Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 Review
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 Operation
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 has a very uncomplicated user interface. The Mode dial quickly sets the main operating mode, while the arrow keys on the rear panel serve multiple functions, either navigating menu options or directly accessing camera settings. Given the point-and-shoot nature of the TZ3 and the camera's limited controls, it really shouldn't take much more than a half hour or so with the manual in hand to get the gist of things.
Record Mode LCD Display: In Record mode, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3's LCD reports various exposure settings, including camera mode, flash mode, the resolution and quality settings, battery status, number of available images, etc. Half-pressing the Shutter button reports the aperture and shutter speed settings, and indicates focus area. Pressing the Display button cycles through the available display modes, including the image with information, the same display with a live histogram, a framing grid, and the image only. Pressing the button for one second displays the LCD menu options of Off, Power LCD (brightness boost), and High Angle (optimized for viewing from an angle).
Playback Mode LCD Display: In Playback mode, the LCD reports the image sequence number on the card, resolution, and quality setting, battery status, file name, and the date, and time of image capture. Pressing the Display button once calls up an enhanced information display, with a histogram for checking the exposure, aperture, shutter speed, white balance, ISO setting, flash mode, and camera mode. A third press cancels the information overlay entirely. The TZ3 remembers your preference, too. The telephoto side of the zoom toggle lets you zoom in on a portion of the image, while the wide-angle side backs you out again, and lets you step out to an "index" view of captured images, displayed as nine or 25 thumbnails at a time, as well as a calendar display.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 Modes and Menus
Record Mode: The DMC-TZ3 offers eight record modes accessible from the Mode dial on the top panel, and you can switch modes at any time. Pressing the Menu/Set button displays a menu appropriate to the mode you've selected. There's no way to manually control aperture or shutter speed, but the DMC-TZ3 offers a wide selection of scene modes to handle most situations. Here's a description of each of the record modes:
- Normal Picture: This is the normal still capture mode. All still capture functions and menu items are available.
- Intelligent ISO: This mode automatically increases ISO sensitivity and shutter speed to avoid blur when subject motion is detected. The maximum ISO level can be set using ISO Limit in the Record menu.
- Simple: This mode is designed for beginners. Only major functions and menu items are available. See Simple Menu below.
- SCN 1/2: Scene 1 and 2 allow you to quickly recall two of your favorite scene modes. Available 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.
- Clipboard: This mode is useful for taking pictures of maps and schedules instead of taking hard copies. Images are stored in a Clipboard folder which is maintained in built-in memory, and are managed separately from other photos from a dedicated Clipboard menu. Playback zoom and position can be stored with each Clipboard image, to aid in quickly finding a location of interest on a map, for instance.
- Movie: Records 848 x 480, 640 x 480, or 320 x 240 pixel movies at 30 or 10 fps, with monaural audio. Maximum movie clip size is limited only by available space on the SD card. Zoom is unfortunately not supported while recording movies.
- Macro: Used for extreme close-up shots, Macro mode allows the lens to focus as close as 5cm or about 2 inches at wide angle.
Other, non-Record related Mode dial settings are:
- Playback: This sets the camera to playback mode. See Playback Mode below.
- Print: This mode allows the camera to print directly to a PictBridge compatible printer. Single or multiple images can be selected for printing. Settings available in this mode include Print with Date, Num. of Prints, Paper Size and Page Layout.
Simple Menu: Designed to simplify the camera for beginners, this mode displays only four very basic functions when you press the Menu button in Simple mode.
- Picture Mode: This option offers image size options based on intended use. The options are Enlargements, 4x6 prints, or Email.
- Auto Review: This option enables, or disables auto review of captured images.
- Beep: This option sets the beep to low, high, or off.
- Clock Set: This option allows you to set the camera's clock and date.
Record Menu: The other Record modes offer a deeper selection of the following options on the Record menu.
- White Balance: Sets the white balance among the following options: Auto, Outdoor Clear Sky, Outdoor Cloudy Sky, Outdoor Shade, Incandescent, and Custom. There's also an option to set the white point for the Custom white balance.
- Sensitivity (ISO Limit): Sets the ISO sensitivity among the following options: Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, and 1,250.
- Aspect Ratio: Selects among three still, and two movie aspect ratios. Still options are 4:3 (formatted for standard TVs), 3:2 (traditional 35mm format), and 16:9 (wide screen format). Movie options are 4:3 and 16:9.
- Picture Mode: (Movie mode only.) Sets the resolution and frame rate for movie files. If the aspect ratio is set to 4:3, options are 640 x 480 and 320 x 240 pixels, at either 10 or 30fps. If aspect ratio is set to 16:9, resolution is 848 x 480 pixels, at either 10 or 30fps. Movies can only be shot on an SD card.
- Picture Size: Still image size options depend on the aspect ratio chosen. At 4:3, image size options are 3,072 x 2,304, 2,560 x 1,920, 2,048 x 1,536, 1,600 x 1,200, 1,280 x 960, and 640 x 480. At 3:2, options are 3,216 x 2,144, 2,560 x 1,712, and 2,048 x 1,360. At 16:9, options are 3,328 x 1,872, 2,560 x 1,440, and 1,920 x 1,080.
