Panasonic TZ200 review

What is the Panasonic Lumix TZ200?

The Panasonic TZ200 is a pocket-sized travel zoom camera with a 15x zoom and a 1-inch, 20-megapixel sensor for class-leading image quality. Available in black or metallic gray, it costs £ 729.

Panasonic originally invented the camera class & # 39; travel zoom & # 39; combining a long zoom lens with a pocket body. Two years ago, he revolutionized the category with his Lumix TZ100, which used a relatively large 20.1-megapixel 1-inch sensor for greatly enhanced image quality. Next to it, appeared a 10x zoom lens and a small electronic viewfinder.

Now the company has taken the concept to another level, by including two important improvements without significantly increasing the size. First is the lens, which is now a zoom equivalent to 15x, 24-360mm instead of the 25-250mm of the TZ100. The second is a vastly improved electronic viewfinder that, unlike the TZ100, is good enough to be used routinely.

Related: The best DSLR cameras

With these updates, the price also shows a considerable increase: up to £ 729 compared to around £ 510 for the TZ100 (which will remain on sale). While the TZ200 is far from being the most expensive compact camera on the market, with the Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V costing £ 849 and the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III a whopping £ 1089, it still feels like a great amount of money for this type of camera.

Lumix TZ200 – Features

The main feature of the TZ200 is its 24-360 mm lens, which is easily the longest in any pocket camera with a 1-inch sensor. Its extended reach has been possible thanks to the adoption of a completely new optical design of 13 elements and 11 groups, and brings the TZ200 closer to the zoom ranges offered by cheaper long zoom compacts with smaller sensors and lower image quality. 19659009] Related: The best compact cameras

In return, the maximum aperture has decreased, but only by about half a point to f / 3.3-6.4 (since f / 2.8-5.9). The minimum aperture at all focal lengths is f / 8, which is perfectly sensitive to avoid excessive softening of the diffraction with a 1-inch sensor. However, this means that it has a small adjustment range at the long end of the zoom.

Naturally, optical image stabilization is built-in, which makes this small aperture superzoom useful without having to always raise the ISO to avoid the blurring of the camera. To further cement the credentials of the camera as a multi-talent, the lens is able to focus subjects only 3 cm from the front element, but only when it is in the wide-angle position.

The images are recorded with a 1-inch 20.1-megapixel sensor, similar to those used in most of the most enthusiastic compact cameras today. It supports a standard sensitivity range of ISO 200-25,600, which can be extended to ISO 80-25,600. Images can be taken at up to 10 frames per second at full resolution, or 7 frames per second with live view between frames. I was able to photograph 20 raw images before the camera slowed down, and at least 50 JPEGs, which is a good sample for a pocket camera.

Panasonic's practical 4K Photo mode is also on board, which uses video technology to record 8- megapixel images at 30 fps without instantly filling your memory card. The camera can even suggest the best shots in a burst and generate compounds in the camera from several selected frames.

In fact, Panasonic has treasured a large selection of modes and functions for users of all skill levels. In addition to the PASM modes preferred by enthusiasts, there is the Intelligent Auto point-and-shoot mode for casual users, a panoramic automatic stitching mode, a variety of subject-specific scene modes and Creative Control image processing filters. [19659003] Also, go deeper into the menus and you'll find an intervalometer for the time lapse shot, along with modes for multiple exposure shots and even stop-motion animation. There's almost nothing the TZ200 does not do.

Photographers who like to take black and white photos will be delighted with the inclusion of Panasonic's attractive L.Monochrome mode. It is designed specifically for a large gradation and strong blacks, to give an appearance that resembles a classic monochromatic film.

For those who prefer to manipulate their images after photographing them, camera conversion is available so you can adjust your images without having to access a computer.

In terms of power, the DMW-BLG10 battery has capacity for 370 images when shooting with the LCD screen, or 250 images with the electronic viewfinder. The Engaging Eco mode extends the latter to 350 images. USB charging is built-in, so the camera can be kept full using a portable power bank. This is very convenient when traveling and exploring a new city.

When it comes to sharing images, Panasonic has added Bluetooth to provide a full-time connection to your smartphone, complementing the existing Wi-Fi system that was on the TZ100. This works with the free Panasonic Image App for Android or iOS devices.

