The Panasonic DMC TZ1 is a five megapixel digital camera with a ten times optical zoom lens. It differs from the vast majority of super zoom digital cameras as it is considerably smaller than standard and has a compact size and shape.
One of the strong points of the DMC TZ1 is its ease of use. This is partly because it lacks the manual exposure modes you normally find with a super zoom model. This means it has the characteristics of a typical point and shoot digital camera.
It also offers optical image stabilisation.
112 x 58.1 x 40.2 mm
The DMC TZ1 served up an impressive set of test photos. One of the most noticeable points is that the photos have a bright, vivid feel to them. This is true of both indoor and outdoor shots and helps to inject a bit of extra life into them compared to many other digital cameras.
Looking at the first outdoor shot I can see the sharpness levels are above average. They do not quite manage to hit the very best levels and there is also a slight loss as focus as you move out towards the edges of the photographs. Another feature that is very noticeable is fairly high levels of purple fringing. This normally occurs on super zoom cameras when the lens is fully extended or more or less at its maximum zoom. Here purple fringing shows at mid zoom. Purple fringing is where a thin purple line is added to the edges of light coloured objects where they are caught by light. The third outdoor shot taken at maximum zoom also shows high levels of this problem.
Shady areas are handled well although I can detect some loss of detail where the sun is shining on the white boats.
Colours have a natural feel to them and are certainly toned down compared to one or two other models in the Panasonic range. This is also supported by the dedicated test for colour. All the main colours show up well without any weaknesses.
I like both of the portrait shots. The outdoor shot reproduces skin tones well. I used the cloudy white balance setting to add some extra depth to the colours on an overcast day.
The indoor portrait shot is an example of how the camera gets brightness levels right. It manages to focus well in fairly lowlight. One very encouraging point is the lack of red eye in the shot.
In more or less complete darkness the DMC TZ1 has also made a good job of the picture of beer bottles. Again it is bright, clear and well focused considering the conditions. Again I am able to detect a degree of purple fringing along the bottom of the labels of the bottles.
Although the camera has performed very well in my standard indoor tests I must warn you not to expect too much in some lowlight situations. Even with image stabilisation switched on it becomes difficult to get crisp pictures when the camera is handheld, the zoom is used to its maximum extension and the light is low.
The close up shot is another that works well. A bright and clear image has been produced.
An area where many digital cameras struggle is with shots taken using higher ISO levels. I was impressed with the attempts by the DMC TZ1 at both ISO 400 and ISO 800. Although the photos are not perfect they are still someway above average.
Shutter Lag and Recycling Times
I was able to take a single photo in 0.36 seconds and five photos in 11.08 seconds. These are average times.
You can compare this camera to other models by taking a look at the Shutter Lag Comparison Table.
The ten times optical zoom lens has a focal length equivalent to 35-350mm in 35mm format. The lens aperture works in the range wide: F2.8/F5.0 (2 steps) and tele: F4.2 - F7.1 (2 steps). Zoom can be extended to a maximum of 12.5x if the resolution is reduced to three megapixels or below. 4x digital zoom is also available.
For composing images there is a 2.5" LCD screen. No view finder is available. The screen is made up of around 207,000 pixels. It also has a special high angle mode. This helps you to see the screen clearly if you have to lift the camera above head height to take a picture. This can come in useful if you are in a crowd.
The built in flash unit has a maximum range of 3.7m. This falls to 2.4m when the zoom lens is in use. The flash modes available are Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction and Forced On/Off.
To help you take the best possible photos there are a selection of scene modes. When you select a scene mode the camera is able to recognise the type of shot you are taking. It will then use what it considers to be the optimum settings for the photo. The scene modes available are Portrait, Sports, Food, Scenery, Night Scenery, Night Portrait, Fireworks, Party, Snow, Baby, Soft Skin, Starry Sky, Candle, Soft Skin, Baby1 and Baby2. Help text is available explaining more about each scene mode.
Different effects can be applied to you photos. These include picture adjustments (Natural, Standard, Vivid) and colour effects (Cool, Warm, Black & White, Sepia). For when you would like to appear in the photo there is a self timer. The delay time can be set to either two or ten seconds. When a picture is being taken five seconds of sound can be recorded with the picture. A histogram is available too. This provides feedback on exposure readings.
