Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20

      Photo Review 8.5

      In summary

       A new flagship model for Panasonic’s popular TZ (Travel Zoom) series of compact digicams.It’s been just over a year since we reviewed Panasonic’s last TZ-series camera, the TZ10. This camera has been so popular it’s little wonder the company waited until January 2011 before unveiling not one but two updates: the TZ20 and a simpler (and cheaper) model, the TZ18. Many of the features that made the TZ10 a success have been upgraded to better suit the target market: travellers looking for a full-featured, pocketable camera. . . [more]

      Full review



      It’s been just over a year since we reviewed Panasonic’s last TZ-series camera, the TZ10. This camera has been so popular it’s little wonder the company waited until January 2011 before unveiling not one but two updates: the TZ20 and a simpler (and cheaper) model, the TZ18. Many of the features that made the TZ10 a success have been upgraded to better suit the target market: travellers looking for a full-featured, pocketable camera.

      Physically, most of the changes to the new model are superficial. The front panel has had some cosmetic adjustments but the lens, flash and self-timer/AF-Assist lamp are in the same places as they were on the TZ10.


      Front view of the DMC-TZ20. (Source: Panasonic.)

      The most visible difference on the rear panel is the absence of the Movie recording button, which is shifted to the top panel. However, the LCD monitor is now a touch screen, although its resolution and other characteristics are unchanged.


      Rear view of the DMC-TZ20. (Source: Panasonic.)

      The top panel layout is also the same as on the TZ10, with a minor relocation of the on-off switch to make space for the Movie button. The four speaker holes at the left hand end of the top panel are now grouped in a square instead of a line and the clipboard setting on the mode dial is replaced by a 3D mode, although not in the same position.


      Top view of the DMC-TZ20. (Source: Panasonic.)

      Features carried over from the TZ10 include the iAuto and P, A, S and M shooting modes, GPS tagging, Power O.I.S. stabilisation, 3-inch/460K-dot LCD monitor and HD video recording capabilities. The top ISO setting in the new camera remains at ISO 1600, with ISO 6400 available only in the High-Sensitivity Scene mode.

      The ‘Intelligent Resolution’ processing technology introduced with the TZ10 is also provided in the TZ20. This function can be used to improve the apparent sharpness of still images or, with the new Intelligent Zoom setting, increase the zoom magnification from 16x to 21x.

      What’s New?
      Most of the improvements in the TZ20 are incremental enhancements to features provided in the TZ10. They include:
      1. Panasonic has swapped from a CCD to a MOS (metal oxide semiconductor) sensor and boosted resolution to 14.1MP in the TZ20 (compared with 12.1MP in the TZ10). Consequently, the largest image size has gone from 4000 x 3000 to 4320 x 3240 pixels. Since there’s been no increase in the actual sensor size, the photosites in the new model are smaller than the TZ10’s.
      2. The TZ20’s zoom range is longer at16x (the 35mm format equivalent of 24-384mm), instead of 12x (25-300mm) in the TZ10. You can increase the magnification to 33.8x with digital zooming in the Extra Optical Zoom mode. Panasonic has also added an i.Zoom setting that uses super resolution technology to further increase the zoom ratio by up to 1.3x without affecting image quality. On the downside, the maximum lens aperture at full tele zoom is reduced from f/4.9 in the TZ10 to f/5.9 in the TZ20. Leica DC Vario-Elmar lenses are used in both cameras, the TZ20 boasting Nano Surface Coating to minimise flare and ghosting.
      3. The addition of the Venus Engine FHD processor has enabled HD video recording format to be upgraded from AVCHD Lite to the ‘full bottle’ AVCHD, with a concomitant increase in video resolution from 720p to Full HD (1080p).
      4. The ability to record 3D still pictures (but not video clips) has been added. In this mode, the camera records 20 shots in four seconds as you pan slowly across the scene. A guide is displayed while recording. It then selects the two that make the best stereo pair and saves them in MPO format. They can’t be displayed in 3D on the camera’s screen; only in 2D. You can play and edit them with a pair of free applications that can be downloaded from
      5. The fastest shutter speed is now 1/4000 second, instead of 1/2000 second.
      6. A 1:1 aspect ratio with six image sizes has been added to the 4:3. 3:2 and 16:9 options provided by the TZ10.
      7. An Active mode has been added to the Power O.I.S. settings but it’s only for use in Movie mode.
      8. Additional Scene pre-sets include Handheld Night Shot, High Dynamic (with three settings: Standard, Art and B&W), Photo Frame and High-Speed Movie. The High-Speed Burst setting on the TZ10 isn’t provided in the TZ20.
      9. A mechanical shutter mechanism allows the TZ20 to support continuous shooting at full resolution with a frame rate of 10 frames/second for up to 15 frames with continuous autofocusing, compared with the TZ10’s 2.3 frames/ second for three frames with focus fixed on the first frame. In the High-speed Burst mode, which uses an electronic shutter, capture rates have been boosted from approx. 10 frames/sec (Speed Priority) at 3M for 4:3, 2.5M for 3:2, 2M for 16:9 in the TZ10 to 60 frames/sec at 2.5M for 4:3, 3M for 3:2, 3.5M for 16:9, 2M for 1:1.
      10. The LCD monitor in the TZ20 is a touch screen, although its dimensions and resolution are the same as in the TZ10. Anti-reflection coating makes it a little easier to read in bright outdoor lighting.
      11. Touch screen autofocusing is provided, allowing users to select the focusing target with the tip of a finger. The Touch Shutter lets you trigger the shutter from the monitor but it’s easy to shift the focus or take a shot accidentally if your finger strays onto either icon while you’re holding the camera. Image scrolling in playback mode should please smart-phone users.

