I’ve been testing a media loan Panasonic TZ7 (25-300mm 12x ultrazoom) compact digital camera for the last 2 months. The TZ in TZ7 stands for “Travellers Zoom” because this camera is aimed directly at the huge market of travelers who want a relatively small easy to use camera for their holidays but don’t want to compromise on image quality or only have 3-5x zoom.
The 5 key features which make the Panasonic TZ7 perfect for holiday makers who aren’t photography enthusiasts are:
- Highly automated camera settings – great because most people don’t have the photographic skills, knowledge or inclination to learn how to use manual settings on a camera
- Leica DC-Vario Elmar Lens – allows you to take photos from 25mm (wide angle) to 300mm (Ultrazoom) using it’s 12x Optical Zoom
- 25mm Wide Angle lens setting – Makes it much easier to take photos of landscapes, cityscapes, large buildings, crowds etc and fit in all the detail without cropping
- 300mm Zoom lens setting – Lets you zoom right up close and fill the full picture frame with photo subjects like wildlife or a specific person in a crowd.
- LCD Screen – 3 Inch 460,000 dot screen makes it easy to frame photos and view them afterwards and the Intelligent LCD function detects light conditions and automatically boosts backlighting by upto 40% making it easier to see.
- MODE dial – at top right of the camera which switches between Intelligent Auto, Program and Scene modes is far to easy to accidentally jog and change Modes while you’re using the Zoom lever next to it. This MODE button should require more finger push pressure to change.
- LCD Screen – is very glossy which is fine indoors and in shadowy areas but outside in bright sunlight it’s quite reflective. Would have preferred a Matt finish (non-reflective) screen
- HD Video – Besides the standard Quicktime video format the TZ7 can also records HD videos at 1280 x 720-pixel resolution which creates AVCHD Lite files. I agree completely with DC Resource’s TZ7 review which says “The main benefits of AVCHD Lite are 1) longer recording times, 2) better video and audio quality, and 3) the ability to play the movies on Blu-ray players (PS3 included) and modern Panasonic televisions. The main downside is that viewing and editing the videos is a pain in the butt.”
- Few manual settings – If you want a compact camera which you can use in full manual settings mode look elsewhere, this camera was designed to be used by untrained photographers not enthusiasts.
View photos taken with the TZ7 while I was reviewing Sydney Harbour Island Hopping By Ferry
Should You Buy the Panasonic TZ7?
Verdict: If you’re a backpacker or “mum and dad” camera buyer who wants a mostly automatic, easy to use small camera for your holidays with good image quality and the ability to take photos at wide angle and ultrazoom you should definitely buy the Panasonic TZ7.
NOTE: I just wrote an article for Australian Personal Computer (APC) about “Panasonic blocks use of generic cheap LUMIX camera batteries”. Keep this in mind before buying a Panasonic digital camera
Other People’s Reviews of TZ7 (Sold as ZS3 in America)
Everything we said about the Panasonic TZ5 holds true for its sister model TZ7. The camera’s metal body handles nicely and it delivers very good image quality at low ISOs and does a better job than most others in this test at higher sensitivities. However, the TZ7 improves on the TZ5 by adding an excellent 3.0 inch/460.000 dots LCD screen and a very versatile HD movie mode to the package.
We like: Good image quality, intuitive user interface, decent high ISO output (for smaller prints), 25mm wide-angle, relatively fast lens at the long end (F4.9), large high-res screen, versatile movie mode
We don’t like: Some highlight clipping of contrasty scenes, occasionally slightly underexposed flash shots
– DP Review
It’s no secret that I really liked last year’s Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5. Its replacement – the Lumix DMC-ZS3 (also known as the TZ7) – is even better, in most respects. I love the new lens and its very versatile focal range, and the Intelligent Auto Mode and face detection functions have been nicely enhanced. And that’s on top of the amazing 3-inch LCD, easy-to-use interface, and snappy performance that the ZS3 inherited from the TZ5.
While I like the ZS3’s ability to record longer movies than its predecessor, the new ADCHD Lite codec is a pain to work with. The ZS3 is also in desperate need of some manual controls – I was really hoping they’d appear on this model, but no luck. Despite these and a few other shortcomings, the DMC-ZS3 remains an excellent travel camera, and one that I can highly recommend.
– DC Resource