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It doesn't come much better than this!
on 27 April 2013
This, the TZ40, is the latest iteration of Panasonic's top of the range travel zoom camera. I am writing this review having owned the Panasonic Lumix TZ20, TZ30 and now the TZ40. I've also used the Canon 260HS a fair bit which is comparable. Where relevant I'll try and highlight the changes from the TZ30 which is still available. This camera is positioned in a very tough sector of the market and competitors from other brands include the new Canon SX280HS, Samsung WB850F and Sony DSC-WX300 plus there are also offerings from Nikon, Olympus and Fuji. However, I think this Panasonic TZ40 offers an unbeatable combination of image quality, usability, features and build amongst compact cameras.
As I see it these are the pros and cons of the Panasonic Lumix TZ40:
- Picture quality - the results speak for themselves. I use point and shoot (IA mode) 90% of the time and the images are extremely realistic and sharp (and that's not just my view). Of course, a larger format camera like a DSLR will do better but the results have to be seen in the context of the size and cost of this camera.
- The TZ40 has a new 18.1MP sensor with improved processing designed to deliver better low light pictures. In my opinion there is an improvement in picture detail over the TZ30 overall, and, in low light the picture does not noticeably deteriorate until you reach over ISO 800 (and, in small size, the quality is reasonable until you reach ISO 1600).
- Start-up is very fast indeed and battery life is good (although, see my comment about GPS/WiFi below).
- The 3" touch display is excellent and the resolution has increased from 460K to 920K pixels - you can control so much using it. For example, I love the fact that you can now select a focus point by simply tapping on the touch screen.
- The autofocus is very quick and the focus lock is excellent.
- The GPS is improved in terms of fix time and detail as now it also makes use of the GLONASS Satellite System. The TZ40 also sports a digital compass and electronic level guide which helps ensure you get the horizon straight.
- The image stabilisation has always been good on this series of camera (a necessity with a 20x zoom), but it is noticeably improved on the TZ40.
- There are a huge range of scene modes and effects etc. plus you can now use the digital filters in panorama mode.
- HD video quality is excellent (as well as the stereo sound) and support has increased considerably for the AVCHD format in editing software etc. (You can also record in MP4 format).
- Near Field Communication (NFC) for the transfer of pictures works very effectively.
- There's a new approach to avoiding being stuck in playback mode when you want to take a shot - you press the playback button to view your pictures, but, as soon as you press the shutter halfway, the camera reverts to shooting mode.
- Transfer of pictures via WiFi could be more straightforward - it works okay but you have to use a "Lumix Lifestyle Account" rather than your own email account.
- There's no RAW mode, which, given the quality of images the camera can capture is a pity.
- Like all cameras with GPS and Wifi, when switched on, the functions do reduce the battery life.
- Nothing else I'm aware of.
- The price of this new camera is about £50 less than the TZ30 was last year at launch.
- The dimensions of the TZ40 are slightly different to the TZ30 and TZ35 - the TZ40 being a shade wider but a whisker slimmer. By any measure it is a truly pocketable camera weighing in at less than 200g including the battery/SD card. Plus, you really can shoot a steady picture with just one hand thanks to the good ergonomics.
In summary, the Panasonic TZ40 takes excellent pictures, the 20x zoom makes it ideal for travellers, it sports a huge range of automatic and manual setting options as well as many other features including GPS, WiFi and NFC. Taking account of the size and cost of this camera, in my opinion, it doesn't come much better than this! Recommended.