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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Conclusion

Panasonic-TZ100-opener

Let’s get one thing straight from the start – the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ100 is the best pocket travel camera money can buy right now.

Its 1in sensor and 25-250mm-equivalent lens give a great combination of image quality and zoom range in a body that’s still small enough to slip into a jacket pocket. I took it on a week-long trip to New York expecting to use it occasionally as a backup to my ‘proper’ camera, but ended up carrying it all the time instead, and found it delivered fine results under almost any conditions – indoors or outdoors, sunny or cloudy, day or night.

This is its purpose in life, and it fulfils it better than any of its peers. Yes, I’d have got technically better image quality from a DSLR or CSC, but I was pleased with what I got from the TZ100, and it was so much easier to carry around.

Indeed, in practical use, the TZ100 is a quite likeable little camera, although the EVF is painfully small and the lack of a tilting screen is disappointing.

The controls aren’t as well thought out as the best enthusiast compacts I’ve used either, so not all functions are very easy to access quickly.

In terms of handling, it feels rather like a point-and-shoot that’s developed pretensions to greater things, but that’s not surprising given its lineage.

Attractive black & white images can be obtained straight out of the camera

Attractive black & white images can be obtained straight out of the camera

 

Overall, the TZ100 reminds me very much of the original Sony RX100: it’s operationally flawed and sometimes frustrating to use, but capable of results so far ahead of its smaller-sensor rivals that it practically renders them obsolete. Literally nothing else on the market can offer a similar combination of zoom range, portability and image quality.

If you’re looking for a small camera to take on holiday this summer instead of a DSLR, then without question, the TZ100 should be right at the top of your shortlist.

TESTBENCH RECOMMENDED 4.5

  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
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  • 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?