With smartphones offering increasingly sophisticated cameras within their narrow frame, any compact camera has to go some to win over new fans. But there’s only so much you can do with a tiny sensor crammed into a thin body, and Panasonic’s new Lumix TZ95 shows up just how lacking your smartphone really is.

The TZ95 is an update to the TZ90, launched back in 2017. Despite its compact dimensions, this camera is capable of a massive 30x zoom with its high-quality Leica 24-720mm lens. At the heart of the TZ95 sits a 20.3Mp sensor capable of shooting 4K photo and video. This 1/2.3-inch sensor has been paired with Panasonic’s Venus Engine, giving you improved colour graduations, less noise and better overall resolution.

Design matters

You’ll certainly have no complaints with the build quality. A solid metal casing makes the TZ95 feel pleasantly weighty, while a rubberised grip makes it easy to hold. Although the buttons are small, they’re easy enough to use, and a customisable control ring on the front helps free up space on the body. When not in use, the lens retracts into the camera, but when you want to shoot telephoto, it extends right out for maximum zoom. At just 112 x 68.8 x 41.6mm, it will easily fit in a pocket and altogether, with a battery and card fitted, it weighs a mere 327g, so is unlikely to get noticed.

A 3-inch, tilting touchscreen on the back makes it easy to compose your shot, and you select the focus point simply by tapping the screen. If you want, you can even shoot your photo with a tap. In sunny conditions, you’ll probably prefer to use the viewfinder rather than the rear screen, so you’ll be pleased to hear that the electronic viewfinder is very slightly larger than that of its elder sibling, and has almost double the resolution.

That tilting screen has been cleverly designed so it flips up and round 180° – perfect for when you want to take selfies. Well aware that this is a popular feature, Panasonic has included selfie modes in the TZ95 that give you soft skin or perform a slimming effect. There’s even a Beauty Retouch mode for enhancing your shots after you’ve taken them.

Auto focusing modes

Fast auto focusing helps you lock onto your subject quickly and easily. A range of auto-focusing modes enables the TZ95 to distinguish faces and even eyeballs if you’re close enough. This is made all the easier thanks to the touchscreen. If you’re trying to photograph a moving subject, then focus tracking enables you to lock onto your subject and (as long as they don’t move too fast or too far away), you can maintain focus as they move across the frame. You’ll find this particularly useful in telephoto mode where the longer focal length emphasises even tiny movements holding the camera.

Take it off auto focus, and manual focusing is a breeze, thanks to the Zoom Compose Assist option, which magnifies your zoom area so you can make sure you’ve got the focusing exactly where you want it.

When every frame counts, there’s burst shooting mode. Here you can shoot at 10fps (frames per second) using single-point auto focus, or 5fps with continuous focusing, up to a maximum of 26 images.

Similar to burst shooting is the 4K Photo mode. This enables you to extract a still from a 4K video running at 30fps. This works well for wildlife photography but is likely to be most popular for shooting kids and pets. 4K video is also used in the Post Focus mode. Here you can take a shot, then change the focus point afterwards. It works by recording a 4K video using different focus points for each frame. Alternatively, with focus stacking, you can combine these images to create a single shot with everything in focus from the foreground to the background – this is useful if you plan on shooting close-ups, where the macro setting enables you to focus on objects as close as 3cm away.

While you can shoot in fully automatic mode, when you want to experiment you have semi-automatic modes, as well as full manual control if you want it. Your photos can be saved in JPEG and RAW formats – RAW is great if you intend to edit your shots in Adobe Photoshop or Lightroom later. Silent shooting is also possible and has a direct effect on the shutter speeds you can use. In Silent mode, it’s possible to shoot as fast as 1/16000 of a second – great for freezing action. Then, when it comes time to upload your images, you have Bluetooth and wifi compatibility.

Avoiding camera shake

For shooting in low-light conditions or indoors, the TZ95 has an ISO range from 80 to 3200, extendable to ISO 6400. There’s also a flash if a higher ISO doesn’t work. Additionally, a hybrid 5-axis optical image stabilisation system helps to reduce camera shake and works by controlling the path of light from the lens to the sensor.

Video is well catered for, too. You can shoot about 15 minutes of 4K video at 3840 x 2160 in MP4 format. You can even shoot slow-motion footage at up to 120fps using a resolution of 1280 x 720, or a whopping 240fps at 640 x 480.

The TZ95 is a great all-rounder and, thanks to its diminutive size, it makes the perfect travel compact. It easily beats your smartphone for image quality, thanks to that 20.3Mp sensor and array of auto focusing options. Its biggest selling point, though, is the enormous 30x Leica zoom lens. Try doing that with your smartphone! 


Find out how the TZ95 performs in real life...

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