Panasonic DMC-TZ5 Review

Panasonic DMC-TZ5 Review

Super Zoom Camera, Travel Zoom Camera, Compact Camera

Really zoom-strong digital cameras are nothing new anymore, and they are now available in all shapes and “flavours”. However, despite their compactness, hardly any of them fit into a normal shirt pocket – with the exception of the Lumix cameras from Panasonic’s Travelers Zoom and TZ series. The latest of these is the Lumix DMC-TZ5, with which the TZ series launched in 2006 is already entering its third generation. The following digitalkamera.de test is intended to prove in full detail whether Panasonic has succeeded in switching generations and whether noticeable progress has been made.

Short evaluation


  • HDTV-compatible video resolution and HD component output (for A/V output)
  • Pleasantly large and high-resolution screen
  • The only shirt pocket-suitable wide-angle super zoom camera
  • Improved noise behaviour compared to the previous generation (but still typically high for compact cameras)


  • Tripod thread made of plastic and unfavourably placed
  • Video mode overhauled Motion JPEG codec
  • Easy autofocus “overtravel”, even with pre-focusing
  • No manual or semi-automatic setting options (e.g. for focus and exposure)

Ergonomics and workmanship

Even if you don’t see it at first glance: The DMC-TZ5 is even more compact and lighter than its predecessors TZ3 and TZ1 with its 103 x 59 x 37 millimetres and its official 214 grams (with battery and – thanks to internal 50 MB memory – without memory card – it reaches 238 g). The basic design hasn’t changed much; the grip bar is reshaped with every generation and at least the silver version of the smooth metal housing looks lighter or darker. The most striking distinguishing feature is the mode switch on the back of the camera, which switches from shooting mode to playback mode. Otherwise, most of the controls (program dial, main switch, ring-shaped zoom rocker switch with shutter release button and control keypad) are located in the usual position.

A new feature is an e-zoom button on the top of the camera, which can be used to “jump” from one end of the zoom to the other. With one push of a button you are in maximum tele-position, with the next push of a button the digital zoom is additionally switched to maximum, and with a further push of a button it goes immediately back to the extreme wide-angle position. The TZ3’s familiar function key for quick access to the most important recording settings is now called Q.Menu (for: Quick-Menu), and the macro setting is now finally uncoupled from the program dial (allowing close-ups in other recording modes as well).

As with the TZ3, the camera screen of the DMC-TZ5 is pleasantly large with a screen diagonal of 7.6 cm. The fineness of detail of the displayed images is particularly noticeable. No wonder with a given resolution of recently 460,800 pixels! The TZ5 does not have a possibility to manually adjust the sharpness, but with the high screen resolution, one can at least immediately see on the display whether the autofocus has focused properly or not. Very good to excellent are also the brilliance, the color fidelity, the noise behavior in low light and the anti-reflection of the screen; only the occasional jerking during fast camera pans is noticeable negatively. Special screen modes (automatic brightness control, manual monitor image enhancement, overhead mode) can also be called up via the quick selection menu.

We don’t have to go into the menu design in detail – not much has changed since the TZ1 (see screenshots). Typical for Panasonic, the TZ5 has a battery and memory card (SD/SDHC and, to a limited extent, MMC) in the same compartment. Although the tripod thread is far enough away from the corresponding access cover on the camera base so that a change of the memory card and/or the battery is also possible in tripod mode, the thread is made of plastic and unfavorably located on the outside of the camera (which not only makes panorama shots more difficult, but also makes the camera tilt to the side on some light tripods such as a Gorillapod). The TZ5’s connectors, which are mounted behind a hinged flap on the camera side, include an HDTV-compatible composite output (equivalent to 1080i), a USB/AV combo port (USB 2.0 high-speed with PictBridge compatibility) and a proprietary 5.1 V power input.


The DMC-TZ5 is a pure snapshot camera despite its interesting zoom range – even for advanced users. Although one can select the exposure metering mode (multi-panel, center-weighted integral, spot), display a grid and/or histogram on the screen, call up an exposure bracketing function and enter an exposure correction, the “expert features” do not go any further due to the lack of manual exposure control or at least automatic aperture control. So you have to rely on the many “intelligent” automatic functions of the camera.

