Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 Review
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 Exposure
Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Very good overall color and hue accuracy, with minor oversaturation of some colors.
Skin tones. Here, with the color balanced properly for the light source, the DMC-TZ5's skin tones had a slight pink cast and added warmth, though most consumers should find skin tones pleasing. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.
Hue. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 showed a few small color shifts relative to the correct mathematical translation of colors in its subjects, though overall hue accuracy was good and the color rendering always believable. Hue is "what
color" the color is.
|See full set of test images
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images
Exposure and White Balance
Indoors, incandescent lighting
Best color with Manual white balance, though a hint cool. Less than average positive exposure compensation required.
|Auto White Balance
|Incandescent White Balance
|Manual White Balance
Color balance indoors under incandescent lighting was slightly yellow in Auto white balance mode, though not far off from accurate. The Incandescent setting, on the other hand, produced a very strong warm cast. Manual mode produced the most accurate overall color, though with a hint of a cool cast, tinged with magenta. Still, overall color is pretty good, with only minor purplish tints in the blue flowers. The DMC-TZ5 required only a +0.3 EV exposure compensation boost to get a good exposure, which is much less than average for this shot. Relatively few digital cameras handle household incandescent lighting well in auto white balance mode: The Panasonic TZ5 did much better than average here. Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but very typical of home settings here in the U.S.
Slightly high contrast, but generally good exposure and color.
|Manual White Balance,
|Auto White Balance,
Outdoors, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 produced good overall color and exposure, though with slightly high contrast and bright highlights. Shadow detail was pretty good, though noise and noise suppression did limit detail definition there. In the portrait above, the high EV boost necessary for good skin tones wound up blowing the highlights on the white shirt, but some detail was preserved nonetheless. The camera's Intelligent Exposure mode did help balance things out a little, and would be useful in harsh conditions like these.
Very high resolution, 1,600 ~ 1,650 lines of strong detail.
|Strong detail to
1,600 lines horizontal
|Strong detail to
1,650 lines vertical
Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to 1,600 - 1,650 lines per picture height, depending on the orientation of the detail. Extinction didn't really occur before the limit of this chart, though lines began to merge slightly around 2,000 lines. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.
Sharpness & Detail
Slightly soft images overall, but with only minor edge-enhancement artifacts on high-contrast subjects. Some noise suppression limits detail even at low ISOs, even though some noise is still visible. That said, fine detail is better preserved than with many of its competitors.
|Definition of high-contrast
elements is affected by
noise suppression and there's
evidence of minor
|Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression blurs
detail in areas of subtle contrast,
as in the darker parts of hair here.
Sharpness. The Panasonic TZ5 captures a lot of fine detail, though detail definition suffers somewhat from both noise suppression and noise grain, even at low ISO settings. Still, the TZ5 preserves fine detail better than many of its competitors: A better-than-average performance in this area. Only slight enhancement artifacts are visible on high-contrast subjects such as the crop above left. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.
Detail. The crop above right shows moderately high noise suppression, with individual strands of hair only hinted at in areas where the contrast is most subtle. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.
ISO & Noise Performance
Moderate noise at the normal sensitivity settings, stronger noise and more noise suppression artifacts at the higher settings.
|ISO 100||ISO 200||ISO 400|
|ISO 800||ISO 1,600||
(2,048 x 1,536)
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 produced moderate to moderately high noise at the lower sensitivity settings, with noise grain interfering a little with detail definition. At ISO 400, noise suppression becomes more evident, in the form of smudged detail, but images are still more than suitable for snapshots. At ISOs 800 and 1,600, the effects of noise suppression result in the almost total loss of fine detail. The camera's ISO 2,000 setting is only available at the 2,048 x 1,536-pixel resolution, and efforts by the camera to hold down the noise levels result in very soft images overall..
Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
High resolution with strong overall detail, but somewhat high contrast. Limited low-light capabilities, best results with Night mode.
|+0.3 EV||+0.7 EV||+1.0 EV|
Sunlight. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 produced somewhat high contrast under the deliberately harsh lighting in the test above, with washed-out highlights and deep shadows. Noise and noise suppression artifacts limit detail in the shadow areas, though some detail there still remains. At +1.0 EV, the highlights on the white shirt are really too hot, but the exposure at +0.7 EV was a little dim on the face. Forced to choose between the two, we'd go for the result at +0.7 EV though. The DMC-TZ5 does have an Intelligent Exposure mode, which attempts to correct for situations like this.
