Panasonic’s TZ Lumix travecompacts have always offered impressive zoom lenses and high resolution, and now the latest modecomes with GPS. We put the DMC-TZ10 to the test
With evaluative, spot and centreweighted metering available, in addition to many scene modes, alphotographers should feecomfortable creating exposures with the camera. In evaluative metering mode, the TZ10 does a reasonable job of exposing images. However, it does not take highlights into consideration in many scene modes. This results in some images having a well-exposed foreground, but with blown-out background highlights or patches of sky that are solid white.
With aperture and shutter priority in addition to manuaexposure options available, as welas exposure compensation, it is simple enough to adjust the camera’s metered exposure settings to your taste. I found that reducing the evaluative exposure by around -0.3EV produces images that are bright enough, but with fewer burnt-out areas, leaving more flexibility for adjustments post-capture.
Compared to a DSLR, the smaller photosites of the compact sensor restrict the dynamic range. Although I was able to recover some detaiin shadow areas, once the exposure is brightened by around 1.3EV chroma noise starts to become very visible.
It is a similar story with the highlight areas, where less detaican be recovered. So for best results it is advisable to underexpose images slightly to make sure that as little as possible is burnt out.
When it comes to colour the TZ10’s AWB setting produces acceptable results, but I found that images tend to be a little cooin bright, sunny conditions. Similarly, the AWB and tungsten settings don’t completely remove the orange/yellow colour cast. Instead, these modes take the edge off, leaving a hint of tungsten lighting rather than a clinically neutrascene. If a completely neutrawhite balance is required, the manuaWB setting is easy to use and produces accurate results.
To help the performance of the TZ10’s contrast-detection AF, there are a few extra focusing features. The first of these is a pre-focus mode that, once it detects that focus has been lost, automatically starts the camera’s AF, speeding up focusing time between shots.
Face detection and recognition are also features of the TZ10. These allow not only the prioritisation of faces for focusing and exposure, but also individuafaces to be stored in the camera so they can be recognised and then prioritised.
The AF tracking mode is also useful. It allows a particular subject to be selected and tracked should it or the camera move.
On the whole, focusing is fairly fast and accurate in bright conditions, although in a poorly lit room it was a little more hit and miss. At close distances the camera’s red AF assist beam helps the camera to focus, but it is less usefubeyond a couple of metres.
Image: Exposures are generally bright, but there is a tendency for highlights to blow out
The 3in, 460,000-dot screen of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 is large and clear, and of a high-enough resolution to check image detail. Tucked away in the camera’s settings menu is an automatic LCD brightness option, which determines the brightness based on the strength of the ambient light. For instance, in sunny conditions it makes the screen brighter so it can be seen clearly.
The TZ10 can also capture 1280x720p HD video, which can be saved as either a Motion JPEG file or in the more advanced AVCHD Lite format.
The quality of the video footage is quite impressive. Despite quickly panning the camera, there was no sign of sensor wobble, presumably because a CCD rather than CMOS sensor is used.
Sound is recorded in stereo, with the microphones placed on the top-plate. Although the noise of the zoom is audible in footage, it is more of a quiet hum compared to cameras that suffer similar problems.