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Pictures produced by the Panasonic Lumix TZ30 have a bright, dynamic look. Contrast levels are decent and saturation is strong, without detail being sacrificed for vividness.
Where detail is lost, however, it's invariably down to noise and the smudging effects of noise reduction. Luminance noise is visible throughout the ISO range. Viewing images at actual size (or 100%), some mottling is noticeable in blue skies shot at ISO 100.
Edges also start to look choppy from ISO 400, and at ISO 800, artefacts and colour noise become obvious.
In other words, the Panasonic Lumix TZ30 puts in a typical performance for a 1/2.33-inch sensor that boasts a resolution of 14 million pixels.
Despite there being some slight purple fringing around high-contrast subjects such as telegraph poles and trees against bright skies, the zoom delivered acceptable sharpness through the range.
There's some drop-off towards the edges, and there's always the nagging feeling that the image processing is masking some of the potential of the Leica lens.
The metering system produces generally well balanced exposures. It tended to bias readings towards mid-tone and shadow detail during the course of our test, meaning that delicate details in bright skies, pale flower petals and other highlights were sometimes lost to overexposure.
The Panasonic Lumix TZ30's HD video recording is more than capable. A one-touch movie button enables you to start shooting instantly, and full-time zoom and autofocus are available while you record.
The continuous autofocus can take a while to catch up, particularly at full zoom, but this function can be switched off.
Video shot in low light is a little noisy, and the stereo mics mounted just above the lens pick up the grind of the zoom motors in quiet situations (our test camera was particularly creaky as it approached the tele end).
The optical image stabilisation system is active when filming, though, which certainly helps when using the zoom at its maximum extension. Ultimately, the Panasonic Lumix TZ30 is an excellent compact camera for HD capture.