In this case, the Intelligent Exposure setting boosted the overall exposure, but appeared to have little effect beyond that. The result (see above) was that the mannequin's face was better exposed, but at the cost of severely blown highlights.
Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)
Low light.The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 had some trouble in low lighting, and really didn't perform that well even at the highest sensitivity setting under the brightest light level of the test, thanks to its one second slowest shutter speed. However, the camera's Night mode produced much brighter results at lower light levels, by accessing longer shutter times (up to 30 seconds) and higher ISO settings (up to 6,400). A consequence of the high ISO settings, of course, is much higher image noise and enormous loss of detail due to noise suppression. While its low-light exposure capability was somewhat limited, though, the Panasonic TZ5's AF system was able to focus unassisted down to just below the 1/8 foot-candle light level, and in total darkness with the AF-assist lamp enabled.
How bright is this? The one foot-candle light level that this test begins at roughly corresponds to the brightness of typical city street-lighting at night. Cameras performing well at that level should be able to snap good-looking photos of street-lit scenes.
NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) For such applications, you may have better luck with a digital SLR camera, but even there, you'll likely need to set the focus manually. For information and reviews on digital SLRs, refer to our SLR review index page.
Coverage and Range
A modest flash at close range, though not a match for the camera's 10x optical zoom. EV compensation didn't work in Normal flash mode, but slightly greater than average was required in Slow Sync mode.
|28mm equivalent||280mm equivalent|
Coverage. Flash coverage was a bit uneven at wide angle, though results were about average. At full telephoto, the target was too far away for the flash to illuminate it. In the Indoor test, the DMC-FZ8's flash underexposed our subject quite a bit, but did not respond to increases in EV. In Slow-Sync Flash mode, it had an orange cast, but at least the EV was adjustable. It required a +0.7 EV exposure compensation adjustment to get good results.
ISO 100 Range. At wide angle and telephoto and ISO 100, flash shots were already dim at 6 feet, with decreasing intensity from that point on.
|Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range|
Manufacturer Specified Flash Test. In the shots above, the DMC-TZ5 seems to perform about as Panasonic says it will, producing a good exposure at the rated distance with its ISO set to Auto (which selected ISO 400). Our standard test method for flash range uses a fixed setting of ISO 100, to provide a fair basis of comparison between cameras. We've now also begun shooting two shots using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the specific claims.
Good print quality, good color, sharp 11x14 inch prints, soft 13x19 inch ones. ISO 400 images are soft but usable at 8x10, ISO 800 shots are OK at 8x10, better at 5x7. ISO 1,600 is only good for 5x7 inch prints, and best at 4x6.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 had enough resolution to make sharp 11x14 inch prints. 13x19 inch prints were reasonable, but softer, and noise could be seen on close inspection, even at ISO 100. At higher ISOs, ISO 400 shots looked pretty good at 8x10, but we wouldn't suggest using them larger than that. Noise suppression really starts to eat into detail on ISO 800 images at 8x10, but color and exposure are OK, and most people would likely find them acceptable for wall or table display. At 5x7, ISO 800 results are quite good, although detail in areas of subtle contrast are still missing. ISO 1,600 images are pretty noisy, really only usable for 4x6 inch prints.
As with some other Panasonic cameras we've reviewed, the Panasonic TZ5's high-ISO images look better when printed out than they do on the screen. Of course, that's why we do these printed tests, because that's where it really matters for most people. Panasonic's noise-reduction technology continues to advance over that employed in previous models, but when comparing with last year's runaway best-seller TZ3, the improved noise processing of the TZ5 only just makes up for the higher noise levels encountered in the jump from 7.2 to 9.1 megapixels.
Color-wise, printed output from the Panasonic TZ5 was bright, contrasty, and colorful, without going to far and becoming over-bright or gaudy. (To our eyes, at least.) Judging color saturation is a very subjective task at best: Most consumers like color that's brighter than would be strictly accurate, so most consumer digicams tend to oversaturate colors. Some users do prefer a more accurate rendering though. Personally, we fall somewhere in the middle ground, and that's exactly where the Panasonic TZ5 sits: It does render colors with more saturation than found in the original scene, but less so than much of its competition: We found the results very pleasing, and think a majority of consumers will as well.
Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we now routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon Pro9000 studio printer, and on the Canon iP5200 here in the office. (See the Canon PIXMA Pro9000 review for details on that model.)
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.
Recommended Software: Rescue your Photos!
Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. We get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A lot of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digital camera reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...
Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!
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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.