Recently I spent a few days in Lisbon playing with the Panasonic TZ30, Panasonics latest addition to its highly successful TZ range of compact travel zooms and a replacement for the generally well received TZ20.
The TZ range of compact travel zoom cameras are well regarded and have been hugely popular for some time. The combination of an impressive zoom range packed into a reasonably petite and portable body that offers user friendly, hassle free handling has consistently proved a winning formula over the years.
(Check out the test images at Flickr )
The latest model represents a fairly conservative evolution over the previous model with the headline update being a scarcely believable X20 optical zoom (24- 480mm equivalent).Internally Panasonic have kept the same small 14Mp CMOS sensor but for the TZ30 have promised improved noise performance and image reproduction. Physically the body has a more pronounced finger grip which promises better handling.
Being the top model you have access to PSAM modes (but still no RAW?),a plethora of scene/ capture modes, GPS and HD video capture. As ever Panasonic reliable Intelligent Auto (iA) is present if you simply can’t be bothered to set up the camera yourself. So does the TZ30 improve upon the TZ20 which has come into some criticism for its “noise performance?”
Well quite simply, yes. The TZ30 produces noticeably superior (i.e. “cleaner”) image quality when compared to its predecessor (a camera I have tested). Images are relatively clean (but still not entirely noise free), sharp up to ISO 400 whilst for the first in a TZ camera ISO 800 also proved pretty decent. In real world testing I even found ISO1600 as just about useable, a commendable performance indeed. The X20 optical Leica zoom lens (24 – 480mm equivalent) is excellent and was unbelievably useful, with the lens stabilisation system proving highly effective. The camera also has an excellent macro capacity
All in all the TZ30 I’d say that after extensively using the TZ30 that its currently the best compact travel zoom on the market, and I’ve tested and owned a few in my time. The camera possesses a well thought out design in a portable body sporting a hugely versatile lens that can produce great images (within reason) with minimum fuss.
Personally I’d love to see a TZ camera which allows RAW capture. The rear screen whilst adequate really should have a higher resolution and should be articulated. Also I wish Panasonic would stick a slightly bigger sensor into a TZ camera, keep the pixel density to a sensible 12Mp, reduce the lenses focal length (say X10- X12), make that lens a tad “faster” and in the process produce a premium high end compact zoom, it would sell like hot cakes.
However for the time in the real world and all things considered the Panasonic TZ30 is a great camera, ideal as a carry anywhere compact travel zoom market that leads the market.
Mark Baynham (May 2012)
Panasonic TZ30 (Conclusion):
A portable & versatile compact travel zoom with loads of features that rewards with great images and is currently the best travel zoom out there.