Andy Westlake tests Panasonic's pocket travel camera with a 1in sensor and 10x zoom lens
Let’s get one thing straight from the start – the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ100 is the best pocket travel camera money can buy right now.
Its 1in sensor and 25-250mm-equivalent lens give a great combination of image quality and zoom range in a body that’s still small enough to slip into a jacket pocket. I took it on a week-long trip to New York expecting to use it occasionally as a backup to my ‘proper’ camera, but ended up carrying it all the time instead, and found it delivered fine results under almost any conditions – indoors or outdoors, sunny or cloudy, day or night.
This is its purpose in life, and it fulfils it better than any of its peers. Yes, I’d have got technically better image quality from a DSLR or CSC, but I was pleased with what I got from the TZ100, and it was so much easier to carry around.
Indeed, in practical use, the TZ100 is a quite likeable little camera, although the EVF is painfully small and the lack of a tilting screen is disappointing.
The controls aren’t as well thought out as the best enthusiast compacts I’ve used either, so not all functions are very easy to access quickly.
In terms of handling, it feels rather like a point-and-shoot that’s developed pretensions to greater things, but that’s not surprising given its lineage.
Overall, the TZ100 reminds me very much of the original Sony RX100: it’s operationally flawed and sometimes frustrating to use, but capable of results so far ahead of its smaller-sensor rivals that it practically renders them obsolete. Literally nothing else on the market can offer a similar combination of zoom range, portability and image quality.
If you’re looking for a small camera to take on holiday this summer instead of a DSLR, then without question, the TZ100 should be right at the top of your shortlist.