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For camera makers the bad news is that smart phones and their inbuilt cameras are hurting the sales of compact digicams.
The good news is that it probably means more people are taking more pictures and shooting video — but not with digital cameras.
Not for me. Ergonomics comes into it: I find holding a smart phone far from an ideal way to fire off a shot and even worse when it comes to shooting video.
With the latter in mind, let’s face it, a video camcorder is the ideal shape for shooting video, digicams/DSLRs and CSCs come in second and way down the list is a smart phone or, even worse, a tablet.
Then, when it comes to a camera like the TZ40 (or the ZS30 as it is known in North America), the game changes radically.
Let’s look at the specs:
The camera is stabilised and compensates for five types of movement: horizontal, vertical, axis of rotation, vertical rotation and horizontal rotation. So there, smart phones!
The CMOS sensor captures a maximum image size of 4876×3264 leading to a 41x28cm print.
Video is captured at the Full HD resolution of the 1920×1080 pixels in either MPEG4 or AVCHD formats. And note: you can shoot stills mid video recording.
The DMC-TZ40 can easily ‘talk’ to a compatible smart phone easily, allowing still and video shooting to be controlled from the smart phone screen with the help of the supplied Panasonic
Image App for iOS and Android phones. Users can also see what the camera lens is seeing live from their phone at 30 fps, then set zoom, focus, shutter release, shutter speed, aperture and exposure compensation, as well as capture video remotely.
Level Shot is a feature new to the TZ Series which detects the horizontal angle of view and keeps the image straight: useful for shooting ‘blind’. The video is cropped to allow the feature to come into play. I managed to make this feature work but found the straightening effect to be relatively minor. Still, it may help many a topsy turvy videographer!
Besides this, there’s also an on screen indicator for camera level.
The TZ40 will shoot at 10 fps in full resolution using the mechanical shutter and 5 fps with continuous AF.
The GPS function shows the name of the country, state, city and key landmarks using an internal data library. The area information covers over 200 countries or regions and more than a million landmarks worldwide.
The 7.6cm LCD screen is a touch screen, which makes it very useful when you’re shooting in a tight corner.
The camera is small and light, only gaining depth when the lens protrudes.
Top deck: centre is the mode dial with positions for intelligent auto, PASM, two custom settings, panorama shooting, scene and creative control modes; the zoom lever is centred by the shutter button and flanked by the power and video record buttons.
Rear: WiFi button; map/exposure button; replay; jog dial with positions for exposure correction, self timer, flash options and macro … the menu button is in the dial’s centre; beneath this is a button for display options and another for quick menu access.
The scene and creative control modes are interesting.
The former offers 19 options: soft skin; scenery; babies or pets; starry sky; handheld night shots etc. Purists may scoff at these, but the options sure help novices to bring home the bacon!
Creative control: you get a choice of retro, expressive, high key, etc. Creative control lets users apply a filter effect while shooting, while another mode, creative retouch allows effects to be added to shots after capture.
In the creative panorama mode you can add the above filters post-shoot.
In High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode the camera takes an undisclosed number of shots at different exposure levels and then automatically merges them to preserve details in the highlights, mid-tones and shadows.
The menu display is clear and obvious.
Startup from cold took just over a second; follow on shots came as fast as the shutter button was hit.
A good performance, with no evidence of distortion at either the wide or tele ends of the zoom
Noise began to appear at ISO 1600 and the image became a little murky.
Quality: above average
Why you’d buy the Panasonic Lumix TZ40/ZS30: small, pocketable; 20x zoom is a useful range; wide range of features; good stabiliser.
Why you wouldn’t: can’t think of any reason!
There is little to fault with this camera, however I question the placement of the video record button a few mills away from the power on/off button. Too often did I hit the one when aiming for the other!
I may have gone overboard on this little device but I hope my review serves to remind people that there are well-featured digicams out there that are far superior to smart phones that seemingly offer similar capabilities. Go get ‘em!
Available in black or white.
Image Sensor: 18.1 million effective pixels.
Sensor: 11mm CMOS.
Metering: Multi, centre-weighted, spot.
Lens: Leica DC Vario-Elmar f3.3-6.4/4.3-86mm (24-480mm as 35 SLR equivalent)
Exposure Modes: Auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Shutter Speed: 15-1/1200 second.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC plus 12 MB internal.
Image Sizes (pixels): Stills: 4876×3264 to 480×480.
Movies: 1920×1080, 1280×720, 640×480, 320×240.
Continuous Shooting: 5 and 10fps.
Viewfinder:7.6cm LCD screen (920,000).
File Formats: JPEG, MPO 3D, MPEG4, AVCHD.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 6400.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, DC input.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery.
Dimensions: 1205x59x28 WHDmm.
Weight: 198 g (with battery and card).
Price: Get a price on the Panasonic Lumix TZ40 at Amazon.