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Review: Panasonic TZ57 (ZS45)
3:00 am | March 31, 2015

Author: admin | Category: Cameras | Comments: None

Review: Panasonic TZ57 (ZS45)

Overview, build quality and handling

Launched at the same time as the TZ70, the TZ57 is intended as the TZ70’s more affordable sibling. For the reduction in cost, you inevitably get a reduction in features (there’s a shorter zoom, no raw format shooting and no viewfinder), but you are still left with some pretty appealing specs for travel photographers.

The TZ57 features a 16 million pixel high-sensitivity MOS sensor, and a 20x optical zoom which gives you an equivalent focal length of 28-560mm in 35mm terms. There’s also a digital zoom which boosts that reach to 40x.

Although not touch sensitive, the three-inch, 1,040k dot LCD screen tilts to face all the way forward, making it ideal for selfies, but also useful when framing other awkward shots.

Other features include full manual control, inbuilt Wi-Fi and full HD video recording.

Panasonic Lumix TZ57

Build Quality & Handling

By compact camera standards, the TZ57 is fairly chunky and heavy, and although you should still be able to fit it into your jeans pocket, there are slimmer 20x optical zoom cameras on the market (such as the Sony WX350). On the plus side, the heft gives it a feel of quality.

On the front of the camera is a rubberised grip which helps your finger to sit snugly and comfortably. All of the buttons on the TZ57 can be found grouped on the right hand side of the camera body, making it easy to use it one-handed.

Panasonic Lumix TZ57

Panasonic Lumix TZ57

A mode dial is found on top of the camera, which allows you to quickly switch between the different exposure modes available without having to delve into a menu. On this dial you’ll find all the usual modes, such as aperture priority, scene mode, intelligent auto, creative mode, and helpfully, a couple of slots for custom settings.

Near the power button is a dedicated Wi-Fi button. This placement is a little awkward since sometimes you’ll accidentally hit this when you’re trying to switch the camera on and off and wonder why nothing is happening.

Unlike the TZ70, the TZ57 has no dial around the lens, so if you want to change aperture or shutter speed when shooting in manual or semi-automatic modes, you’ll need to first press the Exposure button on the back of the camera, and then the directional keys to make changes. Left and right controls aperture, while up and down controls shutter speed.

Panasonic Lumix TZ57

To make quick changes to other key settings, there is a quick menu, accessed via a dedicated button on the back of the camera. From here, you can alter things such as sensitivity (ISO), white balance and autofocusing mode. It would be nice to be able to customise the quick menu to add, or remove, settings as you see fit.

Unfortunately there’s no way to set a specific autofocus point, which is disappointing on a camera which otherwise affords full manual control. Instead, you can let the camera choose from one of 21 points for you, or you can choose one point in the middle of the frame and focus and recompose if your subject is off-centre.

The tilting screen feels pretty secure on its hinge. If you tilt it to face forward, by default “self-portrait” mode will be entered. You can switch this off if you wish, but it basically means that there will be a three second delay before the shutter fires, giving you the opportunity to perfect your pout. You can also switch on skin smoothing when in selfie mode if you feel so inclined.

Panasonic Lumix TZ57

Using the camera’s inbuilt Wi-Fi is straightforward. The first time you connect, you can scan a QR code from within the Panasonic Image App and all the relevant settings will be added to your phone, ready for every subsequent time you connect. Frustratingly, you can’t change too much from the app itself, as you can with other Panasonic cameras, as some of the options (such as white balance) are greyed out. You can zoom the lens in and out, or alter exposure compensation though. You can also send pictures across from the camera to your phone or device for quick sharing on social networks.

Performance and verdict

We continue to be impressed with the performance that Panasonic compacts are capable of putting in, and the TZ57 is no different, I’m pleased to report.

Directly from the camera, images display a nice level of vibrance without displaying so much saturation they have an unnatural appearance.

Panasonic TZ57 sample image

Click here for a larger image.

Panasonic TZ57 sample image

Click here for a full size version.

Panasonic TZ57 sample image

Click here for a full size version.

If you examine images at 100%, you can see some image smoothing, but it’s no worse than other compact cameras of its kind. The overall impression of detail when looking at images at normal printing or web sizes is very good indeed, especially when looking at images taken in good light.

As the light drops and you need to up the sensitivity, a greater loss of detail starts to occur. Examining an image taken at ISO 1600 for instance reveals some areas of the image have a painterly, smudgy look – but again, at normal viewing or printing sizes it’s not too problematic. The top sensitivity setting available is ISO 3200, which, while useable at small printing and viewing sizes, is best reserved for those dark situations where it’s absolutely necessary.

Panasonic TZ57 sample image

Click here for a larger image.

The camera’s automatic metering system does a reasonable job, although there is a slight tendency to underexpose by just a touch, meaning you’ll need to dial in some exposure compensation now and then. The camera’s automatic white balance copes well, even with artificial light.

Focusing is generally quick and accurate, especially when light levels are good. In lower light, the camera will take a little longer to focus, but it’s rare to get a false focus confirmation. Activating the macro focusing mode allows you to get very close to the subject, which is useful for frame-filling shots.

Panasonic TZ57 sample image

Click here for a larger image.

Shot with the zoom at its longest optical focal length.

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Taken with the digital zoom – you can clearly see the loss in quality.

Click here for a larger image.

A 20x optical zoom gives you plenty of scope, and luckily those images taken at the far end of the optical reach display a good level of detail, while image stabilisation helps to keep image blur to a minimum. You will see a noticeable loss of detail if you use the additional digital zoom, but it’s nevertheless useful to have if you really want to get closer to the subject.

Panasonic has one of the best ranges of digital filters on the market, offering creative and fun options. It’s worth experimenting with all of those on offer to see which you like – I am a big fan of Retro, Cross Process and Toy Effect. It’s a shame that raw format shooting isn’t available, though, as you’ll be stuck with any filter you apply should you change your mind down the line.

We liked

There’s a fair few things to like about the TZ57. It’s easy to use and fun to boot, and the digital filters allow you to get really creative with your shots.

We disliked

It’s a little bit frustrating that some of the key features from the TZ70 don’t make it onto this cheaper version. It would be really nice to see raw format shooting here, so that you could take full control of images in post production should you need it. Not being able to change the autofocus point also seems like an odd omission from a camera which otherwise affords a great deal of flexibility.

Verdict

The TZ57 has a great set of features and should be appealing to travelling and holidaying photographers looking for something which is capable of taking great shots in a no nonsense package.

Both beginners and enthusiasts should enjoy using the camera as it features a great range of automatic and creative modes alongside the ability to take full manual control should you need it.

Panasonic Lumix TZ57

Panasonic Lumix TZ57

The tilting screen is great for selfies, which again should make it appealing to those wanting a holiday camera, but it’s a shame it’s not touch sensitive. On the plus side, this probably helps to keep the cost of the camera down – the TZ57 does offer good value for the feature set.

Most importantly, however, image quality is good. JPEGs are bright, punchy and detailed and the camera copes pretty well with low light shooting.



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