While other manufacturers do not do much with Bluetooth, Panasonic implements it quite well. For example, you can use your smartphone as a basic remote trigger, which is ideal for when you are shooting on a tripod.

You can also use the Bluetooth connection to turn on Wi-Fi to browse through your images, even if the camera is off. So you do not even have to take the TZ200 out of your bag or pocket to copy and share the images you have taken.

Like other Panasonic models, the TZ200 can record 4K video (3840 x 2160 pixels) at 30 fps. Alternatively, you can shoot in Full HD, including slow-motion recording at 120 fps. Both resolutions come with field of view crops, 1.2x for Full HD and 1.4x for 4K. Therefore, it is advisable to use the dedicated movie position in the exposure mode dial, as this shows the frame you will get before you start recording.

It is possible to extract 8 megapixel still images from 4K images, but you will get better results from 4K Photo mode.

8 megapixel fixed frame extracted from the video file TZ200 4K

You get full manual control over the exposure if you wish, and you can change the exposure setting or focus from one subject to another using the touch screen while recording. The built-in stereo microphones provide the sound, but as usual for this type of small camera, there is no option to connect an external microphone.

Panasonic TZ200 – Creation and handling

In terms of design, the TZ200 is close-identical to its predecessor, with a solid-feeling metal casing that provides a real-quality feel. A very welcome update is the addition of a textured and rubberized strip on the front of the grip, along with a small rubber pad on the back.

Unlike the slippery TZ100 like soap, the new model feels safe in its range, even if you shoot with just one hand. Anyway, I would recommend wearing a wristband, since you would not want to risk dropping a £ 729 camera.

The design of the control is essentially the same, with a large control and gently rotating ring around of the lens and a second disc on the top plate to change the exposure setting. However, the logic behind the configuration of the dials is somewhat incoherent.

The top dial changes the exposure setting in the PASM modes, but the image processing settings in the creative and panorama control modes, while in the iA or SCN mode, do nothing at all. Most of the time, the lens ring does exactly the same, but in iA it becomes a stepped zoom control. But you can customize the function of both dials, if you prefer.

A series of buttons on the back of the camera provides access to exposure compensation, white balance, operating mode, focus mode and Panasonic 4K Photo and 4K Post Focus mode.

All the buttons are very small, and the last two are completely flush with the body. While it is less likely to accidentally press them, this also makes them difficult to find when using the viewfinder. Interestingly, there is no ISO button to find; presumably, you are supposed to leave the camera in automatic ISO all the time.

By default, the zoom is operated with a conventional lever around the shutter button, but turns out to be somewhat nervous, with a small movement that causes the zoom to jump substantially. This can make it difficult to establish an accurate composition.

One solution is to assign zoom to the lens ring, which provides much more nuanced control. It may sound like you're wasting a checkpoint, but the lens ring spends so much time otherwise just by replicating the top dial, which is not a big loss.

To select the autofocus point you are expecting to use the touch screen; This includes the moments when you are shooting with the viewfinder. This should work perfectly for most users, unless, like me, you are dominant in the left eye. In this case, you will probably end up skipping the focus area as long as your nose comes in contact with the screen.

You can turn off the touch-panel AF, but then it ends without a quick way to set the focus point when using the viewfinder.

To avoid this, I reconfigured the Fn 2 button that is under the grip with the thumb in & # 39; Focus area set & # 39; instead of its usual 4K focus mode (which does not help me at all). But even this is not entirely satisfactory, since this button is quite difficult to locate with touch.

In general, the TZ200 works well if you think of it as a point and shoot that offers complete manual override when you need it. But it's pretty awkward if you like to experiment with your shot-by-shot configuration.

In fact, compared to a really well-configured camera like the Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III, it's downright slow and annoying to shoot, especially when using the viewfinder. To be fair, with this camera your main creative configurations are zoom and exposure compensation, which are easy enough to change.

Lumix TZ200 – Viewfinder and display

One of the key enhancements of the TZ200 is its larger and much higher resolution 2.33m electronic viewfinder, which provides an enlargement equivalent to 0.53x. This is still not huge compared to most other cameras, but it's much better than the zip seal of the TZ100 at the end of a tunnel & # 39; 1.16m point, version 0.46x.

It's smaller than the 2.36m-point EVF used by Sony in its RX100 V pocket camera, but it has the considerable advantage that it does not have to appear every time you want to use it.

