Panasonic's new Lumix DMC-TZ6 has got the lot, including 10.1 megapixels, a 25mm super-wideangle 12x zoom, image stabilisation and a smart metal body slim enough to fit into your back pocket. But, at around £240, is it worth the money?
Smart though the TZ6 is, £240 is pretty pricey for a compact these days. But it doesn't take long to figure out that this camera is something rather special. The build quality and finish really are top-notch and well up to Panasonic's usual high standards, with metal knobs and switches, and a clear, logical layout.
It's the lens that's the star, though. Superzooms usually suffer much more from optical aberrations than standard zooms, but the TZ6's lens is practically flawless. There's not much distortion, hardly any chromatic aberration, the detail is unusually sharp right into the corners of the frame, and it holds up well at the maximum zoom setting, when most superzooms' pictures begin to turn into mush.
What's more, although the TZ6 has 'only' 10.1 megapixels, whereas most of its rivals now have 12, it doesn't seem to matter. Our resolution test indicates that the TZ6 resolves an unusual amount of detail for a 10-megapixel camera and is just as good as a 12-megapixel one.
This is all topped off with great picture quality. Colours look natural and the 'vivid' mode produces really bright, saturated pictures. There's a neat 'intelligent ISO' function too, which appears to selectively adjust the ISO in different parts of the scene when faced with really high contrast levels. It's not as effective as Fujifilm's new EXR sensor, but it's much better than nothing, and adds extra detail both in the shadows and the highlights.
Finally, Panasonic seems to have really got to grips with image processing. If you compare the TZ6 with an earlier model like the DMC-TZ3, you can see there's much less noise and smudging, even though the resolution's higher.