By August 12, 2008

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4 Review

Well, I’m sure by now you have all seen the adverts from Panasonic showing the Golden Gate bridge shrinking in size to allow people to take a picture with their “ordinary” cameras. Panasonic are pretty much singing the virtues of their wide angle lenses that adorn most of the new Lumix range.

I tested out the L10 quite a few months ago and today we will be looking at the camera seen in most of the latest adverts, The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4


There are a whole host of pocket size high mega-pixel cameras on the market these days making choosing a new camera a very difficult process for many people. Most camera shops point of sale advertising seems to always go on about pixels, pixels and more pixels, without really explaining to users that for most of us printing out standard sized images, 3Mega Pixels is probably enough.

Although having a higher pixel value: The DMC-TZ4 has 8.1 Megapixels – (Compared to the older TZ3 with 6 and the TZ5 offering 9.1). The huge difference Panasonic have done with this new camera is drop in a massive 10x Leica Optical Zoom lens with image stabilisation in a very small hand held camera.

This should certainly offer a differentiator compared to the multitude of reasonably priced pocket digital cameras.

What’s in the Box?

Once again with Panasonic, a rather stereotypical camera box hides the TZ4 camera, slightly larger than many of the pocket handheld cameras at 5.9x10x3.6cm but with a 10x Optical Zoom lens packed in it’s a pretty small sized camera.

Standard battery, charger, leads and manuals accompany the camera. See Matt’s Unboxing video for more.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4 specification:

  • 8.1-megapixel effective CCD for images up to 3264×2448 pixels
  • Leica DC Vario-Elmarit Lens 10x "Wide" optical zoom, covering 28-280mm (35mm equivalent)
  • MEGA O.I.S. (Optical image stabilization) system
  • Intelligent Exposure and Digital Red-eye Correction
  • 9-point AF system with focus-assist lamp
  • 2.5-inch TFT color monitor with (230k pixels)
  • Program AE, Macro, Intelligent AUTO + 21 scene modes
  • Burst (3fps @ 8M; 10fps @ 2M) and AE bracketing capture modes
  • 640×480/320×240 (4:3) or 848×480 (16:9) QuickTime movies, 30fps or 10fps with audio
  • Shutter speeds from 1/2000 to 8 seconds
  • Built-in flash with auto, fill, slow synchro and red-eye reduction modes
  • TTL Auto White Balance, 5 presets and custom set
  • 27MB of internal memory plus SD/SDHC/MMC memory card slot
  • Plug-n-Play USB, Mass Storage compliant
  • PictBridge Direct-Print compatible


The look and feel of the DMC-TZ4 is pretty good, a sturdy looking camera that certainly looks like it would stand the test of time and the odd drop or two (although don’t worry Matt, I didn’t try this…). Packing that 28mm Wide Angle lens with 10x Optical zoom really puts this camera into a different league with very few rivals at this time. This should allow many users to compose such a wide variety of shots without having to move their location!

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4 angled view

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4

Any users of other Panasonic Lumix camera equipment should have very little trouble operating the TZ4 as the vast majority of controls and functions are the same across the range.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4 top view Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4 top view zoom

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4 top controls (click to enlarge)

Located on the top of the camera is the now standard thumb wheel control used to select features such as iA (Intelligent Auto), Scene Selections, or Video Mode . The On Off switch is located just alongside the thumb wheel but does require some effort to turn on and off so there should be no accidental power issues. The Shutter Control is on the right hand side of the camera and located around this is the zoom control – I liked this position as it enabled control of the shutter and zoom functions easily with just one hand (or finger even).

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4 back view

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4 back view

The rear of the camera contains the remaining controls for accessing the camera menus, setting changes and viewing modes. The display screen is also of a very good size 2.5” screen with excellent resolution and viewing angles.

A very simple “Play/Record” button at the top right offers a quick way to review images or take images without having to fiddle with the main thumb control wheel.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4 connectors

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4 connectors

Connectors on the side offer the standard USB connectivity and Video out.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4 memory card slot

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4 battery & memory compartment

The battery compartment is located at the base of the camera, with a slot for SD/SDHD memory Cards. The camera does have 27MB of storage built in which will hold a picture or two in an emergency.


Highlights and Lowlights

I already use a Panasonic Lumix FX-33 camera for standard point and shoot pictures when out for the day or at events. Like many people, the convenience of being able to slip a camera into a pocket does certainly have advantages compared to a bulky SLR, but many of the smaller cameras don’t quite have the zoom capabilities.

I tested the camera in a wide selection of environments, from indoor low light shots, to bright sunny days (well, sunny as they can be in the UK).



