The Panasonic Lumix TZ40 is the latest in a long line of popular travel compacts. Does it continue the proud TZ tradition? Read our Panasonic Lumix TZ40 review to find out...
Panasonic’s focus with the Lumix TZ40 has been to integrate Wi-fi and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to make it easier to transmit images across numerous devices, but what else makes it a better travel compact?
Panasonic Lumix TZ40 review – Features
Just like its forerunner, the Panasonic TZ30, the TZ40’s zoom is the big appeal for any travel photographer. The 20x optical zoom lens is unchanged and ranges from 24mm up to 480mm, making it well-suited for squeezing a lot in the frame or picking out details in the far distance. A newly designed 18.1MP MOS sensor produces the highest resolution we’ve seen in a TZ model to date, but the fact that the sensor is no larger than we’ve seen before means extra pixels are crammed within a more confined space. Newly adopted Wavelet noise reduction technology has been added to reduce the effects of image noise at high ISO and this is designed to work in partnership with Panasonic’s Venus processor.
Elsewhere, the Panasonic Lumix TZ40’s ISO sensitivity runs from 100 to 6400, which is a one-stop improvement over the TZ30, and the 3in touchscreen at the rear benefits from a higher 920k-dot resolution that brings it in line with most of its rivals. For focusing, the camera features so-called “Light Speed AF” that promises acquisition of focus in less than 0.1 seconds and the advantage of having a touchscreen allows you to tap the display to assign your AF point positioning. Adding to this the Panasonic TZ40 also gives you the control you need to fire the shutter and operate the zoom from the screen if you’d like to work this way.
With the Panasonic Lumix TZ40 set to burst shooting, full-resolution images can be captured at an impressive 10fps, or 6fps when AF tracking is deployed. Full HD (1920 x 1080) movie recording is also available at 50p in the AVCHD format, or alternatively there’s the option to record in the PC-friendly MP4 format. Last time we reviewed the Panasonic TZ30, we called out for the next addition in the TZ line-up to feature Raw shooting. Sadly, as has been the case with all incarnations up until now, the Lumix TZ40 continues to support JPEG capture only, with this being the only standout feature missing on an otherwise impressive set of specs.
Panaosnic Lumix TZ40 review – Design
Whereas in the past the TZ models haven’t changed much in terms of their design, the Panasonic Lumix TZ40 benefits from a few tweaks to the body. The rubber handgrip is slightly chunkier, giving you more to wrap your hands around. This, combined with new On/Off and playback buttons make it enjoyable to operate, while the breakdown of the menu into five sub-categories helps gain quick access to the camera’s wireless connectivity options and GPS settings.
We found there’s very little to fault with the Panasonic TZ40’s design other than a few of the buttons being on the small side. The way the lens sits flush to the body when it’s inactive is excellent, and although it’s not an exciting feature, it does mean you can slip it inside your trouser pocket much like you would with a smartphone without it snagging or getting caught.
Panasonic Lumix TZ40 review – Performance
Keen to test its wireless capabilities, smartphone or tablet users are first required to download the Panasonic Image App in order to connect to the Panasonic Lumix TZ40 via Wi-fi. Configuration is quick and it’s ideal for showcasing shots on a larger device or transferring images before uploading to social media.
The wireless remote control of the zoom operation in Live Control was slow, but we found it useful to take control of exposure and aperture settings if you fancy changing camera settings on the fly from your mobile device.
On our Panasonic Lumix TZ40 review sample we experienced difficulties connecting the camera to our Android device via NFC. Speaking to Panasonic, they confirmed that this was a common fault with early review samples and will have been addressed by the time you read this.
The start-up time is good at under two seconds, while the zoom takes four seconds to extend to full telephoto. Operating the zoom using the screen could be improved though by increasing the size of the scroll bar, but the screen sensitivity is responsive and can’t be faulted.
Panasonic Lumix TZ40 review – Image Quality
With a higher resolution and more photosites (pixels) crammed onto the same sized sensor as the Panasonic Lumix TZ30 we had reservations about how the Lumix TZ40 would perform at high ISO. The good news is the Wavelet noise reduction technology works admirably at reducing the effects of noise when high sensitivity settings are used. That said, colour noise is evident at ISO 1600 and images do gradually get softer the higher you go. Shooting in poor light, noise-free results are produced between ISO 100-800 but you will want to avoid using the expanded ISO 6400 setting. As for resolution, the 18MP MOS sensor details high levels of detail for a sensor of its size.
Inspecting our resolution chart, the Panasonic Lumix TZ40 managed to resolve 22 lines per millimeter at ISO 100. This reduced to 20 lines per millimeter at ISO 200, and inspecting the results at the high end of the range, the sensor resolved 14 lines per millimeter at ISO 3200 and 10 lines per millimeter in the expanded ISO 6400 setting.
Metering and colour
The Panasonic Lumix TZ40 has three metering modes to choose from – Multi, Centre Weighted and Spot. Set to Multi for a majority of our test images, we found the camera has a tendency to favour getting the exposure spot-on in the shadows, meaning there were times where detail was burnt out in the highlights. Without the support of raw, we found ourselves having to set the exposure compensation between -1EV and -1 2/3EV in exceptionally bright lighting conditions to ensure highlight detail was retained.
The Lumix TZ40 captures bright, vibrant colours very well and there were no obvious signs of the saturation reducing as the sensitivity was increased. With the camera set to Auto white balance, we found that we could trust the cameras perception of colour temperature and it recorded faithful colour. Alternatively, there are 14 creative colour modes to experiment with. These can be accessed by setting the mode dial to creative control and include settings such as cross process, high dynamic and dynamic monochrome.
Panasonic Lumix TZ40 review – Verdict
Costing the same as the TZ30 when it was launched, the Panasonic Lumix TZ40 offers more connectivity options and better all-round features. The long zoom, great handling and simple menu system add up to make it a great camera to use, and while we’d like the next TZ model to offer Raw, its JPEGs will satisfy those that it’s designed for.
The Panasonic TZ40 continues a long tradition of
high-spec travel compacts from Panasonic. Long zoom compacts have always
been a popular choice with photographers who like to travel, but with
an increasing number of people turning to their smartphones for
recording their memories, manufacturers are finding they have to offer
something more than an impressive specification to make them appeal to
Panasonic’s focus with the Lumix TZ40 has been to
integrate Wi-fi and Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to make it
easier to transmit images across numerous devices and the TZ40’s zoom is the big appeal for any travel photographer. The 20x
optical zoom lens is unchanged and ranges from 24mm up to 480mm and ISO sensitivity runs from 100 to 6400, which is a one-stop improvement over the TZ30. The 3in touchscreen at the rear benefits from a higher 920k-dot resolution that brings it in line with most of its rivals.