THE LOVE FOR TRAVELLING, THE PASSION FOR PHOTOGRAPHY (MADE IN MELBOURNE AND AROUND THE GLOBE)
Panasonic Lumix TZ80 review for city & travel photography
I usually like to start a review explaining step by step what I did like and what I was not fully satisfied with. In this case I can say straight away that if you are after a compact camera with a wide optical zoom range, the Panasonic Lumix TZ80 may be the right choice for your city exploration and travel photography.
As it happens quite often in the Panasonic world, this camera has actually two different names, based on the geographical area they sell. In USA it is called ZS60 meanwhile in the rest of the world you will find it as TZ80
Any camera that I have used or reviewed in the last few years, quite a number, have always some plus and some less plus, or call them minus. I have carried with me the Panasonic Lumix TZ80 in the city, on a coastal trip and in a zoo safari, where the animals were quite far away.
I am in love for travel photography and the fact I could ride my bike with this camera in the pocket was just great. Not carrying an heavy camera with heavy lenses has lots of benefits, and your back will definitely thank you for that.
Panasonic Lumix TZ80 or mobile
The compact camera market has quite shrank since the introduction of the smartphones. I use my mobile phone quite a lot for my daily photography. The fact that it is always in my pocket makes my life so easy. Whenever I see something interesting I just take it and shoot. Easy.
Why should I still buy a compact camera?
This is a good question. To start, the mobile phones work incredibly good however, with poor light, either in the night or indoor, they do not perform great. The picture may look ok on the monitor but, as soon as you print it, even in small format, you can see some noise
I must say that I was not extremely impressed by the Lumix TZ80 in poor light condition, we will talk more about that later.
The second important thing about the compact camera is the optical zoom, or the lack of in the mobile phones (unless few special models).
This is probably the most important characteristic that create the difference between a mobile and a compact camera.
The zoom of the TZ80 was essential in my Zoo Safari
If you are after a casual shooting, probably the mobile is enough. However if you would like to add more creativity, the compact camera is the first step into the photography world.
During the Panasonic TZ80 review I started using the camera with some manual settings and the possibilities you have are not that far away from a DSLR. Obviously the photo quality may be not comparable but you can’t have your cake and eat it too.
30x optical zoom
This is quite an impressive zoom for a small compact camera. It starts with what it is considered a wide angle, at 24mm, to extend to 720mm.
If you are not familiar with numbers, have a look to this sequence of 4 photos.
A wide angle photo at 24mm
Zoomed in at 105mm
Zoomed in at 350mm
Zoomed in at 720mm
I was also surprised that at the extreme of the range of the optical zoom I did not see a noticeable distortion. The above photo, at 720mm, is still showing the windows on an almost perfect straight line.
If you are planning a safari or simply a visit to a local zoo, the Lumix TZ80 can be a great travel compact camera on a budget. Even when you visit a city you can take advantage of this long range zoom, photographing some skyscraper architectural details, otherwise unreachable.
4K shooting mode and Post Focus
If it’s true that the mobile world has added pressure to the compact camera world, it’s also true that some manufacturers have started introducing more software into the compact cameras, which is great
Panasonic has done a great job, especially with the 4K photo mode introduced a while ago and adopted in all the new models.
What does it do?
It allows to capture a 8M photo from a 4k video. If you have an Iphone 6S you already know what I am talking about. Basically you make a video and you select only the frame you want.
I tried this feature for the first time when I reviewed the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 and I did a couple of new tests with exactly the same results. Just brilliant. I really suggest to read that review to have a 360 degrees understanding of this feature.
When is the best time to use 4K photo mode?
In all the cases where you want to be absolutely sure to catch the right moment in a sport event or maybe just kids photography, they are so unpredictable in the way they move.
Have a look to this video. It’s all about creativity, create a context, a scene and play with it. Save the best shot out of the many
Jump to 1:38s to see some great and easy ideas to make pictures
The Post Focus mode is an awesome feature on paper however, to be honest, I was not really able to have good results. I guess the lens has the own limits defining the depth of field.
