It was Panasonic which began the trend for making compact cameras that are specifically designed for travellers and those heading out on holiday, and the TZ series, called the ZS series in the US, is still one of the most highly regarded of the genre. The news Panasonic TZ70/ZS50, then, should prove highly popular.
Affording manual control, along with the ability to shoot in raw format, the intention is that enthusiast photographers who otherwise would use a DSLR or CSC but don't want to carry it around with them will appreciate such a camera.
Of course there is also full automatic mode, along with scene and creative options, to appeal to those who want to concentrate on the act of taking the photo itself.
Fewer pixels, better quality
In a change from the norm of ever increasing pixel counts, Panasonic has opted to give the TZ70 a 12 million pixel sensor instead of the 18Mp device in its predecessor, the TZ60. The sensor's physical size, however, remains the same at 1/2.3 inch which means that the photo receptors (pixels) are larger. This should enable the new camera to produce better image quality because noise levels should be reduced, low light capability improved and dynamic range extended.
30x zoom range
Another key selling point of this camera, and others like it, is its very extensive zoom range. Panasonic has stuck with the TZ60's Leica DC VARIO ELMAR 30x zoom lens with a focal length range of 4.3-129mm, which gives a 35mm equivalent range of 24-720mm and an aperture range of f/3.3-6.4 (wide-tele). There's also an additional digital zoom, which doubles the 30x range, which Panasonic dubs "Intelligent Zoom".
With these kinds of focal lengths, image blur caused by even the slightest movement of the camera is a very real risk. To that end, Panasonic has once again included the advanced Hybrid OIS+ (Optical Image Stabilizer Plus) five-axis system, which promises to keep this kind of blur to a minimum and is available for both stills and video.
Panasonic boasts "Light Speed AF" for the TZ70, which comes as a result of the incorporation of a 240fps (frames per second) Auto Focus sensor drive. You can also focus manually if you want to, and this has been made easier with focus peaking, which highlights in-focus edges.
Viewfinder and screen
The addition of a 0.2 inch, 200,000-dot electronic viewfinder (EVF) was widely appreciated for the TZ60 because it makes life much easier when trying to compose images in bright, sunny conditions. It perhaps comes as no surprise therefore that Panasonic has kept this feature for the TZ70 – but it is now a much higher resolution 1,160,000-dot device.
There's also a 3-inch 920,000-dot screen, and just like on the TZ60, this is fixed rather than tilting (the cheaper TZ57 sister model announced at the same time as the TZ70, however, does have a tilting screen). Panasonic has also decided not to return to using the touch-sensitive screens of earlier incarnations of the TZ series, which is a shame. This could perhaps be a bid to keep the cost down, or perhaps they are not perceived to be popular among enthusiast photographers.
It is, however, possible to compose images on a smartphone screen and control the TZ70 remotely via a Wi-Fi connection when using Panasonic's free app. So, you sort of have a touchscreen by-proxy, if you like. The camera also features an NFC chip for a quicker connection if you have a compatible device.
As with the newly announced GF7, the TZ70 has a Jump Shot mode. This fun feature allows you to trigger the shutter release on the camera by jumping with your connected phone in your pocket.
Other specification highlights include a top sensitivity setting of ISO 6400. As is pretty much the norm now, full 1080p video recording is available, while the ability to create time lapse movies has also been included.
Since Panasonic started the trend for travel cameras, plenty of other manufacturers have produced their own versions and there are now quite a few cameras which compete with the TZ70 – a 30x optical zoom is not the rarity it once was. The Nikon S9700, Sony HX60 and Canon SX700 each have similar specifications to the TZ70.