Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 Review

by Jeff Keller, DCRP Founder/Editor

Originally Posted: May 5, 2008

Last Updated: June 10, 2009

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 ($350) is the follow-up to the highly popular DMC-TZ3 compact ultra zoom, which was introduced to much praise last year. That camera offered a 10X, 28 - 280 mm lens with image stabilization in a midsize body, along with a host of point-and-shoot features.

So how did Panasonic top that? Here are the new features on the TZ5:

  • 9.1 effective Megapixel CCD (compared to 7MP on the TZ3)
  • Venus Engine IV image processor, which promises better noise reduction (among other things)
  • Super high resolution 3.0" LCD display with 460,000 pixels and auto brightness adjustment
  • Intelligent Exposure feature brightens dark areas of photos automatically
  • Face detection (for up to 15 faces) with subject tracking and digital redeye removal
  • High speed burst mode shoots at 6 fps (though at 2.5MP or less)
  • 720p movie mode records videos at 1280 x 720 with the optical zoom and image stabilizer available
  • Multi Aspect feature takes a photo at three aspect ratios (4:3, 3:2, 16:9)
  • Easy Zoom and Zoom Resume features (details later)
  • Enhanced slideshow feature
  • Component video output
  • Improved battery life

Not too shabby, eh? I suppose I should mention the TZ5's little brother, the DMC-TZ4 ($300). It has a more conventional 2.5" LCD, no digital redeye removal, and a lower resolution movie mode. Also, in a few months, the DMC-TZ50 ($450) will arrive, which has the same features as the TZ5, plus Wi-Fi support.

The TZ3 was one of my favorite cameras last year. Is the DMC-TZ5 a worthy replacement? Find out now in our review!

What's in the Box?

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 has an average bundle. Inside the box, you'll find:

  • The 9.1 effective Megapixel Lumix DMC-TZ5 camera
  • CGA-S007A lithium-ion rechargeable battery
  • Battery charger
  • Wrist strap
  • USB cable
  • A/V cable
  • CD-ROM featuring PhotoFunStudio, ArcSoft Media Impression and Panorama Maker, and drivers
  • 113 page camera manual (printed)

Most cameras have built-in memory these days, and the DMC-TZ5 is no exception. Panasonic supplies a decent amount of built-in memory on the TZ5 -- 50MB to be exact. While that's a lot more than you usually get, it still holds ten photos at the highest quality setting, so you'll want to buy a memory card right away. The TZ5 supports SD, SDHC, and MMC memory cards, and I'd suggest starting out with a 1GB or 2GB card. It's definitely worth spending a little more for a high speed card, though you don't need to go crazy (300X is probably overkill).

The DMC-TZ5 uses the same CGA-S007 lithium-ion battery as its predecessor. Despite that, Panasonic engineers managed to squeeze more juice out of this 3.7 Wh battery:

Camera Battery life, LCD on
(CIPA standard)
Battery used
Canon PowerShot SX100 IS * 400 shots 2 x 2500 mAh NiMH
Fuji FinePix S1000fd 500 shots 4 x 2500 mAh NiMH
Kodak EasyShare Z812 IS * 275 shots KLIC-8000
Olympus Stylus 1020 * 260 shots LI-50B
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 */** 270 shots CGA-S007
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ4 */** 330 shots CGA-S007
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 */** 300 shots CGA-S007
Pentax Optio Z10 180 shots D-LI72
Ricoh R8 */** 270 shots DB-70
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H10 * 310 shots NP-BG1

* Has optical image stabilization
** Wide-angle lens

Battery life numbers are provided by the manufacturer

Panasonic managed to improve battery life by about 10% on the DMC-TZ5, with the Venus Engine IV having a lot to do with that. In the group as a whole, the TZ5 is just slightly below average.

I do want to mention the usual issues about the proprietary batteries used by the TZ5 and most of the other cameras on the above list. They're expensive (a spare will cost you at least $39), and you can't use an off-the-shelf battery in an emergency. Not a huge issue, but certainly something to keep in mind.

Panasonic DE-A45 battery charger

When it's time to charge the battery, just pop it into the included charger. It takes approximately two hours for a full charge. This is my favorite type of charger -- it plugs directly into the wall, with no power cable needed.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ5 in the hand

The TZ5 has a built-in lens cover, so there's no clumsy lens cap to deal with (as there was on the original TZ1). As you can see, it's a remarkably small camera considering its focal range.

Panasonic offers just a few accessories for the DMC-TZ5. Here they are:

Accessory Model # Price * Description
Underwater case DMW-MCTZ5 From $269 Take your TZ5 up to 40 meters under the sea
Component video cable DMW-HDC2 From $40 Allows you to connect to a high definition TV
AC adapter DMW-AC5 From $63 Power the camera without wasting your batteries
Carrying cases DMW-CHTZ3
First one is a hard case, second is a soft leather case (with separate leather battery holder).
* Prices were accurate when review was published

Okay, so there are no conversion lenses, but that's still not too surprising, given the camera's size.

PhotoFunStudio for Windows

Panasonic includes several software applications with the DMC-TZ5. First up, we have PhotoFunStudio 2.0, which is a Windows-only application (Mac users can use iPhoto instead). The first way in which you'll probably use this software is for transferring photos off of your camera. I didn't see a way to select which photos were transferred -- it was all or nothing.

Once on the main screen (pictured above), you'll find a familiar thumbnail view of your photos. Photos can be organized (by date, category, keyword, and scene mode), e-mailed, printed, and rotated from this screen.

Editing in PhotoFunStudio for Windows

Select "retouch" and you'll get the editing window you see above. Here you can adjust things like brightness, contrast, color, and sharpness. Images can be changed to sepia or black and white, and redeye can be removed with the click of your mouse.

ArcSoft MediaImpression for Mac

Also included is ArcSoft's MediaImpression software, for Mac and Windows. This appears to be a more modern version of the old PhotoImpression software that Panasonic used to give you. MediaImpression can be used to import photos from the camera, with the unique option of removing redeye during import. After that's done, you get the usual thumbnail view.

Easy-Fix Wizard in MediaImpression

The software doesn't appear to have as many editing features as PhotoImpression used to, but it does have a handy Easy Fix wizard, which helps you straighten, crop, remove redeye, add brightness/contrast, sharpen, adjust color, and "make the subject stand out", all with one click. You can also add text, borders, and special effects to your photos. Naturally, there are e-mailing, printing, and archiving options available as well.

ArcSoft PanoramaMaker for Mac

Another piece of the ArcSoft suite is PanoramaMaker, which helps you combine photos that you've taken side-by-side into a single panorama. It's easy to use, and the results can be really impressive.

Panasonic includes a good (but not great) manual with the TZ5. While Panasonic's recent manuals are certainly better than they used to be in terms of user-friendliness, they still have too much fine print, in my opinion. Still, if you can navigate through all the fine print and confusing tables, you'll certainly find an answer to any question you may have about the camera.