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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 


The Panasonic TZ5 is targeted to point-and-shoot photographers desiring an easy-to-use ultra zoom digital camera. It has 9.1 megapixel resolution on a 1/2.33-in. CCD image sensor, and a 4.7-47mm (28-280mm, 35 mm equivalent) 10x optical zoom lens, with a maximum aperture of F3.3(W)-F4.9(T).

We find the overall image quality of the Panasonic TZ5 to be very good at ISO 100 with good image detail. Image quality is good at ISO 200; aggressive noise reduction means that, at higher ISOs, images suffer from noise and loss of detail.

10x Optical Zoom
Wide-angle 28mm Telephoto 280mm
Wide-angle 4.7mm
(28mm, 35mm equivalent)
Telephoto 47mm
(280mm, 35mm equivalent)

The Panasonic TZ5 has a 10x wide-angle optical zoom lens with Panasonic's famous MEGA Optical Image Stabilization (O.I.S.) which helps to reduce camera shake. In the above pictures, we show the coverage for 28mm and 280mm. We love the 28mm wide-angle coverage that allows us to capture real wide landscapes! The O.I.S. ensures that images do not suffer from camera shake even at the long end of the telephoto.

4.7mm, Programmed Auto, Multi-Pattern, 1/200 sec., F8.0, ISO 100

Macro can be as close as 5 cm (2 in.) at wide-angle.

AF is fast (especially when using the 1-area High Speed AF), works very well in good light and even in low-light, though I've found that sometimes you need to stay at the wide-angle focal length for easier focus lock in extreme low-light.

There are three metering modes: Intelligent Multiple (i.e., Multi-Pattern), Center Weighted and Spot. Most photographers will use Intelligent Multiple which works very well in all lighting situations.

White Balance Indoors
AWB Custom WB
AWB Custom WB

As the above two pictures show, the Auto White Balance (AWB) is not quite accurate indoors under artificial lighting [I have two ordinary household tungsten light bulbs on the ceiling]. Fortunately, the Panasonic TZ5 allows WB to be easily set manually and this brings out the real colours. Most P&S digital camera does not provide manual WB, so this is a real bonus! AWB works very well in natural light.

ISO Comparisons
ISO 100
ISO 100
ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 200 ISO 400
ISO 800 ISO 1600
ISO 800 ISO 1600

You can set the ISO on the Panasonic TZ5 from 100 to 1600, plus a high ISO of 6400 in High Sensitivity Mode. The 100% crops above (area delimited by the white square) demonstrate that noise at ISO 100 and 200 is under control. Noise starts to be more visible at ISO 400 but is still usable up to ISO 800. At ISO 1600, the presence of noise is clearly visible at full image size and with visible loss of detail.

High Sensitivity - 100% Crops
ISO 3200 ISO 6400
ISO 3200 ISO 6400

The High Sensitivity scene mode boosts the sensitivity to ISO 3200 and 6400, both at 3M resolution only (3M at aspect ratio 4:3; 2.5M at 3:2 and 2M at 16:9). It looks very noisy and splotchy when the image is viewed at full resolution. Though the ISO 3200 image seems less noisy than the one at ISO 1600, notice however that it is at the expense of image detail.

ISO 3200 - Resized 450x338 Pixels
ISO 3200 resized for Web display
ISO 3200 resized for Web display

For Web display, the ISO 3200 images may be usable when resized 450x338 pixels.

Chromatic Aberrations

CA is not really a problem in everyday shots. In the above photo, the top left area delimited by the red square, and reproduced at 100% crop at bottom right, shows negligible purple fringing.

Long Shutter Speed
Long Exposure
4.7mm, Starry Sky, Multi-Pattern, 60 sec., F3.3, ISO 100
Self-timer 10 sec., Tripod Used

The Panasonic TZ5 allows the use of a long shutter speed of 15 sec., 30 sec. or 60 sec. in Starry Sky Scene Mode (only up to 1 sec. in P). This allows us to take some very nice Night Shots. Generally, with image sensors, noise usually becomes more prominent at slow shutter speeds. The Panasonic TZ5 has special noise reduction (NR) that automatically kicks in at shutter speeds of 1 sec. and slower and you'll notice aprox. twice the processing time before the next picture can be taken. I like that there is a countdown of the long shutter speed as well as of the "signal processing" (noise reduction) time displayed on screen. Some digital cameras leave you "in the dark" forcing you to do your own mental countdown.

To test this noise reduction algorithm, I take a low-light indoors shot using a long shutter speed of 60 sec. The NR works quite well seeing this is quite a long exposure. The AF works well in low-light, and the AF-assist Lamp helps to obtain precise and fast focus lock.

Live Histogram

The last feature we will mention is the Live Histogram. A histogram can be displayed during Shooting Mode and Playback mode. The histogram is invaluable to give an indication of under- and over-exposure (don't rely on the LCD/EVF since the Playback image auto-brightens and so will be misleading).

I find it incredible that Panasonic would equip a P&S digital camera with all these practical features when some more expensive and "for pro" digital cameras do not.

Overall, very good image quality and I am very impressed with all the more advanced features that are included, such as manual WB and Live Histogram. It is very easy in point-and-shoot mode to obtain beautiful pictures. The TZ5 even provides a Vivid color mode for those who prefer a sharp image with saturated colours right out of the camera (without post processing).

The pictures in the Panasonic TZ5 Photo Gallery page provide a good sample of what the camera is capable of. I have provided samples at 800x600 pixels (compressed to Quality 60/100 in Photoshop Elements) as well as the 3456 x 2592 pixels original size (click on the image for the original version).

You can safely assume that most macro shots and slow shutter speed shots required the use of a tripod (due to the effective image stabilization, the use of a tripod was restricted to the long shutter speeds). Any image that is adjusted for levels in Photoshop has "_adjusted" appended to the file name (though the original sized image is, of course, not adjusted).

I have defaulted the image size to 800x600 pixels. For those who have their monitor resolution set to 1024x728 pixels, everything should snugly fit and you should not have to scroll to see the whole image. If your monitor is set to 800x600 pixels resolution, start the slide show and then scroll to the right to position the image within your screen width. Then, press F11 (if you are using Internet Explorer) to switch to full screen mode, and the image should fill your screen nicely. Press F11 again at any time to switch your monitor display back to normal mode.

To return to this page from the Photo Gallery, click on the animated graphics of the camera.

Please open and download the original size version only if you need to and only once to your hard drive -- and save me some precious bandwidth. Thanks!


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