Panasonic’s 2012 Lumix line-up launched, we go hands-on

A new year has started, and Panasonic has launched its range of cameras for the year, comprising of new travel, stylish, and adventure cameras, and we’ve played with most of them.

Launching the cameras just a few days ago on Norfolk Island, GadgetGuy was given a chance to properly put several of the cameras through their paces before they head to stores in April.

The best of the bunch was taken a look at first, with Panasonic’s Lumix TZ series now hitting its seventh generation.

This year, you’ll find the TZ30 and TZ25 sitting in the top spot, with autofocus, build, and imaging technologies improved upon from the last generation.

Colours can really pop on the TZ30's "expressive" creative mode.

The TZ30 is the premium Lumix for 2012, offering a new 14.1 megapixel sensor, GPS connectivity with built-in map data, 20x optical zoom roughly equivalent to 24 – 480mm, 3 inch touchscreen, 10 frames per second shooting, and support for 1080p Full HD video capture at a $449 price point.

Fifty bucks less and at $399 RRP, the TZ25 cuts back on the features a little by removing the GPS, ditching the touchscreen, supporting a 16x optical zoom (equivalent to 24 – 384mm) and switching the 14.1 megapixel sensor for a 12.1 megapixel version.

Both cameras features a panorama mode, however, that can continuously shoot an image as a camera as panned left, right, up and down, stitching the long image together inside the camera fairly quickly.

Creative colour modes are also thrown into the bundle, supporting vivid “expressive” colours, an aged “retro” look, a stark black & white in “dynamic monochrome”, and one of those neat “miniature effect” modes that makes objects and people look like toys from far away.

A high-dynamic range mode is also supported (above), allowing you to grab photos with more detail in light and shadows than normally offered.

We played with both cameras this weekend, the TZ30 ranking very well thanks to sheer versatility between places we went, colour options, autofocus speed, and the ease of use both the touchscreen and physical controls provided. The TZ25 was equally as good, and we didn’t even miss the touchscreen or GPS model, making for a pretty decent $50 compromise between the two models.

The macro wasn't the strongest, though it's not too far off and the colours really pop.

The creative art modes – such as the dynamic monochrome and expressive colour – don’t appear to allow you to change how they work, meaning that while the black & white or vivid colour can look amazing in some shots, it can also look flat in others.

We can report that the high-dynamic range mode does work excellently, snapping up a few bracketed photos at once and blending them in-camera to provide more detail in scenes with too much light or shadow.

Black and whites out of the camera can look amazing.