Panasonic's Lumix DMC-TZ25 is a versatile compact camera that features a long lens and a high quality sensor. It can capture clear and vibrant images and it can do a good job whether you want to shoot landscapes, macros, portraits or distant objects. The design of the camera is basic, and it doesn't have as many features as the flagship in Panasonic's Travel Zoom range, the DMC-TZ30, but it's also a little cheaper and just as fun to use. See Group test: what's the best compact camera?
Design and ease of use
The DMC-TZ25 features a 3in screen and it has a standard control layout that makes the camera fairly easy to use. You get a mode dial at the top, along with a zoom rocker, a dedicated video recording button (which means you can start shooting video in any mode that you are currently in, except 3D picture mode), while the rear has the usual five-way thumb controller, plus quick menu and exposure buttons. The one thing about the control system that we don't like is the switch that takes you from shooting mode to playback mode — it's too easy to forget the switch in playback mode. Visit Nikon Coolpix S9100.
On the inside, the TZ25 features a 12.1-megapixel MOS sensor, which is a little smaller than the 14.1 MOS sensor found in the TZ30, and it also has a slightly shorter zoom lens: 16x for the TZ25 (24mm to 384mm) as opposed to 20x for the TZ30 (24mm to 480mm). It's worth noting that the wide angle will produce slightly skewed straight lines, but we didn't find it to be too bad overall. The TZ25 also has fewer features than the TZ30, which, as the top model in the Travel Zoom range, also features built-in GPS and a touchscreen. The GPS feature might be missed if you're a fan of geo-tagging images. See also Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20.
Framing images with the 3in LCD screen can be a tad difficult when using the camera outdoors on a bright day, especially if you have no way to shade it while you shoot. That said, it's a screen with good clarity. The camera focuses automatically as you frame your scene and you can see exactly what your exposure will look like when you press the shutter button halfway before taking the picture.
In manual and semi-manual modes, the dedicated exposure button allows you to easily make adjustments to the aperture and shutter values, although there isn't an extensive selection of values to choose from. The aperture can go as big as f/3.3 when the lens is at its widest point, and can go as small as f/6.3. The shutter can go as slow as 15 seconds and as fast as 1/4000 of a second. Exposure bias can be changed directly through the +/- button and the ISO can be changed through the Q.Menu, which is convenient. A meter on the screen will let you know if your shot is evenly exposed.
Focusing was quick and accurate in our tests, although for best results you'll want to focus on a part of your scene that has plenty of contrast. There is no way to manually select a specific point on the screen to focus on, but there is a tracking feature (easily selectable through the Q.Menu) that can be used to lock in on your subject, which then allows you to move it to the part of the frame you desire, all the while keeping it in focus.
We used the TZ25 in a variety of conditions, from challenging, overcast days to very bright days and found it to be a useful tool. The manual features definitely came in handy when we wanted to give the images a little more atmosphere than the iAuto mode could supply. The best part though, is that this camera can take images that look very clear and sharp, (especially in macro mode), and this is something that many compact cameras can't claim in their resumes.
Taken on a particularly gloomy day, we used manual settings to make sure the mood of the day wasn't captured too brightly.
Macro mode in bright daylight shows how clear the images from this camera can be when viewed at their native size (the bottom part of the image is a 100 per cent crop of the top part of the image). Chromatic aberration also wasn't a problem with this camera.
We're pleased with the colours and clarity of this shadowed shot. The benefit of a compact lens is that it allows you to focus between narrow objects, such as the bars of a bird cage as shown above.
Zooming in on your subject allows you to get a decently blurred background.
Afternoon light was handled well, although we used the exposure bias on this shot. This was handheld with a low shutter speed, which also produced some appreciated motion blur.
Another shot in difficult light. We've cropped this one to our liking. Because we exposed on the light hitting the bridge, the sky in the background is blown out. It was also handheld with a slow shutter speed to get some motion blur.
Overall, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ25 is a little camera that packs a good sensor, a versatile lens and useful, albeit limited, manual features. We found it fun to use and think that it's great for its intended purpose as a travel camera. It's useful for wide, zoomed, portrait and macro shots — it's also good for Full HD video recording — and its overall image quality is high for a compact camera.