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(Pocket-lint) - When it comes to what some call "travel zoom" compact cameras, Panasonic is on top form. Its Lumix TZ70 from 2015 combined a wide-ranging 30x optical zoom lens with built-in electronic viewfinder and general all-round top performance.

For 2016 the updated model, the Lumix TZ80, hits the shelves. It adds a touchscreen, higher-resolution sensor and 4K capture, among some other tweaks. Is it the do-it-all compact to beat, or are its changes so subtle that you'd be better off buying last year's TZ70 model instead to save some cash?


Panasonic Lumix TZ80 vs TZ70: Design & zoom

The TZ80 is slightly larger than the TZ70 due to a more pronounced grip to the front, but this also makes the camera more comfortable to hold in use. The TZ80 also comes in a grey and red finish option, which is an altogether jazzier looker than the plain black - if you're into that.

Otherwise it's business as usual: a 30x optical zoom lens, providing a 24-720mm f/3.3-6.3 equivalent, making it ideal for wide-angle group shots or snapping far-away subjects as if they're close up in the frame.

Both cameras have a 1,166k-dot built-in electronic viewfinder which is great for steadying the camera when shooting, or avoiding bright sunlight reflections on the rear LCD screen.

Panasonic Lumix TZ80 vs TZ70: Touch controls

Where the LCD screens do differ, however, is that the TZ80 adds touchscreen controls - something that lacks in the TZ70. It makes using the newer camera far quicker and easier, especially when it comes to selecting a focus point with a simple tap.

However, neither camera has adopted a vari-angle bracket for repositioning the screen. That'd be a great feature, although it would also bulk out the camera, which is something Panasonic has avoided here.

In addition to using the screen, both cameras have a lens control ring to the front, rotational d-pad to the rear, mode dial up top, and a bunch of quick controls to make using the camera - whether as a point-and-shoot or manual device - nice and easy.

Panasonic Lumix TZ80 vs TZ70: Image quality & 4K capture

The TZ80 ups the ante when it comes to resolution, its 1/2.3in sensor pushing to 18.1-megapixels compared to the TZ70's 12-megapixels - a rise of 50 per cent. This doesn't guarantee "better" image quality, however, but Panasonic claims that it's difficult to get lower pixel counts with the latest technology.

With the higher pixel count there's more processing to handle, but the TZ80 is more proficient here. Indeed it's proficient enough to handle 4K video capture at up to 30fps, compared to the TZ70's 1080p resolution limits. 4K is where things are heading and if that's what you want then TZ80 is the only way to go.

It's not just for moving images, however, as 4K Photo modes - now available on a quick access function button on the rear of the TZ80 - allow for a rapid burst of shots (extracted from a movie file, essentially), the best of which can be selected as an individual 8-megapixel frame after shooting.

It's even possible to shoot a single second's worth of footage before even firing the shutter to help catch that perfect moment. Clever stuff, and something the TZ70 lacks, as is the Post Focus mode which allows a supported TZ80 to capture multiple focal depths so the focus can be adjusted after shooting.

Panasonic Lumix TZ80 vs TZ70: Price position

At £359 the TZ80 is only £10 more than the TZ70 was at launch. However, the TZ70 is available online at the time of writing for around £260, making it altogether more affordable.

If you want the touchscreen controls, 4K capture and added resolution then you'll need to go TZ80. If you're happy with no touch controls, 1080p video capture and a lower resolution then the TZ70 still makes perfect sense - both have the same lens construction and autofocus operation, after all, so in use the two feel much the same as one another. It's the finer details that differentiate the two.

Writing by Mike Lowe. Originally published on 18 December 2015.