Panasonic Lumix TZ70 – First Impressions from CES 2015
Unveiled at CES 2015, the Panasonic Lumix TZ70 is a superzoom camera you can fit into your coat pocket. Given it doesn’t cost the earth either at £350, it’ll have you wondering what the catch is.
Well, this is a compact camera with a small sensor, and therefore it’s going to offer limited low-light performance. But the changes Panasonic has made since the Panasonic TZ60 are out to improve this, while also bringing a new modernising extras too.
Panasonic Lumix TZ70 – What’s New?
The most important change for pure image quality in the Panasonic Lumix TZ70 is one that might initially sound like a downgrade.
Like the TZ60, the TX70 has a relatively small 1/2.3-inch sensor – more or less the default size for a compact camera. However, its resolution has been reduced. Where the older TZ60 is an 18-megapixel camera, this one has a 12-megapixel sensor.
The idea is that while there may be a very minor sacrifice in detail captured in perfect lighting, the lower-res sensor should help improve low-light performance in the Panasonic Lumix TZ70. As fairly dodgy low-light shot quality was one of our main criticisms of the TZ60, it’s a sensible move.
We didn’t get to test it out on the show floor of CES 2015 where we tried out the TZ70 first-hand, but we’ll do so in our full review. Let’s just hope the sales people in PC World will be able to sell the downgrade to the average punter evidence-free too.
There’s one other major change, and this is one that really helps the Panasonic Lumix TZ70 feel like an up-to-date camera: Panasonic has massively increased the quality of the EVF.
The Panasonic Lumix TZ60 was the first camera in its class to offer an electronic viewfinder, something that’s seen by some as necessary for a camera to be taken seriously – assuming it doesn’t have an optical viewfinder, of course. Last year’s model’s EVF was, in hindsight, little more than a prototype.
Its 200k-dot resolution was nowhere near high enough to seem anything other than an unfortunate compromise. The Panasonic Lumix TZ70 is here to fix this, massively increasing resolution of the EVF to 1.16 million dots. It’s still fairly small, but its view is quality-wise now much closer to the image you’ll see on the rear display, which is a 3-inch 1040k-dot screen.
The EVF also offers an eye sensor, meaning the view will automatically switch between the screen and viewfinder without you having to worry about pressing fiddly little buttons on the back. For many, the EVF improvements will be the crucial draw of the Panasonic Lumix TZ70.
Panasonic Lumix TZ70 – Design and Features
These two important changes aside, the Panasonic Lumix TZ70 looks quite a lot like last year’s model. It’s alarmingly compact given the zoom size, making it a good camera to take around with you 24/7.
Panasonic has made a few little design tweaks though. One of the obvious seems almost trivial – the contours of the top plate have changed a bit, with a more pronounced ‘step’ just past the mode dial. Is it to fit in more electronics for the improved EVF? Maybe.
The grip has also changed, offering a larger, smoother curve rather than just a tiny rubbery outcrop on the front.
Naturally, the grip remains fairly small, but after a quick feel we’re pretty happy with how the camera operates, with more than a nod to the keener photographers out there. The Panasonic Lumix TZ70 isn’t a camera that assumes you’ll want to shoot in full Auto all the time.
There’s a PASM mode dial up top, and a smooth control ring around the lens to offer manual control that doesn’t feel cramped by the small dimensions of the rear plate.
The Panasonic Lumix TZ70 is also one of the few cameras of this type that offers RAW shooting, giving you greater control post-shoot.
Panasonic Lumix TZ70 – Lens and Sensor
We’re holding out for slightly better low-light performance compared to the TZ60, but otherwise the Panasonic Lumix TZ70 is very much at the same level as its predecessor. They both have 1/2.3-inch sensors and the same lens specs.
A 24-720mm lens gives you fantastic versatility, especially as inbuilt optical stabilisation means you should be able to use much of the range handheld in good lighting.
In more technical terms, the lens is not a marvel, though. Its maximum aperture settings of f/3.3-6.4 across the range mean you’ll need to use higher ISO settings as soon as the light conditions dip below what’s optimal.
By all means expect a slightly improvement on the TZ60, but there’s only so much that can be squeezed out of a superzoom this small (and affordable) at this point.
Stepping back to the lighter side for a minute, the Panasonic Lumix TZ70 has NFC and Wi-Fi, making it fairly easy to transfer photos to a phone on the fly.
The Panasonic Lumix TZ70 is a small but important update to the TZ60 – but then, we rather liked that camera anyway. It’s also an important recognition on Panasonic’s part that last year’s viewfinder just really doesn’t cut it anymore.
While the introduction of this camera may see the TZ60’s price plummet to too-good-too-pass-up levels, the TZ70 is a worthwhile upgrade if the price gap isn’t overly huge.