Bought this camera for a trip to the Pyrenees in June 2008 and fell in love with it. It is one of the most flexible compact cameras on the market – and one which has few if any rivals at the time of writing. An update of the TZ3 it has a 10x optical zoom lens complete with image stabilisation and a 28mm equivalent wide angle which is essential for landscape photography.
Optical quality is fantastic thanks to Leica-branded DC Vario-Elmar zoom delivering an equivalent range of 28-280mm with a focal ratio of f3.3-4.9. The actual focal length is 4.7-47mm. Geometric distortion and light fall-off are minimal. Coloured fringing is virtually non-existent across the entire focal range.
Like all of Panasonic’s cameras, the TZ5 has Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) to counteract camera shake -very welcome at full zoom when hand holding but a pocket tripod is still a useful accessory out in the hills.
The TZ5 has five different AutoFocus modes along with face detection. The main five modes allow you to choose a balance between the number of focusing areas and the speed of operation. No manual focusing though.
Panasonic may say the TZ5 images are recorded with 9.1 Megapixel resolution, but it’s actually equipped with a 10.7 Megapixel 1/2.33in sensor, which captures images with full lens coverage regardless of the aspect ratio.
Two JPEG compression settings are available: Fine and Standard, with Fine images at the 9.1 Megapixel 4:3 mode typically measuring between 2 and 4.5 MB each.
Sensitivity at full resolution is from from 100 to 1600 ISO while the High Sensitivity preset operates at 1600, 3200 or 6400 ISO depending on the conditions, albeit at a greatly reduced resolution of 3 Megapixels
Shutter speeds range from 1/2000 to 8 seconds (up to 60 seconds in its Starry Sky Scene preset) with two aperture settings, although there’s no means to manually adjust them.
23 Scene presets are available which is probably more than is really necessary. With the lack of manual aperture control it’s necessary to use some of these presets to ‘trick’ the camera into using preferred apertures or shutter speeds – e.g. using portrait mode to force a small depth of field, or sports mode to opt for a fast shutter speed.
Minimum shutter speed defaults to 1/8 second but can be manually set to something slower – the menu allows you to adjust this between 1/200 and one second.
Video recording is available as with most digital compacts and it’s one of the first models to offer High Definition video with two 16:9 HD modes which record 720p video at 1280x720 pixels in either 30 or 15 fps. All video clips are saved in the Quicktime MOV format.
The screen is a bright clear, 3in model with 460k pixel resolution.
My only negative comment, which is a small thing is that I find the myriad of menus sometimes difficult to navigate, and Panasonic's choice of menu features to include in the quick menu never seem to be the ones I needed.
Overall, I'd have to give it 10 out of 10.
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