      12. The built-in GPS recorder has been enhanced. As well as recording the latitude and longitude coordinates where each shot or video clip was taken to the EXIF data (which allows them be pinpointed on social media internet maps), it provides real-time information of the place when taking photos. Images with location names are sorted alphabetically in the virtual folder in the camera. Missing is the ability to capture altitude data, which some travellers may require.

      13. The internal memory in the TZ20 is slightly larger at 18MB, compared with 15MB in the TZ10. However, battery capacity has been reduced from approximately 300 shots/charge in the TZ10 to 260 shots/charge in the TZ20, presumably because of power consumption by the touch screen monitor. (Having the GPS on also depletes battery capacity.)
      14. The TZ20’s body is marginally smaller (99.7 x 55.2 x 20.6 mm vs 103.3 x 59.6 x 32.6 mm in the TZ10) and lighter (126 grams without battery and card vs 196 grams for the TZ10).

      15. In-camera software launches automatically when the camera is connected to a computer, enabling users to upload images from memory cards to image-sharing websites like Facebook and video clips to You Tube.

      Sensor and Image Processing
      The image sensor in the TZ20 is a new 1/2.33-inch type (6.12 x 4.15 mm ) Panasonic MOS chip with 15.1 million photosites, of which 14.1 million are used for producing digital photos. It’s coupled to Panasonic’s Venus Engine FHD image processor, which underpins the Full HD video and 3D recording capabilities as well as the multi-shot Handheld Night mode.

      Like the TZ10, the TZ20 is a JPEG-only camera. It supports six image sizes, four aspect ratios and two quality settings. Typical file sizes are shown in the table below.

      Aspect ratio







      4320 x 3240




      3648 x 2736




      3072 x 2304




      2560 x 1920




      2048 x 1536




      640 x 480





      4320 x 2880




      3648 x 2432




      3072 x 2048




      2560 x 1712




      2048 x 1360




      640 x 424





      4320 x 2432




      3648 x 2056




      3072 x 1728




      2560 x 1440




      1920 x 1080




      640 x 360





      3232 x 3232




      2736 x 2736




      2304 x 2304




      1920 x 1920




      1536 x 1536




      480 x 480



      Taking HD video to the next level, the TZ20 can record Full HD video clips (1920 x 1080 pixels) in AVCHD format using Dolby Digital Stereo Creator. The iA Mode is available in movie recording and the P, A, S and M shooting modes can also be used along with most Scene pre-sets and settings stored in the MS1 and MS2 user memories.

      AVCHD movies can be recorded with embedded GPS data when the GFS and GS settings are selected. Location data is not embedded when the FSH and SH modes are selected. Although the user manual states QVGA movies can only be recorded to the built-in memory, we were able to record clips at this resolution on a memory card.

      Video format

      Aspect ratio

      Picture Mode

      Picture size

      Bit/frame rate

      Recording time/8GB card




      1920 x 1080

      approx. 17Mbps

      29 minutes 59 seconds


      1920 x 1080

      29 minutes 59 seconds


      1280 x 720

      62 minutes 10 seconds


      1280 x 720

      62 minutes 10 seconds

      Motion JPEG


      1280 x 720

      30 fps

      33 minutes 20 seconds



      640 x 480

      82 minutes 20 seconds


      320 x 240

      3 hours 46 minutes

      Movie recording can be initiated in all shooting modes except the 3D and Custom settings. The POWER O.I.S. Active Mode steadies the camera when shooting while the user is walking or playing with children.