The LCD screen of the viewfinder uses a sequential design field that displays red, green and blue images in rapid succession to fool the eye and see a full-color image. Older versions of this technology could be disconcerting, as they offer "tear" effects of primary colors when the camera is moved, but the refresh rate of the TZ200 is high enough so that this effect is practically invisible except in situations extreme. As a result, I was happy to shoot with the EVF by routine.

A sensor next to the eyepiece allows the automatic change of the LCD screen to the EVF when you lift the camera to your eye and, unlike many others, other cameras, its sensitivity is judged perfectly, so the screen is not It turns off annoyingly when you do not want to.

On the back you'll find a 3-inch 1.24m touch screen, which you can use to change the settings and scan your images. In fact, it is very good: it is bright, detailed and precise color, with an excellent tactile response.

As with the TZ100, the screen is fixed in place to keep the camera size down. I would have liked Panasonic to have tilted it up and down, as this would allow it to hold the camera more firmly and also shoot more discreetly. But also, I can understand that the company is thinking of keeping the camera as thin and easy to store.

Panasonic Lumix TZ200 – Autofocus

Like other Panasonic cameras, the TZ200 employs the depth of the Defocus system, which uses knowledge of the defocused features of the lens to enable fast autofocus.

There is a wide variety of focus modes to choose from. You can select the AF area yourself or let the camera choose the subject automatically, even with face and eye detection, and you can have the camera track a subject as it moves around the frame. Switch to macro mode and the camera will focus only 1 cm away from the front of the lens, when adjusted to wide angle.

1 / 100sec to af / 5.6, ISO 1250, equivalent to 24mm, macro mode

In the whole AF it works exceptionally well, and in good light, the focus is instantaneous, which makes the TZ200 ideal for quick shots. It continues to perform remarkably well in low light conditions, where other cameras can sometimes have problems.

The TZ200 can even make a decent attempt to follow a moving subject and readjust the focus while shooting at 7 fps. It will not match a DSLR, of course, but the only pocket camera that can improve is the Sony RX100 V, but its equivalent zoom of 24-70 mm is pretty useless for the action work.

1/400 sec at f / 6.1, ISO200, equivalent to 217mm, Dynamic monochrome

If you need to use manual focus, the TZ200 is also well configured. Switch to MF and the lens ring is used to focus: when you rotate it, an enlarged view appears, selectable from 3x to 10x using the top dial.

Having a fully usable EVF is a great advantage here, making it much easier to judge precise focus. Alternatively, you can enable a peak screen with a variety of colors and strengths. To be honest, I hardly found the need to use manual focus, AF is so reliable, but it is always good to have the option.

Panasonic Lumix TZ200 – Performance

We have become accustomed to Lumix cameras being fast and responsive, and the TZ200 does not disappoint. In fact, in almost every aspect of its operation it works really well.

Fundamentally, for a travel camera that is likely to be delivered to non-expert users, I found it very reliable when shooting on its fully automatic iA. mode; Consistently consists of sharp images and well exposed. Almost the only time it slows down noticeably is when you switch to some of the most intensive creative control filters in the processor.

1/160 seconds at f / 6.3, ISO 125, equivalent to 250 mm, iAuto mode, JPEG camera [19659025] In general, the image quality is quite good, especially when shooting during the day. Naturally, there are some compromises that can be made with that large zoom range, with noticeably less detailed images towards the long end of the lens. However, they will still look good on smaller print or display sizes.

1 / 125sec to f / 6.4, ISO 160, equivalent to 360mm. Camera JPEG

The navigation through my images confirmed that the measurement generally worked well, and I rarely had to apply exposure compensation except for creative purposes, for example, to make night shoots look dark.

Off Camera JPEG files show accurate and vibrant colors in sunny conditions, but stereotypically in Panasonic, the camera may have problems with automatic white balance, with slight color tones that result in less attractive images compared with other brands.

48mm equivalent, 1/502sec f / 6.3, ISO 125, raw processed

Unfortunately, the TZ200 does not seem to benefit from the improved color science that Panasonic has introduced in its latest mirrorless models like the GX9. This means that, in general, you will get significantly better results from the subsequent processing of flat files.

