Photography: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5
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Photography: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5

3:29 /

A nice all-around camera with a lens range and feature set that should please anyone on your list, and at a reasonable gift price, it's our top gift pick in the cameras and camcorders category.

>> Nine megapixels, pocketable size, megazoom and high-def video capture, all for less than 300 dollars, sounds too good to be true? Let's find out. I'm Tom Merritt and we've got the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 in the Product Spotlight. ^M00:00:16 [ Music ] ^M00:00:24 >> Our little pal here is sort of the bell of the ball this camera season especially if you want 10x zoom in your compact shooter. In fact, our cameras editor, Lori Grunin says that if you're looking for a truly compact digital camera with megazoom, the DMC-TZ5 or its little brother, the DMC-TZ4 are the only horses in this race. But what does this camera have besides extreme close-ups? Well, you get 9 megapixels like I've mentioned which lets you make print-ups to 11 by 14 without a problem. You get an Optical Image Stabilizer crucial for shaky hand shooters like me or if you're shooting in low light. You've got a nice big 3-inch LCD on the back for previewing photos. It has space detection and also scene detection. It also boost wide-angle shooting equivalent to using a 28-millimeter lens and the wide-angle photos are impressively not distorted. That's handy. Like most digital cameras these days, the TZ5 takes video, but unlike many, it takes it in 1280 by 1720 resolution and in 16 by 9 wide screen. You can capture it up to 30 frames per second too. You can even use that megazoom action while you're shooting video. Most compact cameras can't pull that off. Another thing we love is the easy zoom button which jumps you straight to the end of the zoom range and back. The TZ5 also offers 5 shooting modes which you access with this little jog dial here. There's Intelligent Auto Mode which chooses the ISO, uses face and scene detection to determine shooting presets and uses Propriety Intelligent Exposure, they call it to optimize lighting in your photos. Normal shooting here puts you back in charge. You can choose your ISO Auto Focus burst shooting speed and so on depending on how deeply you want to dig into the menus. Scene mode offers 22 settings for specific scenes, motion picture here is for video capture and then there's this funny little clipboard option which lets you capture a quick shot to internal memory so you can display it super fast. Panasonic says it's good for taking a picture to something like a price tag or a route map, something you might otherwise write down, I mean that meant to be camera phone competition, I don't know. One thing we did not like about this camera's design is that it's way too easy to block the microphone with your fingers when your shooting video, see that's annoying. Otherwise, the camera body itself is sleek, well constructed, and easy to grip. And the TZ5 is available in black, blue, or this nice silverfish color. The place where the TZ5 starts to fall down is in image quality in low-light or indoor shooting. Overall quality is fine if you're outside or in bright light, basically, if you're shooting at 100 or base ISO. Anything over about 400, it definitely get enough noise in your photos that you won't want to make large prints or post them to the web at high-resolution. Also, the shooting was a tiny bit slow in our CNET lab testing and the Auto Focus was kinda hiccupping, still this camera's feature, size, and value for the money combined to make it one of our favorite digital cameras of the season. I'm Tom Merritt, happy shooting everyone. ^M00:03:22 [ Music ]

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