      The camera can re-focus continuously while a clip is being recorded in the Continuous AF setting is set to On. When it’s Off, focus is fixed at the start of a clip. The camera defaults to the Off setting in the Starry Sky and Fireworks modes.
      When shooting with the AVCHD recording format you can take advantage of the Active Mode for image stabilisation. Designed to subdue shaking that occurs if you record while walking, it’s most effective when the lens is zoomed out to the wide position. It’s switched off for Motion JPEG recording.

      A wind cut filter is available for suppressing wind noise in all recording modes. Pressing the shutter button while recording an HD video clip causes the camera to capture one 3.5-megapixel still frame with an aspect ratio of 16:9. Still frames can’t be captured while recording VGA or QVGA movies – or in the High Speed Movie mode.

      If the burst function has been switched on, up to 40 frames can be recorded per clip with focus locked on the first picture. If the Touch Shutter is switched on, inadvertently touching the Touch Shutter will record one or more JPEG images.

      Playback and Software
      Most playback functions are unchanged from the TZ10. However, the TZ20 allows users to capture still frames from video clips in playback mode. Frames from HD video clips are captured at 1920 x 1080 pixels, while VGA and QVGA produces 640 x 480 pixel frames.

      Eight categories are available for slideshow playback: All, Picture Only, Video Only, 3D, GPS Area, Travel, Category Selection and Favourite. Display times can be set between one and five seconds.

      You can add titles to still pictures with the Title Edit function and edit location data with the Place-Name Edit setting. The recording date, time and location can be registered and applied to still pictures with the Text Stamp setting and images can be cropped, resized.

      Playback zoom of 1x, 2x, 4x, 8x, and 16x is supported, along with index playback displaying 12 or 30 thumbnails. Calendar playback is also available. Images can be deleted, protected or tagged as Favourites or with DPOF data for automated printing. You can also edit or delete face recognition data associated with shots and copy files between the built-in memory and a memory card.

      The software disk supplied with the review camera contained Panasonic’s PHOTO funSTUDIO 6.1 (HD Lite Edition plus a shortcut to a 30-day trial download of Super LoiLoScope. The former is compatible with Windows and Mac OS 9.2.2/OS X (10.1 to 10.6); the latter is Windows only.

      Subjective assessments of test shots from the review camera showed them to be quite similar to those from the TZ10. Although out-of-camera images were a tad soft, outdoor shots appeared sharp and colourful with few visible artefacts. Imatest confirmed that colour accuracy was generally very good, while saturation was slightly lower than the TZ 10’s. Exposure metering was generally accurate.

      The autofocusing system was fast and accurate under most lighting conditions and we only encountered hunting in very low light levels. The new geotagging system also appeared to be faster than the TZ10’s and its additional capabilities would be useful for the target market.

      Increasing the megapixel count in the new model appeared to have little effect on dynamic range or overall resolution. Imatest showed resolution to be similar to the TZ10 and below expectations for a 14-megapixel camera. It also revealed some edge softening across the focal length range we tested. The graph below shows the results of our tests.


      We obtained similar results to the TZ10 in Imatest testing between ISO 100 and ISO 400 but resolution declined slightly less as sensitivity was increased. High ISO performance was better than we measured with the TZ10, particularly at ISO 1600. The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests with different ISO settings.


      However, although long exposures at night were noise-free at ISO 100 and 200, they were visibly softer than normal exposures. Thereafter noise became visible at ISO 400 and by ISO 800 noise was obvious with very little magnification and softening increased as a result of high-ISO noise-reduction processing, which is applied by default.

      The Handheld Night Shot mode produced acceptable results by recording a burst of ten shots and combining them in the camera. The default sensitivity of ISO 800 resulted in similar noise levels to ISO 400 but similar softenign to the ISO 800 setting. This mode requires light levels at least as high as you would find in a well-lit city environment and is not suitable for night landscape shots.

      Shots taken with the High Sensitivity mode (ISO 6400 equivalent) were very soft and noise affected and low in contrast. Resolution was also reduced to 2048 x 1536 pixels with the 4:3 aspect ratio.

      As with the TZ10, flash exposures showed much lower noise levels with high sensitivity settings. However, flash shots were under-exposed at ISO 100 and 200. Exposures were even from ISO 400 to ISO 1600 and image noise was relatively low in flash shots at ISO 1600 although they appeared softer than shots taken with lower ISO settings.

