Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30

The TZ30 offers a 20x optical zoom and is an excellent camera for travellers, fitted out with all of the tools you could possibly desire. Just make sure to pack an extra battery if you plan on a full day of shooting.


8.1
CNET Rating
4.7
User Rating

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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.


Design and features

Like earlier iterations of Panasonic's travel zoom range, the TZ30 boasts plenty of features that jet setters will find invaluable. This camera sits neatly in the hand, and there's a substantial grip on the front panel. Button placement is intuitive, with a relatively sparse but functional back panel holding all the controls you'll need. This includes the simple switch that toggles between playback and picture/video recording, as well as a four-way directional pad, through which you can access all of the main controls in the menu system.

At the top of the camera, a mode dial holds all of the shooting modes, including Panasonic's intelligent auto mode, as well as PASM control. There are the requisite 3D-shooting modes available, as well as a scene-selector option and creative filters. While not as extensive as those found on other brands, the Panasonic offerings improve with each generation. The TZ30 gets expressive, retro, high and low key, sepia, monochrome, an HDR-like filter, toy camera, miniature mode and soft focus.

If you're a fan of filters, the TZ30 has plenty to keep you occupied.
(Credit: CBSi)

Elsewhere, the TZ30 comes equipped with a GPS unit, which lets photographers tag location information on shots. It's responsive, and locks on to a location target within 20 seconds, provided there's a clear view of the sky. We also like how the GPS settings are easily accessible from an option on the main menu, rather than buried underneath layers of other selections.

For travellers or anyone wanting to remember more closely the details of their photos, the TZ30 allows photographers to append the following criteria to the geotagged data: country/region; state/province/country; county/township; city/town/village; or landmark.

This camera also comes with a 20x Leica-branded optical zoom lens, which Panasonic claims is the world's slimmest camera with this amount of zoom. At 24mm wide angle, it's definitely got the chops to capture plenty of landscapes. There's also "real" HDR mode, on top of the filter mentioned before, which automatically stitches together several exposures in-camera, and an easy panorama mode.

TZ30TZ30TZ30TZ30TZ30TZ30TZ30TZ30TZ30TZ30

Click through for even more photos from the TZ30. (Credit: CBSi)

Additional updates come in the form of the redesigned 14.1-megapixel high-sensitivity MOS sensor, which, combined with the new Venus Engine, means that the TZ30 can shoot at up to 10 frames per second. The TZ30 can be charged via USB, rather than having to remove the battery and charge it via a dedicated wall charger.

The 3-inch touchscreen still has a relatively low resolution of 460,000 dots, which pales in comparison to many of its competitors that possess bright, high-res panels. Like the earlier TZ20, the touchscreen implementation can be easily forgotten when you have a range of buttons at your disposal that achieve everything you need.

Connectivity is via mini HDMI at the side of the camera, as well as a proprietary mini-USB port.

Compared to

Canon PowerShot SX260 HS Sony Cyber-shot HX20V Panasonic Lumix TZ30
12.1-megapixel high-sensitivity CMOS sensor 18.2-megapixel Exmor R CMOS sensor 14.1-megapixel high-sensitivity MOS sensor
GPS built in GPS built in GPS built in
3-inch, 461,000-dot LCD 3-inch, 921,000-dot LCD 3-inch, 460,000-dot LCD
25mm wide-angle lens 25mm wide-angle lens 24mm wide-angle lens

Performance

General shooting metrics (in seconds)

  • Start-up to first shot
  • JPEG shot-to-shot time
  • Shutter lag
  • 1.40.60.3
    Nikon Coolpix S9300
  • 1.71.40.4
    Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V
  • 20.80.3
    Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30
  • 2.52.10.3
    Canon PowerShot SX260 HS

(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Continuous shooting speed (in FPS)

  • 10
    Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30
  • 10
    Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX20V
  • 7.9
    Nikon Coolpix S9300
  • 2.5
    Canon PowerShot SX260 HS

(Longer bars indicate better performance)


The focusing system on the TZ30 is very good in all of its guises, from regular AF through to tracking subjects.

