The compact camera doesn't always need all the extra bells and whistles that many companies slap on top. They can be simple things, designed to capture the moment as quickly as possible and do little else. Grabbing hold of the Panasonic TZ25, we were treated to a refreshing simple compact.
Refining the shooting experience by eliminating most shutter lag, adding a wide angle lens and getting rid of most complex menu systems has made the camera particularly enjoyable to use. But it isn't the only compact that has tried to do this, so how does it hold up against the competition?
As compacts go, the TZ25 is actually fairly bulky. Holding it can feel slightly like clasping a small plastic brick, albeit a reassuringly sturdy one. As is the case with most Panasonic cameras, build quality is top notch and nothing seems loose or like it might fall apart should you accidentally drop the snapper.
It doesn't look particularly nice however, with a design approach more akin to compacts of several years ago. This is a shame, as behind the boring looks is a very good-quality camera. Just don't expect people to recognise it when you show it to them.
It is nice to see the Leica logo flaunted on the front of the camera - not only does it reassure that you are going to be getting some decent lens glass but adds a bit of style to the snapper.
On top is a rotating mode selection dial, zoom control, quick-record button and off on switch. The positioning of this does mean, however, that sticking the camera into your pocket can frequently turn it on, draining the battery. A control dial on the back and quick-select button complete the controls package. It's all fairly standard stuff, and works well, but does little to really innovate in the way compact cameras are used. Still though, this is no bad thing as it means anyone can pick up the TZ25 and use it without any explanation.
The display on the back of the TZ25 is fairly impressive. It is nice and saturated, as well as being of a decent enough resolution to show off some of the data the 12-megapixel sensor has captured. The feed from the camera's sensor is slightly laggy though, and gets particularly blurry in low light making shooting a tad unpleasant.
As we have already said, using the TZ25 makes a nice change from the conventional compact experience. When left on full auto, it's formidable. The 24mm ultra-wide lens with no shutter lag and 10fps burst mode makes this the ultimate point and shoot.
We took the TZ25 on a rather lengthy cycle ride attached to our jersey. In this situation, snapping while cycling, you have no time to adjust settings or play with menus. Thankfully the camera just did as it was told and grabbed properly exposed and quick images whenever we tapped the shutter. The super-wide lens also makes shooting from the hip and general composition a lot easier.
The Panasonic also keeps it simple when it comes to adjusting settings. The closest we can compare it to is a smartphone. An on-screen overlay allows you to switch everything, from flash to the amount of the sensor used.
Full HD AVCHD video is fairly impressive looking. It's nicely saturated and doesn't suffer from any of the normal noise issues that compact video can generate. The inbuilt power OIS image stabilisation does a good job getting rid of wobble from the hand as well.
A dedicated video button is a nice feature, as is a slider which send things from camera to image library. Bizarelly though, if you press the shutter it wont override the slider, which means should you forget to move it, you can easily miss capturing a moment.
Not a lot else can be said about the Lumix's shooting other than its built in creative filters. A choice of ten Instagram-style offerings do a decent job of making things interesting in camera, but they aren't close to the effects you could achieve in post processing.
A formidable compact from Panasonic, then, but also a fairly pricey one. At £289 we can't help but think there is some other offerings which behave the same way and put less of a strain on the wallet.
Those in the market for a high end compact however should definitely consider the TZ25. It is more than capable of delivering in any situation and should, thanks to the decent build, last you for a long time.