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Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 / ZS7 Gordon Laing, March 2010

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 / ZS7 results : Real-life resolution / Sharpness wide-angle / Sharpness telephoto / High ISO Noise

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 / ZS7 vs Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5 Real-life resolution (default auto settings)

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To compare real-life performance we shot the same scene with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 / ZS7 and Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings and lowest sensitivities.

The lenses on each camera were adjusted to deliver the same field-of-view; the Sony crops are larger due to its lower resolution. Each camera was set to Program mode without intervention to see how they performed with default settings.

See our sharpness pages for results at all apertures.

The image above was taken with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 / ZS7 at 80 ISO with an exposure of 1/500 and the lens set to 6mm f5; the original file measured 4.14MB. As stated above, we allowed each camera to automatically select its own exposure in Program mode, in order to compare how they performed under default settings.

The TZ10 / ZS7 has seven aperture settings at its disposal, and went for a relatively small value of f5 here. The Sony only has two aperture settings available at any focal length, and went for the smaller of the two here, selecting f9 at 1/320 rather than f4 at 1/1250 or 1/1600.

Normally this would be cause for concern as smaller apertures on compacts often result in diffraction, and that's certainly the case for the Panasonic here. We tested both cameras at each of their aperture settings and confirmed the Panasonic delivered crisper overall results at its largest apertures. Strangely though that wasn't the case with our Sony HX5 sample, which defied traditional wisdom by delivering preferable results at the smaller of its two apertures. Of course had the Sony offered any intermediate aperture values, we may have seen its image quality peak at around the same point as the Panasonic (as we'd have expected), but with only two at its disposal, we have to work with what we've got. So below you'll see the Panasonic slightly under-performing and the Sony working at the better of its two options. You can find out more in our Sharpness results pages, but in the meantime we're sticking with the default automatic settings here as that's how most of the owners of these cameras will use them.

The crops below are taken from the areas marked with the red squares and presented here at 100%. With cloud obscuring the mountain ridge, our first crops come from a lower area. There's not a great deal of real-life detail in these hills, and across areas of tonal similarities, both cameras tend to suffer from some smearing. That said, the Panasonic has held onto the detail better than the Sony here, but this is more down to image processing than having an extra couple of Megapixels.

Moving onto the other crops, the biggest difference remains image processing rather than actual sensor resolution. The Panasonic has gone for a colder but slightly punchier style than the Sony, but in terms of actual real-life detail recorded, there's very little in it. Pixel-peepers may notice a very slight benefit to the Panasonic in the finest building and foliage details, with the Sony again suffering from a little too much smearing, but we'd ultimately not base a decision on the minor differences seen on this page.

This is only the first of our four results pages though, and in the others you'll see the benefit of selecting your own aperture rather than letting the camera do it alone, along with our usual High ISO Noise comparison. So onto our next results page to see how the Panasonic Lumix TZ10 / ZS7 performs in terms of sharpness when fully zoomed-out. Alternatively skip straight to our High ISO Noise results, or our Verdict.

PS – a quick note on the GPS accuracy: both cameras were positioned in exactly the same spot, and reported virtually identical Longitudinal positions (differing by just over one tenth of a second). Strangely though, the reported Latitudes were actually 1.5 seconds apart - see screengrabs from their respective EXIF headers below). If you enter the co-ordinates into Google Earth, the TZ10 / ZS7 seemed to be a few meters off, while the Sony was almost bang-on. Note the Sony additionally recorded altitude information, which is missing from the Panasonic implementation.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 / ZS7 GPS reading
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5 GPS reading


Reading taken from far right corner of Skyline Gondola balcony
Reading taken from far right corner of Skyline Gondola balcony

We also took a reading using a Garmin GPSmap 60CSx handheld unit, which after locking onto nine satellites and reporting an accuracy of +/-8 feet, reported a position of 45; 01; 35.7 South by 168; 38; 59.28 East. Entered into Google Earth, this again landed almost on top of our exact shooting location. So in this instance, the Sony reported a more accurate position than the Panasonic. The Garmin unit did however report the altitude as being 797.356m - approximately 4m higher than the Sony recording. We'll report back if and when we can verify the true height of our shooting location.

Note we returned to the same location at a later date with the Panasonic, and this time it reported the Latitude as 45; 1; 35.95 S and the Longitude as 168; 38; 59.21 E, which is a more accurate figure. While the EXIF data in both cases reported four satellites being locked-onto, it clearly pays to wait as long as possible before taking your shot for a more accurate reading. Some other shots we took with the camera after only being on for a few seconds were also a few meters out.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 / ZS7
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-HX5
f5, 80 ISO
f9, 125 ISO
f5, 80 ISO
f9, 125 ISO
f5, 80 ISO
f9, 125 ISO
f5, 80 ISO
f9, 125 ISO

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 / ZS7 results : Real-life resolution / Sharpness wide-angle / Sharpness telephoto / High ISO Noise

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