

- Off
- 10 sec.
- 2 sec.

 

 

 

LCD MODE

- Off
- Power LCD (for sunny situations)
- High Angle

ON SCREEN MODE DIAL

- Visual representation of Mode Dial

FLASH

- Auto
- Auto Red-Eye
- Forced Flash On (Fill-in Flash)
- Slow Sync/Red-Eye
- Forced Flash Off

EXPOSURE COMPENSATION

 

DELETE

- Single
- Multi
- All

- All delete options are conveniently on one screen and accessed with one push of the Q.MENU/DEL button. No need to delve deep into the Menu as some cameras make you do.

A couple of other nice features: the hinged plastic Terminal door opens up wide to allow unimpeded access [don't you hate fighting with a rubber flap?] to the AV OUT/DIGITAL (USB) socket and DC IN socket. There is a very nice Battery/Card door and the battery has a latch to keep it from accidentally falling. Because the [plastic] tripod socket is at the opposite end of the battery compartment, chances are you might be able to change battery when the camera is on a tripod (of course, depends on tripod used).

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 is well-built and handles very well. It has a well thought-out and beautifully designed menu structure. Performance is very good for an ultra zoom and the controls are extremely intuitive, which all add up to one ultra zoom digital camera you will definitely enjoy using.

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