Panasonic’s ability to read photographers’ minds is uncanny. The original TZ redefined the compact camera for the more serious shoot and every subsequent generation has simply given us more of what we want. Importantly, Panasonic looks for a balance in order to minimise the compromises so, for example, the TZ110 has a 25-250mm equivalent zoom – which is a good, workable focal range – matched with a ‘1-inch’ size sensor which has (comparatively) larger pixels to enhance low light performance.
The effective resolution of 20.1 MP delivers plenty of definition and detailing, balanced with low noise up to ISO 3200. A hybrid electronic/optical image stabilisation system – with five-axis correction – means you can leave the tripod at home whether you’re shooting stills or video. The TZ110 is part of Panasonic’s growing portfolio of 4K video cameras which is good news for videographers, but also allows for the company’s suite of ‘4K Photo’ modes. These are high-speed capture modes for still photography – shooting at 30 fps – which leverage the 8.3 megapixels frame size of 4K video. So, for example, the ‘4K Pre-Burst’ mode captures a sequence of 60 frames in two seconds, but the first 30 are actually recorded before the shutter button is fully released thereby greatly increasing your chances of snaring that ‘decisive moment’ frame. The TZ110 also the ‘Post Focus’ function which records a high-speed sequence of 4K frames at 30 fps, this time covering all the possible focus points – 49 in this instance – so you can subsequently select the one with the desired plane of focus. In fact, you simply touch – on the monitor screen – the subject matter in the image that you want to be in sharp focus, and the camera then finds the corresponding frame. Alternatively, you can have multiple versions of an image with different focus points. Other elements working in the TZ110’s favour include Panasonic’s ingenious ‘Depth From Defocus’ (DFD) autofocusing. Continuous shooting with full AF/AE adjustment is at 5.0 fps, but you can have 10 fps with the focus locked to the first frame. The TZ110 also has the nifty ‘Highlight/Shadow’ control from the current Lumix G cameras and which works in a similar fashion to Photoshop’s Curves. Then there’s the extensive suite of smart ‘iAUTO’ modes and, of course, manual operation is available. To top it all off, the metal-bodied TZ110 is a pretty looking thing and pocket-sized with being so small as to compromise operability… although the monitor panel is a touchscreen which greatly enhances the control efficiencies, including touch focusing.
It’s hard to see how Panasonic could improve on the Lumix TZ110 as a travel camera, but no doubt it will find ways. In the meantime though, it comfortably wins the crown in this category.