Panasonic usually releases two Lumix TZ cameras per year: a high-end flagship superzoom compact and a cheaper alternative. So alongside this year's top-of-the-range TZ30, Panasonic has also outed the Lumix TZ25, complete with 12-Megapixel sensor and 16x zoom lens. So far, so good ...
Regular TZ users will feel right at home with the Lumix TZ25, as the camera body is very similar to that of the TZ20, Panasonic's 2011 high-end superzoom. It has a similarly robust build with top-notch assembly right down to the battery compartment and connections port covers.
The interface is user-friendly, the menus are clear, and there are two custom modes for fast access to favourite settings.
The screen is the one real blip in the TZ25's design. The excessive contrast blocks together dark zones and overexposes light areas, while there's a blue overtone to mid-tones and colour reproduction leaves a lot to be desired. But while such calibration issues are all too common, a TN screen in a camera at this price is just shameful (see inset)!
Against the clock, the TZ25 performs just like the TZ30. Although the TZ25 uses a different sensor, this doesn't seem to have had any effect on the camera's responsiveness.
Start-up takes a little over two seconds, which isn't great. But from then on, the TZ25 does a good job, with a decent autofocus and relatively speedy photo-to-photo turnaround.
However, continuous shooting is limited to four frames at the fastest setting, which isn't quite on par with current market standards.
Basically, the TZ25 is a TZ20 loaded with the same sensor as the FZ150. Since the 24-384 mm lens from the TZ20 and the 12-Megapixel BSI CMOS sensor from the FZ150 have both been tried and tested with great performances, we can expect the TZ25 to take pretty good pictures.
The ISO test results are almost identical to those of the FZ150. Smoothing is perhaps very slightly stronger, but the difference in real terms is negligible. Compared with the TZ30, noise is a little less of an issue at 1600 ISO—but that's because it's less colourful rather than less prevalent! The background of the image therefore looks more consistent and more even, although, again, the difference is very subtle. All in all, 8" x 10" prints (20 x 27 cm) look excellent up to 800 ISO and are still acceptable quality at 1600 ISO.
However, the Sony HX10V—Sony's direct equivalent of the TZ25, also based on last year's high-end superzoom—takes noticeably better pictures above 800 ISO, even if some of you may not like the heavier image processing. Alternatively, some users may prefer the pictures from Canon's SX240/SX260, which are more subtle and more refined, but also prone to heavier digital noise.
The lens holds no real surprises either. Image processing is a little more generous in this year's model, though, so while it doesn't really capture any more detail than the TZ20, detail is more accentuated and more clearly distinguished. At wide-angle settings, sharpness could be a little more consistent, as the corners of the frame are hazier than the middle. That said, it won't be noticeable on standard sized photo prints (8" x 10" or onscreen viewing).
At 200 mm, the TZ25 lens is very good, giving sharp, accurate results over the entire frame. And at the maximum zoom setting it's still up there with the best, doing a slightly better job than the Sony HX10V lens and giving very similar quality to Canon's SX260.
Like the TZ20, the TZ25 films 1080i HD video at 50 fields per second. Image quality is nice enough, with plenty of detail and some noise, but we still would have preferred to see a progressive scan video mode rather than this interlaced format.
Sound really could be better in the TZ25. Quality is OK, you can make out and understand voices relatively easily and there's no trace of noise from the zoom motor (which isn't the case in certain competitor cameras), however, it's recorded in mono rather than stereo!