|Upon arrival of a Panasonic LUMIX DMC-TZ7 test sample, it is tested in our DIWA Lab. The technical data of the rigorous tests are processed and translated into understandable data. Inside the lab, testing takes place in standardized circumstances. An environment in which cameras, both compact and system concepts can be compared without a problem. Besides that, the Panasonic LUMIX TZ7 camera is extensively used in practice and evaluated as for operation and shooting in practice. This combination of lab tests and the testing in practice, results in a final conclusion that is carefully reviewed.|
|Panasonic DMC-TZ7 color reproduction
The color reproduction of the Panasonic LUMIX TZ7 is quite consistent over the entire ISO range. It only shows a minor deviation compared to the calibrated colors of the Gretag Macbeth Color Checker. This will hardly be visible in practice. The color reproduction of the Panasonic TZ7 is slightly more saturated, which in practice is usually experienced as pleasant. Skin tones are rendered naturally; all we find is a slight tendency to reproduce the (white) skin color somewhat rosy. An excellent result. Compared to its predecessor, the TZ5, it is an almost identical result when it comes to color reproduction.
Panasonic Lumix TZ7 white balance
As for color range, we find an optimal performance of the Panasonic DMC-TZ7 at ISO 200 and 400. The average of 21.3 bits (80-800 ISO) out of 24 bits enables the camera to offer quite accurate color retention. The auto white balance encounters some problems to filter color cast in incandescent/fluorescent circumstances. Up to and including ISO 400 the TZ7 performs fine, however, higher ISO values are a bit harder for the TZ7. The manual white balance is the best, as expected. Only at ISO 1600 color cast is a slightly visible, although still very much acceptable.
Panasonic TZ7 sensitivity range
The Panasonic DMC-TZ7 has a sensitivity range that goes up to and including ISO 1600 according to the specifications. In the DIWA Lab, the sensor's sensitivity is also tested, and it often turns out that the results of this test differ from the claimed values. It is not uncommon to find differences as much as 20-25%. We also find deviations with the Panasonic TZ7 although not that big. From ISO 80 up to ISO 800, the actual ISO sensitivity is 16.6% lower on average, ISO 1600 however measures some 20% higher. This is something to keep in mind while shooting, and it is not a bad idea to plus the exposure compensation slightly.
Signal / noise ratio
Although the image sensor of the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-TZ7 camera features 12.7 Megapixels, only 10.1 are used effectively for the picture. This difference allows Panasonic to provide more than one image format (16:9, 4:3, 3:2) without it influencing the wide angle range of 25mm for example. Effectively, you get one million additional pixels of the Panasonic TZ7. An increase of the total amount of pixels on a relatively small sensor is bound to generate more noise. If we compare the signal/noise ratio of Panasonic LUMIX DMC-TZ7 to that of the LUMIX TZ5, we find the TZ7 has to give in here. Whereas the TZ5 is able to keep up as far as ISO 800 and only starts showing visible and annoying noise at ISO 1600, the Panasonic TZ7 has to give in one stop earlier. ISO 800 of the TZ7 is similar to ISO 1600 on the TZ5.
|Panasonic TZ7 dynamic range
Increasing the amount of pixels did not influence the dynamic range of the Panasonic LUMIX TZ7 negatively. Compared to the Panasonic TZ5, the range has even slightly improved. More detail shows in the dark and light areas in a picture. The camera is very well able to deal with high contrast pictures up to a sensitivity of ISO 800. At 1600 ISO it gets harder and we find blotted dark areas and white-washed light areas.
Panasonic TZ7 lens
The Panasonic DMC-TZ7 is enhanced when it comes to optics, offering more wide-angle and more telephoto. The TZ5 features a 10x range with a wide angle of 28mm. A 12x zoom range in a compact housing is therefore quite an achievement. It won't be easy to keep the lens quality with its 25-300 mm range of the TZ7 on a high level. We were kind of curious to find out about the technical test results from the DIWA Lab. It turned out the performance of the lens was superb when it came to sharpness. Compared to the lens of the TZ5 there was even an improved sharpness over the entire zoom range of the TZ7. Wide angle showed an excellent sharpness for both the edges and the center. Even the center focal length provided the same quality of sharpness in the center and toward the edges. Superb. Only the telephoto range at 300mm showed slight blur at the edges, although hardly visible in practice.
Distortion & Chromatic aberration
As expected, wide angle shows distortion at 25mm, although not obviously notable and in fact only measurable in the Lab. The remaining focal lengths hardly to not at all suffer from any distortion which shows the excellence of this lens. When it comes to chromatic aberration, the TZ5 with its 10x zoom lens performed well. It was only the telephoto that suffered from some chromatic aberration. The new 12x zoom lens of the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-TZ7 also performs really well. There is not a trace of visible chromatic aberration over the entire zoom range, and it's only in telephoto that a hardly visible trace of chromatic aberration turns up. This is a outstanding achievement, the TZ7 features a high quality lens!
Recording High Definition videos
Another feature that makes the Panasonic DMC-TZ7 stand out from the masses is its possibility to capture High Definition videos in AVCHD format. The resolution has remained the same; 1280x720 pixels. However; new is the ability to record videos in two different codecs. The most remarkable is AVCHD Lite, which is also used by many High Definition camcorders. The advantages of this format are better video and sound quality and a longer recording time. A disadvantage however, is the fact the format is not optimally supported if you want to edit the videos. Apple users encounter problems if they want to import this format using iMovie'09. The solution is to use the standard Motion JPEG codec that is also provided by the Panasonic TZ7.