A few years ago I found an absolute bargain in getting the Panasonic DMC-TZ1 for just £100, brand new, on eBay. It’s a 5MP with a 10x optical zoom which has been wonderful, especially when using the zoom at Disneyland Paris to get close up shots of the parade, like the one below:
Only recently have I come to the conclusion that I need a few more than 5MP in my camera, especially now our little boy is part of our family and we want to enlarge photos. As great as the DMC-TZ1 is, it’s a little bulky and anything other than very baggy jogging bottoms makes it’s fit into a pocket a tight one, so a smaller camera is also on my wish list. Lastly is an argument that’s been going round in my head non-stop for the last 2 days; do I need the ability to record High Definition (HD) film footage?
So, with that all in mind, here are the contenders:
This is the latest of the Panasonic’s fantastic super zoom series, of which the DMC-TZ1 was the original. It boasts 12MP, 10x optical zoom and HD video recording which also offers the ability to zoom while recording, a rare feature in most compact cameras. It’s all housed in a shell which is significantly smaller and lighter than the TZ1 and thanks to a visit to Comet, it has passed the comfortable trouser pocket fitting test. The one big negative? It comes in at £250, considerably more than I was intending to spend.
Let’s get straight to the facts – 10MP and 5x optical zoom with HD video recording, but no zoom while recording. Smaller than the two aforementioned super zoom cameras and cheaper too at £145. One of the big selling points is the touchscreen which controls a lot, but not all of the camera’s functions. though the optical zoom is stated as 5x, it offers extra optical if the MP level is reduced, which would be fine for normal size photos.
The 3rd in this trio of Panasonic possibilities (I’ve at least narrowed it down to one brand – when it comes to compacts and issues of zoom, Panasonic is the clear market leader) boasts 12MP and 5x optical zoom, with the extra optical zoom as described with the FX500, but no HD video recording. A big bonus is that the FS15 is the smallest and lightest of the cameras and the cheapest too, costing just £130.
So there we have it, three awesome cameras, but is one ticking all the boxes? Well the TZ7 does everything I want it to, and more, and though it isn’t as small as I initially wanted it does fit into my pocket. But is it worth at least £100 more than the other two? As much as I like the idea of retaining the 10x optical zoom of my TZ1, I have to admit that I don’t use it that often, and the other two do have the extra zoom available. When it comes to HD video recording, is that really necessary? It will mean bigger file sizes for a start, and we haven’t yet viewed a video taken on a camera on our TV – we usually reserve that pleasure for the laptop. If the answer is no to the 10x optical zoom and HD recording then surely the FS15 is the perfect camera at the lowest price, right? I keep thinking how much I’m getting a camera for the future with the TZ7, but I’d be paying twice as much for the pleasure. Maybe the FX500 is a happy medium between the two.
If anyone has any opinion, advice or suggestions of other cameras then please pitch in and help me resolve this dilema!