  • The Leica Lens is an excellent wide angle lens (28mm) having the 10x Optical zoom (280mm equivalent) is a real benefit against standard 3x zooms offered by many cameras.
  • The colours are very vivid and dynamic, this seems to be a pretty standard feature across the Panasonic range I have tested so far.
  • Very sharp pictures from the Leica lens and sensor
  • Very small lens distortion on edges
  • Good flash pictures indoors
  • Really bright infrared zone for focusing in dark environments, although this may be a little disconcerting for some being lit up bright red!


  • Although a small camera considering the Lens Zoom size, it is not tiny like some cameras and not quite as easy to slip into your pocket. With a large lens, it is also quite heavy.
  • The camera still offers Panasonic’s standard selection of scene modes (such as Night Time, Snow, Beach) and still has Baby 1 and Baby 2… I may be missing the point here but after trying many of these scene options I really can’t see a great deal of difference.
  • The use of scene modes I found was questionable even further when using the Intelligent Auto mode and the Intelligent Exposure feature. These two features seem to pretty much compensate for almost all picture taking opportunities.


As usual with reviews, they tend to start quite late in the evening once normal day to day activities have taken place, monsters have gone to bed and everyone is happy…. This tends to lead to the usual unboxing on the Kitchen table and the first few shots taken of really interesting things such as the washing up….

Actually, this really wasn’t a bad place to start with the usual washing up some 4 Metres away I tried the 10x Optical zoom and pressed the shutter. (This is when I noticed the high intensity Infra Red focus aid light half the kitchen). For a close on 300mm zoom lens, inside the house with the inbuilt flash, I was really surprised with the quality of the first few shots. Never before has “Microwave and Dishwasher Safe” been readable from the other side of the kitchen. Even zooming in on the picture in preview mode should no real blurring or lost focused (I’m sure there is some appropriate photography name for this).

The lens action was quick zooming in and out and the focus was certainly quick considering the amount of light that was available.

Rather than stay with pictures of pots and pans, a rare summer moment arrived the following day allowing a variety of photographs to be taken. Again, the Panasonic DMC-TZ4 did pretty much exactly what it said on the tin. Clear sharp images and pretty fast shutter speeds. The focus was also much faster than the L10 SLR I tested a few months ago.

The colours taken on the camera were really consistent throughout the day, however, as with many cameras, the colours looked far better towards the end of the day (This is really more to do with the light levels and the fact pictures tend to look more realistic out of really bright light rather than the camera)

Shooting into the evening and towards dusk the camera still performed well. The shots taken with flash were realistic and didn’t tend to suffer from over exposure or unnatural “whiteness” I think this must be the Intelligent Exposure settings as I didn’t have to change any settings at all.

After taking a few more shots I decided to try out some of the scene settings and additional features. From what I could see, the majority of the scenes and settings were the same as the Lumix FX33 I use at the moment. The same strange options for Baby1, Baby2 scene settings were available. If anyone wants to let me know if they have used these settings or seen any advantage I’d love to know! Saying that though, the night setting does help and work well providing longer exposure times for dark backgrounds but still a difficult setting to master and achieve the best results.

For me though, the Zoom lens was really the best feature of the camera, and was the only real thing to set this camera apart from the other cameras in the Lumix range who all have similar pixel sizes and facilities. Having such a large zoom in a compact camera really allowed a much wider range of shots to be taken, and the image stabilisation worked fantastically. Couldn’t take some of the shots I did on full zoom in quite low light on the older Canon DSLR for sure without lots of shake.


As you can tell, I’m not a true fan of scene modes, so for many of the shots taken, I used Intelligent Auto mode. Yeah, I know, allowing the camera to do everything for you will probably be frowned on my some of the higher end photographers out there, but I am not a photographer, I just like the ease of pointing a camera at something, pressing the button and pretty much getting better results than I would if I had played with the settings.

This allows me to take more time to think of the things that tend to mess up pictures more, making sure the composure is ok, trying to work out what the heck the 1/3rds rule is all about and making sure some large tree is not sticking out from behind people’s heads.

May be they won’t let me review camera’s again or the professional photography guys will come after me, but, as I said, I’m not a professional camera man – I just want to take simple shots and get the best results that look good to me at least.

The Panasonic certainly helps achieve this with its automatic mode and excellent zoom capability – Photography for the masses.

So – Will I be trading my FX33 in for the TZ4, well, no. Not because there is anything wrong with the camera I could find very little to fault. If I was looking for a new camera the TZ4 would definitely be right up the top of the list, but as a compact camera it just seems that little large to slip in the pocket compared to the DMC-FX33 and I really don’t like carry things around with me!!

Despite that, the Zoom mode will really win a huge amount of people over and this camera has to be a really good choice for someone who doesn’t mind their compact cameras a little bigger


Review by: John

Posted in: Reviews

About the Author:

More than 20 years in the IT industry. Blogging with a passion and thirst for new technology since 2005.
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