At the beginning of January, I was among the first journalists to bring you quick preview of the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ100. The camera looked very promising and finally I got a production sample for a week to play with. I was very anxious to check if the camera lived to its expectations and to find out if this might be the best travel camera of 2016.
It’s the time of year when a lot of people get new gear, so it’s time for a shopping guide. What makes this article different from most of similar ones is that I will recommend gear I have reviewed personally and liked it enough that I would consider buying it myself. That means I will skip a lot of good cameras because they have something that would bother me if I had them; it doesn’t mean cameras not listed here suck: they are just not to my personal taste. If for some camera category I think there are no good cameras I will simply recommend avoiding purchase and saving the money towards something better.
I will focus down to what is available on the market right now and at current price points. That means some good but currently in my opinion overpriced cameras might not be recommended at all. Sorry but for most of us money dictates what we can afford.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 is the latest pretender for ultra zoom throne. While not having insane optical zoom range – only 24x when competitors have 50x-83x, it makes it up with other specifications most of which are way above those found in competing cameras like Nikon P900, Canon SX60HS or Sony HX400. Panasonic FZ300 is the only one with constant F/2.8 aperture through the entire zoom range, 4K video recording and weather sealed body. It also offers RAW file format, articulated touch LCD and OLED electronic viewfinder, 1/16000 shutter speed, 12fps burst mode, 4k photo mode (30fps in 8MP resolution), microphone input, full manual controls both for video and photo, built-in flash with wireless flash control, hot-shoe and most advanced control configuration options in the class.
Well, there’s no point keeping you in suspense; for me this is the best ultra zoom ever made. It has more options and better image and video results than any other similar camera. Yes, it is the most expensive one and 24x does not sound as much, but in reality it is enough for all typical usage scenarious. Take a look at my (longest yet) video review.
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.
Lumix DMC-GM1 is the smallest mirrorless camera on the market, especially when used with collapsible 12-32mm kit lens or with Panasonic and Olympus pancake prime lenses. Despite that, it is a full featured interchangeable lens camera stuffed with loads of features and some of them are really unique like 1/16000 shutter speed, completely silent operation, time-lapse and stop-motion video and many more. It uses micro 4/3 lens mount what means it accept around 40 lenses from Panasonic and Olympus with full auto-focus support.