The Panasonic Lumix DMC TZ20 is a relatively small digital camera with a wide range of features. Despite its small body size it has a 16x zoom lens. Other key features include being able to record High Definition movies with stereo sound. Panasonic have also equipped the Lumix DMC TZ20 with GPS tagging. This tags your photographs so that you know where you were in the world when a picture was taken.
With this length of zoom, a compact body size, High Definition movies and GPS position it is not surprising that this type of camera is popular with people taking a holiday or are planning to go travelling. Even if you are not planning to travel there are plenty of reasons why you might like the Lumix DMC TZ20.
Panasonic have introduced four different coloured versions. These are silver, black, red and blue.
Why Buy The Panasonic DMC TZ20
The Lumix DMC TZ20 has a number of impressive qualities. To start with it has a set of features that are hard to match in a camera of this size. Next up is picture quality. You also have rapid response times with minimal shutter lag.
104.9 x 57.6 x 33.4 mm
The range of features Panasonic have packed into the Lumix DMC TZ20 is one of the main attractions of the camera.
How to Increase the Amount of Zoom Available to You
Key features include 14 megapixels and a 16x optical zoom lens. If you find you need extra zoom from time to time you have the option of reducing the number of megapixels you are using in return for more zoom. The additional zoom works on a sliding scale. The more you decrease the number of megapixels the more zoom you have at your disposal. The maximum zoom is 33.8x when shooting at 3 megapixels or less.
Image Stabilisation for Sharper Photos
With this amount of zoom on offer Panasonic have built image stabilisation into the Lumix DMC TZ20. This helps to decrease the risk of blur caused by tiny movements of the camera while you are taking a picture.
Capturing Wide Scenes
The lens offers a great deal of versatility. As well as the obvious telephoto qualities for zooming in on your subject it also has wide angle capabilities with a focal length equivalent to 24 - 384mm in 35mm format. That gives you a lot of scope for capturing wide scenes.
Manual Exposure Increases Your Creativity Options
There are plenty of advanced exposure settings on offer if you like the idea of taking creative control over your photos. Exposure controls include a fully manual mode where you select the aperture size and shutter speed as well as aperture priority and shutter priority settings. Other advanced features include bracketing and access to a histogram to ensure correct exposure.
GPS Tagging to Log Where You Were When a Picture Was Taken
If you are travelling then GPS tagging is likely to come in handy. This tags each picture you take with your location when the picture was taken. When GPS is switched on battery usage can be heavy, so it is advisable to turn it off when it is not required.
High Speed Shooting for Action
High speed shooting is catered for with a burst mode that can capture shots at a rate of up to 10 frames per second. This is high speed for a smaller compact digital camera. It also has a 3D shooting mode. This allows you to take 3D still images that can be played back on a 3D television.
Touch Screen Controls
The 3 inch LCD screen has limited touch screen abilities. You can select items such as focusing and zoom by touching the screen. The camera does not give you full touch screen functionality in the way some digital cameras do. The majority of settings are still controlled through the menu system.
Advanced Movie Mode Options
There is an advanced movie mode. You can shoot Full High Definition movies. Sound can be recorded in stereo. You can use the zoom while recording and image stabilisation helps to reduce blur and flicker in your movie clips. There is also a mode for shooting high speed movies at low resolution.
For close up photography the camera can focus from 3cm away from a subject. This also compares well with rival digital cameras.
Select Your Ideal Picture Shape
Another feature worth mentioning is that you can take pictures using one of four different aspect ratios. The aspect ratio is the shape of a picture. To add variety to your photos you can take square shots as well as the more common aspect ratios that are suited to 4:3 aspect monitors, widescreen televisions and 6 x 4 inch prints.
Save You Favourite Settings in Custom Modes
You can also save your favourite settings in one of three custom modes.
The 3 inch LCD screen is easy to view apart from in the brightest sunlight. The clarity of the screen helps to make composing pictures easier. The menu screens are easy to read as well.
Making the Lumix DMC TZ20 Easy For You to Use
If you find all the features the Lumix DMC TZ20 offers a challenge you can place the camera in automatic mode and operate it as a typical point and shoot camera.
A Good Size for a Good Grip
The size of the camera is almost perfect for taking a good hold. There is plenty of room on the back of the camera for your thumb and there is a raised grip area on the front of the camera to further help you to take a good hold. Being able to hold the camera steady is the basis for sharp photos.
Fast Response Ensures You Capture the Picture
There is a minimal delay between pressing the shutter button and a picture being taken. This is yet another area where this camera compares favourably with other models. Even when flash is turned on the response times remain good.
Controls on Top of the Camera
Running through the various dials and buttons, the top of the camera is home to an on / off switch, the shutter button and a ring for zooming in and out on your subject. There is also a control dial for selecting your shooting mode. Next to the control dial is the stereo microphone. Completing the controls on the top is a button you press to shoot a movie.
Controls on the Back of The Camera
On the back, near the top is a switch to place the camera in review mode. Below this is an exposure button. This comes into effect when you are working in manual exposure mode. By pressing this button the rocker area below the button can be used to change the shutter speed and aperture size. Normally the rocker is used to adjust exposure compensation, selecting the flash mode, placing the camera in macro mode and setting the self timer. In the centre of the rocker is a further button for accessing the menu system and confirming a setting.
Other buttons allow you to change the information showing on the LCD screen and accessing a cut down menu showing only key features. This button has a dual purpose and is used to delete photos when you have placed the camera in review mode.
