Can Panasonic improve on its popular TZ40 digital compact camera with a brand new design? Find out in our Panasonic TZ60 review
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 is the maker's new travel zoom for 2014 and it follows the great work done by the Panasonic TZ40 and TZ30 - both among the most popular digital compact cameras around over the last couple of years.
With the higher end of the compacts market going from strength to strength, there's plenty of competition around in the form of the Canon PowerShot S120, Sony HX50 and the new Canon PowerShot SX700.
The TZ60 was launched alongside the Panasonic TZ55, which also features a 3-inch screen that can be flipped over 180 degrees for taking selfies.
Panasonic TZ60: Size and build
In terms of looks, the Panasonic TZ60 is quite a departure from the TZ40. The new model sports a slightly larger, more square chassis, which makes it look closer to a high-end compact than the upper-mid-range model that it is. The camera body is metal and partially covered by a slightly grippy rubber surface.
We like the look of the camera, but can't help but feel that the previous model had a better grip.
It's available in two finishes - black or black with silver trim - with the latter showing off its new, slightly more retro-styled design.
Tipping the scales at 240g, the TZ60 is pretty lightweight so it's easy to chuck in a bag and carry round all day.
Panasonic TZ60: Features
The TZ60 packs the same 18.1-megapixel sensor as its predecessor, but with the added bonus of the new, higher zoom capability - 30x compared to the previous model's 20x - without a drop off in quality, claims Panasonic.
The onboard Wi-Fi setup is ok, but rather long winded and clunky. Trying to type in a Wi-Fi password is unbelievably fiddly with the hard controls - it's here that a touch screen would have been nice. However, once you're finally connected to Panasonic's smartphone app, it works well and you can even use your smartphone for remote shooting.
The new model also includes Focus Peaking, which makes it much easier to manually focus your photos on either the LCD or the EVF or a smartphone or tablet if using the remote view on the app.
Built-in GPS enables you to easily geo-tag your photos and it also works with Russian GPS tech GLONASS.
Panasonic TZ60: Screen
The camera sports a 3-inch screen with a respectable 920K-dot resolution. We've already mentioned the fact that it's not a touchscreen, which is a bit of a shame as it feels like a step down from the previous model.
Panasonic has also added a 0.2-inch 200k-dot Electronic Viewfinder for those that want one (it's similar to the viewfinder on the premium Panasonic LF1 compact). The inclusion of a EVF is a nice idea, but we can't help but think that the one featured here is a little too small to be of any great use - it takes quite a bit of squinting to actually get a straight view though it.
There's also no proximity sensor to turn on the EVF when you lift the camera to your eye, instead you have to toggle between screen and EVF manually using the LVF button.
As it's so small, the EVF doesn't really add any bulk to the camera, but the TZ60 would no doubt have been cheaper without it.
Panasonic TZ60: Controls
One feature that continues to filter down from high-end compacts such as the Canon G1 X Mark II is the manual control ring, and like several of its rivals, the TZ60 is also getting in on the action. The smooth action control ring can be customised to control aperture, filter and so on depending on what shooting mode you're using.
The top-mounted mode dial includes 10 options including Panasonic's excellent Intelligent Auto mode and next to that you'll find the shutter release button surrounded by a zoom lever, with a dedicated video button on the right-hand side.
On the rear of the camera you'll find a standard D-pad with rotating dial plus a few hard buttons including playback and Wi-Fi. The controls are all fairly standard and pretty easy to master.
Panasonic TZ60: Picture quality
The TZ60 captures pics in Raw as well as jpeg and can reel off shots at up to 10fps, which is good news for more experienced photographers who are looking for DSLR back-up.
Panasonic claims that this model offers the same picture quality as the TZ40, but using less power, and with a more powerful zoom. We found that picture quality was excellent for a compact, with extremely realistic colour reproduction, especially on skin tones. Minimum focusing distance is an impressive 3cm, making this a great camera for macro shots.
Low light performance is pretty good all through the ISO 100-6400 range and images only start to get a little soft when you hit the upper setting.
The TZ60 also includes a decent set of 16 filter effects, including monochrome, minature and one point colour. All the filters can also be applied before or after your picture is taken and they'll also work on the panoramic mode.
You'll also get a set of new composition guides in addition to the usual 'rule of thirds' grid that divides the screen up into nine squares. The new guides are designed to help you get more interesting snaps and include a variety of layouts such as 'tunnels' for shooting strong perspective shots, along with radial and diagnonal guides.
The full HD recording is especially effective thanks to the hybrid OIS, which even works when you zoom in, while a new level shot function will straighten up your videos.
Panasonic TZ60: Battery
Panasonic reckons you'll get 300 shots out of the battery, which is pretty decent for a compact. We had the camera on the go for days before it needed to recharge, although using the Wi-Fi drains the juice a lot faster.
Panasonic TZ60: Verdict
There's no denying that the Panasonic TZ60 is a great all rounder for beginners, or a solid backup camera for more experienced snappers and we love the splendid picture quality and the addition of the manual control ring. However, we would rather have kept the touchscreen from the last model and ditched the tiny viewfinder. That said, if you're after a quality compact with a good zoom, you won't be disappointed.
Panasonic TZ60 release date: March 2014
Panasonic TZ60 price: £349.99