      Auto white balance performance was similar to the TZ10. Panasonic has replaced the halogen setting with an incandescent mode but there’s no pre-set for fluorescent lighting. Neither provided full colour correction in our tests, although manual measurement delivered natural colours under both types of lights.

      Lateral chromatic aberration remained within the ‘negligible’ band for all but the shortest and longest focal lengths we tested and never strayed beyond the low band. We found little evidence of coloured fringing in test shots taken in bright, contrasty lighting. The graph below shows the results of our Imatest tests.
      Close-up capabilities were generally good. The lens will focus to 3 cm from the subject and the Macro Zoom mode allows you to apply up to 3x digital zoom magnification without a noticeable loss of image quality.

      Digital zoom shots were similar toss those from the TZ10 and usable at output sizes up to 180 x 130 mm. Lens distortion was minimal, with only slight barrel distortion visible at the 4.3mm focal length setting.

      Video quality at 1080p Full HD resolution was, as expected, noticeably better than the quality we obtained with the TZ10. The 720p resolution setting produced slightly sharper video clips but both settings required good lighting; quality was reduced in low light levels. SD clips recorded at VGA and QVGA resolution looked good on appropriately-sized monitors.

      Focusing was noticeably faster than we found with the TZ10. You can zoom while shooting and take advantage of a digital magnification of up to 21x without visibly reducing picture quality. However, brief periods of hunting were common while zooming, even in well-lit situations.

      The MOS sensor ensures the monitor screen remains streak-free when shooting. Stereo separation was also better in the HD mode but we discerned little improvement in sound quality with SD clips.
      Our timing tests were carried out with a 16GB Kingston Ultimate XX 233x SDHC U1 care, one of the fastest on the market. The test camera took approximately 1.6 seconds to power up and extend its lens.

      Capture lag times depended on the AF mode selected, with the Quick-AF setting producing average lag times of 0.28 seconds and the normal modes averaging 0.45 second delays. Pre-focusing almost totally eliminated lag times.

      For single-frame capture of Large/Fine JPEG images, it took 2.6 seconds, on average, to process each image file. Shot-to-shot delays averaged 1.1 seconds without flash and 4.5 seconds with.

      The standard continuous shooting mode captured 10 Large/Fine JPEGs in two seconds. Processing was completed 2.6 seconds after the last shot. Selecting the 40 fps high-speed burst mode reduced the image size to 2560 x 1920 pixels but recorded 33 frames in 0.89 seconds. It took 10.6 seconds to process this burst. The 60fps setting , which records at 1920 x 1440 pixels, captures 60 frames in one second. It took 19 seconds to process this burst.
      Buy this camera if:
      – You’re looking for a pocketable super-zoom digicam with PASM shooting modes.
      – You would like to record HD video clips with stereo sound.
      – You could use the built-in geotagging system.
      – You want good wide-angle coverage and competent image stabilisation for shooting both video and still pictures.

      Don’t buy this camera if:
      – You want to shoot raw files (the TZ20 can’t).







      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.


      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.


      4.3mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/320 second at f/4.5.


      68.8mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/500 second at f/5.9.


      Digital zoom; 68.8mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/1000 second at f/5.9.


      Macro mode; 4.3mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/500 second at f/5.6.


      Macro Zoom mode; 4.3mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/800 second at f/4.


      Aspect ratio settings, from left: 4:3. 3:2, 16:9, 1:1. 4.3mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/500 second at f/5.6.


      30-second exposure at ISO 100; 6.5mm focal length, f/3.7.


      8-second exposure at ISO 800; 6.5mm focal length, f/4.


      8-second exposure at ISO 1600; 6.5mm focal length, f/5.6.


      Flash exposure at ISO 100 with 23mm focal length; 1/60 second at f/5.2.


      Flash exposure at ISO 800 with 23mm focal length; 1/60 second at f/5.2.


      Flash exposure at ISO 1600 with 23mm focal length; 1/60 second at f/5.2.


      Available light exposure using the High Sensitivity Scene mode; ISO 6400 with 23mm focal length; 1/15 second at f/5.2.


      Low-light exposure at ISO 100; 13mm focal length 1/8 second at f/4.7.


      Crop from the above image enlarged to 100%.


      Low-light exposure at ISO 1600; 13mm focal length 1/160 second at f/4.7.


      Crop from the above image enlarged to 100%.


      Strong backlighting at 4.3mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/2000 second at f/4.5.


