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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 


Wednesday, April 1, 2008 - Here's what I receive in the box:

  • Panasonic TZ5 (black body)
  • No memory card
  • Wrist Strap
  • Rechargeable Li-ion Battery CGA-S007A 3.7V 1000mAh (with case)
  • Battery Charger DE-A45
  • Interface Cables: A/V, USB
  • English and French Instruction Manuals: Operating Instructions
  • Software CD: Digital Camera 2.4 (ArcSoft MediaImpression, ArcSoft Panorama Maker 4, Panasonic PHOTOfunSTUDIO -viewer- 2.0E, USB Driver 1.0)

The lure of being able to carry a 10x optical zoom digital camera in your trousers pocket and have it available at any moment is incredibly attractive. Sometimes you are not allowed a DSLR or DSLR-like digital camera in a sports or other entertainment venue. Fortunately, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 delivers great images in one of the best designed compact ultra zoom ever, earning it our Photoxels Editor's Choice 2008 - Compact UltraZoom award. It is invariably the digital camera I reach for everytime I step out of the house.

Here are four reasons why I simply love the TZ5:

  1. 10x Wide-Angle Image Stabilized Zoom. The 10x optical zoom covers a satisfying 28mm (equiv.) wide-angle to a long 280mm (equiv.). I love the wide-angle coverage because I can capture wide landscapes as well as include everyone in a large group shot. The tele reach brings far away subjects real close. In other words, there is not much that is happening out there that the TZ5 cannot easily enough capture. Add in an effective image stabilization that helps reduce blur and it's quite a feat.
  2. Compact Enough. The TZ5 is relatively compact enough that I can carry it in my trousers pocket. A jeans pocket is a tight fit and I would not recommend it. A coat pocket is best. One thing about the beautifully designed TZ5 is that it does tend to scratch easily. So be careful what else you put into that same pocket. Many will prefer to protect it in a soft camera case and carry that from their belt or in a purse.
  3. Beautiful Large Hi-Res LCD. The extra large 3.0-in. LCD monitor has a whopping 460,000 dots resolution and you can especially tell the difference in Playback mode. A new Auto Power LCD feature automatically adjusts the brightness of the LCD screen according to the ambient lighting. I wished the LCD would gain up better in low light. Add a very well-designed menu structure and intuitive controls -- and this is one camera that is going to easily be your favourite.
  4. Intelligent Auto Everything. The Intelligent Auto (iA) shooting mode really works! In fact, I can set the camera to auto everything (plus Vivid color mode) and capture well exposed and great looking shots. The TZ5 takes very good quality images at the low ISOs and even the high ISO images up to ISO 400 are perfectly acceptable. Intelligent Auto even selects an appropriate scene mode for you so it can tell if you are taking a portrait or a macro shot.

I am surprised that Panasonic has not yet launched a marketing blitz pushing the TZ5 to the 2008 Summer Olympic crowd. After all, what better camera to capture the expanse of a whole stadium as well as being able to zoom in close to the action while seated far up in the bleaches?

The TZ5 now allows you to even zoom while filming videos (though you will also record some zoom and autofocus noise, but in a crowded Olympic stadium, that noise will barely be noticeable). For those who want to bring back pictures in all its High Definition glory, the TZ5 records in HD 720p format -- 1280x720 pixels at 30fps. If you own a HDTV, you would do well to purchase the optional component video cable for direct connection to HDTVs.

The zoom lever allows you to zoom in slowly (about 10 sec.) if you just touch it gently to the right or fast (about 3 sec.) if you push it all the way to the right. Better still for those who like to go to max. tele in a jiffy, a new Easy Zoom button allows you to do just that. Press the E.ZOOM button and the lens zooms to max. tele, press it again, and it goes into extended zoom (switching to 16:9 7M). If you have digital zoom enabled, another press goes into max. digital zoom. Press once again and you're immediately zoomed back to max. wide-angle.

Though "just" a point-and-shoot digital camera, the TZ5 has manual WB for accurate colour reproduction when it matters; it even gives you WB adjust if you really want the colour to be exact! There is Live Histogram to nail the exposure right. You can display Guide Lines and Live Histogram together.

You can playback images in a slide show -- with accompanying music. A Dual Play feature allows you to display any two images (not just adjacent ones) side-by-side on the LCD for comparison purposes.

Here are some further explanations of how iA works: iA draws from six features to maximize the chance of getting the best pictures under any circumstances: 1) Shake Detection -- Image Stabilization to reduce blur due to camera shake; 2) Motion Detection -- Intelligent ISO uses a shutter speed fast enough to freeze subject motion and thus reduce blur; 3) Face Detection to ensure a subject's face is in focus and properly exposed (using Flash if necessary and reducing any Red-Eye obtained); 4) Scene Detection -- Intelligent Scene Selector matches the scene on your screen with 5 preset scenes (Scenery, Portrait, Macro, Night Portrait or Night Scenery); 5) Light Detection -- Intelligent Exposure increases the exposure only in under-exposed areas and can even raise ISO only in a low-lit area to make it brighter without causing graininess in other parts of the scene; 6) Continuous AF to keep the subject always in focus.

A neat feature is the Focusing Distance Display which displays the allowable shooting range above the zoom bar. This gives you a reminder that at a certain zoom level, your subject should be at a minimum distance for the camera to focus correctly.

Panasonic has opted to have a switch for Playback, which is more convenient than having it on the Mode Dial. However, it also means that when you are reviewing your pictures in Playback, you cannot just touch the shutter release button to quickly switch back to REC mode. Also I find that I invariably review in Playback, then turn off the camera. When I turn it back on to take a picture, it takes me a few confusing seconds to realize it is still in Playback mode. I would rather the camera defaults to REC mode with a traditional Playback button and a quick return to REC mode with a simple touch of the shutter release button. Other Panasonic digicams has it this way, so it's nothing drastic.

The TZ5 also has a hard plastic port door that actually stays opens to allow easy access to the ports. No struggling with rubber doors here.

PHOTOfunSTUDIO -viewer-

Panasonic now includes only the PHOTOfunSTUDIO -viewer- and it's good enough as far as transferring your images and simple editing goes.

The DMC-TZ5 supports the USB 2.0 high-speed standard. In comparison with conventional USB 2.0 full-speed data transfer at 12 Mbps, USB 2.0 high-speed transfers data at a fast 480 Mbps, which makes for fast transfer of high-volume image data from the camera to a PC.

The DMC-TZ5 is compatible with the optional marine case DMW-MCTZ5. This case will protect your LUMIX camera all the way to a depth of 40 meters. It lets you take clear, beautiful photos underwater.

If you are looking for one digital camera that has pretty much everything you need for snapshooting, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 is a well-designed ultra zoom digital camera that will make many point-and-shoot photographers happy. Just set it to iA shooting mode, Color Mode Vivid, and turn Auto Power LCD on for hassle-free shooting under almost all conditions. It's compact enough for your trousers or coat pocket and point-and-shoot easy to obtain great shots everytime. And if you are one of the lucky ones heading for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics, be sure to bring a Panasonic TZ5 with you!

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