Panasonic DMC-TZ5 – No More Rubbish Snaps?

Fresh from the Panasonic Imaging Event I have news about some new Lumix cameras that you might be interested in.

First off I had a grope around with the new FX500. It’s a good looking machine and the main draw for me was its touch screen LCD viewer. It actually made me want to explore what the camera could do – but don’t worry if you’re not quite ready for a touch screen camera as it has the regular manual dials and buttons as well.

To be honest, watching people use the camera out in the real world I could see most were using it on full auto mode and (as we were in a power-boat) the main use of the touch screen was to target things as they flew by at a fair rate of knots. This has the HD movie function and a 25mm wide angle lens and shoots at 10 mp.

The one that I took out into the field (well, the Thames) was the DMC-TZ5 (pictured).

Not the slimmest camera out there but that Leica lens does state its purpose in no uncertain terms and it has a reassuring weight to it. The lens that it is packaging by-the-way is a 28mm wide angle 10x optical zoom – so that’s a heck of a lot in this compact’s frame if you ask me.

Using the camera is a breeze. As you can imagine, no-one was given a manual or even a run through; it was a case of – choose your weapon, get a life jacket and there’s the boat. Now test those things!

My main gripe was that the mode selection dial on the top of the camera was getting knocked out of place by Mr long-fingers here so every now and then I’d get the message; “Mode Dial is not in the Proper Position” staring me in the face – but, having said that, the one I now own is fresh out of the box and the dial seems nice and taught and clicks nicely in to position – but this obviously slackens after prolonged use.

Getting the 9.1 mp pics I wanted was pretty simple thanks mainly to the easy-to-see 3-inch 460,000 dot super high resolution LCD. The clever view-finder actually detects the light condition and automatically boosts the LCD backlighting by max. 40% when shooting outdoors in bright sunshine, and adjusts the frame rate when shooting in low-lit situations in addition to using the pixel mixed readout method to secure clarity in such situations.

As well as the LCD, being more a point ‘n’ press merchant, the Intelligent Auto mode helps with reducing the amount of misshots (handy for those nights-out). This mode is also further advanced with the inclusion of Intelligent Exposure. The TZ5 lends a hand with its digital red-eye correction, Mega O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabiliser) to compensate for hand-shake and Intelligent ISO Control to detect and suppress motion blur. Both image stabilising technologies have been further advanced in detection accuracy and correction effect thanks to the new image-processing LSI, Venus Engine IV.

The Face Detection system helps the camera recognise up to 15 faces and the red-eye effect can be digitally corrected automatically. The Continuous AF system allows the camera to keep focus on the subject while the camera is in recording mode even before pressing a shutter button halfway, to get best result out of a shutter chance because the focus is always near the subject and the AF time is minimised.

A newly incorporated Intelligent Exposure function increases the exposure only in under-exposed areas by detecting the brightness level part-by-part in the picture. Lets say the background includes the sky, which tends to be easily washed out, the camera automatically adjusts the aperture and shutter speed to keep the setting slightly under-exposed to prevent wash-out while brightening the darkened area by increasing the ISO only in that area . If the background of an indoor portrait receives insufficient lighting from a flash and becomes dark, the ISO sensitivity is raised in only the low-lit area to make it brighter without causing graininess in the subject’s face The result is a picture with well-balanced exposure on the whole.

Theoretically I’m running out of excuses for rubbish pics!!!

The Venus Engine IV imaging processor is not only a great at its job but it is also quite the eco-warrior as it will sip at the battery and allow you to shoot around 300 snaps even with that LCD screen.

I’m not really into camcorders (I had a quick play with them but I don’t really have the use for them) but The new DMC-TZ5 can even record dynamic HD flicks in 1280 x 720p at a silky smooth 30 fps, in addition to WVGA (848 x 480) and normal VGA (640 x 480). Great for that bootleg gig ‘me on a camel’ footage.

The DMC-TZ5 retails at £299.99 and the FX500 will hit you up for £329.99 when it’s released from Panasonic’s eshop.

If you wanna check out some of the results (a lot taken at different speeds on the river) have a slide over to my Flickr site – the pics are tagged Panasonic Imaging Event.

Don’t laugh – I’m a bassist not a photographer there’s only so much even a clever camera can do ;0,