Most ultra-zoom digital cameras are big and bulky, but the 10x Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 has a unique optical system that makes this 8.4-ounce camera one of the only pocket-sized (assuming your pockets are roomy) ultra-zoom digital cameras available. The DMC-TZ5 packs a lot in a small package, with 9.1 megapixels, an upgraded sensor and a 28 mm wide-angle lens. Picture quality rates as very good, with "amazingly little lens distortion," according to Andrew Alexander of Imaging-Resource.com. However, Lori Grunin of CNET says the "aggressive smoothing" (noise-reduction software) "reduces detail in indoor shots." Performance, on the other hand, is zippy. Power-up time is about a second, with full focus shutter lag about 0.4 seconds and prefocus lag only .011 seconds. Important features include optical image stabilization (which helps prevent blurry images caused by camera shake), HD movie mode with zoom and a 3-inch, 460,000-pixel LCD screen. The camera, however, does not have a viewfinder and battery life is only good for about 300 shots.
Reviews say the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 is easy to use, with an updated yet simplified menu interface. However, this is strictly a point-and-shoot camera, so those who like lots of control might want to look elsewhere; the TZ5 does not have any manual controls. The highly rated Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ28 (Discontinued) isn't as compact, but it has an 18x zoom lens and RAW (uncompressed) image support. For a more powerful compact point-and-shoot, look no further than the DMC-TZ5's successor -- the Panasonic Lumix ZS3. The DMC-ZS3 tips the scales at only 7.2 ounces and includes 10.1-megapixel resolution, a 12x lens and HD movies with stereo sound recording. However, you'll pay at least $100 more for the upgrades.
Photography and technology sites such as Imaging-Resource.com, DCResource.com, PopPhoto.com, DigitalCameraReview.com and CNET offer detailed reviews of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5. Rounding out our sources are more than 400 user reviews at Amazon.com, which help to reveal how this camera performs with extensive, long-term use.
Imaging-Resource.com conducts exhaustive testing. Andrew Alexander finds the Panasonic DMC-TZ5 a worthy upgrade to the already good DMC-TZ3, saying the updated model has amazingly little lens distortion. He also likes the added benefit of HD movie recording, the simplified menu interface and lighter weight.
Review: Panasonic DMC-TZ5, Andrew Alexander, July 25, 2008
Editor Jeff Keller calls the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 "arguably the best camera in the 'compact' ultra-zoom class" and is especially delighted with the video quality. Negatives include some noise in the images and "sluggish" focusing in low light.
Review: DCRP Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5, Jeff Keller, Jan. 25, 2009
In this detailed lab report, Howard concludes that the Panasonic DMC-TZ5 is "a winner" that he recommends over some other ultra-zoom digital cameras with the same zoom range (10x).
Review: Lab Test: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5, Jack Howard, December 16, 2008
CNET ranks nine ultra-zooms after testing each -- which is helpful since all of them receive the same rating of 3.5 stars out of five. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 places third, with one major plus being zoom capability while shooting movies. However, Grunin notes that the camera's noise reduction software "reduces detail in indoor shots."
Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 (Black), Lori Grunin, June 23, 2008
The Panasonic DMC-TZ5 earns a Highly Recommended rating -- not exclusive on this website but rare for an ultra-zoom. Lars Rehm says that despite some "minor image quality issues," it is versatile and fun to work with.
Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 Concise Review, Lars Rehm, April 2008
DigitalCameraReview.com's reports are thorough and professional, but they fall short of some other review sources because there's no easy way to see which cameras are best. Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 include accurate color and a good-quality lens, but some picture flaws are noted.
Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 Review, David Rasnake, May 5, 2008
More than 400 owners review the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5, and most are very positive. The few complaints name trouble with audio on movies, disappointing performance in poor light (a common complaint on ultra-zooms) and difficulty fitting the camera into a jeans pocket.
Review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5K, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of June 2009