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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Dynamic range and noise

Dynamic Range

TZ100 DR graph

The main take-home message from our Applied Imaging dynamic range tests is that, while the TZ100 scores very well at low ISO, the numbers fall off very rapidly as the sensitivity is raised.

A measured dynamic range of 12.4 EV at ISO 100 indicates that it’s possible to pull a fair bit more detail out of dark shadows when processing raw. But by ISO 800 this ability has more or less completely gone, and at ISO 3200 and above, low readings indicate that there’s very little shadow detail at all. Sub-6 EV readings at the top ISO settings emphasise their poor quality.

ISO sensitivity and noise

At low ISO settings, TZ100 files show lots of detail with just the barest hint of noise. At ISO 800, luminance noise is beginning to mask fine detail if you look at your images closely, but this unlikely to show up in prints of 12x8in or smaller.

By ISO 3200, however, there’s a much greater impact on fine detail, but Panasonic’s JPEG processing maintains colour well. ISO 6400 is about as high as you’d ever want to go, with little in the way of shadow detail remaining, and the higher settings are very noisy indeed.

Below are 100% crops taken from JPEG files, shot at 44mm equivalent and f/5.6:

Panasonic TZ100, JPEG ISO 80, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, JPEG ISO 80, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, JPEG ISO 200, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, JPEG ISO 200, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, JPEG ISO 400, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, JPEG ISO 400, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, JPEG ISO 800, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, JPEG ISO 800, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, JPEG ISO 1600, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, JPEG ISO 1600, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, JPEG ISO 3200, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, JPEG ISO 3200, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, JPEG ISO 6400, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, JPEG ISO 6400, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, JPEG ISO 12800, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, JPEG ISO 12800, 100% crop

 

Switch to raw files processed in Adobe Camera Raw and we see a typically different rendition, with less smearing of detail and more luminance noise. But the overall message is much the same: image quality is excellent at low ISOs and perfectly acceptable at ISO1600, but tails off at higher settings.

Panasonic TZ100, RAW ISO 80, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, RAW ISO 80, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, RAW ISO 200, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, RAW ISO 200, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, RAW ISO 400, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, RAW ISO 400, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, RAW ISO 800, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, RAW ISO 800, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, RAW ISO 1600, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, RAW ISO 1600, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, RAW ISO 3200, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, RAW ISO 3200, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, RAW ISO 6400, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, RAW ISO 6400, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, RAW ISO 12800, 100% crop

Panasonic TZ100, RAW ISO 12800, 100% crop

  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 7 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?