Panasonic Lumix DMC TZ1 Mega zoom camera
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1 is a surprisingly compact Mega zoom digital camera that comes from an unexpected source in the photo trade. It is striking that so many manufacturers whose background is not in photography are coming up with photographic innovations as Panasonic has done with the Lumix TZ1 digital camera. The handy Panasonic Lumix TZ1 is the ideal solution for photographers who want more zoom but do not want to sacrifice the compact format or user-friendly aspects. If, however, you want more than a completely automatic camera, you would be better off looking at the Lumix FZ series of digital cameras.
Panasonic TZ1 - Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 10x optical zoom lens
Designing the Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 10x optical zoom lens and fitting it into a compact body like that of the Panasonic Lumix TZ1 digital camera was an amazing feat. The innovative design made it possible to keep the zoom lens so compact. Often, this compactness is only achieved at the expense of quality, but it must be said that the optical Leica lens holds it own and performs very well. There is practically no distortion and we saw only a hint of chromatic aberration in the tele setting. The sharpness and colour reproduction is fine and we can confidently say that the Leica DC Vario-Elmarit and the Panasonic TZ1 form a fine combination.
Panasonic DMC-TZ1 - Venus Engine III image processor
The Panasonic DMC TZ1's Venus Engine III image processor makes an obvious contribution to the speed with which the camera processes pictures and can be operated. Another important point is that it is very energy efficient and at approximately 250 pictures for a fully charged battery its performance is above average. The starting up speed of 1.5 seconds is fast and the camera is ready to take the first photograph immediately. The menu is very well organised and can be navigated quickly and easily, especially if you activate the Simple mode.
Panasonic Lumix TZ1 - 2.5 inch LCD screen
Showing saved pictures and making a composition is all done via the LCD screen. The Panasonic Lumix DMC TZ1 has a 2.5 inch screen and the resolution of more than 200,000 pixels and a fast refresh rate make it fun to work with the screen. The camera doesn't have an optical viewfinder, but this isn't a problem for a compact camera if it has a good screen. The only problem comes if you are trying to see the screen on a very sunny day. For the rest, the 2.5 inch screen gives great results, both in darkness or daylight. The screen has a handy extra function in the form of the High Angle mode. By activating this function it is possible to take a photo while holding the camera almost directly above your head, although it is, of course, difficult to see the screen in that position.
Panasonic Lumix DMC TZ1 - Mega O.I.S. image stabilizer
Although the Panasonic Lumix TZ1 did well in the test run and we really enjoyed having the MEGA O.I.S image stabilizer, we still see some challenges ahead for Panasonic. The noise ratio at ISO values of 400 and higher is still a stumbling block for this manufacturer. Looking at the competition, we can see that it is possible to get more out of the small CCD image sensors and to have less obvious noise than there was at 400 ISO and higher. The high sensitivity mode that uses 800 and 1600 ISO may provide a handy solution for evening shots, but was detrimental to quality. Fortunately, the Panasonic Lumix TZ1 is supported by an optical image stabilizer so that there is scarcely any need to use the high ISO values.
Panasonic TZ1 Megazoom - Attractive digital camera
Personally, I think that the Panasonic Lumix TZ1 is a very good digital Mega zoom camera to take along as a second camera. The compact format, the optical image stabilizer and the well organized user interface are a nice combination to work with. I have already written about and experienced that once you've worked with a digital camera equipped with an optical image stabilizer like the MEGA O.I.S. you won't ever want to go without. The Panasonic Lumix TZ1 is not totally free of faults, but the scales definitely come down on the positive side. As a camera for starters or a second camera, the combination of a 10x optical Leica zoom and MEGA O.I.S. make the Panasonic Lumix TZ1 an attractive package.
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Panasonic Lumix TZ1 - Storage capacity
The Panasonic TZ1 comes with an internal memory of approximately 134MB. It's a nice gesture, but you can't really do anything with it. Internal memory is a good option in itself, but then it should be increased to 64MB, for example, so that it can come in handy as a reserve. The file size of a 5 Megapixel digital camera like the Panasonic DMC TZ1 is a bit larger than 2.5MB (JPEG - 2560 x 1920 pixels / aspect ratio 4:3). The internal memory is good for just a handful of pictures. If we take 3 film rolls of 36, 108 pictures in total, you will need approximately 280MB. A memory card of 256MB or 512MB would combine well with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1 digital camera. The Panasonic TZ1 supports memory cards with a storage capacity of up to 2GB, so the new 4GB SDHC Secure Digital can't be used in combination with this model.
Panasonic TZ1 - Secure Digital memory card
The compartment in which the Secure Digital memory card is inserted is underneath the Panasonic Lumix TZ1. I used a different SD card for the practical test: the SanDisk Ultra II Plus Secure Digital memory card. As well as being a means to save pictures, this type of card also includes a handy USB interface. It works very simply: remove the card with the saved photos from the camera and bend it in half to reveal the USB interface. Place the card in a free USB port of a laptop or desktop computer and you can read or write data onto it immediately. The speed of the Ultra II memory card is more than enough to enable the Panasonic TZ1 to work continuously or to record high resolution video clips (VGA - 640x480 pixels/30fps).
Considering a storage capacity of 512MB:
2560 x 1920 pixels - JPEG Fine - 4:3 mode - 195 pictures
2560 x 1920 pixels - JPEG Normal - 4:3 mode - 380 pictures
2560 x 1712 pixels - JPEG Fine - 3:2 mode - 210 pictures
2560 x 1712 pixels - JPEG Normal - 3:2 mode - 430 pictures
2560 x 1440 pixels - JPEG Fine - 16:9 mode - 250 pictures
2560 x 1440 pixels - JPEG Normal - 16:9 mode - 510 pictures
2048 x 1536 pixels - JPEG Fine - 4:3 mode - 300 pictures
2048 x 1536 pixels - JPEG Normal - 4:3 mode - 590 pictures
2048 x 1360 pixels - JPEG Fine - 3:2 mode - 340 pictures
2048 x 1360 pixels - JPEG Normal - 3:2 mode - 650 pictures
1920 x 1080 pixels - JPEG Fine - 16:9 mode - 450 pictures
1920 x 1080 pixels - JPEG Normal - 16:9 mode - 860 pictures
1600 x 1200 pixels - JPEG Fine - 4:3 mode - 480 pictures
1600 x 1200 pixels - JPEG Normal - 4:3 mode - 940 pictures
1280 x 960 pixels - JPEG Fine - 4:3 mode - 730 pictures
1280 x 960 pixels - JPEG Normal - 4:3 mode - 1370 pictures
640 x 480 pixels - JPEG Fine - 4:3 mode - 2320 pictures
640 x 480 pixels - JPEG Normal - 4:3 mode - 3770 pictures
Video resolution 848 x 480 pixels - 30fps - 4 min 240 sec
Video resolution 848 x 480 pixels - 10fps - 14 min
Video resolution 640 x 480 pixels - 30fps - 5 min 30 sec
Video resolution 640 x 480 pixels - 10fps - 16min 20 sec
Video resolution 320 x 240 pixels - 30fps - 16 min 20 sec
Video resolution 320 x 240 pixels - 10fps - 47 min 50 sec