There is an intelligent ISO control for the automatic increase of the light sensitivity (with adjustable upper limit of ISO 400, 800 or 1,600), the intelligent contrast control for the automatic compensation of high contrasts as well as the intelligent fully automatic (intelligent Auto). The latter tries to set the correct scene mode itself, find faces, switch on the flash if necessary (and detect and correct red eyes generated by it), detect backlight situations and other exposure problems, automatically switch to macro mode for close-up shots, automatically increase the sensitivity when the subject moves and switch on the image stabilizer all by itself when the camera moves. If you turn off the somewhat “trigger-happy” automatic flash (intelligent flash), the intelligent fully automatic works quite well; if you don’t like so much paternalism, you can switch to the normal picture mode (a kind of minimal automatic) or to one of the 23 shoting modes.

Of the two TZ models available in silver and black from March 2008, the Lumix DMC-TZ5 is the much better equipped camera, and the surcharge of 50 EUR compared to the 350 EUR expensive TZ4 is almost small. Both feature a lens with 10x optical zoom factor of the equivalent of 28-280 mm focal length in their bodies, which are very flat for superzoom cameras with 36 mm and only 240 g in weight. The TZ4 shares the common Lumix features mentioned above.

Your CCD sensor has a resolution of 8.1 megapixels, while the 2.5-inch monitor has a resolution of 230,000 pixels. The much better equipped TZ5 has an unusual 9.1 megapixel resolution, its monitor is three inches in size and resolves fine 460,000 pixels. In addition, it shares a few special features of the FX35. This includes the automatic contrast correction as well as the recording of HD videos with 1,280 x 720 pixels resolution at 30 frames per second – but the storage is also done “only” as Motion-JPEG. There is an HD output to match the video resolution, but this can only be used with an optionally available cable.

Panasonic’s typical motif modes are the two baby modes for happy parents and the pet mode for “master” and/or “mistress” (in all three modes, the age of the small creature is recalculated after entering the date of birth for each shot and brought to the photo if desired), the starry sky mode (here a limited setting of the exposure time is possible) or the multi-aspect mode (the camera automatically takes a 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9 shot in succession). The TZ5 can film with optical image stabilisation and even in HDTV 720p video mode (max. 1,280 x 720 pixels at 30 or 15 fps).

Unlike many other Lumix cameras, filming can be zoomed both optically and digitally. The lens then zooms in much more slowly so that there are no zoom noises that could be recorded. This is a very practical “compromise solution”. However, even when using larger memory cards, it is not possible to film for hours because there is a 2 GB limit for video recording and the camera does not make use of any more modern form of image compression (MPEG-4 or H.264 or DivX).

The DMC-TZ5 offers two continuous shooting modes, one of which has no limitation on the number of frames. The built-in miniature flash of the camera is probably too weak (LZ 5.6) to reload fast enough for serial shots and cannot be combined with it. Apart from the fact that the function for automatic recognition and retouching of red-eye cannot be called up afterwards and that it is absolutely necessary to remember to activate the corresponding flash setting before taking a picture, there is hardly anything to criticize when it comes to flash (exposure, uniformity of illumination, colour temperature, etc.). The functional repertoire of the TZ5 also includes a world time clock with travel date function, various colour modes (b/w, sepia, warm tone, rich colours etc.), a clipboard function (photographed cards, notes etc. are stored in a separate memory area), a voice memo function and numerous playback functions (e.g. cropping, rotating, juxtaposing, labeling images).


Just as you can see in the current Panasonic commercial on TV, the Golden Gate Bridge has to compress on other cameras to get a complete picture, while the DMC-TZ5 with its wide-angle lens doesn’t need such spectacular actions. In fact, the tenfold zoom lens of the TZ5 extends slightly into the wide-angle range and captures about the same image detail as a 28mm lens in a 35mm camera. The focal length range extends upwards to the equivalent of 280 millimetres; during the approx. 2.7 seconds that the lens takes from one end of the focal length to the other, the light intensity decreases (F3.3 for WW and F4.9 for Tele) and the lens tube moves a maximum of 4.5 centimetres out of the camera body (from the front plate of the camera to the front lens). Of the eleven lenses in the TZ5, three are aspherical, four have an aspherical surface and one is an ED lens; if you can’t handle all these terms, just remember that it’s a pretty elaborate design.