      Strong backlighting at 14mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/800 second at f/4.7.


      Crop from the above image enlarged to 100% showing negligible coloured fringing.


       4.3mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/20 second at f/4.5.


      Stabiliser test; 68.8mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/40 second at f/5.9.


      Still frame from 1080p Full HD video clip with focal length at around 14mm.


      Still frame from 1080p Full HD video clip with focal length zoomed in to the 68.8mm focal length.


      Still frame from 720p HD video clip with the lens at the wide position.


      Still frame from the same HD video clip with the lens zoomed in.


      Still frame from VGA video clip.


      Still frame from QVGA video clip.




      Image sensor: 6.13 x 4.60 mm MOS sensor with 15.1 million photosites (14.1 megapixels effective)
      Image processor: Venus Engine FHD
      Lens: Leica DC Vario-Elmar 4.3-68.8mm f/3.3-5.9 zoom lens (24-384mm in 35mm format)
      Zoom ratio: 16x optical, up to 4x digital
      Image formats: Stills – JPEG(DCF/Exif2.3); 3D – MPO ; Video – AVCHD, QuickTime Motion JPEG
      Image Sizes: Stills – 4:3 – 4320 x 3240, 3648 x 2736, 3072 x 2304, 2560 x 1920, 2048 x 1536, 640 x 480; 3:2 – 4320 x 2880, 3648 x 2432, 3072 x 2048, 2560 x 1712, 2048 x 1360, 640 x 424; 16:9 – 4320 x 2432, 3648 x 2056, 3072 x 1728, 2560 x 1440, 1920 x 1080, 640 x 360; 1:1 – 3232 x 3232, 2736 x 2736, 2304 x 2304, 1920 x 1920, 1536 x 1536, 480 x 480; Video – 1920×1080 pixels, 50i (GFS: 17Mbps, FSH: 17Mbps / AVCHD) Sensor output is 50p; 1280x 720 pixels, 50p (GS: 17Mbps, SH: 17Mbps / AVCHD), 1280x 720 pixels, 30 fps (Quicktime Motion JPEG); VGA and QVGA at 30 fps
      Shutter speed range: 60 to 1/4000 second
      Self-timer: 2 or 10 seconds delay
      Image Stabilisation: Power O.I.S. [On / Off / Active mode (video only)]
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 2EV in 1/3 EV steps
      Exposure bracketing: 1/3 ~1EV steps, Max +/-1, 3 frames
      Focus system/range: 23-point TTL contrast-based AF with Normal / AF Macro, Zoom Macro, Quick AF, AF Tracking, Touch AF/AE and Continuous AF (only for movies); range 50 cm – infinity; macro to 3 cm
      Exposure metering/control: Intelligent Multiple, Centre Weighted, Spot metering
      Shooting modes: Intelligent Auto, P, A, S, M, Custom, 3D Photo, SCN [Portrait, Soft Skin, Transform, Self-Portrait, Scenery, Panorama Assist, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Handheld Night Shot, Food, Party, Candle Light, Baby 1, Baby 2, Pet, Sunset, High Sensitivity, Flash Burst, Starry Sky, Fireworks, Beach, Snow, Aerial, Pinhole, Film Grain, High Dynamic (Standard, Art, B&W), Photo Frame, Underwater, High-Speed Movie], My SCN 2, My SCN 1
      ISO range: Auto, i.ISO, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600; High Sensitivity mode (ISO 1600-6400)
      White balance: Auto, Daylight, Cloud, Shade, Incandescent, White Set
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction, Forced Off; range – 0.6 to 5.0 metres
      Sequence shooting: Full-Resolution Image, 10 frames/sec Max. 15images; High-speed Burst Shooting: Max. 60 frames/sec (recorded in 2.5M for 4:3, 3M for 3:2, 3.5M for 16:9, 2M for 1:1)
      Storage Media: 18MB internal memory plus expansion slot for SD, SDHC and SDXC cards
      Viewfinder: No
      LCD monitor: 3-inch TFT Touch Screen LCD Display with 460,000 dots, AR Coating
      Power supply: ID-Security Li-ion Battery Pack (3.6V, Minimum: 895mAh); CIPA rated for 260 shots/charge
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 99.7 x 55.2 x 20.6 mm
      Weight: Approx. 126g (without battery and card)


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      RRP: $599

      Rating (out of 10):

      • Build: 8.5
      • Ease of use: 8.5
      • Autofocusing: 8.5
      • Image quality Stills: 8.0
      • Image quality Video: 8.5
      • OVERALL: 8.5