Equivalent of 46 mm, 1 / 80sec to f / 5, ISO 200, JPEG with perspective correction

However, I was very satisfied with the output of the TZ200 when shooting monochrome. In fact, with the L.Monochrome photographic style in PASM modes, and several creative filters, including high-contrast dynamic monochrome, the camera offers a decent selection for black and white shots, a bit like having multiple movies in your room. elimination.

Panasonic TZ200 – Image quality

With the TZ200 essentially using the same sensor as the TZ100 before (and, in fact, many other compact enthusiasts), its image quality is quite predictable. It gives very good results with low ISO, but quickly begins to show the effects of noise as the sensitivity increases.

1 / 5sec af / 3.9, ISO 1600, equivalent to 39mm

Panasonic's JPEG output is very good at preserving color, but it erases fine details of ISO 800 and higher, making this a camera that It benefits enormously from shooting raw if you want the maximum detail. This is compounded by the small aperture zoom, which means that you should apply higher ISO more quickly in marginal light.

Panasonic TZ200 – Resolution

Panasonic JPEG processing aims to eliminate any image sampling artifact, resulting in little more than 3,000 lines per image height at ISO 125. When observing the processed crude it is revealed the reason, with a false color and an apparent alias that appear at frequencies above 3200 l / ph, betraying the lack of a low pass optical filter.

Panasonic TZ200, resolution, JPEG ISO 125

These effects are affected by noise at ISO 800, where the resolution falls below 3000 l / ph. At higher settings, it decreases monotonically. Our tests were taken at the ideal point of the lens, about 50 mm equivalent and f / 4.4. In longer configurations and smaller apertures, you will see a lower resolution.

Panasonic TZ200, resolution, raw ISO 125

Panasonic TZ200, resolution, raw 800

Panasonic TZ200, resolution, raw 3200

Panasonic TZ200, resolution, raw 6400

Panasonic TZ200, resolution, raw 12800

Panasonic TZ200 – ISO and Noise

When looking at raw files processed with Adobe Camera Raw, the TZ200 offers excellent results with low ISO settings, representing many fine details. Luminance noise points become obvious at ISO 400 when viewed at the pixel level, but are unlikely to appear on prints.

However, when ISO 1600 is reached, the image quality has decreased substantially, with color desaturations and fine detail flooded by noise. ISO 3200 is probably the highest configuration you would want to use.

Panasonic TZ200, noise, raw ISO 125

Panasonic TZ200, noise, raw ISO 800

Panasonic TZ200, noise, raw ISO 3200

Panasonic TZ200, noise, raw ISO 12800

JPG processing Panasonic deletes the noise aggressively, but does a good job retaining the color, which seems poor in the foreground on the screen, but it makes more sense to share images through social networks or make small impressions.

Panasonic TZ200, noise, JPEG ISO 125

Panasonic TZ200, noise, JPEG ISO 800

Panasonic TZ200, noise, JPEG ISO 3200

Why buy the Panasonic Lumix TZ200?

If you want a pocket camera with a wide zoom range and decent image quality, then the Lumix TZ200 is the best you can buy right now. Take the successful template of the TZ100 and improve it in several key ways, most importantly, a larger and clear viewfinder, a longer zoom range and a much better grip. If you can bear the price of £ 729, it is one of the best travel cameras available.

 Panasonic Lumix TZ200 ZS200

It is crucial to know that the TZ200 is not a direct competitor to & # 39; Enthusiastic compactors with short zooms and large maximum apertures, exemplified by the Sony RX100 series. These promise better performance in low light, along with the ability to take a certain degree of control over the depth of field.

The TZ200 is a quite different tool, since its creative potential is mainly offered with that long zoom lens: & # 39; I will get very little in terms of background blur. Its clumsy control design does not really encourage experimentation with exposure settings.

1 / 100sec af / 8, IS) 200, equivalent to 30mm, Dynamic Monochome

Despite the compromises inherent in its long zoom design, the TZ200 generally offers nice images, especially if you shoot primarily during hours of daylight. But it also offers a useful low light capacity, thanks to its effective image stabilization.

However, its JPEG output is a bit tasteless, and images will generally benefit from color and saturation settings before sharing; you will almost always get the best results from raw processing.

Verdict

The Panasonic Lumix TZ200 is a great pocket camera, which can shoot almost anything quite competently.