The Panasonic Lumix TZ20 (also known as the ZS10 in the US) is an update to the popular Panasonic Travel Zoom (TZ) series and features a new 16x optical zoom lens and 14 megapixel sensor, compared to the previous version's 12x optical zoom and 12 megapixel sensor. The TZ20 features GPS and Panasonic's new Live MOS sensor.Nb. Due to similarities in cameras, this review is based on the Panasonic Lumix TZ18 Review.
Panasonic Lumix TZ20 Features
The camera has an impressive zoom range, providing 16x optical zoom from extra wide angle 24mm equivalent to 384mm equivalent, along with optical image stabilisation.
In Program (P) mode you can zoom from wide (24mm) to the full 16x optical zoom (at 384mm equivalent), at 14 megapixels. in intelligent Auto mode you can zoom from wide to 21x "intelligent zoom" at 14 megapixels, pressing the E.Zoom button again will zoom the camera to an equivalent of 33.8x zoom at 3 megapixels.
The camera has a large 3 inch touch screen, a good size mode dial and manual controls. There are very nice feeling on/off switch buttons and an easy to use record and playback switch that I always miss on other cameras as it works so well.
The TZ20 is the "big brother" to the TZ18 (known as the ZS8 in the US) - the TZ18 offers 720p video compared to full HD video with stereo sound on the TZ20. The TZ18 also features a 14 megapixel CCD sensor and a lower resolution screen (230k vs 460k), and lacks GPS, 3D photos, and the high speed shooting modes. Read our Panasonic Lumix TZ18 review here.
About GPS: (from the Panasonic Lumix TZ20 Manual)
About the camera’s location name information
Before using the camera, read “User License Agreement for Location Name Data”.
When [GPS Setting] is [ON], the GPS function works even if the camera’s power is off.
Electromagnetic waves from the camera can affect instruments and meters. During airplane takeoff and landing or in other restricted area, set [GPS Setting] to [OFF] or, then turn the camera’s power off.
When [GPS Setting] is [ON], power will drain from the battery even if the camera’s power is OFF.
Recording location information
The names of recording locations and landmarks (such as buildings) are current as of December 2010. These will not be updated.
Depending on the country or area, limited location name and landmark information may be available.
Positioning will take time in environments where it is difficult to receive the signals from the GPS satellites.
Even if GPS reception is good, it will take approximately 2 to 3 minutes to successfully execute positioning under the following conditions; when positioning is executed for the first time, or when positioning is executed after the camera is turned off with the [GPS Setting] set to and then turned on again or when [GPS Setting] is set to [OFF].
Because the positions of the GPS satellites are constantly changing, depending on the recording location and conditions, it may not be possible to position such satellites accurately, or positioning discrepancy may occur.
When using in another country
GPS may not work in China or in the border regions of countries neighbouring China. (Current as of December 2010)
Some countries or regions may regulate the use of GPS or related technology. Because this camera has a GPS function, before taking it into another country, check with the embassy or your travel agency whether there are any restrictions on bringing cameras with a GPS function.
14.1 megapixel MOS sensor
16x optical zoom lens, equivalent to 24-384mm in 35mm equiv., f/3.3 - f5.9
Intelligent zoom extends the zoom to 21x at 14Mp
3inch touch-screen, with 460k pixels
1920x1080 pixels, 50i video at 25fps with stereo sound
POWER O.I.S.(Optical Image Stabilizer)
Automatic screen brightness adjustment
ISO100 - ISO1600
3cm Macro mode
3D Photo shooting
GPS built in, shows GPS status on top
Automatically correct time using GPS signal
Panasonic Lumix TZ20 Handling
The camera is well built with a solid metal body and a good sized front hand grip, while the back has a raised bumps thumb grip that works well. The design will be very familiar to anyone who's used the TZ series, as it uses a very similar design that's been used ever since the first TZ1 came out 5 years ago with the top mode dial, on/off, shutter and additional function button still located in the same place (although it's changed from an optical image stabilisation mode button to an E. (Electronic) Zoom button).
As the old adage goes: "If it isn't broken, don't fix it" and in this case, Panasonic are doing a good job updating the camera every year with improved features such as increased optical zoom, enhanced video modes and additional scene modes and creative modes such as the useful HDR mode and full manual controls. The TZ20 goes further than any other model before it, with touch screen, and GPS built in.
Menus: The TZ20's menus are logical and well laid out with colour coded sections. The text is easy to read and the options are easy to understand the majority of the time. Occasionally the scene modes can take a little longer to access as they are represented with small images, but text underneath explains what the modes do. The camera has a built in touch screen, and the icons are large and easy to use, however the camera also has a good number of buttons so you don't need to use the touch screen if you don't want to.
Battery Life: According to CIPA standard the TZ20 is capable of 260 shots. I was able to take 340 shots before the battery went flat - although over 100 of these were taken in the 5mp high speed shooting mode.
Speed: We tested the Panasonic Lumix TZ20, and tested the camera with the Canon Powershot SX230 HS, Sony Cybershot HX9v and Fujifilm FinePix F550EXR, taking 6 shots and using the average to ensure consistent results.
