Timing & Performance
Like all recent Lumix models, the TZ1 feels very responsive in everyday use, and the now-standard Panasonic high speed focus mode (and new linear AF system) puts it near the top of its class. The only fly in the ointment - and it's a fairly serious one - is the shutter lag (pre-focus lag), which is a rather leisurely 0.25 seconds (stretching to 0.3 seconds if you use mode 2 OIS). If you're used to a faster response (which I am) you will find there is a noticeable delay between pressing the button and picture being taken. The fast focus to some extent makes up for the lag (the full press lag - including focus of around 0.5 seconds is excellent). It's a pity Panasonic dropped the ball on this vital aspect of camera performance, especially when they've done so well with other recent Lumix compacts. How much it will impact on your photography will depend on the kinds of subjects you shoot - if they're fast-moving the shutter lag is something worth bearing in mind. What's strange is that Panasonic in its press release claimed a shutter lag of '0.006sec minimum' - even with our fairly loose tolerances on this particular test (+/- 0.05 secs) our measurement, over repeated tests, was at least 30x longer.
All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 2560 x 1920 Fine JPEG image (approx. 2,370 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 1.0 GB Sandisk Extreme III card.
|Power: Off to Record||1.7|
|Power: Off to Play||Image displayed||1.8|
|Power: Record to Off||All activity ceased||1.3|
|Power: Play to Off||1.2|
|Record Review||Image displayed||0.8|
|Mode: Play to Record||Lens already extended||0.8|
|Mode: Record to Play||Lens already extended||1.0|
|Play: Magnify||To full magnification (16x)||~0.8|
|Play: Image to Image||Time to display each saved image||0.5|
|Play: Thumbnail view||3 x 3 thumbnails||1.2 *1|
|Zoom from Wide to Tele||35 to 350 mm (10x)||2.5|
|Half-press Lag (Focus time)||Wide angle, High Speed (3 point) Autofocus||~0.2|
|Half-press Lag (Focus time)||Wide angle, 9-point Autofocus||~0.5|
|Half-press Lag (Focus time)||Telephoto, High Speed (3 point) Autofocus||~0.4|
|Half-press Lag (Focus time)||Telephoto, 9-point Autofocus||~0.8|
|Pre-focus Lag (S1>S2)||LCD live view (OIS mode 1 or off)||~0.25|
|Pre-focus Lag (S1>S2)||LCD live view (OIS mode 2)||~0.3 *2|
|Full-press Lag (0->S2)||LCD live view, wide angle, High Speed AF||~0.5|
|Off to Shot Taken||LCD live view||~2.1|
|Shot to Shot||Flash off||~2.8|
|Shot to Shot||Flash on ( red eye reduction on / off)||3.5 / 2.8|
|*1||5x5 thumbs takes another 4.6 secs|
|*2||As we've seen with previous Lumix models the use of mode 2 image stabilization increases shutter lag - in this case by around 0.05 secs.|
Continuous drive mode
As with all recent Lumix models, the TZ1 has three continuous drive modes; High (H), Low (L) and No Limit (∞). In our tests the High mode averaged 3.0 frames per second, but there is a limit to the number of frames you'll get in a burst, varying from 3 at the highest quality 5MP/Fine setting to 5 at 3MP or lower. There is a 1.3 second or so delay after each burst as the files are written from the buffer onto the card. The Low option offers the same but at 2.0 frames per second. The No Limit option - as its name implies - lets you shoot indefinitely at around 2.0 frames per second, regardless of file size / quality.
File writing / playback performance
The TZ1 is around the average for its class when it comes to reading or writing to the card; a full 5MP / Fine image (2.4 MB) takes around 1.1 seconds to write to the card (~2.2 MB/s), and about 0.5 seconds to display in playback mode.
Battery life has never been one of Panasonic's strong points where ultra compact cameras were concerned, though the Venus III processor seems to help. The TZ1's small 3.7v, 1000mAh rechargeable battery is good for about 250 shots per charge (CIPA standard), which isn't bad for a camera without an optical viewfinder, but isn't exactly class-leading either. You can pick up a second (non Panasonic) battery for around $20 - I've seen higher capacity ones on offer too, which should extend your number of shots per charge slightly.