A pocketable compact with a wideangle lens, 12x optical zoom and HD movie capture. Where, if anywhere, does the TZ8 not deliver the goods? The What Digital Camera Panasonic Lumix TZ8 review reveals all…
Panasonic TZ8 review – Features
The TZ8 is a 12.1MP compact with a 25mm wideangle 12x optical zoom lens tucked into a relatively small body when considering the zoom potential of up to 300mm (equivalent). New Power OIS (optical image stabilisation) also provides some relief from shaky hands to keep those precious shots stabilised and sharper.
As well as stills shooting the TZ8 is also capable of capturing 720p HD movie in the Motion-JPEG format. Plus, just to ice the cake, it’s possible to zoom and utilise the 12x zoom to its full potential during capture.
ISO sensitivity varies from 100-1600 with a special high sensitivity up to ISO 6400 at a lower resolution of capture and the full PASM manual control settings also feature. Those looking for a point-and-shoot camera will be equally pleased at the intelligent Auto mode and variety of Scene modes which also feature for automated use.
Released alongside the TZ10 model earlier this year, there are few differences between the two except that the TZ8 doesn’t include the GPS of the TZ10, uses the inferior M-JEPG movie capture instead of AVCHD Lite and also has a smaller 2.7in LCD screen with a lower 230k-dot resolution. Otherwise all other features remain the very same, bar the lower price-point that may attract some potential buyers looking for the same high level of creative control.
Panasonic TZ8 review review – Design
The TZ8 isn’t exactly the most slim-line of models, and perhaps looks a teeny bit out of date due to the slender designs of more recent models making it to market. However, this can’t really be held against it as the TZ8 is a practical size for a 12x zoom, is easy to hold and has a slightly raised grip to make use that bit easier. Plus its tank-like build quality feels reassuring in use and all the buttons on the top and rear are in sensible locations for quick access. The silver-like finish looks appealing and well made, with the rear buttons either labeled clearly or with inscribed markings to help navigation. The same can be said for the top menu wheel with black-on-silver markings that correspond to the LCD’s display to ensure the right mode is easily selectable whatever the lighting conditions.
In manual mode use the addition of a Q.Menu button makes for quick accessibility to adjust options on screen too, without the need for any excessive menu digging.
Panasonic TZ8 review – Performance
The TZ8 ticks all the boxes on the features front and its performance suitably matches its specification.
The wideangle setting is an excellent offering for shooting broader scenes, and the zoom can quickly and elegantly drift up to 300mm with ease. Close-focus is somewhat limited at these more telephoto focal lengths, though the Macro mode at wideangle will focus on subjects mere centimeters from the lens itself.
The contrast-detect AF system is fairly nippy too, gliding into place with a decent enough pace. There’s even a Face Recognition feature that, once a particular face is programmed into the camera, in conjunction with Face Detection, will then focus and shoot with particular target to that person or persons.
Choosing best shooting modes is a breeze thanks to well labeled dials and buttons that are all quick to respond.
Panasonic TZ8 review – Image quality
Images are bright, punchy and blacks deep and realistic. Images are sharp and detailed, though noise reduction will affect the overall sharpness even at the lower ISO settings.
Video quality is good and the M-JPEG format will bring benefit to Windows users without the available software that the TZ10’s AVCHD Lite format required – instead the TZ8’s files can be removed and used direct from camera in other applications.
The new intelligent Resolution (iR) technology is also set to sharpen images intelligently, with particularly strong results when using digital zoom. However, most users avoid digital zoom wherever possible, and the overall results for standard, optically-achieved images is subtle yet pleasing.
Exposures are generally good, though can err towards overexposed and loses detail in highlight areas.
Panasonic TZ8 review – Value
When the TZ8 was released in tandem with the TZ10 their prices differed due to the TZ10 having GPS, better video format and a slightly larger and more resolute screen. However, with no other differences between the two cameras, the TZ8’s current £210 asking price puts many competitor compact cameras to shame. With a feature set to match, if not outdo, Ricoh’s pocket-sized CX3, the TZ8 is a genuinely savvy purchase that may only be crossed off the shopping list due to smaller, slimmer and more attractive-looking compacts currently reaching the market.
The TZ8 offers a lot for a relatively low price point. The 12x optical zoom provides a great 25mm wideangle starting point through to 300mm telephoto that will see a variety of images easily achieved from what’s essentially an easy to carry small and light compact. True, it’s not as slim-line or stylish as some of the competition out there, but in terms of ease of use, and decent results it’s a high flier for sure. Add 720p HD video with the ability to zoom into the mix and the TZ8 has most bases covered, including a variety of manual control for those seeking more advanced creative control. All in all, the TZ8 is a real winner.