The aspect ratios you can choose to shoot at are 4:3 (suitable for displaying of computer screens), 3:2 (suitable for 6x4" prints) and 16:9 (suitable for widescreen televisions).
For close up work the DMC TZ1 can focus from 5cm away from the subject. The different auto focus modes available to you are 1 point, 1 point high speed, 3 points high speed, 9 points and Spot. To help the camera focus in lowlight there is an Auto Focus (AF) illuminator.
Among the more advanced features are light metering (multi point, center weighted and spot), auto bracketing (+1/3EV-1EV Step, 3 Frames), exposure compensation (1/3 EV Step, ± 2 EV), white balance (Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Halogen, Flash, White Set, White Balance Adjustment (except for Auto Set)) and ISO Sensitivity (Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800 (High Sensitivity Mode: 800 - 1600)).
Shutter speeds are set automatically by the DMC TZ1. These work in the range 8 seconds to 1/2000 seconds. In Starry Sky Mode speeds of 15, 30 and 60 seconds are possible.
There are two burst modes. The first of these is a high quality mode allowing you to capture up to three images at a maximum speed of three frames per second. The second allows you to reel off five standard quality shots. A continuous shooting mode lets you press the shutter button down and take consecutive photos until the memory card is full. This is at a slower rate than the burst modes.
After a picture has been taken a smaller copy can be made. You can crop images too. Up to ten seconds of audio can also be added to an image.
Movies can be recorded up to the capacity of the memory card. One big plus point is that there is a 16:9 aspect ratio for shooting movies. This means that they are a perfect fit for a widescreen television. Widescreen movies are shot at a resolution of 848 x 480 pixels. The standard 640 x 480 pixel resolution and also 320 x 240 pixels are also available. Sound can be recorded and zoom can be used as well.
Panasonic supplies all the necessary cables and software to connect the DMC TZ1 to a computer, PictBridge compatible printer and a television set.
Ease of Use
One of the strengths of the DMC TZ1 is just how easy it is to use. Buttons and dials on the camera are kept to a minimum and the menu system is one of the most straightforward you are likely to find. The options in the menu system can be cut right down if you still find them confusing. This is achieved by switching the camera to simple mode.
You can pick up a Panasonic DMC TZ1 for around £240. This compares to around £200 for a Canon Powershot A600, £185 for a Fuji Finepix S5600 and £195 for an Olympus SP-500.
The Fuji and Olympus models are larger cameras with 10x optical zoom lenses. The Powershot A600 is a more compact model with a 6x zoom lens. All three have manual exposure controls missing from the DMC TZ1. Taking all of this into account I cannot describe the DMC TZ1 as cheap, but if you would like a super zoom digital camera that you can fit into a large jacket or trouser pocket then it is currently the only option available.
As stated above the DMC TZ1 fits a lot of zoom into a compact body. The camera is too large to fit into a small pocket, but I was able to slip it into a fairly large jacket pocket without a problem.
Shape wise the camera looks more elongated than many other digital cameras. It has a small grip on the front to help you hold it steady while taking a shot. The dimensions are 112 x 58.1 x 40.2 mm. It weighs 262g and is available in black or silver.
Batteries and Memory Cards
Power is supplied by a rechargeable lithium ion battery. Both the battery and charger are supplied with the camera. Panasonic estimates around 250 photos can be taken before the battery needs recharging. The camera also has an economy mode. This dims the LCD screen and reduces the rate at which the battery is run down.
Panasonic have built 13.4mb of memory into the DMC TZ1. I was only able to take five photos before the memory was full. Therefore you will need to buy a high capacity memory card before you can start to use the camera in earnest.
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Points I like:
Clear LCD screen in the sun
Ease of use
Where it is not so hot:
Small internal memory
There is a lot to like about the Panasonic DMC TZ1. With its ten times optical zoom in a compact body it offers something different. It provides plenty of zoom power whilst allowing you to carry the camera around easily. Picture quality is very good and the camera is also easy to use.
Panasonic DMC TZ1 Front View
Panasonic DMC TZ1 Back View
Panasonic DMC TZ1 Top View
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