Maybe a month or two ago, I finally decided on a camera and bought it. I wanted one that had good zoom capability and could still fit in a pocket. I kinda wanted a DSLR for the better (larger) sensors in them and the manual controls, but the bulk and price took them out. The Canon G9 was a contender since it had a full manual mode, but it would add another $200 to the final price and the zoom and movie mode wasn’t quite what I wanted. In the end I settled on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5.
It’s the size I was after and has 10x optical zoom with image stabilization. It also has digital zoom that goes up to 67.5x, that while it does cut down the image size and megapixels at the high end of that, the photos do turn out better than I would expect. The two photos below show the difference. They were both taken from the same spot without using a tripod. The one on the left is without any zoom used and the one on the right uses the full 67.5x. Top two used the flash and the bottom two had the flash off.
I wasn’t after a high megapixel count, since I’ve heard that the high numbers don’t help as much after a certain point. It seems that the small sensor in point shoots is what really hurts. Size of the pixels or something like that… Anyway, it does a 9.1 megapixel photo that doesn’t turn out too bad. When viewed at full size, there seems to be a bit of noise in the photos. It isn’t too bad though and most of the time I don’t look at them at the maximum possible size. Click the photo below to zoom in on it and see what I mean. To be fair though, I think this one shows it the most and some of it could have been incorrect settings and/or the conditions.
It also does high-definition (720p) video and the full 10x optical zoom works while shooting. I haven’t messed with that mode much yet, but in seems to have trouble keeping focus. It’s slightly over 130MB, but you can the click play button below to view the low-quality converted version or download the original video to see what it looks like. (Download link is on the bottom right of that page.)
Other than the case that I found at Wal-mart, I found the cheapest prices on Amazon. I did find one site selling it for less, but I couldn’t bring myself to trust the site. Always do a search about shopping sites you’ve never heard of before buying.
I hated that the camera didn’t take AA or AAA batteries, but a spare was only $10 or $15 so that wasn’t too bad. I’ll be looking into making or buying a portable charger sometime though.
The SD cards were a bit of a pain in the neck. I knew that for the movie mode, I needed a card with a 20MB/sec write speed. However, half the cards that I found didn’t state the speed in MB/sec. Just something like Class 5, Class 6, 120x, 133x, or not at all. Then with the difference of SD and SDHC I couldn’t find a good chart to tell me what each class would relate to in MB/sec. I ended up with a couple 4GB SD card that says 133x that I think refers to about what I need. It seems to work well enough, so I guess it’s all good.
Overall, I’m happy with my choice. I had to make some compromises to get what I wanted and it does have some problems. Yet in the end, I think it was the best one for me that’s available. As long as it holds up to the rigors of time.
Now some photos to finish with. All taken with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5.