Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 (DMC-ZS40) review

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 (ZS40 in North America) is what I like to call compact ultra-zoom. Inside its thin body there is a 30x optical zoom (24-720mm) and 18 megapixel sensor. Besides a 3-inch LCD, TZ60 has an electronic viewfinder what is still a rare detail in this camera category. You can use it in full automatic exposure mode, but it still offers complete manual controls, RAW file format and 1080/60p video mode. Built-in GPS will appeal to travelers as is the case with Wi-Fi connectivity.

PANASONIC LUMIX DMC-TZ60 GENERAL SPECIFICATIONS

  • Announced: 2014.
  • Type: Compact ultrazoom
  • Dimensions: 111 x 64 x 34 mm (4.37 x 2.52 x 1.34″)
  • Weight: 240g (with battery)
  • Sensor: 1/2.3″ (6.17 x 4.55 mm), 18 MP (4896 x 3672 pixels)
  • ISO range: Native 100 – 3200, Extended 6,400
  • Lens: 30x 24-720 mm, F/3.3-6.4
  • Image stabilization: Yes, in the lens
  • Dust and moisture protection: No
  • Flash: Built-in
  • Continuous shooting: 10 fps
  • LCD screen: 3″, 920,000 dots
  • EVF: 200,000 dots
  • Memory card: SD, SDHC, SDXC
  • Battery: Li-Ion
  • Video: 1920 x 1080 (60p/60i/30p), 1280 x 720 (60p/30p), 640 x 480 (30p)
  • Connectivity: USB 2.0, micro HDMI, Wi-Fi, GPS

PANASONIC LUMIX DMC-TZ60 CONSTRUCTION AND HANDLING

Panasonic TZ60 has god build quality. It is made from plastic but very well assembled together. Most of the camera is covered with some sort of non-slippery rubber. Although small, buttons have a well defined click when pressed. Thumb rest is protruded and makes holding this camera with one hand possible.

LCD, VIEWFINDER

LCD has excellent viewing quality. It sports now usual 3″ diagonal and 920,000 dots. Viewing angles are perfect. It is not comparable to the one on GH4 for example, but for this camera category is more than good.

TZ60 has an electronic viewfinder – a rare detail even today. Sadly, EVF is very small and has low resolution – only 200,000 dots. It also has RGB tearing effect (you see rainbows when you move your eyeball). Still, it is better than no viewfinder – it can come in handy in bright daylight or when you want to steady the camera by holding it against you face.

Switching between LCD and EVF is relatively fast – just around a second, but there is no proximity sensor for automated switch. I guess I’m now asking o much for the price considering how much features TZ60 already has.

SENSOR, LENS AND IMAGE QUALITY

Sensor is small – 6 x 4mm and this is expected for a compact camera. It has 18 megapixels – a bit too much if you ask me. Negative effect of too many megapixels comes in the form of image noise. TZ60 has visible noise at all ISO values. Most cameras deal with it with the aggressive noise reduction which in turn obliterates fine details, but that is not the case with TZ60. For the most part, details are there and I prefer having it that way. If some noise is the price to pay let it be; noise can be handled in post process, lack of details cannot. Images do appear quite good, colors are realistic, but the best can be achieved shooting RAW file format and post processing each image separately on PC. This is not something most people will or has the will to do, but photography is like that: you’ll have to go beyond pure AUTO mode to get best results out of any camera. That being said, TZ60 is till fine choice for amateurs since by default produces generally pleasing and well exposed images.

The lens has 30x optical zoom and covers the range of 24-720mm (in 35mm equivalent). Aperture is not spectacular at F/3.3-6.4 – inappropriate for low light shooting, but you can’t get all. I’m not happy to report, but optical properties are not that good. In the corners, the lens never gets sharp, and mode you zoom, less sharpness is available across the whole frame. At maximum zoom, I’m not actually sure if I would call this lens usable. Chromatic aberrations are also strong. It’s a shame since the sensor has a lot of potential. For comparison, Olympus SH-1 has much better lens and similar zoom range.

MEMORY, BATTERY AND CONNECTORS

Panasonic TZ60 supports usual SD/SDHC/SDXC memory cards.

Li-ion battery is strong enough for around 250 shots what’s a bit above the average for this type of camera (200). It is charged inside the camera so you cannot use it while the battery is charged.

TZ60 has two connectors: micro HDMI and USB which is not of the standard kind. I see that as a problem: once you lose the cable or it gets damaged, God only knows where to buy the spare one. Since the battery is charged with it, this could make your camera useless on a trip.

MENUS AND RESPONSIVITY

TZ60 doesn’t have quick menu with often used features (a bit unusual) so you need to access main menu for most settings. Camera is bit slow to turn on (around two seconds) but is for the most part quite responsive. You can shoot the next image while the previous is still being written to memory card. Image playback is fast, you can browse around 3 images a second.

AUTOFOCUS AND BURST PERFORMANCE

Autofocus performance is very good in daylight. TZ60 focuses under a second without a problem in most occasions. As the light disappears, TZ60 slows down to 2-3 seconds (night time). If for some reason cannot lock focus at all, it will allow you to take a shot with some medium distance setting – better anything than nothing – some cameras do not allow to take a shot if there is no focus lock.

AF point size can be selected in 4 sizes. Larger are bigger for everyday shooting subjects like landscape and smaller points are used when you need accurate focus on specific area like face when shooting portraits.

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