Panasonic DMC-TZ3 Review
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 Design
Just a bit too big to pass for palm-size, the TZ3 is still pocketable thanks to its short stature. At 2.33 x 4.13 x 1.44 inches and 9.06 ounces (257 grams), it's among the heavier pocket digicams. It is small, however, when you consider that it has a 10x zoom. The Panasonic TZ3's grip is small, but helpful, and the big 3-inch screen is very nice.
The front panel is dominated on the right by the lens housing. Small shutters cover the lens and open automatically as the lens extends. The useful grip on the left has a chrome accent with a plastic insert that helps locate your fingers. Above the lens to the left is the flash, and to the right of the lens is the combination self-timer indicator and AF assist lamp.
On the right side of the Panasonic TZ3 is the wrist strap eyelet, and beneath that is a small hard plastic cover that protects the USB/AV Out port, and the DC-In socket.
The left side is featureless.
The TZ3's top panel has a small hole for the microphone about an inch in from the left side. To its right is the four-hole speaker grill. The Mode dial is right of that, next to the Shutter button and Zoom lever combination. To the right toward the front is the Image Stabilization button, and behind it the sliding Power switch.
The back panel is dominated by the large 3-inch LCD monitor on the left. There's plenty of room to the right for the four cursor buttons surrounding the Menu/Set button in the lower right corner. Just underneath these are the Display/LCD Mode and Function/Delete buttons. A status indicator is just above and to the left of the four cursor buttons, and a series of eight bumps next to a raised edge serves as a thumb grip in the top right corner.
The bottom of the TZ3 has a plastic tripod mount at the far left and the battery/storage card compartment on the far right. The battery door swings open under spring pressure, and a small latch keeps the battery from falling out. This arrangement allows battery and card changes while the TZ3 is mounted on a tripod.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 External Controls
Shutter Button: In the center of the Zoom lever on top of the camera, this button sets focus and exposure when halfway pressed, and fires the shutter when fully pressed.
Zoom Lever (see image above): Surrounding the Shutter button, this lever controls the optical and digital zoom while in Record mode. In Playback mode, the wide setting accesses the nine- and 25-image index displays, as well as a calendar display, which shows thumbnails of each image in a calendar format (arranged by date of capture). The telephoto position enlarges the currently displayed image as much as 16x, so that you can check on fine details.
Mode Dial: Also on the camera's top panel, this large, notched dial is used to select the camera's shooting modes. Options consist of Normal Picture (red camera icon), Intelligent ISO, Playback, Simple, Scene 1, Scene 2, Clipboard, Print, Movie and Macro mode. Scene modes include Portrait, Soft Skin, Self Portrait, Scenery, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Food, Party, Candle Light, Baby 1, Baby 2, Pet, Sunset, High Sensitivity, Starry Sky, Fireworks, Beach, Snow, Aerial Photo, and Underwater.
Image Stabilization Button: This button is on the far right side of the camera's top panel. When you press and hold this button, the Stabilizer menu appears on the LCD with three options: Off, Mode 1, and Mode 2. Pressing the right arrow brings up a Demo mode that helps show the difference between modes. Mode 1 stabilizes the image continuously while Mode 2 does so only when the image is captured, to somewhat greater effect.
Power Switch: Behind the Image Stabilization button on the top panel, this sliding switch turns the camera on and off.
Display/LCD Mode Button: Positioned about midway on the right side of the rear-panel LCD monitor, this button controls the LCD display modes. In Simple mode, this button offers a normal information display or no information. In Still Record mode, it toggles between the normal display, normal with histogram, no information with guide lines, and no information. In Playback mode, it toggles between normal information, display with recording information plus histogram, and no information. Pressing and holding this button accesses a brighter LCD display mode (Power LCD), as well as a High Angle LCD mode, making the image easier to see when holding the camera at higher angles, like overhead.
Func/Delete Button: To the right of the Display/LCD Mode button on the rear panel, this button toggles between High, Low, and Unlimited burst modes, and accesses the Single shot mode. High speed, indicated by an H in the icon, captures three or five images at three frames per second (fps). Low speed, indicated by an L in the icon, captures three or five images at two frames per second. Unlimited mode, indicated by the infinity symbol, captures continuously at about about two frames per second. In Playback mode, this button deletes the current picture; or, if pressed twice, can delete more than one, or all images.
Four-Way Arrow Pad: Arrayed in a circle in the lower right corner of the camera's rear panel, these four buttons serve as navigational tools, pointing up, down, left, and right. In Record mode, the up button accesses the Exposure Compensation adjustment (+/- 2 EV in 0.33 EV steps), while the down arrow switches to Review mode. The right arrow controls the flash mode (Auto, Auto with Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Forced On with Red-eye Reduction, Slow-Sync with Red-eye Reduction, and Off), while the left arrow enables the self-timer modes (2 or 10 seconds). In Playback mode, the left and right arrow keys scroll through captured images. If an image has been enlarged, all four arrows pan the view.
Menu/Set Button (see image above): Set in the center of the Four-Way Arrow pad, this button activates the LCD menu system, and confirms settings. It also dismisses the menu system.
Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.