Product Type: Panasonic digital cameras
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It's Intelligent, it's Auto, and it's made of metal!
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ6
Member Name: rabidbadger
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ6
Advantages: Sturdiness, Ease of use, Autofocus Tracking
Disadvantages: Overshadowed by the TZ7, Tries to do everything for you
I always find it a little strange when a company releases two similar models at the same time, especially when the price difference is only around £40. The Panasonic Lumix TZ6 and TZ7 are similar stable-mates, with the TZ7 being the superior of the two.
Having said that, the extra features of the TZ7 are things I can quite comfortably live without, such as the superior video capability with stereo sound, an HDMI output, and the ability of the camera to recognise up to 15 of your friends when they appear in a picture. Why would I want that? I don't have 15 friends - and even if I did, I'm sure I could remember them myself!
The TZ6 is aimed at people who want to take nice pictures but don't really want to know how those pictures are achieved. Almost everything is designed to be automatic and intuitive, and there is some pretty impressive processing that takes place to make this possible.
Priced at around £250, it may be a little too much for the beginners out there, no matter how good it performs.
The metal body gives the Lumix TZ6 a robust feel that some plastic-bodied cameras don't have but of course this adds to its weight, which is a full half a pound in old money, compared to the 6.2oz of a Fuji FinePix F200EXR. Even so, it is not going to break your arm.
The body is sleak, if a little deeper than some of its competitors, and I particularly like cameras with the slimline flash unit. Of course, most of the front of the camera is taken up by the lens, which does look disproportionately large to me.
The controls on the top and back of the camera are quite minimalistic and this reflects the user-friendliness that you would expect from a Lumix.
All buttons and dials are sturdy enough - although the zoom bezel around the shutter button does feel a little limp when in operation.
The Lumix TZ6 is available in either black or silver, both of which look very smart. I have seen a blue one but I'm pretty sure that one is only available in the USA.
The Lumix TZ6 can accommodate both SD and SDHC cards - neither of which are supplied with the camera - and it has its own 40MB internal memory - which is pretty typical for a camera of this kind - allowing you to store a few shots while you wait for your memory card to arrive.
The manual advises that SDHC cards up to 32GB can be used - which the average human would struggle to fill up in a lifetime!
The strength of the current Lumix range is in their Intelligent Auto system which handles most of the decisions for you, controlling exposure, scene selection, and pretty much everything else. As an SLR fan, I find this quite frustrating and I hate having to delve into the menus just to get a little bit of human control over the camera's settings. Of course, what it does, it does really well, but I find myself thinking "can I have a go".
The mode selection dial allows you to choose between the following settings:
<i>Intelligent Auto</i> - The camera employs Automatic Scene Detection, Intelligent ISO, Intelligent Exposure and Backlight Compensation. User can still control Picture Size, Continuous Shooting and Colour Mode
<i>Normal Picture</i> - User has control over ISO, White Balance, Auto-focus mode, metering, Intelligent Exposure, minimum shutter speed and image stabilization
<i>My SCN</i> - Allows storage of commonly used scenes
<i>SCN</i> - Allows selection of any of the 27 preset scenes
<i>Motion Picture</i> - Video recording (allows zoom during recording)
<i>Clipboard</i> - Allows the user to store "memos" or "reference pictures" in a clipboard folder of the camera's memory. I haven't worked out why this is different from taking a picture and deleting it when you don't want it anymore! Maybe it is all about being able to find them easier?
Various resolutions are available between 10mp (3648x2736 in 4:3) and 0.3mp (640x480 in 4:3), 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9 aspect ratios and Fine or Standard quality options. Picture capacity ranges from around 7 to around 320 (depending on resolution) for the built-in memory, and around 5500 to around 198000 (depending on resolution) for a 32GB SDHC card. Picture format is JPEG (no RAW option) and videos are stored as Quicktime files.
Shutter speeds are quoted in the user manual as 1/2000th - 8 seconds and there are few modes where the user has control over it. The Fireworks scene allows the choice between 1/4 sec and 2 secs and the Starry Night scene gives three further options of 15, 30 and 60 seconds.
ISO settings are Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1600 (1600 - 6400 in High Sens scene)
The Lumix TZ6 has an orientation sensor that can determine whether the image was takin in portrait or landscape orientation. This has been standard feature of SLRs for a while now and it is nice to see it appearing on compact cameras.
Auto-focus tracking is a nice feature that enables the camera's focus to follow a subject once set. Continuous AF, Quick AF and Macro Focusing are also available.
2 second or 10 second self-timer.
The Record/Playback slider allows you to fire up the camera and view stored images without the lens bursting into life. This is something many compact zooms don't have.
The menu system is easy to read and easy to navigate, and there is a Quick Menu button on the back that gives access to many of the commonly used functions and settings. The Playback menu also allows the user to add text tags to the their pictures and edit the image title.
Battery life is quoted as c.320 images
Summary: A solid, feature-packed camera with an incredible zoom. In my opinion, better value than the TZ7
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