Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ6
Super-zoom for the cost-conscious
Review Panasonic’s DMC-TZ6 could be considered the little brother or, if you want to be a little less charitable, a stripped-down version of the DMC-TZ7 we looked at in August. Both models are super-zoom compacts or Travel-cams, designed for the person who wants a big optical zoom in a pocket-sized camera. The DMC-TZ6 is around £60 cheaper than the DMC-TZ7, but does it show in the results?
Lighter on features and on price: Panasonic's Lumix DMC-TZ6
On the face of it, there’s relatively little to choose between the DMC-TZ6 and DMC-TZ7, with both offering 10.1Mp performance and a 12x optical zoom courtesy of a 4.1-49.2mm f/3.3-4.9 Leica DC Vario-Elmar lens, providing the equivalent range of 25-300mm on a 35mm. They both measure 103.3 x 59.6 x 32.8 mm and weigh around 230g with a lithium-ion battery and an SD/SDHC card.
Each has around 40MB of internal memory and they share the same normal shutter speed range of 8-1/2000sec. They include AF tracking, which allows you to lock onto a moving subject without half-depressing the shutter button. Their normal ISO range operates between 80 and1600, and there’s a high sensitivity setting offering ISO 1600-6400. Both models are supplied with Panasonic’s PhotofunStudio, plus Arcsoft’s Panorama Maker and Media Impression software.
However, the most obvious difference is that the DMC-TZ7 offers HD movie recording (in both AVCHD and MJPEG formats) at 30fps, whereas the DMC-TZ6 provides WVGA, VGA and QVGA-resolution MJPEG movies at 30fps. The DMC-TZ6 uses a smaller 1/2.5-inch image chip and utilises a Venus Engine IV image processor whereas the DMC-TZ7 has a Venus Engine HD dual processor.
Both cameras offer Face Detection technology, but the DMC-TZ7 also includes Face Recognition technology. The DMC-TZ6 has a 2.7in LCD screen composed of 230,000 dots while the DMC-TZ7 sports a 3in screen with 460,000 dots. So, if anyone tells you the DMC-TZ6 is simply the DMC-TZ7 without HD video, think again.
Finger trouble: the Mode dial could be more robust
When it comes to handling however, both share the same irritating mode dial which has a flimsy locking mechanism and slides around like a wet bar of soap. The result is that it’s very easy to inadvertently move it out of position and get a “Mode Dial is not in proper position” warning message on the LCD screen – or find you’ve taken a short movie clip and not the single shot you intended.
I was going to say looking at the carrages thats a preservation line (possibly Nene Valley?)
but then I thought better of it! That Royal Mail wagon must be the new standard passanger car they just haven't got around to putting the final coat of paint on it yet!
Re: But it's Panasonic... so...
Actually good point there - anyone know if you can use 3rd party batteries in the TZ6/7? I've got an original and a Hahnel one for my Lumux and the latter lasts noticeably longer than the OEM part (and yes they are pretty much the same age)
(Personally I think it's a piece of nonsense that Panasonic _are_ forcing you to buy their batteries - surely this is something the EU Competition Commission etc should be looking at?)
How can firmware prevent the use of third party batteries?
I bought a TZ7
I bought a TZ7 in the summer and was very happy with it. Battery seemed to last well enough. The zoom is great - it's nice to be able to actually zoom further than you can see with your naked eye - something that I've not really seen on a compact camera I've owned before. I'm somewhat disapointed it lacks the more advanced options for controlling appeture and shutter speed, but everything else it does is great. The photos do seem much better than my previous camera - a Canon A10. Intelligent Auto seems to fairly reliably produce good photos, though oddly prevents you using it and changing even the most basic option such as image size or shape (you can chose 16:9 photos).
I'd really recommend the TZ7 (or the TZ6) for anyone who wants a easily pocketable camera with a great zoom that takes good photos and great videos without any messing around. If you want to tweak the settings, this isn't the camera for you.
My only problem is finding the disk space to store the all the video on - I filled a 16GB card on a 10 day holiday!
But it's Panasonic... so...
Last time I heard anything about Panasonic it was that they were changing their firmware to prevent use with third-party batteries, so regardless of the other characteristics of their cameras, I'll be steering clear of them.