Image Quality - See Sample Images Below
Outdoor Scenic Shot 1
This test presents a digital camera with a number of challenges. To start with there are the bright areas of the boats contrasting with the darker areas of the foliage. On top of that there is bright sunlight reflecting off the boats, but also shady areas where the sun does not reach. The Lumix DMC TZ20 copes with all those challenges impressively. Sun glare is handled easily and there is plenty of detail showing in the light areas of the boats. Colours are captured accurately and there is a pleasant, bright look to the shot.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 2
Taking into account that Panasonic have equipped the Lumix DMC TZ20 with an extreme wide angle lens the quality of this picture is outstanding. This shot is normally noticeably the weakest test shot a camera produces. In this instance the sharpness of the shot is surprisingly good. The sharpness is also maintained as you move out towards the edges of the shot. Other typical problems such as purple fringing and vertical lines towards the edges of the shots appearing at an angle are avoided too.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 3
Moving to the other extreme with the lens fully zoomed in creates another high quality result. Sharpness is again some way above average with no discernable difference in clarity as you move towards the edges of the shots. Panasonic give you plenty of options when it comes to deciding how much of a scene you would like to see in sharp focus. Getting to know the focusing options this camera has can certainly help to improve the way your photos look.
This is a further example of the quality you can expect from this camera. Colours look good and focusing again is of a standard that is hard to beat. Looking at the four scenic test shots this camera rates around 9 / 10 when it comes to the sharpness and clarity.
When it comes to fine tuning colours Panasonic give their digital cameras a white balance setting of shady. Not many other brands offer this setting. If you use this setting when taking a shot in the shade your picture will take on a little added warmth. You can see an example of this in the portrait test shot. Working closer in to your subject presents no problems to the Lumix DMC TZ20. Focusing remains very sharp.
Indoor Portrait With Flash
The flash units emits plenty of light. It manages to spread the light evenly across the shot avoiding the potential issue of a fierce blast of flash light hitting the centre of the face and washing colour from the shot.
Indoor Portrait Without Flash
Without flash turned on the definition in the shot is very impressive. A lot of cameras find it difficult to produce a shot with this level of detail once you move indoors and keep flash turned off. The Lumix DMC TZ20 does well to keep noise at bay in these conditions. You will still need fairly good lighting levels if you are taking pictures indoors, but you should be able to produce pleasing window lit portrait shots without the need of flash.
Few people buy this type of camera if they plan to specialise in close up photography. Even so a good macro shot suggests a good quality lens. That is the case here. This is another instance where the Lumix DMC TZ20 matches or surpasses the quality on offer from the best cameras in this category.
The colours this camera produces are vivid. Add to that the way the Lumix DMC TZ20 is able to capture brightness and you have the recipe for taking plenty of eye catching shots.
It is still true of compact cameras that if you increase ISO settings above ISO 400 noise will creep into your shots. That is true of the Lumix DMC TZ20 too. Unless you are planning to take a lot of photos in lowlight where you are unable to use flash this issue should be avoided in the main. Areas where other cameras struggle with noise such is in shady areas where the sun doesn't reach are handled well by this camera. In those areas it performs better than most compact digital cameras.
Picture Quality Summary
When it comes to picture quality this camera scores high marks. It is true that this type of camera is usually capable of creating high quality photos, so the Lumix DMC TZ20 is up against plenty of tough competition. Even so this camera compares well with the very best in this category.
Shutter Lag Times
Single Shot With Flash
Five Shots With Flash
Turn on Time
Ease of Use
With so many features available it is hard to claim this camera is straightforward and easy to use in the manner of a simple point and shoot digital camera. It will take time for you to get to grips with all the features if you are looking to get the most out of this camera. Having said that Panasonic have probably done as well as they possibly can when it comes to the ergonomics of the camera.
Points I Like
Picture quality - general features - long lens - compact body size - minimal shutter delay - full HD movies with stereo sound - GPS - fast burst mode
Where it Could Improve
Battery use when GPS is in use
The Panasonic Lumix DMC TZ20 offers you a great mix of picture quality and features. It performs exceptionally well in most situations and there of plenty of reasons why this camera is worth a place at the top of your digital camera shortlist. Competition is stiff in this category, but this camera is hard to beat when you look at the features it has and the quality of the pictures it takes. Recommended.
Top Rated Cameras in this Category
Nikon Coolpix S9300 Rating 86/100
For a camera that is small enough to take anywhere the Nikon Coolpix S9300 has a lot of features packed into it. If you are planning to take a holiday GPS tracking will tell you where you were when a picture was taken. The length of the zoom lens also gives you plenty of scope when it comes to picture opportunities. Although there is plenty of completion in this category the picture quality on offer here combined with the features makes this camera very attractive indeed. Recommended.
Read Review: Nikon Coolpix S9300 Review
Canon Powershot SX260 HS Rating 86/100
The Canon Powershot SX260 HS is one of the very best digital cameras in this category. In fact if you are happy to miss out on features such as 3D photography and 360 degree panoramas it is very hard to beat. It has a great set of features packed into its relatively compact body size and picture quality helps to make it stand out from the competition. Although it is one of the more expensive cameras in this field it still offers good value for money.
Read Review: Canon Powershot SX260 HS Review
Panasonic DMC SZ1 Rating 84/100
If you are looking for a simple, pocket camera that gives you some extra zoom and takes high quality snapshots the Panasonic Lumix DMC SZ1 is a very good choice. Compared to other cameras with similar features available at around the same price this camera has the edge when it comes to picture quality. It takes sharp, colourful photos and offers excellent value for money. Recommended.
Read Review: Panasonic DMC SZ1 Review