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Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ18 review
|DATE REVIEWED: 6th May 2011||Add Camera To Comparison Chart|
|Camera Type||Compact||Shutter Speeds||60 - 1/4000 sec|
|RRP||£290||ISO Range||100 - 6400|
|Megapixels||14.1||Focal Length||24 - 384mm|
|Weight||188g||Aperture||f3.3 - 5.9|
|Dimensions||105 x 57 x 33mm (WxHxD)||Focus Distance||3cm - inf|
|LCD Size||3 inches||Zoom (Opt)||16x|
|Zoom (Dig)||4x||Storage||SD / SDHC / SDXC|
|Max Resolution||4320 x 3240||Battery Type||Li-Ion|
The new Panasonic DMC-TZ18 bears a 14.1 MP sensor and a rather impressive 24mm ultra wide-angle lens, which provides a 16x optical zoom that can be further expanded to 20x. It generates an equivalent focal length of a substantial 24-384mm, equalling the distance of many contemporary superzooms, all within the chassis of a compact.
Elsewhere within its arsenal of features, there’s the adoption of Intelligent Resolution technology, which sees the camera detect and sharpen outlines, as well as areas of detailed texture and soft graduation. Enthusiastic photographers will rejoice at the rare inclusion of not only Aperture and Speed Priority shooting modes but Manual modes as well.
Improvements for counteracting camera shake have also been installed in the form of Power OIS to support its extraordinary zoom. Movie-making fans may lament the lack of a 1080p movie mode, but a 720p mode with accompanying software enables users to directly upload files to Facebook and YouTube.
In terms of design, the TZ18 took us by surprise – the current fashion for slim and lightweight aesthetics has been overlooked in favour of a courageous return to the more shapely figures of pre-2008. We can only assume the added weight and girth are there to compensate for its hefty zoom lens, but the unit is still considerably smaller than most superzooms that tout similar focal lengths. The layout of the camera’s buttons and controls is typical of the Panasonic brand and it doesn’t throw up any awkward hand positioning or lack any must-have shortcuts.
Handling the unit is a tale of two halves. For the beginner or those fluent in using compacts from rival brands, the TZ18 isn’t the easiest to manipulate, as journeying in and out of menus and settings can be arduous and altogether rather unintuitive. However, we congratulate Panasonic for including information explaining what every scene, setting and option is for, neatly guiding new users to a heightened level of understanding. More advanced shooters keen to get a handle on the semi-automatic and manual modes will also appreciate the on-screen tools for correctly programming exposure.
The assortment and quantity of scene modes make this an enjoyable camera to use not only for beginners but also novices trying to get a handle on photography’s steep learning curve, and we particularly loved the inclusion of long shutter speeds (15, 30 and 60 seconds), which are rarely found on compacts and are perfect for implementing creative and advanced techniques.
While the LCD presented images clearly and in high resolution for most situations, we found it struggled in very harsh lighting with some angles making the scene completely indiscernible. There are settings on board to enable photographers to find the optimum viewing setting, although we found this only mildly improved the status quo.
Image results suggest that the TZ18 is superbly confident in accurately metering, exposing and judging the correct white balance for the variety of scene, auto and semi-auto modes. Focusing is not an issue here, and the unit’s AF tracking mode is not only easy to execute but also generates a catalogue of successful shots, which can’t be said for many units in this category. Noise isn’t prevalent until ISO 800, when softening and mutilation begins to occur.
Despite the lens being coated in new Nano Surface Coating technology, we encountered some issues with it in terms of flaring, slight barrel distortion and problems with purple fringing, but only in areas of high contrast along edges, and perhaps nothing more than we would have expected. On the whole, image quality exceeded our expectations for a compact at this price point – the TZ18 generated fantastic images that resonated accurate colour and high-resolution detail.
One of the best compacts under £300 that lets users shoot with full manual control. If that’s what you’re looking for, you can’t go wrong with the TZ18
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|One of the best compacts under £300 that lets users shoot with full manual control. If that’s what you’re looking for, you can’t go wrong with the TZ18|
Backed with a journalism degree, Natalie has worked in the magazine industry for over five years. Since joining DP she has reviewed a plethora of cameras, gadgets and accessories, and is never afraid of telling it like it is.
|Total Camera Reviews||21|
|Average Camera Rating||2.4|
|Natalie's Last 5 Reviews|
|Casio Exilim TRYX||3 / 5|
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|Fujifilm FinePix Z700EXR||3 / 5|
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZX1||3 / 5|
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