Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1 Digital Camera Review
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1 Digital Camera Review
Testing / Performance
We test resolution by photographing an industry-standard ISO resolution chart at a variety of apertures and focal lengths, using standardized lighting and a sturdy tripod. We use Imatest software, the industry-standard analysis tool, to quantify the results. Imatest delivers its scores in line widths per picture height (lw/ph). It's a unit which doesn't vary with sensor size, so it allows us to compare the resolution of all digital cameras equally.
The TZ1 delivered 1695 lw/ph horizontally, with 24.3 percent oversharpening, and 1444 lw/ph vertically, with 6.93 percent oversharpening. Oversharpening is a problem – at 24.3 percent, it's bound to produce artifacts. The vertical oversharpening is more average for a compact camera. The combination of oversharpening and only fair resolution with all that processing means that the TZ1 is a mediocre performer. Our results are from an image shot at f/3.9 at 14.1mm.
**Still Life Scene
**Below is a shot of our still life scene, recorded with the Panasonic TZ1.
Color is what delights and engages us in photographs. If a camera delivers bad color, almost any user will notice, and be disappointed. Camera manufacturers know this, and they design cameras to produce bright, flattering color, especially in skin tones. Our test is predicated on the idea that accurate color is the ideal to strive for, so many cameras that boost reds and pinks don't perform as well on our tests because of their design.
We shoot a GretagMacbeth color target under tungsten light to evaluate color. We analyze our shots with Imatest software, the premiere package for testing digital image quality. The GretagMacbeth chart is made up of 24 swatches of color that are similar to colors in many real-life shooting situations. If a camera can reproduce the chart accurately, it will do well in general shooting.
Imatest produces two charts: the first chart (below) is a modified version of the camera's shot of the GretagMacbeth chart, with patches of color superimposed over each square. The outside of the square shows the TZ1's color. The inner square is the ideal color, corrected for luminance. The vertical rectangle is the color as it should be reproduced.
The second Imatest chart shows a color gammut. The center of the chart shows no color at all, or zero saturation. Colors get progressively more saturated moving out from the center. Any circle that is centered over the white spot in the chart makes a standard color wheel. Imatest plots the GretagMacbeth colors on the gamut chart. The Ideal colors are shown as small squares, and the camera's actual colors are shown as larger circles. The white, gray and black patches all belong in the middle of the chart, because they shouldn't have any color saturation. For the other colors, the distance between the square and circle shows the amount of color error. If the circle is farther from the center than the square, the color is oversaturated. If it's clockwise or counter-clockwise from the square, its hue is inaccurate.
The TZ1 delivered an image with 112.5 percent saturation and 7.85 mean color error. The oversaturation is concentrated in the reds and some blues. Some of the greens are undersaturated, and show the strongest color error. We would rather see saturation under 110 percent in compact cameras – many pro-level cameras are within a couple percentage points of perfect. A color error of 7.85 is a bit higher than we'd like to see as well – something under 7.0 would rate very well.
Noise – Manual ISO*(9.12) *
Again, we use Imatest software to analyze shots of a GretagMacbeth color chart to evaluate noise performance.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC TZ1is a little noisier than average at its low ISO settings of 80 and 100, but its scores at 400 and 800 are better than typical for compact cameras. They're higher than the 80 and 100 score, but they don't double or triple as many cameras' scores do.
Noise – Auto ISO*(3.24) *
With the TZ1's ISO set to auto, the camera produced noise that roughly equates to the camera’s ISO 200 setting. Because we shoot the chart in a very brightly-lit studio, it should really choose the lowest ISO setting.
**Low Light ***(4.0)*
The Panasonic TZ1 is too automatic to perform well in low light. The user can't set the shutter speed, and the auto ISO system often chose the lowest ISO setting when it should have gone for 400 or 800. Even though the TZ1 has Panasonic's excellent image stabilization system, it set such long shutter speeds in low light that users will need a tripod and a stationary subject in low light.
Speed / Timing
Start-up to First Shot (8.38)
The Panasonic TZ1 springs to life relatively quickly. From the moment we switched it on until it captured an image the clock ticked in at 1.62 seconds. That's quick for a compact camera, though it would be best to keep the camera on during events in which a spontaneous shot might come up.
Shot to Shot Time (9.82)
Shot to shot times refer to the speed at which cameras can take multiple shots. The TZ1 has 3 burst modes for multiple shots. High takes 3 shots in less than a second, for a rate of 4.2 frames per second. Low takes 3 frames in a second. Neither High mode nor Low mode can take more than 3 shots at a clip. "Infinite" mode takes a shot every 1.2 seconds; it keeps on plugging as long as the shutter is pressed and there is room in memory. The TZ1's speeds are quick at both the High and Low settings, but 3 shots in less than a second makes for an awfully skimpy burst.
Shutter to Shot Time*(8.46)*
All cameras take a moment to respond when their shutters are pushed – the picture gets taken slightly after the user presses the button. With the Lumix TZ1 , the delay averaged 0.27 seconds in our test. That's better than average for compact cameras, a category that includes cameras with more than twice as much delay. However, when shooting fast-moving subjects, the user will need to anticipate the action.