First time that a compact has actually impressed me enough to think about buying one...
And when did the reg move to Leicester?
Panasonic’s DMC-TZ7 has been around for a while now, although the company maintains it in its current range. It's not surprising, because it’s one of the few compact super-zooms on the market that includes HD recording – its closest rival is Canon’s PowerShot SX200 IS. Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7 Panasonic’s Lumix DMC-TZ7 The …
I bought this here in Taipei, Taiwan (called the ZS-3 out here) a few days ago after a week of looking at several dozen models. I am absolutely delighted with it, especially the stand-out 25mm wide-angle, 12 x optical zoom and the video.
Panasonic really seem to be pushing the envelope with compact and consumer digital cameras - my previous camera was the FZ-18, an 18x optical zoom and a superlative all-round camera - and my two main gripes about it (not being able to zoom during recording and the bulk of the device) are not issues with this camera. The downside of shifting to this camera is a loss of many manual controls and the latest firmware (1.2) stopping the use of non-Panasonic batteries. However, the scene controls should be okay for a non-expert like myself and I'm sure more advanced users would still appreciate the trade-off in having a take-anywhere 12x digital camera for those occasions when they want to leave their kit at home.
I didn't notice a problem with the mode selector being bumped as the reviewer mentioned. The case that came with my pack should mean that this won't be an issue for me. My one gripe is that the flash seems a little weak, especially compared to the FZ-18 and I couldn't find any control to increase its power (having the manual in Chinese also doesn't help).
The video function is absolutely excellent. As the author notes, it is a slow zoom but many digital cameras in this compact class either don't have zooming video or the lens motor can be heard in the recording - as far as I can make out, the zoom is silent (I read on dpreview that the firmware v1.1 fixed a slight motor noise issue). The 25mm wide-angle capability is not something common to consumer camcorders, being something more available on professional devices. I was able to take a close-up video of a bird rearing its adolescent offspring outside my flat and then zoomed out to see the whole tree. There's a wind-cut mike optin that I haven't had the chance to try yet. The anti-shake is pretty useful and makes the whole thing look a bit more professional.
As the reviewer notes, there isn't a viewfinder, but it's not particularly common in cameras of this class and especially in this camera - I don't think they could have crammed much more in the body - the lens is quite big relative to the rest of the device and the body is about 10% bigger than a 20-cigarette carton.
The ZS-1 (not sure of the alternative model name in Europe) is similar to this device but it's meant to be eighty or so quid cheaper and lacks some of the video functions. If you want video, go for this one.
In summary, this gives me practically everything I want of a pocketable camera for all occasions. I'm really starting to appreciate Panasonic as the main innovator in consumer DCs - never would have thought it a few years ago. Here's hoping that their next innovation will be a physically larger sensor in the same small body and at the same price-point.
I have just got rid of a TZ4 as it was very slow at doing most things even in the fully auto with auto scene type.
And don't get me started on the slowwwwwww focus.
The stupid 15 min video limit is a joke, and the best part of the camera was when i handed it to the person in cex while trading it in.
Gone back to canon and happy again....
A good, free (FOSS) software for panoramas is "hugin". At least in Linux it has worked very nicely for me, if you take your pictures correctly to begin with -- I have a DSLR without these "assistants", so it's up to me to get it right. I haven't used hugin in other OSs, but it's available for them. It's not software "for dummies", the interface does not look "friendly" (it does have sort of a "wizard" though). But it works, and has more functions than I've been able to learn about so far.
Re: the TZ7, very nice. I used to have a TZ3, and it was a very good camera. If I had to replace my everyday, always-in-backpack camera (the also very good Canon SX100 IS), I'd seriously consider the TZ7.
I bought mine to replace a 6-year old Minolta Dimage S414 (4 mpixels) which, though chunky, had the advantage of using AA cells. The review is spot on, though I didn't see a reference to the outrageously expensive Panasonic batteries this camera uses.
I've found that my Panasonic BD-35 bluray player accepts the SDHC memory card from the camera, and will play the AVCHD files. Note that level 6 SDHC cards are recommended for video use.
The camera has very little delay between pressing the exposure button and actually capturing the image. Due no doubt to it's continuously adjusting focus and exposure whilst it is powered on. The camera does recognize human faces and it is fascinating to watch it move the focus point as the person travels across the field of view - and lose the face when the person walks behind a group of people.
To nano nano: To clarify - "As the reviewer notes, there isn't a viewfinder, but it's not particularly common in cameras of this class" - I'm not talking about all digital cameras. I'm talking about this new class of 'compact super zoom' (as dpreview call it) that has emerged this year - basically, a compact digital camera with an extended zoom range (probably of 10x and over). The viewfinder tends to have been done away with, probably as a sacrifice towards the cameras lens and compactness.
Isn't it more the case that there simply isn't enough room to fit lenses into the viewfinder which can match the 12x main zoom? Hence why people might go for an SLR as that has you looking through the actual lens?
I reckon I'm convinced to go for this over the Canon SX200 (though the £40 cashback on that _is_ very tempting)
I'm tossing up between this and the Cannon SX200 too. With the cashback, it's about £50 cheaper on Amazon... I'm also used to Canon cameras as I've always had them and quite like their menu system etc. That said, although I have the option to set the aperture and exposure etc on my current (slightly broken) canon camera, I very very rarely use it...
The zooming during video is useful - I saw a youtube video by cameralabs.com that demos this and says you can turn off the continuous focus which fixes the bluring that happens when you zoom in or out while filming.
What a shame the single recording length of the camera is limited by the threat of Eurocrats slapping a camcoder tariff - i.e. increasing the cost.
I can't find enough derogatory words to blast them with, but here's a few: idiotic, stupid, futile, dinosaurs, fools...
Won't they realise that there is an inevitable convergence between digital stills cameras and camcorders into the same product? They both use lenses and CCDs. If you can get great stills why not great video with the same lenses. Cuts costs, simplified market, better more flexible lenses.
All I can suggest is that Panasonic go down the route of Canon (with CHDK, the Canon Hacker's Development Kit) - and partially open source the firmware to allow user customisation
Surely this would provide a loophole to circumvent the EU, if the mod was user originated?
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