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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Autofocus

Panasonic's AF system makes it easy to focus on off-centre subjects

Panasonic’s AF system makes it easy to focus on off-centre subjects

Panasonic has spent a long time perfecting its AF systems and the TZ100 benefits from the firm’s unique Depth from Defocus technology. This uses knowledge of the lens’s optical characteristics when the image is out of focus to determine the correct focus distance.

The system works remarkably well, focusing quickly and accurately in almost any situation. The focus point can be placed anywhere in the frame using the touchscreen, and face detection and subject tracking modes can be enabled.

Often cameras with relatively slow zoom lenses struggle with focusing in low light, but the TZ100 performs remarkably well. It’s only really when trying to shoot in extremely dark conditions that it shows any sign of failing. So if you want to take a lot of pictures in very dimly lit bars, it may not be the best choice; otherwise it should be just fine.

Switch to manual-focus mode and the dial around the lens becomes a manual-focus ring. Panasonic has included a peaking display and magnified view, which can be combined together. I found this made it easy to achieve manual focus when desired, except in very low-light situations where the display becomes too noisy.

Metering, white balance and colour

The TZ100 gives quite attractive, if somewhat subdued colours and plenty of detail

The TZ100 gives quite attractive, if somewhat subdued colours and plenty of detail

Left to its own devices, the TZ100’s metering handles most scenes relatively well. It doesn’t quite have the uncanny consistency of the best of its peers, though, and I found myself using exposure compensation fairly frequently to either tame clipped highlights in bright light, or brighten up dark exposures in dull conditions. Of course, the great advantage of electronic viewing is that you can see all of this before you take the shot, and there’s the option of a live histogram to help you judge correct exposure.

Panasonic’s standard JPEG colour rendition is accurate and perfectly pleasant, although not as punchy or crowd-pleasing as some other brands. In terms of white balance, under most conditions the TZ100 gives neutral results, and while under artificial light it errs to the side of warmth, it’s not unpleasant. Crucially, the odd colour casts that previously could beset Panasonic cameras seem to have been eliminated. On occasions when the camera does get things wrong, you can use the well-implemented in-camera raw development to choose a more appropriate white balance.

The TZ100 gives great results even at ISO 1600

The TZ100 gives great results even at ISO 1600

 

Low ISO images are packed full of fine detail, but even at ISO 400 noise starts to have a visible impact in detail if you look closely at your images. Even so, I was quite happy shooting up to ISO 1600, which gives results plenty good enough for online sharing and small prints.

Higher settings result in noisy images with little shadow detail, but can still be usable on occasion, especially when converted to black & white. Meanwhile, the lens delivers plenty of detail at wideangle and holds up well through to about 100mm equivalent, but gets noticeably softer beyond. The optical image stabilisation works well, but only within reason: if you try to shoot one-handed at full telephoto, for example, you’ll likely get shaky results.

  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 4 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?