The Panasonic DMC-TZ10 has the look and feel of a digital camera that has been designed by metal workers rather than the usual bunch of electronic engineers. For starters your eye is likely to be drawn to the machined aluminium of the Leica lens housing. Or at least it will if you buy the black version of the Panasonic rather than silver, as the contrast between black and aluminium looks very appealing.
Other features that grab the attention include the logo that tells you that the DMC-TZ10 supports HD video with AVCHD Lite and the raised bump on the top of the casing that houses the GPS receiver. We were also impressed by the look and feel of the metal On/Off and Shoot/Playback switches which click and snick with pleasing precision. Despite this solid build quality, the Panasonic weighs in at a relatively light 218g and measures a pocketable 103 x 60 x 33mm.
Panasonic supplies a handful of accessories including a data cable and an AV cable as well as an external charger for the Li-Ion battery. Unfortunately Panasonic has chosen to use a proprietary USB connector and does not include a mini HDMI cable in the package.
From a technical stance the specification of the Panasonic DMC-TZ10 covers the essentials. The sensor is 12.1-megapixels which supports a maximum photo resolution of 4,000 x 3,000 pixels and the Leica lens delivers 12x optical zoom. If that’s not enough you can also use 4x digital zoom, but we recommend that you ignore such fripperies.
The rear of the camera is filled by the 3.0-inch/76mm LCD screen which has a 460,000 pixel count and there is a wealth of information to be displayed when you toggle through the options. When you view the maximum level of information you can see the results of the GPS feature in action along with the battery meter. These two pieces of data seem to be related as the GPS doesn’t have an on/off switch which means that it is permanently in action. That doesn’t seem like a good idea, as GPS has no part to play when you are indoors, underground or in narrow streets that are overshadowed by tall buildings.
GPS presents you with a choice when you’re in the set-up menu as you can choose to record 720p video using either AVCHD Lite or AVCHD Lite GPS. The latter means the format will be selected to suit the HDTV standard in your GPS/geographical area. We have never had much trouble dealing with a choice of PAL or NTSC. Video recording starts as soon as you press the red button and you can use the zoom while you are shooting, unlike some lesser cameras that lock the zoom.
Curiously enough, we found that taking photos with the DMC-TZ10 was the least exciting aspect of the camera. Auto focus works well and colour reproduction is good but the photos don’t deliver much of a punch. Provided you’re looking for an accurate representation of the scenery that is probably a bonus point.
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