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo
Shot to Shot (without flash)
Shot to Shot with Flash
Continuous shooting (with flash)
The Panasonic Lumix TZ20 has a number of continuous shooting options, and the specifications say that the camera should be able to shoot at 10fps at full resolution, however we were only able to shoot at 6fps (for 14 shots) - we were shooting JPEG at the highest resolution and quality, and the delay may have been caused by the type of card being used. There are also other continuous shooting options such as: 5fps / 2fps with continuous auto-focus, 40fps at 5 megapixels (up to 60 shots), and 60fps at 2.5 megapixel (up to 60 shots).
The Fujifilm FinePix F550 has a good number of options for continuous shooting: No. of frames: 4, 8, 16, 32. 8fps full resolution (max 8 shots), 11fps at Medium (8mp), max 16 frames / or 32 frames at S (Small, 4mp).*when pre-focused.
The fast performance of the HX9v is rather impressive, with the quickest continuous shooting available, the quickest shot to shot time with or without flash, and a very quick switch on time (only beaten by the Canon Powershot SX230 HS). The camera also has the fastest focusing time, joint with the Fujifilm FinePix F550. The Panasonic Lumix TZ20 should in theory be able to match the HX9v and has the largest number of continuous shooting options, and very good shot to shot times, quick focusing, and quick switch on time.
Panasoninc Lumix TZ20 Performance
The Panasonic Lumix TZ20 produces images that have good colour and good detail. Here are some sample photos you can enlarge:
Portrait with flash (ISO400)
There is some purple fringing in the trees, but it is quite well controlled and generally was not seem in other images, except in areas of high contrast such as trees with bright white sky behind. Using one of the cloudy / shady presets for white balance warmed up the Clubhouse photo, as it was particularly grey when shooting.
Clubhouse (Cloud / Shade WB setting)
AWB - Tungsten
Tungsten preset - Tungsten
AWB - Fluorescent
Auto white balance does not feature a preset for Fluorescent - as you can see above it doesn't seem to be needed as the results using auto white balance under fluorescent lighting are excellent. In fact you get better results using the auto white balance under incandescent / tungsten lighting rather than using the Tungsten preset.
ISO and Noise Performance
Noise results from the 14 megapixel MOS sensor seem to show less noise than the 14 megapixel CCD based TZ18, with low noise at ISO100 up to ISO200. At ISO400 strong noise reduction reduces noise, but also fine detail starts to degrade (see the portrait shot above). Noise becomes much more dominant at ISO800. Then at ISO1600 the noise becomes dominant, reducing detail, and colour noticeably. Above ISO1600 the camera will switch to 3 megapixels and these ISO settings can not be manually selected, instead you need to go into one of the High ISO / Sensitivity scene modes to access them. These higher ISO modes are best used for resizing on the web.
Full 16x optical zoom
The optical zoom provides a good zoom range. This is further extended using the "Intelligent Zoom" - this is intended to process the image, sharpening detail, however when viewing the images at full size, it's easy to see that it is using digital zoom and is simply providing an easier way to magnify an area (unfortunately at the expense of image quality).
Some of the creative modes and other photo examples are shown below:
High Contrast Black and White Film Grain
Traveller - St Pancreas
The creative modes can make some otherwise boring shots more memorable. The many scene and creative modes available are: Portrait, Soft Skin, Transform, Self-Portrait, Scenery, Panorama Assist, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Handheld Night Shot, Food, Party, Candle Light, Baby1, Baby2, / Pet, Sunset, High sensitivity, Flash Burst, Starry Sky, Fireworks, Beach, Snow, Aerial, Pinhole, Film Grain, High Dynamic (standard/ art/ B&W), Photoframe, Under Water, High Speed Movie. The camera also has a number of colour modes, including, interestingly a "Happy" mode: Standard, Natural, Vivid, Black & White, Sepia, Cool, Warm, Happy.
Citi sign - full zoom
The camera allows you to be 3cm away from your subject, this produces good macro results with lots of detail. Using the full zoom also gives you the chance to get detail of subjects far away.
The video quality is very good recording Full HD Video up to 29min with stereo sound, and the optical zoom can be used while recording. They are recorded as AVCHD files, and are stored in a folder called private on the memory card, which could cause some confusion if you're expecting them to be in the same folder as the photos.
When I first started reviewing the Panasonic Lumix TZ20, I was expecting the camera to be almost identical to the TZ18, apart from the addition of GPS. However, when I actually came to use it and see the results from the camera, I was impressed. The high speed shooting, improved screen, and Full HD video modes are great additions, and the use of a MOS sensor means that noise is much less obvious when compared to the CCD sensor in the TZ18 (although this could be due to stronger noise reduction). The 16x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilisation is very useful, with a wide angle view, and detail is good at both ends of the lens, producing very good images and videos. The camera is very easy to use and feels good with a solid design.
The Panasonic Lumix TZ20 features high speed shooting, improved screen, and Full HD video with the added benefit of GPS.
Panasonic Lumix TZ20 Pros:
16x optical zoom lens starting at 24mm wide
Good design and build quality
High speed shooting
High quality video with optical zoom
Built in optical image stabilisation
Great macro performance
Excellent auto white balance Built in GPS
Panasonic Lumix TZ20 Cons:
"Intelligent zoom" is just another name for digital zoom
Strong noise reduction reduces detail at ISO400+
GPS use drains battery life