During lens manufacture, quality testing was carried out with test and measurement equipment and under Leica standards-compliant conditions, allowing the small zoom lens to bear the prestigious Leica name and Leica’s typical DC Vario-Elmar designation. The inscription “Mega O.I.S.” in turn indicates that an “Optical Image Stabilizer” is also on board, i.e. a part of the lens system can carry out compensatory movements to counteract the trembling movements of the photographer’s hand. A more detailed description of the system can be found in previous digitalkamera.de tests and messages. In order to further limit the risk of camera shake, you can set a shutter speed in the camera menu that must not be exceeded or at which the camera automatically switches on the on-board flash and/or increases the light sensitivity. The DMC-TZ5 offers several forms of automatic focusing so that the focus does not also fail from the point of view of the lens focus. You can either focus on faces (for up to 15 people and with “target tracking”) or locate the main subject in the conventional way (with one or more AF points) in the image. Which method one prefers (the otherwise quite fast and reliable face recognition works best with frontal faces), whether one prefers to work with 1, 3 or 9 measuring fields and whether one switches on the high-speed option is left to one’s own taste or personal photographing habits. The DMC-TZ5 focuses down to 5 cm either automatically (in iA mode) or at the touch of a button (using the macro button).


Picture quality

While many camera manufacturers continue their “pixel madness” despite increasingly loud criticism and protests from consumers and the trade press (meanwhile they have reached 14.7 megapixels), this is currently still limited to the Edelminis. The superzoom cameras have not yet crossed the 10 megapixel mark across all brands, and the DMC-TZ5 with its usable maximum resolution of 9.1 megapixels almost seems like an anachronism. But it also contains a 10.1-megapixel CCD in a relatively small format (form factor: 1/2.33″) and that’s still a lot. Even the powerful Venus Engine IV processor will probably have a lot of trouble keeping the image noise in check. So much for the theory.

In practice, the processor and its noise reduction algorithms do not do a bad job. Although the TZ5 achieves the low noise values certified by the DCTau measurement procedure (good at ISO 100 and 400, very good at ISO 200 and excellent at ISO 800 and 1,600) only through a very strong and partly clearly visible (in the form of smoothing effects) treatment of the image noise, the noise suppression is no longer quite as aggressive as with earlier Lumix models, and the color noise, which is disturbing due to its character, is hardly visible over the entire sensitivity level range.

The appearance of the TZ5 is also astonishingly good. Although the combination of wide-angle zoom and zoom level is not easy for most cameras, the TZ5’s lens has low distortion and quite good vignetting values. The lens also makes good use of the performance and resolution potential of the image sensor (at the wide-angle and telephoto ends) to good/very good (in the medium focal length). Although there is a loss of resolution from the center of the image to the edges of the image, it is only medium to low for a tenfold zoom lens.

There is no other real reason for criticism when it comes to input dynamics, output dynamics and the tuning of the two image quality levels per resolution setting. In the case of sharpening, one could also regard the adjustment as good, since it is hardly visible or low over the entire brightness range and also very homogeneous (edges of different orientations are equally highlighted). This simplifies the post-processing of the pictures on the computer, but due to the few extended adjustment possibilities, the TZ5 as a point-and-shoot camera is actually rather something for friends of ready-to-use “crisp” pictures. The tonal value rendition, which is quite the same with all sensitivity settings, with its soft, i.e. low-contrast, lights and shadows, is more like the typical tuning of compact cameras. The processing of fine image details is of medium strength.

The TZ5 exposes quite well for a compact camera in most cases, and even with automatic white balance there are hardly any “outliers”. The problem of the red-orange sting under incandescent light, which is also known from many other cameras (across brands and types), can be solved well with the corresponding white balance presetting or better still with a manual white balance; with fluorescent lamps the automatic has no problems, which is also better, as the Panasonic camera typically lacks a presetting for such light. Colors are reproduced vividly, but without significant deviation from the hue.