This feature worked quite well when I tested it on the Panasonic Lumix TZ110. I was not able to have good results on the TZ80.
When the Post Focus mode is activated, the camera does multiple photos at different depth of field and it combines them all in a single picture. From the on-camera monitor you can select which focus point you want to use, leaving the remaining part of the picture blurred.
My feeling is that the Post Focus mode works great if the lens allows a very narrow depth of field. I think that the TZ80 has not this capability. It does it but only if the objects are far away from each other.
I would personally not recommend this feature as a decision breaker but as a nice to have, when the environment around is right.
Manual mode, easy to manage and learn
Setting this camera is so easy. There is a small button you need to discover straight away. It’s the Fn3 that takes you to the quick setting view.
With the touch screen you can set the camera in few seconds. Start having some fun in Aperture mode, or Shutter Speed mode to finally step into full Manual mode.
It’s important to experiment and if you like it you may move up to Mirrorless if you are not super happy about the quality of the compact camera.
I always recommend in my courses to take full control of the present camera before upgrading to a new one.
Beside the easy quick setting view, I like how Panasonic has organised the back of the camera with the most important buttons, there to access quickly everything you need.
One of the setting I use the most on compact cameras is the Exposure Compensation. It allows a quick correction to the exposure, making the photo darker or brighter. On the Lumix TZ80 it is as easy as in rare cases.
Overall I am very satisfied, also with the possibility to save the file in RAW format, in case you need or want to do some post-production on Lightroom or Aperture.
Keep in mind that this is a compact camera, not a DSLR. These are features that are not common on a compact
Dimension and weight
I believe that the wide range of the optical zoom lens (read glass) determines the body weight (282g) and the dimension (64mm x 112mm x 38mm) of this compact camera.
As I always say, the perfect world would be to have a light camera with a wide zoom and a big sensor. The reality is that it is not possible to have everything.
Although the sensor is average size for a compact (1/2.3″), there is quite a bit of glass, and good one as well, being a Leica lens. This explains the weight and dimension, similar to the bigger brother, the Lumix TZ110
Should I compromise on the camera size or the optical zoom?
I am personally happy to carry some extra grams in my pocket and have a wider range of photography possibility, especially when I am around for some travel photography.
Compromise compromise 😀
Photo quality and low light
That is the side I am not super happy with.
The quality of the photos in good light condition is on pare, or better, than other compact cameras in the market. I remind that the camera effective pixels are 18.1Mp which is quite an high number. Expect big files, especially if you plan to shoot in RAW.
However in low light conditions, this may be in the night or just after sunset, the noise on the photos can be slightly over my acceptance limit. The quality is definitely better than a mobile however I expected a bit more.
Once you pump the ISO, either in manual mode or the camera will do it for you in automatic mode, this noise becomes more evident.
If you shoot in JPG, the TZ80 will try to clear this noise. I am not sure about the result though
This photo, for example, was made just before sunrise. Noise reduction was applied by the camera. The details in the foreground are almost lost in my opinion. In saying that I quite like the dreamy effect.
If you print on small format, the noise will not be visible, however if you like to print on A4 format, books or photos, it may be a concern
Something more on the Panasonic TZ80
This is something else that you may find useful:
the TZ80, like most of the new Lumix, has 4 function buttons that are quite useful. You can use them to program some of the common setting for example
I am not a video maker, or tester, however the TZ80 has video 4K on board. If you consider the wide optical range, it can be really a huge plus if you are thinking to make also some videos during your travel
there is not battery charger, just plug it to a USB port. The less you take in your trip the better it is for your back 😀 In saying that the batteries are also interchangeable, just in case you want to take with you a spare one. I love that
It’s great to have a view finder, especially in that sunny days when it’s harder to see the monitor. The one on the camera is a plus, however it’s quite small. It’s more of a fall back solution than a daily usage.
Wi-Fi is available, pretty common in any new compact camera model nowadays
Panasonic provides a free app for Android and Apple that allows remote shooting, photo download and much more
Panasonic Australia offers a 100GB free (2 years) Google Drive as part of the package. Quite useful
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ80: Hot or Not?
