An 18.1-million-pixel sensor and massive 30x optical zoom range, plus Wi-Fi, GPS and raw image capture, suggest that the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 could be one of the best travel compact cameras produced. But can it live up to our expectations? Read the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 review...
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 at a glance:
- 18.1-million-pixel, 1/2.3in-type sensor
- Leica DC Vario-Elmar 24-720mm f/3.3-f/6.4 Asph lens
- 920,000-dot resolution TFT LCD display
- 200,000-dot electronic viewfinder
- ISO sensitivity range of ISO 100-3400 (ISO 6400 extended)
- Wi-fi and NFC connectivity
- Street price around £349
- See sample images taken with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 – Introduction
Being lightweight and portable while also offering an extensive optical zoom range are a few of the key criteria of a travel compact camera. With this sector of the market being particularly competitive, companies need to give their new cameras more advanced features to stay ahead of the competition.
Panasonic announced the launch of the Lumix DMC-TZ60 alongside the DMC-TZ55 at CES in the USA earlier this year. The TZ60 is the successor to the very popular Lumix DMC-TZ40, which impressed us when we tested it in AP 23 March 2013. Now featuring an increased 30x optical zoom, raw image capture, comprehensive Wi-Fi/NFC connectivity and an electronic viewfinder, Panasonic has certainly stepped up to the mark with the TZ60.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 – Features
Inside the TZ60 is a 1/2.3in-type (6.17×4.55mm) Live MOS sensor with a resolution of 18.1 million pixels. One feature that will no doubt widen the appeal of the TZ60, particularly among enthusiast photographers, is the fact that the camera now supports both raw and JPEG image capture. Thanks to Panasonic’s own Venus Engine processor, writing both full-resolution raw and JPEG images simultaneously isn’t too sluggish and a speed of 10fps is possible for a total of six frames in burst mode.
However, this is with a fixed focus, and continuous AF will slow the rate to 5fps. Panasonic says the Venus Engine is also capable of more advanced noise reduction than in previous models, which should help when shooting at higher ISO sensitivities. The TZ60′s native sensitivity is ISO 100-3400, but it can be extended to ISO 6400.
Panasonic has made a significant improvement upon the 20x optical zoom range offered by the TZ60′s predecessor, the TZ40. The TZ60 features a Leica DC Vario-Elmar 4.3-129mm f/3.3-6.4 Asph zoom lens offering an impressive 30x optical zoom – equivalent to a massive 24-720mm focal range. Camera shake is tamed by a redesigned five-axis hybrid optical image stabilisation system. Panasonic claims a 0.5EV increase in performance over the OIS in the TZ40 predecessor, allowing users to shoot handheld with a shutter speed up to 3EV slower than before.
Like the TZ40, the TZ60 also features built-in GPS functionality, Wi-Fi and Near Field Communication (NFC). The GPS allows users to log the location of each shot they take and use the information at a later date, which is very useful, particularly for photographers on their travels. Also, the Wi-Fi is among the best in its class, allowing remote access to the camera and the sharing of images via the free iOS and Android Panasonic Image App.
Images: These images show either end of the extensive 24-720mm zoom range of the TZ60
Build and handling
Measuring 110.6×64.3×34.4mm, the TZ60 is slightly larger than its main competitor, the Sony
Cyber-shot DSC-HX60, which measures 108.1×63.6×38.3mm. However, the difference is minimal and both cameras fit into a trouser pocket.
The body of the TZ60 is made partly from magnesium alloy and partly from polycarbonate, giving it a more premium feel than other models in the TZ series. On the front of the body is an embossed grip with a textured rubber inlay, which, combined with the raised rubberised thumb grip on
the camera’s rear, gives a solid purchase.
A single scroll wheel that doubles as a D-pad takes care of many of the camera’s settings and adjustments. Scrolling changes values such as shutter speed and aperture, depending on what mode the camera is in. The same adjustments can be made using a ring at the front of the lens, which also controls zooming in automatic mode.
A function button allows users to create a custom shortcut to a specific camera control. Options include focus area set, quality, composition guide, histogram, focus peaking, AF/AE lock, one-shot AF, metering mode and AF mode. Also featured is a Q menu through which ISO, white balance, AF and other modes can be accessed.
The battery used by the TZ60 is rated to 300 shots. However, there is no standalone battery charger included, so the camera is frustratingly out of use while the battery is charging. Spare batteries are advisable.
Multi, centreweighted and spot metering are all featured on the TZ60. Usually I have a preference for spot metering, but I found that the multi option achieved consistent, accurate results even in challenging lighting conditions. In general, the metering prioritises midtones and, thanks to a good dynamic range, most scenes appear very well exposed. Pressing the ‘up’ button on the control wheel brings up the exposure-compensation control, which allows adjustments of ±2EV in 1⁄3-stop increments. However, the accuracy of the multi-metering meant I rarely needed to adjust it. Centreweighted and spot metering are also accurate.
Spot metering brings up a small crosshair that can be positioned across the scene. It is also linked by default to the single-point AF and will move as the AF point is repositioned. However, the lack of a touchscreen means that using single-point AF and spot metering together can be quite difficult unless the function button is assigned to focus area set
At low ISO sensitivities, the dynamic range of the TZ60 is very impressive. At ISO 100, the TZ60 was able to capture a total of 12.3EV of light, which is a very high score, although it drops to just 7.4EV at ISO 1600. For high-contrast landscapes, the TZ60′s range is noticeably better than in many cameras with a similar sensor. Also, a good amount of detail is kept in shadows and highlights, which can be brought out in post-processing. However, as the metering prioritises midtones, it can cause a loss of highlight detail, particularly in skies. The dynamic range can therefore be maximised by setting -0.6EV compensation and lightening the shadows in post-production.