Bottom line

If the other superzoom cameras are too “bulky” for you and you are looking for a camera with as much zoom as possible for your vest or shirt pocket, you won’t find a real alternative to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 at the moment. However, in comparison to the more voluminous “zoom cannons”, the TZ5 also does without advanced features such as manual and semi-automatic exposure control; some competitor models also offer certain expansion options (connection options for a more powerful flash and/or optical accessories such as filters, close-up lenses or converters) that cannot be found on the TZ5. In this respect, the TZ5 is only the right choice if you’re on holiday (like all compact cameras, it feels most comfortable in plenty of light) or anywhere else where you just want to take pictures and have no further ambitions – the TZ5 cuts a fine figure as an automatic snapshot camera.

Fact sheet

Fact sheet
Manufacturer Panasonic
Model Lumix DMC-TZ5
Price approx. 400 EUR
Sensor Resolution 9.1 megapixels
Max. Image resolution
(aspect ratio)
3.648 x 2.736
Lens 3,3-4,9/28-280
Filter threads
ViewfinderField of viewDiopter adjustment –––
LCD monitor resolution rotatable as


Video output

as seeker

Composite, HDTV Component Output
Program automation yes
Aperture priority
Aperture priority
manual exposureBULB long time exposure ––


Yes, 19
Exposure metering Multi-field IntegralSpot
FlashPatternPatternFlash connection yes5
.6 (measurement
Remote release
Interval shooting
Storage medium SD/SDHCMMC
(photo only)
Video modeFormatCodecResolution

Frame rate (max.)


.280 x 72030

Sensitivity Automatic Manual ISO 100-400 (with flash up to 1.000
)ISO 100-1.600
White balanceAutomaticSunCloudsFluorescent lampBulbMiscellaneousManual yesye-ye-ye-yes
AutofocusNo. of measuring fieldsAF auxiliary light Speed 1, 3 or 9 (partly with high-speed function
)red-orange (LED)
0.7-0.8 s
Languages Yes, 15
Switch-on time 1,7 s
One-hand operation
(zoom and shutter release)
238 g
Continuous advance functionCount of continuous advanceFrequency

)Continuous advance
with flash

ZoomZoom adjustmentZoom levelsTime

WW to tele

motorised via ring rocker stepless2

,7 s

Storage speeds*JPEGRAW 0.6 s (3.2 MByte
Triggering during storage possible yes
Battery life approx. 300 images according to CIPA
– = “not applicable” or “not available
“* with 2 GByte Panasonic Class 6 SD memory card

Short evaluation


  • HDTV-compatible video resolution and HD component output (for A/V output)
  • Pleasantly large and high-resolution screen
  • The only shirt pocket-suitable wide-angle super zoom camera
  • Improved noise behaviour compared to the previous generation (but still typically high for compact cameras)


  • Tripod thread made of plastic and unfavourably placed
  • Video mode overhauled Motion JPEG codec
  • Easy autofocus “overtravel”, even with pre-focusing
  • No manual or semi-automatic setting options (e.g. for focus and exposure)

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 Datasheet


Sensor CCD sensor 1/2.3″ 6.2 x 4.6 mm (crop factor 5.6
)10.7 megapixels (physical), 9.1 megapixels (effective)
Pixel pitch 1.8 µm
Photo resolution
3.456 x 2.592 pixels (4:3)
3.072 x 1.728 pixels (16:9)
2.560 x 1.440 pixels (16:9)
1.600 x 1.200 pixels (4:3)
640 x 480 pixels (4:3)
Picture formats JPG
Colour depth 24 bits (8 bits per color channel)
Metadata Exif (version 2.21), DCF standard
Video resolution
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 30 p
640 x 480 (4:3) 30 p
320 x 240 (4:3) 30 p
Video format
MOV (Codec Motion JPEG)
Audio format (video) WAV


