Price: £236.41 inc VAT
Pros: Big lens, lovely bokeh effect, great for macros, built-in GPS, dedicated exposure button.
Cons: Images look soft, images get noisy above ISO 200, maximum aperture of only f/6.3.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 is one of the most feature-packed and versatile point-and-shoot digital cameras on the market. It ships with a big lens, has lots of automatic features that make it easy to use as well manual modes for when you want to get creative, and even includes a built-in GPS receiver so that you can see where your pictures were taken.
Having a built-in GPS unit means you can easily identify where your pictures were taken throughout your travels. The location labels can be set to identify each photo by country, city, suburb or landmark, and you can see this information overlayed on the camera's screen when you view your snaps in playback mode. Alternatively, you can view the location information when you load your photos in the supplied PHOTOfunSTUDIO software. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 doesn't record location data in video mode.
The GPS initialises quite quickly the first time you use it, and different icons are used to let you know how long it's been since the GPS last received location data. Sometimes, the location data can be misleading if you choose to display the landmark information, and the suburb information can be a little off too (you can edit this info though). For the most accurate results, you can try updating the GPS information manually before you start shooting.
The landmark information correctly identifies this as Mary Mackillop Memorial Chapel.
This is not Mary Mackillop Memorial Chapel (it's across the street).
The GPS stays on even when the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 camera is switched off and there is a green light that periodically flicks on and off to inform you of this. You can use flight mode to disable it, but the GPS will activate again once the camera is switched on. Many airlines allow the use of GPS devices during cruise, but some still don't. You'll have to check with your airline.
Panasonic LUMIX DMC-TZ10: Specifications and design
While the built-in GPS is one of the cool functions of the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-TZ10 camera, the main drawcard — as always with travel zoom cameras — is the zoom lens. It has an optical reach of 12x, which allows it to shoot from a wide angle of 25mm all the way to a tele-zoom angle of 300mm (35mm equivalent). The zoom rocker is loose and easy to use and the zoom operation itself is relatively smooth. You can use each zoom level from 1x to 12x by just jabbing the rocker lightly.
The widest aperture of the lens is f/3.3 at 25mm and it closes to f4/9 when you zoom in to 300mm. The smallest aperture you can use is f/6.3, but we would have liked it to close to f/8.0. When trying to capture very bright scenes, the fastest shutter speed you can use is 1/2000, and the lowest ISO value is 80.
A dedicated exposure button on the rear of the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-TZ10 camera lets you switch between the aperture and shutter values easily when in manual mode, and you can change the ISO speed (and adjust most of the camera's other main features) by pressing the Q.Menu button. It takes some time to get used to the main menu and the Q.Menu, and it's easy to forget the Q.Menu button is there.
There is a 12.1-megapixel CCD sensor behind the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-TZ10's big lens and it's quite small at 1/2.3in (for example, the Samsung EX1 compact camera for enthusiasts has a slightly bigger, 1/1.7in sensor), but it's on par with other cameras in its class, such as the Canon Power Shot SX210 IS, and it's the same size as the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-TZ8.
The rear of the camera has a 3in LCD screen through which you can frame your photos, and it can be hard to see in bright sunlight. It's a sharp screen though and the on-screen information it displays is very useful. The button layout is the same as the LUMIX TZ8, but it doesn't have an E.Zoom button. In its place is a much handier button for video recording. It lets you shoot footage at 720p without you having to first fumble with the mode dial; this is perfect when you're travelling.
NEXT: image quality >>