Included among the scene modes is an HDR (high dynamic range) option that takes three pictures of varying exposures and stitches them together in-camera.
Image: The TZ60 has a great dynamic range, especially at the lower ISO sensitivity settings
Panasonic says it has made great improvements to the autofocus in the TZ60. It claims that the AF at the 720mm (equivalent) end of the lens is as fast as that at the 420mm (equivalent) end on the TZ40, which is reassuring.
At shorter focal lengths the AF was snappy, locking on quickly in daylight conditions, while in very low light focus was achieved in well under 1sec. Above 500mm, the focusing is sluggish and will often hunt for focus in low light, but no more than we would expect for such a large telephoto lens.
One feature I found useful was the focus-peaking mode, which highlights any edges that are in focus or which are nearing their optimum point. The base of the lens acts as a focus ring in manual mode, and when engaged, MF assist helps with focusing by showing a 5x or 10x enlargement.
Noise, resolution and sensitivity
When previewed at A4 size, images at the minimum ISO 100 sensitivity look clean with only a hint of luminance noise – if you are pixel peeping. The same can be said for images at ISO 400, but when zoomed in to 100%, many of the high-contrast lines in JPEG images start to become smudgy due to in-camera noise reduction. When previewing A4-sized JPEGs at ISO 800-1600, the luminance noise does not detract in any way from the images. However, these images do appear noticeably softer than ISO 100 images because so much detail has been lost due to heavy in-camera noise reduction.
I found that sensitivities of ISO 400 and below produce the best results, so for day-to-day shooting I chose to set the ISO to auto and limit it to ISO 400. Between ISO 1600 and the maximum extended ISO 6400, slight colour noise starts to become evident and luminance noise is very noticeable,while, the detail along high-contrast edges becomes jagged and smudgy.
These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart, captured using the Leica 24-720mm (equivalent) lens set to 45mm and f/5.6. We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately. The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution at the specified sensitivity setting.
White balance and colour
Only a few options are available in the TZ60′s white balance menu. These include AWB, daylight, cloudy, shade, incandescent, white set and white set setting. White set allows users to change the Kelvin setting manually, while white set setting samples a section from the middle of the image and sets the white balance from that. I found the AWB (auto) setting is accurate, particularly in fluorescent or incandescent lighting, although it is sometimes a touch too warm in tungsten lighting. Daylight, cloudy, shade and incandescent lighting can all be adjusted to preference by tapping the display button in the white balance menu. In general, the TZ60′s colour rendition gave pleasant and accurate, true-to-scene colours.
Although there are no colour profiles available, the TZ60 does feature a wealth of filters and scene modes. In creative control mode, users can select one of 15 different filters, including sepia, cross-processing and – my favourite – dynamic monochrome. These can also be added to images post-capture using the retouch menu.
Viewfinder, live view, LCD and video
Unlike the TZ40, the TZ60 does not have a touchscreen display. Instead, there is a bright 920,000-dot TFT LCD display coupled with a 200,000-dot electronic viewfinder. This has the same specification as the one featured on the Lumix DMC-LF1. Although the EVF has quite a low resolution, it does have a good refresh rate and works well as an aid for composing images. However, checking focus is more difficult as the low resolution makes it hard to gauge whether accurate focus has been achieved.
The LCD on the back can be read even in bright conditions and has a nice viewing angle. Inside the settings menu, the monitor’s brightness can be adjusted to improve outdoor visibility. The yellow, blue, green and red bias can also be altered.
Video can be recorded at up to 1920×1080-pixel full HD at 50i or 50p. The optical zoom can be used while recording and there’s OIS stabilisation for steadier handheld video.
With a new body design and quality construction, the TZ60 feels like a far more serious camera than the TZ40. The menus are navigable and, once custom function buttons are set up, the camera is very easy to use despite the lack of a touchscreen. The EVF is of a low resolution, but it is still good enough to use for composition and with the advantage of giving users steadier shots when handholding.
As with many cameras with this sensor size, image quality and low-light performance are a real issue. At high ISO sensitivities, images have little detail and JPEGs are heavily processed. However, for small-scale prints or web use, the ISO can be pushed to 1600 without a problem and anything shot below ISO 400 returns good images.
One thing for sure is that the TZ60 is packed with great features. The GPS is very handy for the travel photographer and the Wi-Fi functionality is class-leading. Raw image capture also should broaden the TZ60′s appeal to a wider market. The extensive focal range of the 24-720mm lens is suitable for everything from landscapes to wildlife, and for the casual photographer or the amateur enthusiast it is a great camera for a multitude of situations.
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 6.17×4.55mm) 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 110.6×64.3×34.4mm, 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.
Automatic, 4 presets, two custom
4896 x 3672 pixels
3in, approx 920,000-dot TFT LCD
1/2.3in (6.17 x 4.55mm) CMOS sensor with 18.1 million effective pixels
PASM, 18 scene modes, 15 filters in creative control and panorama
Approx 240g (with battery and memory card)
Li-Ion battery pack 1250mAh with 300-shot life
Leica DC Vario-Elmar 24-720mm (equivalent) f/3.3-6.4
Single, 5fps with continuous AF, 10fps in single AF, 40fps or 60fps at 5MP and 2.5MP respectively, self-timer
4-1/2000sec, 15secs or 30secs in starry sky mode
Still: JPEG, raw. Video: MPEG, AVCHD
Auto, ISO 100-3200 extendable to ISO 6400
TTL intelligent multiple, centreweighted, spot
110.6 x 64.3 x 34.4mm