Andy Westlake tests Panasonic's pocket travel camera with a 1in sensor and 10x zoom lens

Product Overview

Overall rating:

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ100

Features:
Build/Handling:
Metering:
Autofocus:
AWB Colour:
Dynamic Range:
LCD viewfinder:

Pros:

  • + Really useful zoom range covers most subjects
  • + Excellent image quality from 1in sensor
  • + Pocketable design
  • + Well-implemented in-camera raw conversion

Cons:

  • - Electronic viewfinder is rather small
  • - Enthusiast photographers may find the controls frustrating
  • - Fixed rear LCD limits compositional flexibility

Product:

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ100 review

Manufacturer:

Price as reviewed:

£529.00

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ100 review: introduction

Panasonic-TZ100-opener

At a glance:

  • 1in, 20.1MP sensor
  • 25-250mm equivalent f/2.8-5.9 Leica DC lens
  • ISO 125-12,800 standard, 80-25,600 extended
  • 1.160-million-dot electronic viewfinder
  • 1.04-million-dot 3in touchscreen
  • 4K 30p/25p video recording and 4K Photo
  • Price £529

Perhaps because it was never a traditional film camera company, Panasonic has always tried to find ways of offering something beyond the ordinary with its Lumix cameras. It invented the ‘travel zoom’ class by combining a long zoom range with a compact, portable body, with the original TZ1 in 2006. More recently, it’s embraced video technology, offering high-resolution 4K recording in most of its cameras, along with associated 4K Photo modes that use the same technology to shoot high-speed stills. Now it’s combined these in a pair of new TZ models for 2016.

The first of these, the TZ80, which we reviewed in the 2 April edition of AP, is essentially an iteration of last year’s TZ70, with a small 1/2.3in sensor and 30x optical zoom. However, the subject of this article, the TZ100, is a very different beast indeed. Instead, it employs a much larger 20-million-pixel 1in sensor that promises much-improved image quality.

The main trade-off is a less extensive zoom, although its 10x 25-250mm equivalent range should still be more than sufficient for most purposes. This all fits in a body that’s just slightly thicker than the TZ80, and that fits easily in a coat pocket or small bag.

Panasonic TZ100 vs TZ70

Despite having a much bigger sensor, the TZ100 is barely larger than Panasonic’s other recent TZ models

 

In essence, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ100 promises to shake up the travel zoom class much the same way Sony’s RX100 upstaged all previous enthusiast compacts back in 2012. For the first time, it should give the kind of image quality that won’t disappoint critical enthusiasts, in a way its smaller-sensor cousins could never quite manage. It also offers a decent level of manual exposure control, along with a built-in electronic viewfinder. So the question we need to answer is simple: is the TZ100 the pocket travel camera that serious photographers have been waiting for?

Zoom range

The TZ100’s 10x lens covers a very useful 25mm equivalent wideangle to 250mm equivalent telephoto, illustrated below:

25mm equivalent

25mm equivalent

250mm equivalent

250mm equivalent

  1. 1. Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ100 review: introduction
  2. 2. Features
  3. 3. Build and handling
  4. 4. Autofocus
  5. 5. Pocket camera lenses: range vs speed
  6. 6. Image quality
  7. 7. Dynamic range and noise
  8. 8. Conclusion
  9. 9. Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ100 review: First look
  10. 10. Page 10
Page 1 of 10 - Show Full List
  • noelshouse

    HI Chris, I checked your pics out and you have some nice ones in there. You can see in places where the limitations of the camera are hindering you but you clearly know how to get the best out of the camera regardless. And I’m like you, I like the quite life too so would never take my SLR to a venue; having said that I have had my compact questioned on a few occasions; one of which resulted in a written apology from the venue.

    Anyway, as far as the Panasonic tz100 is concerned I would say it would be a big upgrade to your 30x current camera. You are right that the bigger sensor will allow you to use the digital zoom or crop in post if you have to but also you will get better results at higher ISO which will be a big help.

    Stage lighting will always dictate how well you can shoot at a gig. I was at a concert just last night and even front row I was struggling slightly at f2.8 because the lighting was so bad.

    either way good luck in your decision and if you get the Panasonic or try it out, let me know what you think of it.
    regards, Noel

  • Chris Jack

    You can look up my efforts to date on Facebook: I’m chris.jack.52438 – I’m reasonably happy with them but I am looking for a new camera.

    I usually go to seated acts at places like the O2 or Hammersmith Apollo. When I do manage to get close to front of house seats, a 30 times zoom is still useful (look at how close I can get to Duran Duran, Two Cellos, and Neil Diamond). I shot with a Canon G10 for a long time but the 5 times zoom was a problem – especially when I was more than 20 rows from the stage.

    According to my maths, a 10x zoom with a one inch sensor probably gives you better resolution than a 30x zoom with a 1/2.3 inch sensor so, once the TZ100 is released and I have seen a few more reviews, I may well go with that (in the absence of any 30x zoom cameras with one inch sensors).

    And sure – a big zoom on a compact is a compromise.

    The problem is partly that venues can be slightly vague (and inconsistent) about what cameras are allowed in. I want a quiet life so am sticking with compacts with integrated lenses. But I am seeing more and more people sneaking DSLRs into venues like the O2.

    And I have got permission to take my Nikon D4 into a number of gigs (like Barry Humphries, Cirque Beserk) but I’ve either been forewarned it’s OK or have asked explicitly for permission.

  • noelshouse

    Forget big zoom compacts, too many limitations; as you said ISO plus slow lenses and tiny sensors are no good in low light. I use the Canon G7X at gigs, only a 4.2X zoom but I get there early and get as close to the front as possible. Check my Instagram: therealnoelmorgan and have a look at my results with the Canon. I do like the look of the Panasonic TZ100 but for me the weak spot will be the slow lens at the long end but it may depend how quickly it stops down to f5.9.

  • Chris Jack

    I’m looking into buying a new camera for shooting at gigs. Places like the O2 have strict rules about what sort of cameras you can bring in. The Sony Cybershot HX50 I currently use has a 30x times zoom but shows it limitations with a maximum ISO of 800. I have to throw a lot of photos away for technical reasons.

    30x time is very useful at getting reasonably close shots in large venues.

    So… I’m considering either the Panasonic TZ100 (with a 10x zoom but better sensor) or the TZ80 (with a 30x zoom but smaller sensor).

    Thoughts?

  • Andy Westlake

    The RX100 IV is a lot more pocketable; it measures 101.6×58.1×41.0mm compared to 110.5 x 64.5 x 44.3 mm for the TZ100. However the TZ100 has a much longer (but slower) zoom, 25-250mm equivalent f/2.8-5.9 compared to the RX100 IV’s relatively limited 24-70mm equivalent f/1.8-2.8. So they’re rather different cameras. You pay your money and take your choice.

  • Seven_Spades

    I would like to see a comparison with the Sony RX100, some how I suspect that the Sony will be more pocketable.

  • BonzoDog1

    For me, I can’t give up the manual shutter/aperture controls of the LX100.
    If I need more reach I’ll use a second camera.

  • Martin

    I was just about to pull the trigger on buying the LUMIX LX100 when I spotted this about the TZ100. Undecided now as this seems like the better / newer option?!?
    Seems to be like lx100 with bigger zoom?