Focal length 28 to 280 mm (35mm equivalent
)10x ZoomDigital Zoom
Focus range 50 cm to infinity (wide-angle
)200 cm to infinity (telephoto)
Macro sector 5 cm (wide-angle
)100 cm (telephoto)
Apertures F3.3 to F8 (wide-angle
)F4.9 to F11 (telephoto)
Autofocus yes
Autofocus Functions Single autofocus, continuous autofocus, AF Assist Light

Viewfinder and Monitor

Monitor 3.0″ TFT LCD monitor with 460,000 pixels


Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement, spot measurement
Exposure times 1/2,000 to 8 s (automatic)
Exposure control Program automation
Bracketing function Bracket function with maximum 3 shots, step size from 1/3 to 1 EV
Exposure compensation -2.0 to +2.0 EV with step size of 1/3 EV
Sensitivity to light ISO 100 to ISO 1.600 (manual)
Remote access non-existent
Motives Baby, fireworks, skin, high sensitivity, candlelight, landscape, aerial photography, night landscape, night portrait, party, portrait, self portrait, sunset, food, sports, starry sky, beach/snow, animals, underwater, 0 more motif programs
Picture effects Saturated color reproduction, Natural color reproduction, Warm tone and cold tone filters
White balance Automatic, Clouds, Sun, Fine-tuning, Fluorescent lamp, Manual
Continuous shooting maximum 7 (standard mode) or 5 (fine mode) consecutive frames at a frame rate of 2.5 frames per second in full resolution, unlimited continuous shooting also possible; 6 frames per second with 2 megapixel resolution
Self-timer Self-timer at intervals of 2 s, special features: or 10 s (optional)
Shooting functions Live histogram


Flash built-in flash
Flash range 0.6 to 5.3 m at wide-angle1
.0 to 3.6 m at telephoto flash range
at ISO auto
Flash functions Auto, Flash On, Flash Off, Slow Sync, Red-eye Reduction


Image stabilizer optical image stabilizer
Multi Media Card
Internal memory yes (50 MByte)
Power supply 1 x lithium ion (Li-Ion) battery (3.7 V, 1,000 mAh
)270 images according to CIPA standard
Playback Functions Image index
Voice memo Voice memo (WAV format)
Face recognition Face recognition
Grid can be faded in during recording yes
Ports Data interfaces: USBUSB Type
: USB 2.0 High Speed Video Output
: yes (Component Output)
Supported direct printing methods PictBridge
Tripod socket 1/4″
Features and Miscellaneous Venus Engine IV Signal Processor Switchable
Optical Image Stabilizer (O.I.S.) Optional Permanent or Triggered9/3/1 Point Auto Focus
(some with High Speed Mode) with Spot AF Function Face Detection
Red-eye ReductionMulti-Format Function AdditionalResolution Levels of 3.


52 x 2,3682
color tone adjustment (cool/warm)
“extra optical zoom” function with up to 16.9x zoom factorHigh sensitivity mode
with up to ISO 6,40015
, 30 or 60 s exposure time in “Starry Sky” program mode
Camera shake warning

Size and weight

Weight 234 g (ready for operation)
Dimensions W x H x D 103 x 59 x 37 mm


included accessories Li-Ion batteryChargerUSB connection cableAudio/Video cableCarrying strapPicture editing software

ArcSoft PhotoImpressionCamera software
Lumix Simple ViewerPhotoFun
Studio ViewerPanorama software
ArcSoft PanoramaMakerUSB device driver

optional accessory Spare batteryPower supplyCamera bag
USB 2.0 High Speed

Firmware update 1.2 for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4 and DMC-TZ5: Autofocus speed boost

Panasonic today released new firmware for its Lumix DMC-TZ4 and DMC-TZ5 compact superzoom cameras on its international support page. Obviously, the engineers have found and implemented an optimization potential for the autofocus speed, so that the two cameras focus faster after the update. However, Panasonic does not reveal how much faster. The update can be installed by the user, download and instructions (very detailed) via the link below. Since the update is associated with certain risks, you can also have it done by a dealer or the Panasonic camera service.

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