Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ25

Looking for a well-priced travel camera with a long optical zoom lens? The TZ25 ticks most boxes, and matches its snappy performance with very good image quality.


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Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.


Every year, Panasonic updates its range of travel cameras with two top-of-the-line models. In 2012, it is the TZ30 with all the bells and whistles, and the scaled-back version is the TZ25. If you're looking for a dependable travel camera that's relatively pocketable, and can live without features like a GPS, then the TZ25 is definitely a top camera to consider.

Design and features

More so than previous generations, the TZ25 misses out on some of the big selling points of the TZ range, including GPS, a touchscreen and a longer zoom. Despite this, the TZ25 is no slouch, sporting a 16x optical zoom with 32x intelligent zoom, as well as the same 24mm wide-angle Leica-branded lens as the TZ30 with a maximum aperture range of f/3.3-5.9.

Behind the lens is a 12.1-megapixel MOS sensor and image processor combination, which helps the TZ25 achieve some snappy continuous shooting metrics, and makes it easy for the in-camera HDR mode to snap three photos in quick succession without too much trouble.

The TZ25 comes with a mode dial at the top of the camera, which spans the range from program, aperture and shutter priority, as well as manual exposure modes. Intelligent automatic is also provided for anyone who simply wants to point and shoot. There are also creative controls available, which range from sepia-like effects to a toy camera emulator, plus scene modes and a dedicated 3D photo mode.

A demonstration of the filters on the TZ25.
(Credit: CBSi)

Controls are all within easy reach, and the TZ25 makes one-handed shooting a cinch. There's an instant-on record button, which starts video recording in whatever mode you are in at the time. An exposure button at the rear of the camera alters between the common shooting adjustments, like shutter speed and aperture, when in the appropriate modes. Connectivity is provided via one mini HDMI port and proprietary mini USB.

The 3-inch screen at the rear of the camera is nice and bright, although it can be a struggle to see in direct sunlight. Like earlier Panasonic cameras, the TZ25 comes with the reliable Power OIS image-stabilisation system.

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Start-up to first shot
  • JPEG shot-to-shot
  • Shutter lag
  • 1.61.40.4
    Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V
  • 20.80.3
    Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30
  • 2.11.20.4
    Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ25
  • 2.52.10.3
    Canon PowerShot SX260 HS

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Continuous shooting speed (in frames per second)

  • 7.6
    Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX9V
  • 4.1
    Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30
  • 4
    Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ25
  • 2.5
    Canon PowerShot SX260 HS

(Longer bars indicate better performance)

The TZ25 has a number of continuous shooting modes that change how quickly the camera is able to snap images in burst mode. It can take images at 2fps or 5fps with autofocus, or 10fps, 40fps or 60fps without autofocus, although, for the last two, the resolution of the output photo is reduced.

Unfortunately, like other cameras that advertise their speed, the TZ25's stated 10fps is only in theory; the camera can't actually hit that as it stops to process shots after four frames.

Image quality

The TZ25 delivers excellent images in almost all shooting situations, and makes it intuitive and easy enough for just about anyone to get a good shot. Thanks to the built-in features, like intelligent auto, as well as the in-camera HDR mode and creative filters, the TZ25 is always a fun and reliable workhorse to have around. Colours are bright and punchy without being oversaturated, and the lens is mostly sharp from edge to edge.

A comparison of the in-camera HDR mode.
(Credit: CBSi)

In playback mode, the TZ25 allows you to add different effects to a photo post-capture, rather than needing to select the filter before taking the photo. There's also an automatic retouch mode that lets the camera adjust the photo to what it thinks looks best. More often than not, the automatic retouch mode boosts saturation and contrast to lighten up shadow areas, and better results can be obtained in your favourite post-processing software.

As the ISO level climbs past 400, noise starts to become an issue, particularly when looking at images at full magnification. Alas, for anyone needing to use photos taken at higher sensitivities for significant enlargements, you might need to do a bit of sharpening and noise removal.

The TZ25 does a decent job of keeping noise at bay at low ISO levels, but, like its older sibling the TZ30, pixel peepers will be disappointed.
(Credit: CBSi)

The built-in flash has a fairly even if slightly warm colour cast over subjects.

The TZ25 records in AVCHD, 1080i rather than the progressive 1080p of the TZ30. As a result, there is some visible interlacing and a small degree of rolling shutter. Video images are clean and crisp, with good levels of detail. Panasonic has also enabled the optical zoom while filming. The only real disadvantage of the video-recording mode is that the built-in microphone is only mono. It would have been nicer if Panasonic coupled the excellent video recording mode with slightly better audio.

At the full extent of the optical zoom, the TZ25 is still able to deliver a reasonably sharp image.

Image samples

Exposure: 1/60, f/3.3, ISO 160

Exposure: 1/60, f/3.3, ISO 800

Exposure: 1/1300, f/4, ISO 100

Exposure: 1/160, f/5.6, ISO 100

(Credit: CBSi)

Conclusion

Looking for a well-priced travel camera with a long optical zoom lens? The TZ25 ticks most boxes, and matches its snappy performance with very good image quality.

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