There are a number of burst shooting modes on the TZ30, which include an intelligent burst mode that automatically adjusts how quickly the camera takes photos, depending on the speed of the subject. There are also continuous AF modes, which allow burst shooting of 2 and 5 frames per second, and a 10-frames-per-second mode with focus fixed on the first frame. This final mode shoots 10 frames in a row before stopping to process them.

Panasonic rates the battery at 260 shots, though we found that it drained a lot more quickly when using resource-intensive tools like the GPS (as would be expected).

Image quality

Last year's TZ20 impressed us with its quick shooting performance, but it was a disappointing low-light performer. Fortunately, the TZ30 has taken all of our reservations to heart, and improved on low-light performance without skimping on snappy shooting speeds. Low-ISO images are relatively smooth and clean all the way up to ISO 800.

Here's a shot taken at the full extent of the optical zoom (20x), with 100 per cent crop inset.
(Credit: CBSi)

Overall image quality from the TZ30 is very good. There are hints of over-processing present on some images, particularly those zoomed in to a fair extent with the optical zoom. Colour rendition is excellent, with bright and punchy tones represented without being over-saturated.

Like any wide-angle lens, there is a fair amount of distortion at the wide end, which also extends to a drop-off in sharpness towards the sides of the frame. It's not particularly noticeable at reduced magnification, and would only be an issue if you were looking to make large prints or crop. There are also some issues with its high-contrast shots. There's a fair amount of chromatic aberration present, which mostly exhibits itself as blue fringing.

Macro performance, however, is very strong, and the macro zoom option works well.

Video from the TZ30 is impressive. Full HD video recording is now progressive, at 1080p in AVCHD format. The image is pretty sharp and the zooming action is smooth, while exposure stays consistent and even when the scene changes. Sound from the stereo microphone above the lens barrel is well defined and separated enough to give a good representation of the actual scene. Our only gripe with video recording is to do with the screen; it's pretty difficult to see in direct sunlight.


Image samples

Exposure: 1/125, f/3.3, ISO 100

Exposure: 1/500, f/4, ISO 100

Exposure: 1/3, f/3.9, ISO 800

Exposure: 1/60, f/3.3, ISO 200

(Credit: CBSi)

Conclusion

The TZ30 offers a 20x optical zoom and is an excellent camera for travellers, fitted out with all of the tools you could possibly desire. Unfortunately, it just missed the mark on overall image quality, which stops us from awarding it an Editors' Choice award. We also recommend investing in another battery if you're considering taking this out on the road, given that all the extra bells and whistles can drain the power pack pretty quickly.

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TonyW3 posted a comment   

Love the shots, especially macro, and the zoom - but can't stand the problems. My TZ30 has broken down twice. First time on holidays when it started to over-expose every shot regardless of settings. This meant sending it away for repairs which took 6 weeks. Now it has an error message and won't open to take shots - barely two months after the first warranty repair. Very poor quality control by Panasonic or a fundamental build issue that is not acceptable in today's market. Judging by other comments, seems I am not alone.
PANASONIC, YOU HAVE A PROBLEM WITH THIS CAMERA!!!

 

PaulC10 posted a comment   

I bought one for myself about a year ago and liked it , so I bought another for my son soon afterwards. UNFORTUNATELY while we were travelling overseas for 6 months, both have the same problem. The zoom lens won't open or close properly . I am so disappointed . Not sure what do do as I can't locate the receipts.

aml
3
Rating
 

"Great pictures. Hard to learn. Temperamental focus, changes image quality dramatically without my changing the settings. Mine has mechanical and/or design faults."

aml posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Super close up images.

The Bad:Faulty from the start, then broke down completely. Difficult to use one-handed. Buttons fiddly. Screen to easy to accidentally touch and change settings during operation.Flash/lens design flaw.Customer service.

