Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ18: test and review

True to its annual meeting, Panasonic announced in January the TZ20 and TZ18, TZ10 and respective replacements for TZ8. Themselves were replaced TZ7 and TZ6. And these the TZ5 and TZ4 … The TZ range is a true story Panasonic. It is compact digital cameras offering both wide angle and telephoto focal lengths. A success story that the Japanese manufacturer seeks to perpetuate.

Each year declines its Panasonic TZ range in both models. An upscale boarding the latest technology at a high price and a more affordable variation that sacrifices some technical specifications. This is the case of TZ18 relative to TZ20. Although both devices display the same definition of 14 million pixels, the TZ18 inherits a traditional CCD sensor technology while the TZ20 boasts a MOS. Both devices also feature a coefficient of 16x zoom with an F / 3.3 – 5.9. This translates into a 24 cover – 384 mm.

Another difference is the LCD screen on the back of the devices. The TZ20 features a 3 “touchscreen (7.6 cm) diagonally for a nice definition of 460 000 pixels. With the same diagonal 3”, the TZ18 is content with 230,000 pixels. If the tactile aspect is not necessarily enviable in our view, the definition is a real asset. In use, 230,000 pixels turn out really small. The video recording mode also distinguishes the two devices: the modern and efficient AVCHD for one, the older MPEG to another. Finally, the last key, the TZ20, the TZ10 like its predecessor, features a GPS module. Hopefully it months handicapping than the TZ10.

Few millimeters more perfect here, a few millimeters less there … with its 104.9 x 57.6 x 33.4 mm 210 g, the size and weight of the TZ18 are generally identical to the range in 2010. not much changes either in terms of ergonomics. All controls remain in the same place. Only the button E.ZOOM pass from behind the top of the unit. At the touch, it can achieve the maximum zoom. He joined the mode dial, the zoom ring, the power switch. The back of the camera offers the button to switch from “shot” to “watching” the “exposure” shortcut, adjusting various display modes on the screen, the quick menu button (also serves as a shortcut “Trash”) and the four-way pad with its central knob. If the functions of the latter do not move relative to TZ8, appearance adopts a monoblock design at the expense of separate keys. The TZ18 loses qualitatively appearance, as well as practical level. We regret the lack of a shortcut directly to trigger video recording, as is the case on the TZ20.

The grip is just as nice as that of his predecessors. The machine is well in hand. Ergonomics menu undergoes small aesthetic update, but navigation and access to settings remains intuitive. All that remains of proven effectiveness.

IA to iExpo, through the IISO and iZoom, the TZ18 inherits all modes called “smart” Panasonic. Very handy for those who do not want to worry about the settings, especially as they work quite well. For others, those who wish to partially or fully keep hold of the parameters of their shooting, the TZ18 remains disengaged. The device offers also always different image ratio: 4: 3, 3: 2, 16: 9, 1: 1. No change at the image stabilization technology, it is always the Power O.I.S which equips the new TZ range. Proven stabilization, which effectively compensates for camera shake and allows small to make freehand images even when light conditions are deteriorating slightly.

As TZ8, the TZ18 offers a sensitivity range of ISO 80-1600, with a high fashion sensitivity up to ISO 6400. The results are also very close. The noise is well contained up to 400 ISO then appear progressively. Technologically very similar to its predecessors, it is logical that the TZ18 delivers an equivalent image quality. Excellent in good light conditions, with a balance of just white, accurate color, a very good level of detail. Qualities that degrade along with the brightness. But the quality of the shots TZ18 overall still a very good level.

For video, the TZ18 films in MPEG 1280 x 720 pixels with zoom and autofocus active. For occasional use of video, as is mostly the case, the TZ18 is enough. Again, the picture quality remains a very good level.

The TZ18 ensures minimum to ensure continuity of the TZ range, without making any major changes. The image quality is at the rendezvous. It is essential. But the overall finish of the unit appears less well worked. TZ20 is the focus of all innovations. A privilege that pays … Panasonic launch Rates place the TZ20 € 100 more expensive than the TZ18.