Panasonic’s TZ1 long-zoom compact gets a 7.2MP upgrade and a nice wideangle start
Scoring an impressive 88% in June 2006, the Panasonic TZ1 combined compact camera style with an impressive zoom range. But how well will its successor – the TZ3 – fill its shoes?
It’s fair to say that the Panasonic TZ3 appears to improve on the TZ1 in almost every key area – from its high-resolution 7.2MP CCD to its wideangle 28-280mm optically stabilised Leica lens (compared to 5MP and 35-350mm respectively on the earlier model). The ISO sensitivity range has also been extended to run from ISO 100 to 1250 (previously ISO 50-400). However, for capturing images the newcomer still relies on program and scene modes, though there are now 21 scene options.
Available in black or silver, the TZ3 comes in Panasonic’s distinctive Lumix finish, with a fairly minimal, confidence-inspiring metal body. The top-mounted mode dial and neatly arranged controls on the rear are large enough to be used comfortably without detracting from the overall style.
With a fast start-up time, quick AF and brisk write times there’s little to hold up shooting with the TZ3. Not only that, it doesn’t take long at all for your recorded pictures to pop up on the expansive 3in LCD monitor for reviewing either; and whether it’s to review or compose shots, the high-resolution screen is a delight to use.
You can generally tell a Lumix camera by studying the quality of the image and the telling feature is the amount of noise – and noise reduction – that appears within images. With the TZ3, this means images taken at ISO 100 have a texture to them when viewed at 100%, and at higher ISO settings noise reduction begins to smear detail as quickly as it eliminates colour noise. Throughout the range a ‘gritty’ luminosity texture remains and while it is by no means terrible, above an A4 print size things tend to fall apart in shots taken at ISO 400 and above. Stick to low ISO settings and the rewards are well-exposed images that are free from colour casts and need little or no additional tweaking.
Value For Money
2006’s TZ1 had 5MP, a 35-350mm zoom, a 2.5in LCD and a maximum ISO of 400. The TZ3 in 2007 improves all these things, yet carries the same £270 price tag. That’s not bad at all.
With a sensible resolution and sensor size combined with a useful wide zoom, the TZ3 ticks a lot of the right boxes. Our only niggle is the slightly aggressive image processing, but other than that it’s a cracker.