Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ11
- Big zoom, great image stabilisation, wide angle lens
- Noticeable image noise, chromatic aberration issues towards the edges of the frame
While the price tag is a little hefty for an 8.1-megapixel model, you get what you pay for with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ11. It packs in a huge 10x optical zoom supported by optical image stabilisation, as well as a 28mm wide angle lens with Panasonic's array of intelligent auto modes, meaning there is something for everyone here.
Price$ 599.00 (AUD)
Targeting travel enthusiasts and those after a bit more zoom in their life, Panasonic's latest TZ series model, the TZ11, doesn't offer up too many surprises. However that isn't necessarily a bad thing. The intelligent automatic modes have been given a makeover and the combination of the large 10x optical zoom and a 28mm lens makes for some great variety in shot composition.
Unfortunately, the images produced suffer from a few issues and they are those typical to Panasonic's cameras in the past. Of these, the worst is relatively high levels of image noise. It wasn't at the point where it would be a problem in standard 4x6in prints, but if you want to make enlargements you'll have to make do with a little graininess. If you're fine with that you'll be able to use up to ISO 800 without too many issues, but at this point the noise begins to cause a loss of clarity.
In terms of sharpness and clarity the images were pretty good without being outstanding. The sensor is 8 megapixels, which puts it towards the top end of the mid-range by today's standards. Edges were crisp and sharp without any visible over-sharpening. The only clarity issued stemmed from the aforementioned image noise.
Chromatic aberration problems were also evident although they manifested in a somewhat strange way. There was very minimal haloing in our indoors shots; only the barest hint of colour on high contrast edges. That said, there was quite a bit of softening and blurring towards the edges of the frame.
Colour response was decent but not outstanding. Nothing was grossly inaccurate but primary colours were a little too strongly saturated at times. As usual the camera offers a few modes to tweak this and custom white balance is also included.
The real gems of this unit, however, are the wide angled lens and the large zoom. While 28mm is not the widest on the market, it allows you to take some pretty encompassing shots and will be useful for landscape enthusiasts. Similarly the 10x optical zoom is one of the largest offerings available on a compact camera and when coupled with Panasonic's excellent optical image stabilisation, it makes for some impressive shots.
Aside from those features the camera has a fairly standard array of Panasonic options. They have made some more improvements to its intelligent auto mode which is nifty for novice users. It is basically a slightly more advanced version of the automatic mode found on most cameras. The company's latest iteration intelligently selects between scene modes, face detect and ISO sensitivities to achieve the best balance of settings. It does a pretty good job all up.
There are also a host of other features including intelligent ISO (lets you cap the ISO at a specific limit), intelligent exposure and a shutter speed cap. You can shoot in 16:9 as well as the traditional 4:3 and there is a large selection of focus modes including centre, spot, face detect and continuous.
In our speed tests the TZ11 performed relatively well. It has two burst modes; one that captures only four shots at 3.5 frames per second, and one that is a slightly slower 3 frames per second but captures indefinitely. Meanwhile its shutter lag was a speedy 0.07 seconds, with 1.4 seconds between shots and a 2.2-second start up time.
Aesthetically Panasonic has done a good job. It's hard to make a camera with a zoom this large look good, and while the TZ11 is far from stylish its wide and relatively slim design certainly looks fine and belies the size of the lens inside.
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