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Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 DMC-ZS20 GPS Pocket Zoom Review

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 / DMC-ZS20 features a 20x optical zoom lens, GPS positioning and built in map, could this be the perfect compact travel camera? Joshua Waller finds out.

| Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 in Compact Cameras

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 DMC-ZS20 GPS Pocket Zoom Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30

The Panasonic Lumix TZ30 (aka ZS20 in the US) is the top of the range travel zoom from Panasonic, and features a 20x optical zoom lens, 14.1 megapixel Live MOS sensor, 3inch screen, built in GPS and map in the camera. Also available is the Panasonic Lumix TZ25, a 16x optical zoom lens version of this camera, without GPS.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 Features

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 DMC-ZS20 GPS Pocket Zoom Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30

The Panasonic Lumix TZ30 features a new GPS map system built into the camera that will show you where you've taken photos. As you can see we don't get out much. 

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 DMC-ZS20 GPS Pocket Zoom Review: Panasonic Lumix TZ30 Gps Settings Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 DMC-ZS20 GPS Pocket Zoom Review: Panasonic Lumix TZ30 Gps Map
Panasonic Lumix TZ30 GPS Settings Panasonic Lumix TZ30 GPS Map (Playback)

GPS settings let you switch GPS on and off, as well as setting the GPS to be on even when the camera is off, as well as an airplane mode that ensures GPS is off when the camera is switched off. The camera has the option to load assist data that can be updated via the PC or from the SD card (after downloading it from Panasonic's website), this will allow the camera to get a quicker GPS lock when loaded onto the camera. The camera also gives the option to update the date and time from GPS information.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 DMC-ZS20 GPS Pocket Zoom Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30

Key Features

  • 14.1 megapixel Live MOS sensor
  • 20x optical zoom lens equivalent to 24mm - 480mm
  • Optical image stabilisation
  • 3inch 460k dot touch screen
  • GPS / Map
  • Full HD video with stereo sound
  • ISO100 to ISO6400
  • 3cm macro mode
  • 10fps continuous shooting
  • Manual shooting modes P/A/S/M
  • Available in a number of colours

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 Handling

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 DMC-ZS20 GPS Pocket Zoom Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30

Handling - The camera features a metal body, on/off switch and record/playback switch making it easy to switch the camera on and change between modes. There is a dedicated mode dial on top giving access to: Program, iAuto (intelligent auto), Creative Effects, Scene modes, 3D, Custom 1 and 2, Manual, Shutter and Aperture. There is a dedicated video record button so you can start recording video regardless of which mode you are in. There is some grip on the front of the camera (rubber grip) and just an area of raised dots on the back so a wrist strap is recommended. In addition there is an exposure button which is used in Aperture/Shutter/Manual modes.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 DMC-ZS20 GPS Pocket Zoom Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30

Menus – The Panasonic menus are very easy to use with the camera providing clear text and built in help showing what each option does. Where there are a number of icons, such as the scene mode, each one is explained underneath. The number of options available in the menus changes depending which mode you are currently in, making it very easy to use even for the beginner.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 DMC-ZS20 GPS Pocket Zoom Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30

Battery life
- CIPA life is rated at 260 shots. We were able to take over 230 shots before the battery went flat. It's worth noting that the camera charges the battery in the camera using the provided USB cable connected to a computer or the provided AC adapter.

Speed - Bold claims of 0.1 second AF performance need to be tested, so that's what we did. We tested each camera's performance at focusing, shutter response, shot-to-shot time, continuous shooting etc. and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average, so that consistent results were produced.

Panasonic TZ30 Panasonic TZ25
Shutter Response <0.05 <0.05
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response
0.2 0.15
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.3 0.3
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 1.7 1.6
Shot to Shot (without flash) 0.6 0.6
Shot to Shot with Flash 1.4 1.2
Continuous Shooting (JPEG) 10fps (10 shots) 10fps (4 shots)
Continuous AF Shooting (JPEG)
Continuous High Speed
Continuous 2.5 megapixels
5fps (13 shots)
40fps (5m, 40 shots)
60fps (60 shots)
5fps (5 shots)
40fps (3m, 40 shots)
60fps (30 shots)
Continuous Shooting (with Flash) 0.6s (5 shots, 3m) 2fps (5 shots, 3m)

Focus speed is very good, as is shutter response. Focus at full optical zoom is also very quick which is impressive considering the camera has a 20x optical zoom lens. Shot to shot is excellent and the camera has a number of high speed shooting modes, including 10fps at full resolution, shooting 10 shots. The high speed continuous shooting modes are improved over the Panasonic Lumix TZ25 allowing more shots to be taken and at a higher resolution depending on which mode is selected.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review and product ratings.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - The camera has good colour, with good skin tones, and there is very little red-eye in the flash photo above. Exposure is good with the camera producing consistant results.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 Lens test images