Bought in August 2012 at the airport. From the outset, the flash didn't work properly and left a dark area unilluminated on every 'flashed' image. On return to Australia, took it back to store, where they sent it away for repair. Camera arrived with new lens. Soon after, the same thing happened again. Then a diagonal dark area appeared in many images, different to original dark patch. As I could work around the flash darkness problem and the second problem was intermittent, I kept using the camera. Then, while overseas again, the lens refused to open at all and I couldn't use the camera at all. Took it back to the store. After much arguement about refunding my money, the camera arrived again and guess what? The dark area is still there. Shocking service. I suspect the dark area is due to a design flaw in which the lens actually blocks out some of the light from flash. This is in unzoomed mode... I am getting my money back this time.
I also found the body a bit difficult to wield one-handed or at holding at odd angles, as the screen is so sensitive and the buttons are in a too-tight configuration that doesn't suit my hand. Possibly the weight of the camera affects this, too, as a firmer grip is requred, which makes it harder if you're doing fiddly pictures.
On the positive side, it does produce great images a lot of the time. Especially super close-up. It takes a while to learn how to get the most out of it.

DavidW27 Facebook
3
Rating
 

"warranty claim poor response"

DavidW27 posted a review   

The Good:zoom great and qua;ity pics

The Bad:it broke down within 6 months

The specification is fine and it has competitive features. Handles well and feels quality. Great shots on the zoom.

But it broke down while on long term vacation in Europe! All pictures whited out - must be light metre - Lumix/Panasonic in Europe wouldn't deal with it despite that I had Australian receipt and it was in Warranty period - so had to send it back to Oz for repair - and THEY wouldn't send it back to me in Europe!!!

Very poor for an international company and product

 

MikeD3 posted a comment   

this is in reply to the first comment. My sons camera that he received in march 2013 but is just now using is also getting the message "insert sd card again". Were you able to find a solution? did you lose any pictures?

 

RhondaR posted a comment   

Has anyone had a problem with the TZ 30 having an error message - "Insert SD card again". this happens with every SD card I have tried (new, new formatted, old, etc) and renders the camera useless. The retailer where I bought it wants me to send it back for assessment saying it is not a known error with this camera. It has happened twice now with two cameras - first one replaced, now happened a second timeI It let me down on an overseas holiday and I was left without a camera. Not happy.

 

JakeO posted a comment   

Has anyone used Bell service before. I have, I signed up at Bell in Panorama Village and it's excellent. I get great service for all of my electronics.

 

LeeM2 posted a comment   

Has anyone used this camera in the field yet? Does the GPS interface well with Google maps for instance? How is battery life walking around all day taking photos with the GPS on?

DImi194
8
Rating
 

"A great new spin on a quality camera"

DImi194 posted a review   
Australia

The Good:Nice intereface, great videos and snappy performance.

The Bad:Getting used to it after having the TZ10.

A great cemare for both filming and taking photos!

 

WendyM3 posted a comment   

I have found the new TZ30 in a local store at $385! Amazing. I cannot wait to pick one up as I been delighted with my TZ10 and was only put off the TZ20 due to poor reviews on lens and picture quality. The new one sounds too good to be true!

 

shadaville posted a reply   
Australia

Hey... Can you tell me what store you found this in..... It's an AWESOME price!!!


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User Reviews / Comments  Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30

  • TonyW3

    TonyW3

    "Love the shots, especially macro, and the zoom - but can't stand the problems. My TZ30 has broken down twice. First time on holidays when it started to over-expose every shot regardless of settings..."

  • PaulC10

    PaulC10

    "I bought one for myself about a year ago and liked it , so I bought another for my son soon afterwards. UNFORTUNATELY while we were travelling overseas for 6 months, both have the same problem. The..."

  • aml

    aml

    Rating3

    "Bought in August 2012 at the airport. From the outset, the flash didn't work properly and left a dark area unilluminated on every 'flashed' image. On return to Australia, took it back to store, whe..."

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