Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 Review

 
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 Optics

Lens

Zoom
A very nice 10x optical zoom lens with good performance. Good digital zoom performance as well, with better than average detail.

28mm 280mm 4x Digital Zoom

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5's optical zoom range covers the equivalent of a 28-280mm zoom on a 35mm camera, which is very generous in the world of consumer digital cameras. The 28mm wide-angle limit also takes in more of the scene than most digicam zooms do. (Most digicam zoom lenses stop at about a 35mm wide angle, so the Panasonic TZ5 is great when you're faced with tight quarters.) Though there was a fair amount of blurring in the corners of the frame at full wide angle, results here are still quite good, with good detail and low coma distortion. The lens elements in our test sample appeared to be slightly off-center, as the left edge of the frame was a bit softer than the right, but even the worst corner was better than we've seen in many shorter-ratio digicam zoom lenses. At full telephoto, results were also very good, though again, some blurring in the corners was noticeable. There was also some visible chromatic aberration, particularly noticeable in the white house trim. The camera's 4x digital zoom did a very good job of preserving detail despite the digital enlargement. Very nice results overall.

Macro
A small macro area with good detail and high resolution. Closest focusing distance is too close for the flash.

Standard Macro Macro with Flash

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5's macro setting performed well, capturing a minimum area of 2.40 x 1.80 inches (61 x 46 millimeters). Detail and resolution were both good at the center of the frame, though some softening was visible in the corners of the frame. (Most cameras have some softening in the corners in macro mode.) The DMC-TZ5's flash had trouble throttling down for the macro area, however, and was also partially blocked by the lens, resulting in a very uneven exposure. Plan on using external lighting for your closest macro shots with the Lumix DMC-TZ5.

Distortion
Much lower than average barrel distortion, and fairly low pincushion.

Barrel distortion at 28mm is 0.3%
Pincushion at 280mm is 0.2%

This is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel -- usually at wide angle) or inward (like a pincushion -- usually at telephoto). The Panasonic DMC-TZ5's 0.3% barrel distortion at wide angle is quite low compared to the average digital camera, and really surprisingly low considering its 28mm equivalent focal length. At the telephoto end, the DMC-TZ5's 0.2% pincushion distortion is also moderately low, again somewhat surprising, given the long 10x zoom ratio.

Chromatic aberration
Moderate levels at both wide angle and telephoto, though slightly bright pixels at each setting.

Wide: Moderate but bright,
top left @ 200%
Wide: Fairly low,
top right @ 200%
Tele: Moderate and bright
top left @200%
Tele: Lower,
top right @200%

Chromatic aberration is moderate at wide angle and telephoto, showing about 8-9 pixels of coloration on either side of the target lines. At both zoom settings, the distortion is greatest in the top left corner of the frame, and less distinct in the upper right corner. At wide angle, the image is relatively crisp in the lower right corner, but coloration from chromatic distortion is most pronounced there. Chromatic aberration is almost a given in long-ratio zoom lenses, the Panasonic TZ5 does better than much of the competition. (This distortion is visible as a slight colored fringe around the objects at the edges of the field of view on the resolution target.)

Corner Sharpness
Fairly strong blurring in the corners of the frame at telephoto, particularly in the left corners on our sample. (Blurring only extends about 10% of the images' width in from the corners though.)

Wide: Soft in the
corners (lower left).
Wide: Sharp at center.
Tele: Very soft in the left
corners (lower left shown).
Tele: Sharper at center.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 produced moderately soft corners of the frame at full wide angle and telephoto, with the strongest blurring in the left corners at both zoom positions. Blurring was a little stronger at the full telephoto setting as well. The blurring didn't extend too far into the image area though: Looking toward the center of the image, the blurring was greatly diminished by the time we'd moved in about 350 pixels (10% of the image width) away from any edge.

Viewfinder

Coverage
Very good accuracy from the LCD monitor.

28mm eq., LCD 280mm eq., LCD

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5's LCD monitor showed 100% accuracy, to within the limits of our measurement capability on this test. (The Panasonic TZ5 has no optical viewfinder, so there's no optical VF accuracy measurement to report here.)

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 Photo Gallery.

Panasonic DMC-TZ5

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