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Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3
The TZ3 is a bit of an odd duck. Though it boasts an excellent 10x optical zoom, it's still a few features short of being an actual superzoom – a category in which Panasonic has a strong foothold. Going by the overall looks and build of the TZ3, I'd say it's better described as a compact camera with a massive zoom lens and build quality that would give the Terminator a complex.
The TZ3 is available in many colors, but the piece we received for review was good old silver; which looked impressive nonetheless. The control system is fairly simple, with the mode dial, power switch, zoom toggle, and of course the shutter release, placed on the top.
On the rear, there's the massive 3-inch LCD screen along with the d-pad controls, and the display and function buttons. The LCD in the TZ3 is brilliant and very well designed to work under different conditions. It has a 'Power LCD' mode that boosts the brightness level of the display, making it ideal for bright outdoor lighting.
The screen also has a 'High Angle' mode that shifts the contrast of the screen in a way that the image is best viewed from a lower angle, making it perfect for high angle shots.
Going back to my 'Terminator' comment, the TZ3 feels extremely sturdy and secure, making it a great travel companion. It's fairly small at 105 x 59 x 37 mm, but its weight of 280g keeps it a bit on the heavy side.
The 7 megapixel image resolution may not seem such a big deal for a compact camera these days, but considering that the resolution is good enough for an A3-sized print, I'd say it's enough. Besides, it's the 10x optical zoom with optical image stabilization that's the real USP.
The best part about the lens here in not only its zoom capabilities, but also its wide angle, which at 28mm is a lot wider than the standard 34mm wide angle that you usually see in consumer cameras.
Still, what bothers me the most about the TZ3's feature list is the lack of any kind of manual control. The camera leaves you at the disposal of its scene modes, which may be plenty, but not as fulfilling. Considering the camera's capabilities, manual focus and exposure would have drastically improved its performance.
Outdoor is where the TZ3 truly shines. Everything, right from the exposure levels to the colors and image sharpness, are brilliant as long as you have the sun pouring all over and around your subject.
Indoor lighting, however, seems to be the TZ3's proverbial kryptonite. When shooting night portrait without flash, the exposure goes way off to produce dark, muddy and underexposed images. Moreover, the colors look as if they're bleeding into one another and the camera's noise reduction engine only creates a smudgy image.
I tried shooting under multiple lighting conditions, and I figured the only way you can get good quality indoor images is by using the flash.
That said, the Panasonic TZ3 in outdoor light is capable of catching excellent detail levels and colors in images, making it ideal for outdoor activities.
While the price we got from Panasonic TZ3 was Rs 24,990, the actual market price with bill and warranty was closer to Rs 18,500. The problem is, when I'm spending that much on a compact digital camera, I'd want it to be great or at least good for most common circumstances, which include indoor shots.
The camera's tendency to underexpose in less-than-optimum conditions is quite a bummer, considering its excellent performance in all other departments. I'd recommend it to people whose vacations consist mainly of having fun in the sun. General purpose users, however, should look elsewhere.
|Dimensions||105 x 59 x 37 mm|
|Storage||SD/MMC/SDHC card + Internal|
|LCD Type||3.0 inch, 230,000 pixels|
|Effective Pixels||7.1 Megapixel|
|ISO Sensitivity||Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1250, (3200 high mode)|
|Shutter Speed||8-1/2000 sec|
|Aperture||F3.3 - F4.9|
|Scene Modes||Pet, Food, Snow, Baby1, Baby2, Beach, Candle, Sunset, Panning, Scenery, Fireworks, Soft skin, Starry sky, Night scene, Sports mode, Aerial photo, Party/indoor, Portrait mode, Night portrait, High sensitivity|
4 positions, plus 2 manual
|Flash||Auto, Red-Eye Auto, On, Red-Eye On, Red-Eye Slow Sync, Off|
|Self Timer||2-10 secs|
|Video Resolution||640 x 480 @ 30fps|
|Street Price||Rs 18,500|