Perhaps best known for the adverts sporting a large Egyptian dog statue the TZ series within the Panasonic LUMIX camera range have been reasonably successful with the TZ7, TZ8 and TZ10 all offering super zoom capabilities and providing them in a sleek compact form.
Hoping to build on their success, they’ve now released two more additions to the TZ series in the form of the Panasonic LUMIX TZ20 and TZ18 both of which boast HD movie recording, full manual control, a 24mm ultra wide angle lens and 16x optical zoom all in a body that can slip nicely into your pocket.
Whilst the compact form suggests that this is aimed at the more amateur photographer both the new additions seem to be pretty well packed with some impressive sounding specifications – the new high-quality 24mm ultra wide angle LEICA DC VARIO-ELMAR lens arguably being the highlight of them all, with specific Nano Surface Coating which offers a very low reflectance ratio the the overall effect of suppressing image ghosting.
On top of that the TZ20 and TZ18 offer Intelligent Zoom through the imaginatively named Intelligent Resolution technology which extends the zoom ratio by around 1.3x whilst retaining the image quality, meaning that 16x optical zoom is effectively extended to 21x (20x for the TZ18) which isn’t bad for what is essentially a compact camera.
Whilst the 14.1 megapixels on offer don’t differ that much from cameras we’ve seen before the video recording has seen a big improvement; the TZ18 only offers 720p HD recording but it’s big brother the TZ20 allows for 1,920 x 1,080 resolution recording which when combined with the Dolby Digital Stereo Creator which allows you to record high quality audio as well could be the start of your filmaking career!
It’s worth noting that you the powerful zoom is available in the movie recording mode, as well as iA (Intelligent Auto) functions, POWER O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer), Face Detection and Intelligent Scene Selector as well as ‘Active Mode’ to help against blur and ‘Wind Cut’ to block out most of the noise from the wind, which if you’ve ever tried to record sound using a compact camera you’ll have found is an annoying problem.
So it all sounds fairly nice from a technical point of view but there are two more ergonomic features that are definitely worth mentioning, the first of these being the screen which is not only a 3.0-inch 460,000-dot Intelligent LCD but also (on the TZ20) allows for ‘intuitive touch control’. This basically means that as well as being able to use the touchscreen to navigate around the menus and take photos you can touch the appropriate part of the image when in iA mode and the camera will switch to the appropriate mode according to the subject touched. In a word, neat.
Finally the TZ20 offers built in GPS which embeds the co-ordinates within the photo file so that you’ll always know exactly where you took the photo… providing you have the right software of course!
Unfortunately as they are yet to be released you can’t actually go out and get one yet, but when they do come out later this month you will have to be prepared to shell out £269.99 for the Panasonic LUMIX TZ18, or an even steeper £349.99 for the ‘flagship’ TZ20 digital camera. This makes it very much a ‘luxury’ compact digital camera for your summer holiday this year and whilst for the most part (the TZ20 especially) the features do justify the price I personally would find it hard to spend that much money when it would buy me a decent DSLR.