Viewfinder-less ultra zoom compact cameras are a very popular type nowadays. The range of the stabilized optics is usually high, but based on dimensions, they fall into the typical compact camera category. Moreover, the new Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 is very well equipped with all sorts of functions, including the above standard built-in GPS module.
For some time now, digital compact cameras have been offered in several selectable color designs. Lumix TZ10 is available in five: classic black and silver, but also red, blue or brown along with a metal-coated body.
Regarding structure and design, it’s a rather typical compact camera. A 3-inch LCD display dominates the backside of the camera, excelling with a 460 thousand pixel screen, which ensures a picture rich in details. The front right part includes a small grip for a firm hold.
A telescopic lens barrel is unusually large for compact cameras. This is a result of the 12x optical zoom and respectable lens speed of the Leica DC VARIO-ELMAR optics, with a focal length of 25-300 mm and lens speed F3.3-F4.9, correspondent with a 35 mm film. Therefore, we are looking at wide-angle optics gradually transforming into a telephoto lens. Naturally, the lens is effectively stabilized.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 is fully equipped with various functions – in fact, you’ll find most of the functions an advanced SLR would have. Along with the usual modes, the mode dial positioned at the top of the camera will offer you the CUST option – custom mode. You can use this mode to store your personal custom settings.
Furthermore, Panasonic directed its focus towards video recording, encoded in AVCHD Lite with stereo sound. The manufacturers placed an extra shutter button (button with a red dot) for video sequences on the rear side of the camera, so it isn’t necessary to turn the mode dial and switch to video-mode; pressing the video shutter button will suffice. The right side of the camera offers an HDMI connector for direct playback of recorded videos on HD TVs.
A brand feature of Lumix TZ10 is the ability to record geographic coordinates into the EXIF data of photographed images. The antenna of the GPS module is hidden under a small square jut at the top side of the camera, above the lens. The module works in two modes (besides the off option): On mode and airplane mode. When turned ‘On’, the GPS module updates the location every minute and works even when the camera is turned off. In that case, the updates come in every fifteen minutes. In ‘airplane’ mode, GPS functions only when the camera is turned on.
Besides the fact that the logged longitude and latitude are included in the EXIF data of your images, the camera allows for the notation of the place you are located at directly on the display, thanks to its internal database. If you happen to make use of this function, you also have the option to view the coordinates. Unfortunately, Lumix TZ10 doesn’t keep track of your path in form of a separate file, which could be used for instance as a depiction of your journey later on, in combination with specific internet applications. Therefore, the built-in GPS module only allows for the portrayal of the image location. There are several compatible PC programs such as Google Picasa or Zoner Photo Studio.
There are also problems that come with the inclusion of GPS. Firstly, you need to hold your camera in the way that the antenna is at the top, directed at the open sky (GPS will not work inside). One might ask why there is no neck strap included in the package and only a wrist strap. For the best and most accurate GPS location, you simply need to hold the Lumix in a horizontal position without concealing the antenna. The other problem is sensitivity. Even with a perfect ‘view’ of the clear sky and in sight of five to seven satellites, the GPS module has a tolerance of five to fifteen meters in its accuracy. Basic external GPS devices are usually more precise.
Screenshots of the menu of Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 is a very pleasing compact camera destined for travelling due to its characteristics and features. It’s equipped with a wide-angle quality zoom that should suffice in most situations, with the 12 megapixel sensor along with the optics ensuring for a good collection of quality images. The key feature that pushes the camera above standard is surely its GPS module. Despite several flaws, the automatic image location sure comes in handy from time to time.
Common Price (at the time of this review being published): $439
Basic Technical Data for Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10
CCD 12 Mpx, 1/2,33“
12 Mpx (4 000 × 3 000 px)
Light sensitivity ISO 80 to 1 600
25–300 mm F3,3–4,9
SD/SDHC/SDXC, 15 MB internal memory
Video: AVCHD Lite, MOV
1 280 × 720 px, 25 nebo 30 fps
640 × 480 px, 25 nebo 30 fps
848 × 480 px, 30 fps
320 × 240 px, 30 fps
Screen size 3″ (76 mm)
460 000 px
Dimensions and weight
103 × 62 × 33 mm (w × h × d)
215 g (incl. battery and memory card)