Dead Tools

Lumix TZ1

Best small digital camera

The previous Lumix digital camera I raved about earlier is no longer being manufactured, so this improved Lumix digital camera is the one I now use and recommend. At least for the next few months.

The main advantage the Lumix has over other ever-better digital cameras is their high powered optical ultra zooms. This one has a 10X zoom, which gives it telephoto capabilities in a camera that can hide in my shirt or pants pocket. It is the equivalent of having a 35mm – 350 mm zoom lens for free! It performs this magic using a clever prism system inside. And like the previous Lumixes it applies very capable image stabilization to pictures so they are very sharp even in low light. It sports a fast Leica lens for additional ease in taking pictures anywhere without flash (my preference). I am furthered endeared to this new model because it has instant power-up. Its screen is on and ready to shoot the moment I turn it on. The rest of the features are now pretty standard in digital point-and-shoots.

This small camera fits in the palm of my hand and does just about everything my old 35mm Nikons with five heavy lenses did, much faster and better. (I carried two SLR bodies and five lenses around every day all day for almost 8 years.) I also prefer it to the high end digital SRL Nikons and Canons now popular with pros. The Lumix TZ1 does not capture RAW files, but most non-professionals won’t need that. While it does macro closeups well, it could really use a wide-angle option, but that’s the only thing I miss.
Compared to $1,000 for a digital SLR, this baby is about $320. I carry mine everywhere with me in my jacket or pants, and the quality of my images is better than what I got from my 35mm Nikons because I can shoot in lower light, further, with less blur. I would have died for this miniature high quality camera when I was shooting every day in Asia decades ago.

I should also mention that with a 1 gig memory card in it, it can capture up to 20 minutes of okay (848 x 480) video — with zoom!

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1 is the best general purpose digital camera to get at the moment.

-- KK 08/7/06

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