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Reviews

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ70 review

panasonic tz70 (1)

The DMC-TZ70 is a compact camera with a 30x optical zoom, making it the perfect partner to a zoom-less smartphone camera.
The trouble is that fitting a30x zoom into a pocket-sized camera comes at the expense of image quality in low light. It’s a limitation of optical design that a small camera can have a big zoom or a wide aperture for improved image quality in low light, but not both.

panasonic tz70 (1)

SENSOR RESOLUTION 12 megapixels
LCDSCREEN 3in
OPTICALZOOM(35mm-EQUIVALENTFOCAL LENGTHS) 30x(24-720mm)
Battery life 300 shots

Panasonic is now looking to redress the balance.Whereas its predecessor,the TZ60 (see Shopper 321) used an 18-megapixel sensor, the TZ70 drops down to 12 megapixels. That means less detail, but having fewer pixels means more light hits each one,pushing down the grainy noise that blights most compact cameras. The TZ60’s 30x lens wasn’t quite sharp enough to match the 18-megapixel sensor,so the prospect of a lower resolution and less noise seems promising.

Panasonic has positioned the TZ70 at the top of the price range for pocket ultra-zoom cameras. There’s plenty to justify it, including an electronic viewfinder,full manual exposure and focus control, Raw format support, a 10fps top burst speed, 1080p video at frame rates up to 50fps and slow-motion capture at 720p and 100fps. Photo-shooting modes include HDR, panorama and 3D capture.

There’s a mode dial, rear wheel and lens ring for quick access to settings, but the lack of a touchscreen is disappointing. Moving the auto focus point without one was a bit of a chore,although it was less so after we reassigned the Fn1button to this task.
The hand grip on the TZ60 was just a slender ridge, so the nicely contoured rubber grip on the TZ70 is welcome.

The flash is still impractically placed, though: there’s a high risk of obscuring it with a finger,and it’s liable to throw shadows above the subject in portrait orientation.

Panasonic is currently the only manufacturer to include a viewfinder in this type of camera. We weren’t impressed with the TZ60’s viewfinder,as the view was small and the 200,000-dot screen looked pixelated. The TZ70’s is much sharper at 1.16 million dots, but the view is still small, and not much different to using the 3in LCD screen. Still, any viewfinder is welcome when direct sunlight makes the screen hard to see.

panasonic lumix tz70 (1)

Panasonic’s implementation of Wi-Fi is among the best around, with comprehensive remote control in the companion iOS and Android apps. There are options to send photos directly to mobiles, computers and other devices, either on demand or as soon as they’re captured. Photos can be geo-tagged with the help of the app,which uses your iOS or Android device to log the location and tag photos later,but there’s no integrated GPS.

It’s a shame the drop from 18 to 12 megapixels hasn’t come with a hike in performance.We timed one second between shots in normal use,which is marginally slower than the TZ60.

Raw shooting is more responsive,though, at 1. 1seconds compared to two seconds on the TZ60. The fastest continuous mode managed 8.5fps and lasted for six frames in our tests.
Whereas the TZ60 kept us waiting for around five seconds before it was ready for another burst, the TZ70 was ready to go again after 1½ seconds. There’s also an option to shoot at 6fps (5.3fps in our tests) or 3fps with updating focus between each shot. Its ability to keep up with moving subjects was mixed but it’s better than most cameras’ fixed focus.

panasonic lumix tz70 (2)

Video quality is excellent, with smooth, crisp details and lifelike colours. Stabilization plays an important role when shooting at the long end of the zoom. Videos shot under household lighting had a gloomy yellow cast but noise was kept reasonably under control. There’s an option to capture up to 10 photos while simultaneously recording video,but these 9-megapixel snaps are really just 1080p (2-megapixel) video frames that have been scaled up to the larger dimensions.

Photo quality is mixed, too. The modest 12-megapixel resolution delivers smoother colours and more natural-looking details than the TZ60, both in brightly lit and gloomier conditions, but some detail was lost.

With a small sensor behind a lens with a narrow aperture,noise was a problem in low light, and also when shooting shaded subjects
at the long end of the zoom. The camera chose slow shutter speeds on automatic settings to capture plenty of light and minimize noise,but while the stabilization did an impressive job of counteracting shake,blur from moving subjects could be a problem.

Most photos looked fine at typical viewing sizes but it required a generous dose of sun to produce shots that stood up to close scrutiny.The TZ70 has a small image quality advantage over direct rivals such as our current favorite, the Nikon S9700 (see Shopper 321), but we’re not convinced it’s enough to justify paying twice as much for.

 

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