Many might find the attractions of the 9-megapixel Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 irresistible: it's compact enough to fit in a jacket pocket, yet packs a 10x zoom lens, complete with 28mm-equivalent wide-angle view and optical image stabilizer. It also has a 3-inch LCD and some very interesting shooting features.
Extremely similar to its less-expensive sibling, the DMC-TZ4, the TZ5 offers higher 9-megapixel resolution (compared with 8 megapixels for the TZ4), a 1280x720-pixel resolution movie-capture mode and a larger LCD (2.5 inches for the TZ4). Because of the higher resolution, the TZ5's performance is also rated a bit slower, with fewer photos fitting in its memory buffer, than the TZ4. Finally, it's about 0.01 inch fatter and at 8.4 ounces, 2 ounces heavier.
A dial lets you switch among camera and movie modes, as well as two slots for program exposure (scene) modes--these have the same choices, but allow the camera to remember two of your last selections--Intelligent Auto and an odd Clipboard mode that captures low-resolution photos to internal memory for fast display.
One of my few complaints about the design of the TZ5 is the placement of the microphone on the top left of the camera. Given that Panasonic states "do not block the microphone with fingers" five times in the manual, the company must be aware that there's a problem with its location. And despite the many warnings, my fingers still tend to wander over there while recording movies.
The Q(uick) menu button brings up a subset of options that are also available in the full menus: LCD brightness, picture size, aspect ratio, intelligent exposure, ISO sensitivity, white balance, AF mode--spot, face detect, 9-area, 3-area high speed, 1-area high speed, and 1-area--burst shooting and optical stabilization. The full menu adds more shooting settings--picture quality, Intelligent ISO, metering, continuous AF, intelligent exposure, color effects, digital zoom, minimum shutter speed, audio recording, AF assist, and clock set--as well as setup screens.
Several of the TZ5's options are quite useful. I especially like the minimum shutter speed setting; you can set it as slow as 1 second or as fast as 1/200, and though it doesn't prevent the camera from shooting when exposure drops below the threshold, it does blink a warning message. Intelligent ISO lets you set a maximum for the auto of ISO 400, ISO 800, or ISO 1600.