Lens test images - Detail is good in the centre and to the edges and the camera copes well with lens flare. There is some purple fringing in the shot of the trees above, but little in other shots. There is some distortion with barrel distortion at the wide end and pincushion at the telephoto end of the zoom. Vignetting was not noticed. Macro performance is very good letting you position the subject roughly 3cm from front of lens, it's also possible to zoom slightly to get even closer.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - Noise is low at ISO100, with a slight increase at ISO200. At ISO400 chroma noise starts to appear and some colour is lost as the noise becomes more noticeable. ISO800 appears to deal with any additional noise very nicely, with there being little extra noise than the ISO400 shot. At ISO1600 you start seeing noise increase again and detail is degraded. At ISO3200 noise is dominant with seemingly random white and black dots appearing in the image - therefore this setting is best avoided. The low-light / high sensitivity scene mode reduces the image size to 3 megapixels and gives a soft image.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance performs quite well under Tungsten light with the Tungsten preset doing little to improve the image, instead giving it a slight orange cast. Auto White Balance performs very well under fluorescent lighting.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 DMC-ZS20 GPS Pocket Zoom Review: Panoramic | 1/250 sec | f/6.3 | 4.3 mm | ISO 100
Panoramic | 1/250 sec | f/6.3 | 4.3 mm | ISO 100 - The camera features a panoramic sweep mode, where you press the button and pan. The camera then automatically stitches the photo together into one panoramic image.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 Digital filters

Digital Filters - There are a number of creative effects and scene modes including expressive, retro, hi-key, lo-key, sepia, mono, high dynamic (takes 1 shot), toy, miniature and soft. In addition, there is a dedicated HDR mode that combines 3 photos at different exposure.

Video - The camera records full HD video as AVCHD (progressive) and MP4, with the option to record GPS information with the video. Options include continuous AF and wind cut. A high speed video mode is also available recording at QVGA (320x240), an example can be viewed on the ePHOTOzine YouTube channel. It's also possible to shoot 3.5 megapixel photos while recording video.

Value For Money

The Panasonic Lumix TZ30 is available for around £299, this puts it at a very similar price to alternative travel zooms with GPS built in including Canon Powershot SX260 HS (20x, £299), Fujifilm FinePix F770EXR (20x, £279), Nikon Coolpix S9300 (18x, £259), with the Sony Cybershot HX20v costing the most at £379. You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 Verdict

The Panasonic Lumix TZ30 provides a number of useful features including an impressive 20x optical zoom lens with image stabilisation, full HD video recording with stereo sound and built in GPS. There is a 3 inch touch screen on the back, however, the nice thing about it, is that you don't have to use it as the camera still has a good number of external buttons and controls.

Image quality is good, with good colour and detail and the high speed shooting and rapid focus certainly help get good shots. Video is impressive with a high speed option as well as the ability to record GPS information with videos. In fact, there's very little to complain about with the Panasonic Lumix TZ30 and the camera makes an excellent compact camera.
  Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 DMC-ZS20 GPS Pocket Zoom Review:
  The Panasonic Lumix TZ30 is an excellent GPS camera with a wealth of options making it the perfect travel zoom.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 Pros

High speed continuous shooting
Good image quality
Great macro performance
Full HD video, stereo sound, GPS logging
Compact metal body
20x optical zoom
In camera HDR / Panoramic
GPS features with map
Quick focus

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 Cons

Rubber grip on the back would be nice
Battery life could be better


Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30 Specifications

Max Aperturef/3.3 - f/6.4
35mm equivalent24mm - 480mm
Optical Zoom20x
Image Sensor
Pixels14.1Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4320
Pixels (H)3240
Sensor TypeCMOS
Sensor Size1/2.33 inch
Sensor Size (width)No Data
Sensor Size (height)No Data
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor3in
Screen resolution460,000 dots
Touch ScreenYes
Min Focus3cm
Focusing modes
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/2000sec
Shutter speeds longest15sec
Bulb modeNo Data
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Centre-weighted - Average
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
ISO sensitivity100 - 6400
White balance
  • Auto
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Shade
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting10fps
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080 FullHD
  • 1280x720 HD 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
  • 320x240 QVGA
Video FPS25
Stereo SoundYes
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Wi-FiNo Data
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLi-ion Battery Pack (3.6V, Minimum: 895mAh)
Battery Life (CIPA rating)260shots
Box Contents
Box ContentsBattery Pack, AC adaptor, USB Cable, Hand Strap, DVD (Map Included)

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Photographs taken using the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30

Unknown girl at a country fairSmokin'The ThinkerThe MeetingThinking About ItLooking For Grandad at The Menin GateIf you like a Sardinian goat that looks at the sea that cannot be seen from a lighthouse that you can guess to be there, go ahead.Ancient and Modern #2Avoiding the squallTogetherHell On Earth

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4 Jun 2013 12:49PM
This is a great article, thank you Mr. Waller. Grin
I have had the ZS20 for about a year and was and still amazed at the outstanding performance. Prior I owned a TZ3 and thought I was just upgrading the Pixels of the sensor... Wrong looks alike, not alike. Since the camera is with me in a belt pack and is not like P&S cameras of old I have coined it a to be a "24/7 Camera."
I would add to the "Cons"
1. No RAW, but I live around that using Topaz-labs auxiliary programs.
2. No Filter/auxiliary-lens threads. Ok, I added them. See my article:
3. Regarding Battery life in Waller's list, I purchased low cost charger and 2 Li batteries they work fine.
4. No grip. Agreed. Just checked out feel of Velcro teeth that seems to be one route for improvement. Another solution would be "soft dots" used to quiet cabinet doors during closing. They are made of Silicone polymer.

In addition I am working adding a mirrored surface modified light shield so I can hold the camera low and see the screen while looking down like the old twin lens cameras. The finished unit will be great for street photography.

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