Product Type: Panasonic digital cameras
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Good for daylight photos
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7
Member Name: jennikitten
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ7
Advantages: Great detail
Disadvantages: Not so good in darker settings
After hours of reading reviews and trawling the web, I narrowed it down to a Panasonic Lumix TZ7 and an LX3. Unfortunately the LX3 was out of stock pretty much everywhere at the time, so I opted for the TZ7.
Lumix cameras are well-known for their great lenses, and indeed it does have a big lens as you can see from the picture. This camera doesn't have the tiny form factor that make others popular and attractive, but the quality of the pictures is much more important to me.
Over the past year I've used this camera in a lot of different settings, and I've found that whilst it does produce very good photos in bright light, darker conditions and underwater conditions produce very noisy (grainy) and sometimes blurry photos. This is annoying because the camera's screen always shows previews of the photos that are much better than the actual result, which I feel is misleading. However, if you're intending to use this camera in the daytime, then it shouldn't be too much of a problem. I have taken lots of photos of interiors and people inside with this camera, and whilst the photos do benefit from forcing the flash on rather than leaving the camera to decide, they aren't that bad. So it's not completely unusable in darker settings.
The camera can shoot high definition video, which looks good but is a bit ruined by the noise of the lens zooming in and out. You can see an example of an underwater video with the Lumix TZ7 here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWv90s9dSSo (please note that the camera on its own isn't waterproof and you're looking at £200-£300 for underwater casing).
If you're willing to spend time doing post-production editing of both videos and photos, then this camera is probably a good choice. However, I do feel somewhat let down by the quality of the photos in general as they are nowhere near as amazing as people had made out in reviews. Incidentally, the two later releases of this camera, the TZ9 and TZ10, both have much poorer reviews on Amazon and don't seem to rectify the problems of the TZ7.
I have played around with the many settings on this camera. Many of them are quite non-technical, so you can select from scenery, sunset and a range of others. Others, such as the size of the picture and ISO are more technical, but a novice wouldn't find them too difficult to switch between. I would say that this camera does require a bit of fiddling to get the right settings - I tend to stick to default and then change the settings based on the resulting screen preview. Obviously this isn't ideal because the screen preview is often so different from the actual finished image, but it helps to take the same picture with a few different settings where possible.
As the camera is 10.1 megapixels, it's good for those who want to print large photos. As I use my photos for webdesign this isn't really as important to me, and smaller photos often do yield better results overall and have the advantage of taking up less space on my memory card.
The camera also has an impressive 12x optical zoom, which basically means that the camera can 'see' much further than a human and take photos with more detail at a distance.
I've only got really old 128MB memory cards, but photos aren't massively slow, which surprised me. I am going to invest in higher capacity SDHC cards though - class 6 is recommended if you're shooting HD video.
The camera comes with a Panasonic battery and wall charger. Please do read the charging instructions carefully before using so you get the most out of the battery. I find a full charge of the battery usually lasts about 8 hours or so, so it may be worth investing in a spare. These are quite expensive at about £30-35 for a genuine Panasonic battery; however I think it's worth it because you're assured of the compatibility, quality and safety. It's also worth noting that replacement batteries are compatible with other cameras in the TZ7 range if you have an older version or are thinking of upgrading to the latest.
There's also a USB cable to connect to your computer and transfer photos. The accompanying CD also includes an in-depth Photo Studio with a lot of features for editing and organising your photos. I do find that this is a bit slow and I prefer to use a combination of Windows folders and Photoshop for organising and editing.
This camera doesn't come with a case so you'll need to buy one to keep it safe. You also might want to buy something to clean the lens as it does seem to attract dust, though this hasn't affected the photo quality in my experience.
I bought mine from Currys, but you can also buy it on Amazon for about £180; it's come down in price a lot since the newer releases.
Overall, I have quite mixed feelings about this camera - it does take great photos in daylight, and well-detailed photos of people and scenery, but if you're looking for a very versatile camera or take lots of shots with little light then this probably isn't for you.
If you'd like to see some examples of photos I've taken with the Lumix TZ7, you can check out my photo gallery here: http://www.blossom.nu/photo-gallery/main.php (please note that not all photos were taken with my TZ7; going into a photo's details will tell you whether it was or not).
25 mm ultra wide-angle 12x optical zoom LEICA DC lens in compact body
HD movie recording in AVCHD lite with Dolby stereo digital creator
Advanced intelligent auto mode with face recognition and movie iA mode
3.0 inch, 460,000-dot high-resolution intelligent LCD with wide-viewing angle
Venus Engine HD with HDMI Compatibility and VIERA Link
(More information on the tech specs can be found at Amazon).
Thanks for reading.
Summary: I've been a bit over critical but it could be better
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