Panasonic’s TZ series has seen remarkable success in the market place and has also won several awards. A newcomer in the TZ series is therefore, always welcome.
Panasonic recently launched the TZ18 and TZ20, the difference being the lack of GPS, full HD video and 3D capture in the TZ18.
DESIGN AND BUILD QUALITY
The Panasonic Lumix TZ18 (also known as ZS9/ZS8) has an outer shell completely made from metal, and hence appears and feels tough. The design is simple, with a minimal of buttons. The camera also seems to be a scaled-down version of the TZ20.
The Panasonic TZ18 is a 14.1 megapixel compact camera using a 1/2.33-inch Type (6.13 x 4.6mm) CCD image sensor. It sports a LEICA DC VARIO ELMAR 24-384mm equivalent zoom lens. The lens offers Panasonic’s tried and tested Power Optical Image Stabilizer (Power OIS).
A Mode dial on the top allows the user to choose between iA (intelligent Auto), Aperture Priority (A), Shutter Priority (S), Manual (M), Custom (CUST), Scene (SCN), My Scene (MS 1 and MS 2), and Movie. The Scene mode helps beginners to select between ( hold your breath, there are 28 of them!) Portrait, Soft skin, Transform, Self-portrait, Scenery (Landscape would be a better term!), Panorama Assist, Sports, Night portrait, Night scenery, Food, Party, Candle light, Baby, Pet, Sunset, High sensitivity, Hi-speed burst, Flash burst, Starry sky, Fireworks, Beach, Snow, Aerial photo, Pin-hole, Film grain, High dynamic, Photo frame, and Underwater. Intelligent Exposure (iExposure) can be set to provide better colour rendition in contrasty lighting. Setting the TZ18 to iResolution will record still pictures with sharper outlines. Contrast, sharpness, saturation and noise-reduction can be set to user preference.
Aperture range on the TZ18 is f/3.3-6.3 at the wide-angle end and f/5.9-6.3 at the telephoto end. The lens focuses from 50cm (W)/2m (T) to infinity in normal use and 3cm (W)/1m (T) – infinity in Macro/Intelligent Auto/Motion picture mode. Five autofocus modes are on offer: Face Detection, AF Tracking, 23-Area AF, 1-Area AF, and Spot AF. Setting the camera to Quick AF enables continuous autofocus, even when the shutter button is not half-pressed. Exposure metering can be either Multi, Center-weighted, or Spot. Shutter speeds on the TZ18 range between 60 seconds to 1/4000sec while images can be viewed on a 3-inch TFT LCD with 230,00-dot resolution. Color mode can be set to Standard, Neutral, Vivid, B&W, Sepia, Cool, and Warm.
The TZ18 allows four aspect ratios, with corresponding changes in the pixel count: 4:3 (14MP), 3:2 (12.3MP), 16:9 (10.5MP), and 1:1 (10.5MP). Image quality can be set to Fine (for the best quality), or Standard. ISO sensitivity can be manually set between ISO 100-1600 or on Auto or intelligent Auto. White Balance can be adjusted between Auto; Outdoor – clear sky; Outdoor – cloudy sky; Outdoor – shade; Incandescent, Custom, and Color Temperature. Fine-tuning WB is possible.
In Burst mode, the TZ18 can record at a rate of 1.9 pictures/sec. [Max. 5 pics (Standard); 3 pics (Fine)]. In Hi-speed burst mode, the rate changes to approximately 5 pictures/second with a maximum of 100 pictures when using a memory card. When using the built-in memory, the rate drops to approximately 15 frames. Images can be stored in the camera’s internal memory (approximately 70MB) or on SD/SDHC or SDXC card. The TZ18’s built-in flash lets you take pictures between approximately 60cm-5m when the camera is set to its wide-angle setting and at Auto ISO. The camera dimensions are 104.9 (W) x 57.6 (H) x 33.4mm (D) and weighs approximately 210g with battery and card.
The Panasonic Lumix TZ18 is comfortable to hold and operate, but by today’s standards, its LCD can be considered as low-resolution. The zoom speed is adequate – neither too fast, nor too slow.
Pictures shot using the Panasonic TZ18 were crisp and sharp. White Balance performance was good to very good. Control over darkening of corners at wide open aperture at the wide-angle setting was excellent (just slightly visible at the top right corner).Autofocus wasn’t the fastest that we have seen! Higher ISOs seemed to overexpose the frames. Though the images were sharp, both barrel and mustache distortion was noticed at various focal length settings. The native image size at 300ppi was 10.8 x 14.4 inches. Control over digital noise was good, but at 50-percent screen size and above, loss of fine detail could be observed at ISO 800 onwards. At 100 percent screen size, it was possible to see noise even at ISO 100 but I wouldn’t hesitate to use even ISO 1600 at a pinch! Flare was seen in strong against-the-light shots and so was purple-blue fringing. Overall, we would say that the TZ18 performed very well.
Value for money
The Panasonic Lumix TZ18 is available at an MRP of Rs.24,990. At this price and performance, we say that the TZ18 is fair value for money.
+ White Balance
+ Compact, lightweight
+ Leica lens
– No RAW
– Detailed user manual only on CD
– Extremely limited aperture range
Design and Build Quality 17/20
Key Features 15/20
Noise Control 4/5
Extra Features 3/5
Value for Money 7/10
Grand Total 76.5/100
The compact, lightweight Panasonic TZ18, with its powerful zoom range, makes it an ideal camera to carry for family outings and travel in general.