- Quality: Sets the JPEG compression level to Fine (low compression)
or Standard (high compression).
- Audio Rec.: Enables five seconds of audio capture at the same time as image capture.
- Metering Mode: Selects the metering mode from the following options: Multiple evaluates the entire scene, Center-weighted evaluates the central portion of the scene, and Spot evaluates a small part of the central portion of the scene.
- AF Mode: Selects among the five autofocus modes available. Nine-area is best when the subject may not be in the center of the scene. Three-area (high speed) limits focus to the left, right, or center. One-area (high speed) quickly focuses on the center. One-area (normal) focuses on a larger area at the center. Spot focuses on the very center of the screen.
- Burst: Enables you to take photographs in a rapid succession. You can choose between three levels of succession: high, low, and infinite. This is accomplished by holding down the Shutter button.
- Continuous AF: Enables or disables continuous autofocus.
- AF Assist Lamp: Enables or disables the autofocus lamp.
- Slow Shutter: Sets the speed of the slow shutter function (available in Normal Picture mode, Macro mode, Scene 1 and 2 modes, and can be used for Night Portrait) to one, 1/2, 1/4, or 1/8 second.
- Digital Zoom: Enables, or disables digital zoom.
- Color Mode: Sets the picture adjustment to one of the following options: Standard, Natural, Vivid, Cool, Warm, Black and White, or Sepia.
- Clock Set: This option sets the camera's internal clock and date.
Playback Mode: This mode lets you review captured images and movies on the memory card or internal memory, as well as erase them, protect them, or tag them for printing and transfer. The traditional Playback symbol denotes this mode on the Mode switch. Pressing the Menu button displays the following options in the Play menu:
- Dual Display: This option allows you to display two images at the same time, vertically.
- Slide Show: Displays recorded images as a slide show with the option to set the duration, display images with different effects, and enable audio recorded with the images. If Favorites option is turned on, you can view a slideshow of only the Favorite images.
- Favorite: Allows images to be tagged as "favorites."
- Rotate Display: Automatically rotates the image to the correct orientation on playback.
- Rotate: Manually rotates the image. Can only be used with the Rotate Display option turned on.
- Date Stamp: Allows the image date, age or travel date to be stamped on the bottom right hand corner of the image.
- DPOF Print: Allows you to tag a single image, or multiple images for printing on a DPOF compatible printer. You can set the number of prints when you tag the image.
- Protect: Marks the current image for write-protection, or removes write-protection. Protected images cannot be deleted, or manipulated, except through card formatting, which erases all files.
- Audio Dub.: Allows you to add audio to a captured image. The Down key toggles recording. There is a 10 second limit on Audio Dubs.
- Resize: Allows you to reduce the size of an image.
- Trimming: Using the Zoom lever to size the crop, this option lets you select a part of a picture to be saved as a new image.
- Aspect Conv.: Allows you to convert pictures taken with a 16:9 aspect ratio to 3:2 or 4:3.
- Copy: Lets you copy images from internal memory to a storage card, or from a card to internal memory. Can also copy from storage card to clipboard folder in built-in memory.
- Format: Initializes a memory card for use in the camera, erasing all images (even those marked for write-protection).
Setup Menu: Available as a separate tab in all modes except Simple, this menu provides access to main camera functions.
- Clock Set: Sets the camera's date and time.
- World Time: Selects either a home time zone or a travel destination time zone, both of which you can select from this option.
- Monitor: Adjusts the brightness of the LCD monitor.
- Guide Line: Allows you to add, subtract or change information to be viewed on the LCD in Shooting mode. The options include turning Recording information and Histogram on or off, as well choosing the pattern of the Guide Lines.
- Travel Date: Enables or disables the display of the sequential travel date in your images (e.g. '1st Day').
- Auto Review: Disables or enables auto review after capture with the options of one or three seconds and a Zoom option to check focus.
- Power Save: Sets the amount of time of inactivity before the camera shuts itself off. Choices are one, two, five, or 10 minutes, or you can disable the setting.
- Zoom Resume: After the camera has been powered off, this feature tells the Zoom Lens to go back to its previous position.
- Economy: Controls the brightness of the LCD monitor to conserve battery power. Options are Off, Level 1, or Level 2. Level 1 turns off the LCD monitor if camera is inactive for 15 seconds. Level 2 shuts off the LCD monitor after 15 seconds of camera inactivity, or five seconds after image capture.
- Beep: Controls the camera's operational beep sound, with low and high volume options, as well as a mute option. Also selects from among three tones.
- Shutter: Adjusts the camera's shutter sound volume, and selects among three sounds.
- Volume: Adjusts the volume for playback.
- No. Reset: Resets file numbering, with an option to cancel.
- Reset: Resets all of the camera's Recording options or Setup options, with an option to cancel.
- Video Out: Sets the video signal to NTSC or PAL.
- TV Aspect: You can set the television aspect ratio to 4:3 or 16:9, for image playback on televisions.
- Scene Menu: Specifies whether the Scene menu automatically appears upon entering the mode, or requires a press of the Menu/Set button.
- Dial Display: Displays the Mode Dial on the LCD screen while highlighting which mode you are in.
- Language: Sets the menu language to one of six languages, including: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese.
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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.