Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 digital camera (preview)

This compact digital camera improves on previous Panasonic models by including built-in GPS as well as a mix of manual and automatic settings, making it a good upgrade for novice and advanced users

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10
  • Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10
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Pros

  • Built-in GPS, manual settings for advanced users, intelligent auto settings in still and video modes

Cons

  • Understanding the on-screen navigation system takes a little while (but was easy enough once we'd played with it for a few days)

Bottom Line

This versatile digital camera improves on the previous model by including built-in GPS capabilities as well as a mix of manual and automatic settings, making it a good travel companion. During our tests it took some great still shots in a variety of modes and settings, and it captured good quality 720p video as well.

Would you buy this?

Panasonic recently unveiled its new range of Lumix digital cameras — its biggest range of models to date. The company showcased 13 new models including two new TZ 'travel series' point-and-shoot cameras. We took the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 for a hands-on spin around the streets of Melbourne.

Last year when we looked at the flagship model, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7, we were impressed with its ease of use, wide-angle lens (compete with a huge zoom) as well as its clear images and good colour reproduction. On the surface the DMC-TZ10 offers a quite a few new — and welcome — features, as well as a price drop compared to last year's model. This new compact camera can snap 12.1-megapixel photos (up from 10Mp on the TZ7) and has new manual exposure features and a handy built-in GPS function. The LCD screen is slightly smaller at 2.7in, but the camera still offers a 25mm wide-angle lens as well as 12x optical zoom (this is equivalent to 25-300mm on a 35mm camera).

Not only do you have a neat digital camera, but its video options are quite good, too. It shoots 1280x720 HD video in AVCHD Lite format at 30 frames per second. A dedicated record button on the back panel is easy to access, and optical image stabilisation worked well when we recorded footage from a boat travelling down Melbourne's Yarra River. The wind cut feature also helped to block out the background wind noise. The DMC-TZ10 employs Panasonic’s newly developed Venus Engine HD II and a new image processing technology called Intelligent Resolution. Panasonic says that Intelligent Resolution is designed to capture images with greater definition and detail, and less image noise. We will examine whether this is the case when we get the Camera into the Test Centre for a full review.

Built-in GPS is a new feature several digital camera manufacturers are touting. At CES Sony announced this capability will be available in its Cyber-shot DSC-HX5V (Sony will release the camera locally in the coming months).

In our hands-on tests the Lumix DMC-TZ10's GPS feature was simple to set up. Simply set the country and location details and you’re on your way. If you’re anything like me, this feature will be a boon. How often do you take a million shots when travelling, and then sideline the sorting, collation and printing of the images until well after the holiday ends? Your image files can become a sea of semi-recognisable locations that make you think, "But where was I?"

Location data can be shown on screen as you take the shot — for example Luna Park, Melbourne, Australia — and the latitude and longitude that pinpoint where the photo was snapped are stored in a photo's EXIF data. The internal clock automatically adjusts to local time, too.

The GPS feature works with video footage as well, and when you load up the included software you can search your files by location names. Panasonic’s data library currently includes more than 500,000 landmarks in 73 countries. When you get back to your PC, the geo-tagged images can be also be mapped on your favourite social-networking sites.

A lot of Panasonic's customers (as well as reviewers of the previous models) commented that manual exposure would be a welcome feature in upcoming models. It’s nice to know Panasonic took this feedback on board, as now both the new Lumix DMC-TZ series cameras feature P/A/S/M modes which make the camera ideal for advanced users who want greater creative control of their images.

Other features of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 digital camera include intelligent auto (IA), face detection, scene modes (27 for stills and 18 for video). An optional marine case is available for the camera, too.

Amanda Conroy was a guest of Panasonic in Melbourne for the company's Asia Pacific Lumix and camcorder 2010 launch.

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