Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 first look review
Price as reviewed
The most important new feature of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 is undoubtedly the 0.2in, 200,000-dot EVF. Over the past few years, we have seen an increasing number of cameras fitted with electronic viewfinders, including Panasonic's own Lumix DMC-LF1 that was released almost a year ago. Now the same viewfinder has been added to the TZ range, along with the welcome addition of raw shooting.
Both these features, along with a 30x optical zoom and Wi-Fi connectivity, really improve what is already an excellent series of travel cameras, but I'm sure the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 will also attract a few admiring glances from enthusiast photographers.
I was lucky to spend a day out shooting with a pre-production version of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 in the bright sunshine of the Mojave Desert in California, following the launch of the camera at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, USA.
Sample image shot with the Panasonic TZ60
Panasonic Lumix TZ60: Key features
With an 18.1-million-pixel, 1/2.3in (approx 6.17x4.55mm) High Sensitivity MOS sensor, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 has a fairly high resolution, particularly given the size of the sensor. While this may produce a decent amount of detail in good light at low sensitivity settings, at even moderate sensitivities this may prove to be too much for the small sensor.
Some of the images shot at ISO 6400 did look like some significant noise reduction had been applied, and I noticed purple fringing in some shots. However, as I was using a pre-production camera, I would expect the image quality to improve by the time it comes to test a final retail version. That said, at ISO 100 images look full of detail, which bodes well for the final version.
With quite a high pixel density, the sensitivity range of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 has been kept to a moderate ISO 100-3200, expandable to ISO 6400. With raw image capture it will be interesting to see just how much the DMC-TZ60 can be pushed to the limits of the range, given that editing the raw files should produce better images than the in-camera JPEGs. At the time of writing, the raw-conversion software for the DMC-TZ60 wasn't available, so we will look at this in more detail in our full test.
Sample image shot with the Panasonic TZ60 - 24mm equivalent
Sample image shot with the Panasonic TZ60 - 720mm equivalent
Like Sony's Cyber-shot DSC-HX50, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 uses a 30x zoom lens. The lens on the DMC-TZ60 is a Leica DC Vario-Elmar 4.3-129mm f/3.5-6.4 zoom, the equivalent of an incredible 24-720mm in 35mm format. Indeed, the zoom range of this lens goes from being wide to an extreme telephoto in just a couple of seconds.
When shooting at the telephoto end of the zoom, the optical image stabilisation works very well, keeping images almost perfectly still - or at least moving smoothly rather than wobbling away while you are trying to take a shot of something in the distance.
Panasonic Lumix TZ60: Electronic viewfinder and LCD screen
The first thing to note about the EVF on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 is that it is small and has a low resolution. However, I found that the colours and refresh rate were good enough to make it usable, especially as the EVF won't generally be used for aiding manual focusing. For composition the EVF was fine, and in bright sunlight it proved to be very beneficial. In addition, holding the camera to the eye provided extra stability, which is another useful feature, particularly when used at the full extent of the telephoto lens.
Despite a bright display and an anti-reflective coating, the 3in, 920,000-dot screen struggled in the extremely bright sunlight of the Mojave Desert, and it was awkward to compose images. In more subdued daylight the screen was fine, with good colours and a pleasing level of contrast.
Panasonic Lumix TZ60: Build and handling
Given that the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 has a 30x zoom lens and an EVF, it is quite a small camera. Measuring 110.6x64.3x34.4mm, it is possible to slip it into a pocket in all but the tightest pair of jeans, so it is a true travel companion.
The button layout of the camera is straightforward, with a familiar selection of rear controls and the useful addition of a control ring around the lens. I had no issues accessing any of the exposure or image settings, and the various shooting modes can be selected via a dedicated dial on the top of the camera.
Panasonic Lumix TZ60: Other features
Even on the pre-production camera that I was using the contrast detection focusing was snappy, and with face detection and focus tracking also available there is no reason not to get sharp images with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60. The camera can also take up to 5fps while still focusing, or up to 10fps for eight images without refocusing.
As expected from a compact camera, there are a huge number of scene modes and shooting effects. Most of the Creative Control effects are reasonably well controlled and not too over the top. In particular, I like the Dynamic Monochrome mode, which produces great black & white images.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 has a small built-in pop-up flash, with GPS and GLONASS location tagging available. As with most current cameras, the DMC-TZ60 has Wi-Fi connectivity, as well as NFC (Near Field Communication) to create a quick connection between the camera and a compatible device.
Panasonic Lumix TZ60: Initial thoughts
The addition of an EVF and raw shooting really transform the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 from a mere travel camera to one that deserves to be taken more seriously. Even the style of the DMC-TZ60 has a premium feel to it, and it will no doubt prove to be very attractive to a number of different types of users.
As always, the key will be the image quality, as 18 million pixels on a small compact sensor will no doubt be a test of the in-camera image processing. It will also be interesting to see what the processed raw images look like.
If the raw images at low sensitivities are impressive, the DMC-TZ60 could be a very good compact camera for enthusiast photographers to take with them everywhere.
The DMC-TZ60 will be available in March and cost £349.99.