This is a great question for which I do not have an immediate answer.
If you are looking for an easy compact camera, with a long range optical zoom (720mm is pretty unique), than the Panasonic TZ80 is a great buy (check the price in US, best price in Australia). I consider this camera to be also the first step to a more professional camera, so easy to go in manual mode.
If the optical zoom is not something you are interested to, probably you can do similar photos with your mobile, provided it is a last generation one.
If you still want to have an optical zoom, but with a smaller range, I would probably check other models. There are some mirrorless that sell below $500 nowadays. Indeed, they are slightly bigger, however you gain in photo quality, especially in low light conditions. Have a look to the Best Travel Camera for 2016 (updated monthly) to have more ideas….or doubts LOL
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Dimensions (W x H x D)
112.0 x 64.0 x 38.0 mm/(4.41 x 2.52 x 1.50 inch)
Approx. 282 g with Battery and SD Memory Card (0.6217 lb)/Approx. 240 g without Battery and SD Memory Card (0.5291 lb)
Camera Effective Pixels
Sensor Size / Total Pixels / Filter
1/2.3-type High Sensitivity MOS Sensor / 18.9 Total Megapixels / Primary Color Filter
f = 4.3 – 129mm/(24 – 720mm in 35mm equiv. in 4:3)/(25 – 750mm in 35mm equiv. in 3:2)/(26 – 780mm in 35mm equiv. in 16:9)/(28 – 840mm in 35mm equiv. in 1:1)/(33 – 990mm in 35mm equiv. in 4K Photo recording)/(26 – 780mm in 35mm equiv. in 16:9 video recording / O.I.S. Off / Level Shot function Off)/(28 – 840mm in 35mm equiv. in 16:9 video recording / O.I.S. On / Level Shot function Off)/(30 – 900mm in 35mm equiv. in 16:9 video recording / O.I.S. On / Level Shot function On)/(33 – 990mm in 35mm equiv. in 4K video recording)
Extra Optical Zoom (EZ)
42.5x (4:3 / 9M (M)), 61.2x (4:3 / 4.5M (S))
LEICA DC VARIO-ELMAR/12 elements in 9 groups/(5 Aspherical Lenses / 10 Aspherical surfaces)
Optical Image Stabilizer
5-Axis HYBRID O.I.S. +*/* 5-Axis compensation works in video recording except for 4K video or high-speed video recording.
Max. 4x (When Digital Zoom is used simultaneously with Intelligent Zoom, you can only increase the zoom ratio up to 2x.)
Normal: Wide 50 cm – infinity / Tele 200 cm – infinity/AF Macro / MF / Intelligent Auto / Motion Picture: Wide 3 cm – infinity / Tele 200 cm – infinity
AF Assist Lamp
Yes (On / Off)
AF / AF Macro / Macro Zoom * Each available with AFS (Single) / AFF (Flexible) / AFC (Continuous) / MF Quick AF, Continuous AF (during motion picture recording), Eye Sensor AF, Touch AF/AE Function,/Touch Shutter, Touch Pad AF, MF Assist, Touch MF Assist, AF+MF, Focus Peaking, One Shot AF (Set the Fn button in custom menu to AF-ON), Low Light AF.
Face/Eye Detection / Tracking / 49-area / 1-area/(Full area touch is available)
・ The software to process RAW file on PC is not bundled with DMC-TZ80. To do this, SILKYPIX Developer Studio is available for download at Ichikawa Soft Laboratory’s website using PC connected to the Internet./・ The DMC-TZ80 Operating Instructions for advanced features is available for downloaded at Panasonic LUMIX Customer Support Site using PC, smartphone or tablet connected to the Internet./・ The software for PC is not bundled with DMC-TZ80. Please use the software pre-installed to the PC or other general image viewing software to browse pictures.
Stefano is a cycling, movie and life style photographer with a big love for landscape & travel photography. When in Melbourne, his hometown, you will see him cycling around at sunset or sunrise looking for the best spot for a photo of this beautiful city. It is quite amazing how much photography gear he can pack on his bike :o