Panasonic has well and truly been the leader in the travel zoom camera segment for some time. The Editors' Choice winning camera, the, was the culmination of years of work put into improving this line to include pretty much everything that you could want in a camera like this.
There were things that could be improved upon though, including the GPS and continuous shooting speeds. Now that the TZ20 has been released, does it improve on an already-winning formula?
Design and features
While stylistically things haven't changed significantly, the TZ20 looks quite a bit boxier than its predecessor. This camera weighs about 219 grams, which is on par with the TZ10, and it certainly feels sturdy enough in the hand even with its plastic exterior.
The big change to the camera comes in the form of its 14.1-megapixel MOS sensor, similar to that used on the compact FX700. This also means the TZ20 is capable of shooting up to 10 frames per second in continuous shooting mode, with a range of additional burst shooting options for slightly slower speeds and continual focusing on the moving subject. Also new is the 3-inch touchscreen, though there are still plenty of physical buttons to cater to most shooting preferences. It's still relatively low resolution at 460,000 dots, an area that the next camera in this series can surely improve upon. However, it's been fitted with an anti-reflection coating, which makes it easier to see in bright situations.
Controls are standard Panasonic, which means reasonably small buttons, a mode dial at the top of the camera to switch between shooting modes (with full PASM controls), a shutter button and zoom rocker, as well as a dedicated record button at the top as well.
As is the way with trends, 3D has reared its head once again. The TZ20 features a 3D mode, accessed from the mode dial. It takes 10 photos across a horizontal axis and selects the best two in order to piece together a 3D image in MPO format. Unfortunately, you can't view the effect on the 3D screen, so looking at images is limited to their display on a 3D TV or photo frame.
The optical zoom is now 16x, up from the 12x, which appeared on the TZ10. Again, like the older camera, the optical zoom is augmented by "Intelligent resolution" and zoom, which increases the range to 21x. The lens is also wide-angle at 24mm. Nikon lenses have been using Nano coating on its pro lenses for a while now, and Panasonic has come to the party with the technology too. It's designed to reduce ghosting and flare on images.
Built-in software, stored on the camera, automatically launches when the camera is connected to a computer which allows for Facebook or YouTube uploading. HD video (AVCHD) is now at full 1920x1080 resolution at 50i and, fortunately, the optical zoom is enabled while filming. Panasonic also launched the companion camera, the Lumix TZ18, at the same time which shares similar features but misses out on the touchscreen and GPS.
Connectivity is provided via mini-HDMI and AV out. In the box you also get standard AV cables, a battery charger, camera strap and a mini stylus for the touchscreen.GPS tagging
GPS makes a welcome return and it feels a lot quicker than the version found on the older camera. The version on the TZ20 has a wider range of locations to reference. As well as appending location information to the EXIF data, when a location is matched in the database of over 1 million landmarks, the information is also displayed on screen. You can also tag videos with GPS data.
An example of viewing GPS location information from TZ20 images in Picasa. (Credit: CBSi)
Once images have been tagged by the camera, you can easily plot the location of your travel photos on a map. We like Picasa for its ease of use, but there are plenty of other programs available that will do the same thing. The TZ20 also comes with software (on disc).
The GPS does continue to update while the camera is switched off (indicated by the green LED light at the top of the camera) so do remember to switch it off manually or activate the aeroplane mode if you need to conserve battery.
|Sony Cyber-shot HX9V||Panasonic Lumix TZ20|
|16.2-megapixel Exmor CMOS||14.1-megapixel MOS||12.1-megapixel CMOS|
|3-inch LCD (920,000-dot)||3-inch touchscreen (460,000-dot)||3-inch LCD (460,000-dot)|
|16x optical zoom||16x optical zoom||14x optical zoom|
|24mm wide-angle||24mm wide-angle||28mm wide-angle|
|GPS tagging||GPS tagging||GPS tagging|
|HD video (1080p)||HD video (1080i)||HD video (1080p)|
General shooting metrics (in seconds)
- Time to first shot
- JPEG shot-to-shot time
- Shutter lag
- Panasonic Lumix TZ18.104.22.168