The 14.1-megapixel TZ30 features PASM modes, something advanced users will appreciate. Even if you're the point-and-shot type, it's good to know when you're ready to go on to the next level of digital photography, the semi-automatic and manual modes are already there. With the option to manually adjust shooting settings, the TZ30 offers a wealth of creative options to budding shutterbugs. The aperture value goes from f/3.3 to f/8, while shutter speed ranges from 15 seconds to 1/2000 of a second. If you like, you can save four sets of custom camera settings to the C1 and C2 modes on the mode dial.
The TZ30 sports a 20x optical zoom lens; this gives a much further reach than the TZ20's 16x zoom lens (or 480mm vs. 384mm in 35mm equivalent). The focal length at the widest end remains at 24mm, which is great for indoor shots. While the LCD boosts of a 460K-dot resolution, somehow it didn't look very sharp to us. There were a couple of times when we found ourselves not too impressed with what we were looking at on the screen, but a quick transfer of the files to our PC and then viewing the photos on a proper monitor told us a different story. In general, colors are vivid, in tune with the tastes of most point-and-shoot users. Even at its maximum 20x zoom, the image stabilization of the TZ30 did a good job of ensuring a sharp enough image. Naturally, your mileage may vary, depending on how steady you can keep your hands in the first place.
Autofocus was found to be speedy, though not as extreme as the 0.1 second that Panasonic claims its Light Speed AF is capable of. As with most cameras, AF tends to be slower at a longer zoom range. To ensure that you get the shot you wanted, we recommend using either the 5fps burst mode (that has AF tracking between exposures) or the 10fps mode (but focus is fixed). You can also shoot at 60fps, but the photos are recorded at a lower resolution. All in all, we are pretty satisfied with the performance of the TZ30. Our main gripes are that the camera tends to underexpose images slightly, and images appear a tad soft in general. The latter could be because noise reduction is at work even at low ISO settings.
In our resolution test, the camera managed to obtain a pretty impressive score of 2,200 LPH (both horizontal and vertical). Noise became more of an issue from ISO400.
These are sample photographs shot with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ30. The photos have not been post-processed and are copyright to SPH Magazines. They are provided for your reference only and we ask that you do not reproduce them elsewhere. Click for the full-resolution images.