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Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 Review

April 2007 | By Simon Joinson

Panasonic - the company that is more than any other responsible for the renaissance and continuing success of the 'big zoom' bridge camera - launched the original 'Travel Zoom' TZ1 back in February 2006. The formula - a big zoom on a small camera - isn't exactly new, but the combination of Leica's lens design expertise and Panasonic's technology (image stabilization, fast performance) made the TZ1 the first serious alternative to bigger 'SLR-style' super zooms. And now the TZ1 has been superceded by two models with a new 28-280mm equiv. lens, the TZ2 (6MP, slightly lower spec) and the camera on test here, the TZ3. As well as the new wide lens the TZ3 also ups the sensor resolution to 7 megapixels, increases the screen size and throws in a few new features. The big question is, has Panasonic managed to improve some of the image quality issues that dogged the otherwise superbly capable TZ1? Let's find out, starting as usual with the headline specification:

  • 7.2 million effective pixel / 8.5 million pixels total 1/2.35" CCD
  • 10x (28-280mm equiv.) Leica DC Vario-Elmarit optical zoom
  • MEGA OIS image stabilization
  • Larger sensor for 28mm equiv. angle of view at 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9 aspect ratios
  • Venus III Engine processor
  • Fast Linear autofocus system
  • High Resolution (230,000 pixel) 3.0-inch LCD
  • Movies up to 840 x 480 pixels (WVGA) @ 30 fps
  • 20 scene modes plus Intelligent ISO mode

TZ3 (and TZ2) vs TZ1: Key changes

As is the case with most of Panasonic's Lumix models the TZ1 is available in either silver or black (though this may not be the case for every country and / or every retailer).

  • Wider (and shorter) 28-280mm (equiv.) lens range (TZ1 was 35-350mm)
  • Built in lens cover (TZ1 had a lens cap)
  • Smaller and lighter camera
  • Increased sensor resolution (TZ3: 7MP, TZ2: 6MP, TZ1: 5MP)
  • Larger 3.0-inch screen (TZ3 only)
  • Intelligent ISO mode
  • Clipboard function
  • ISO 1250 at full size (TZ1 was 'only' ISO 800), High Sensitivity mode now to ISO 3200
  • White balance adjustment and extra 'Shade' WB preset
  • Slightly improved burst mode (TZ3 only)
  • Slightly better battery life

Color options

The TZ3 is available in three colors; blue, silver and black (though this may not be the case for every country and / or every retailer).

DMC-TZ3 specifications

Street price • US: $330
• UK: £250
Body Material Metal
Sensor

• 1/2.35 " Type CCD
• 8.50 million pixels total
• 7.2 million effective pixels

Image sizes

• 3072 x 2304
• 2560 x 1920
• 2048 x 1536
• 1600 x 1200
• 1280 x 960
• 640 x 480
• 3216 x 2144 (3:2)
• 2560 x 1712 (3:2)
• 2048 x 1360 (3:2)
• 3328 x 1872 (16:9)
• 2560 x 1440 (16:9)
• 1920 x 1080 (16:9)

Movie clips

• 640 x 480 @ 30 / 10fps
• 320 x 240 @ 30 / 10 fps
• 848 x 480 @ 30 / 10 fps (16:9)
• recording time depends on Memory Card capacity
• with sound

File formats • JPEG (Exif 2.21)
• DPOF
• QuickTime Motion JPEG
Lens

• 28-280mm (35mm equiv)
• 10x optical zoom
• LEICA DC VARIO-ELMAR

Image stabilization MEGA OIS: mode 1 / 2
Conversion lenses None
Digital zoom Extra optical zoom (4:3: 12x for 5MP, 15x for 3, 2, 1, 0.3MP, 3:2: 12.6x for 4.5MP, 15x for 2.5MP, 16:9: 13x for 3.5MP, 15x for 2MP)
Focus • Auto Focus system
• Normal / Macro (dial)
• Continuous AF on / off
AF area modes • 1 / 9 point
• 1 / 3 point high speed
• Spot
AF assist lamp Yes
Focus distance • Normal: 50cm - infinity (wide) / 200cm - infinity (tele)
• Macro / Simple mode / Intelligent ISO / Motion picture / Clipboard : 5cm - infinity (wide) / 200cm - infinity Tele (except tele end)
• 100cm - infinity (Tele Macro at tele end)
Metering • Intelligent Multiple
• Center weighted
• Spot
ISO sensitivity • Auto
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800
• ISO 1250
• High Sensitivity mode ISO 3200
Exposure compensation • +/- 2EV
• 1/3 EV steps
Exposure bracketing • +/- 1/3EV -1EV
• 3 frames
Shutter speed

• 8-1/2000 sec
• Starry Sky Mode: 15, 30, 60sec

Aperture F3.3 / 8.0 (Wide: 2 steps) F4.9 / 11 (Tele: 2 steps)
Modes

• Program AE
• Simple
• Normal picture
• Macro
• SCN1, SCN2
• Intelligent ISO

Scene modes • Portrait
• Soft Skin
• Scenery
• Sports
• Night Portrait
• Night Scenery
• Self Portrait
• Food
• Party
• Candle
• Fireworks
• Starry Sky
• Beach
• Aerial photo
• Snow
• High Sensitivity
• Baby 1 & 2
• Underwater
• Sunset
• Pet
White balance

• Auto
• Daylight
• Cloudy
• Shade
• Halogen
• White Set
• White balance fine tune (+/- 1500k in 150k steps)

Self timer • 10 or 2 secs
Continuous shooting • Full-Resolution Image, 3 frames/sec or 2 frames/sec
Image parameters Standard, Vivid, Cool, Warm, Natural, Black & White, Sepia
Flash • Auto
• Auto/Red-eye reduction
• Forced On
• Slow Sync/Red-eye reduction
• Forced Off
• Range: 0.6 - 4.2m (wide) 1.0 - 2.8m (tele)
Viewfinder None
LCD monitor • 3.0-inch Polycrystalline TFT
• 230,000 pixels
• Field of view 100%
Connectivity • USB
• DC in
• AV out
Print compliance PictBridge
Storage • 12.7MB built-in memory
• SD / SDHC / MMC card compatible
Power • Li-ion battery pack
• Optional AC adapter
Weight (excl batt) 232 g (0.51lb)
Dimensions 105 x 59.2 x 36.7 mm (4.20 x 2.37 x 1.47 in)


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

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DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2007 Simon Joinson / dpreview.com and the review in part or in whole may NOT be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author. For information on reproducing any part of this review (or any images) please contact: Phil Askey

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