The TZ series of Panasonic cameras are well-known and highly regarded compact zoom cameras. We recently received the latest entrant to that series here for review- the Panasonic Lumix TZ8, that is also one of the class-leading pocketable compact zoom cameras. With its advanced shooting features that include a wide-angle lens and full manual control options, the TZ8 is one attractive camera to accompany you on your next vacation.
The Panasonic LUMIX TZ8 has a 14.1 mega pixel CCD sensor (1/2.33-inch) but it only utilizes 12 megapixels out of those 14.1 mega pixels. This enables the camera to shoot in different aspect ratios (16:9, 3:2 and 4: 3). Its LEICA DC lens offers 25mm at its widest angle and extends all the way up to 300mm (35mm equivalent). The 12x optical zoom in full resolution mode can also extend up to 23.4x when the image size is set to 3 megapixels. Aperture range is F3.3-6.3 at 25mm while for the tele end it starts from F4.9 to F6.3 which might not be the most versatile setting but keep in mind, the shutter speed can also be changed from 1/2000 second to 60 seconds. The lens is optically stabilized using the new Panasonic Power O.I.S, which is claimed to be twice as effective as the older MEGA O.I.S. There is also a new Intelligent Resolution Technology which promises to give high resolution look to digital zoom images and ordinary images and it enables the camera to take pictures using 16x intelligent zoom with no loss in quality. The camera has a 2.7-inch TFT LCD with 230K dots and there is no optical viewfinder.
Shadow details were retained better on images shot with the Samsung WB600, however, the overall details and sharpness with color reproduction was much better with the Panasonic TZ8.
The camera has 40MB of internal memory and to make shooting easier, Panasonic has included its intelligent Auto shooting mode which determines the optimized settings based on various parameters. There are three metering modes, six white balance options and 29 scene modes. The camera offers the useful P, A/S/M shooting modes and the range of manual controls available for aperture size, shutter speed and many more settings make the TZ8 suitable for advanced users. ISO speed starts from 80 to ISO 1600 but this can go all the way up to ISO 6400 in High Sensitivity mode. Flash range is rated at up to 5.3 meters at wide angle while for the tele end it is 3.6 meters.
The camera records 720p HD video at 30fps in MJPEG format using the .MOV container. The downside here is the amount of space the video consumes- one minute of 720p HD video takes more than 200MB. We wished Panasonic offered the new and light AVCHD Lite like it did in the more expensive Lumix TZ10. Audio is recorded in mono which is disappointing. Optical zoom is available during video recording though. There is also no one touch button for video recording.