The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20 camera can produce clear and vibrant images, has a great zoom range, and it's absolutely feature-packed. Updated, 6 June 2011
This is one of the most comprehensively featured travel zooms available but also one of the priciest. The 14.1 effective megapixel TZ20 updates the TZ10, its 16x optical zoom with equivalent 24mm to 384mm focal range placing it second only to the Nikon S9100 in terms of lens power. There's the ability to boost this to an equivalent 33.8x at 3Mp plus the Panasonic features GPS geo-tagging with longitude and latitude coordinates automatically embedded in the image file's Exif data.
Full HD video comes with stereo sound via top mounted microphones, and with the choice of shooting in highly compressed AVCHD format or more widely compatible Mpeg4. HDMI output features under a side flap and again we get a dedicated video record button. However, because here flipping between capture mode and playback requires flicking a physical switch, you can’t instantly hit ‘record’ unless you happen to have the capture option already selected.
For more 'hands on' photographers, as with the Canon and Casio models the Lumix offers program, shutter priority, aperture priority and manual modes. On the same dial is a user customisable mode, three scene mode options, plus the prominently marked and reliable intelligent Auto.
The biggest surprise on the dial is 3D mode - the first such appearance on a Panasonic snapshot, via which the camera composites a stereoscopic image using a sequence of up to 20 frames. With this mode selected, the user simply fires the shutter release as normal and pans with the camera in the direction of the indicator arrow. Following a machine gun-like patter of shot taking, the camera automatically generates an MPO file viewable only on a 3D TV.
The TZ20’s 3in, 460k-dot resolution backplate LCD is also a touchscreen. Thoughtfully, Panasonic has also a smattering of physical controls you aren't wholly reliant on the touch-interface. Using a combination of real buttons and virtual ones makes for best practice, though it's fairly easy to take a shot accidentally if a thumb strays onto screen (fortunately the ability to fire the shutter button this way can be deactivated).
The TZ20 delivers a reliably consistent output, colours veering between natural and warm depending on selected settings and whether you're allowing the camera to choose for itself, which generally favours the warmer option. Exposures are even, metering mostly spot on, and detail is maintained from edge to edge, even at maximum wide-angle. Familiar bugbears such as pixel fringing and occasional loss of highlights rear their heads.
Next page: Our original review of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20, by PC World Australia's Elias Plastiras, from March 2011 >>