What is the Panasonic TZ200 / ZS200?
Panasonic’s popular travel zoom compact has been updated – the main new feature is a longer focal length lens – it now offers a 15x zoom (roughly 24-360mm in 35mm format).
There’s also been a few other improvements, including a higher resolution viewfinder, the addition of USB battery charging and bluetooth connectivity.
Like the Panasonic TZ100, it has a one-inch sensor, and is currently the only one-inch sensor compact on the market to offer a 15x zoom.
For the Panasonic TZ200 / ZS200
- Great low-light performance
- 10fps burst shooting
- High-speed video
- In-camera raw image editing
- Long battery life
- Wealth of shooting modes
- Great image quality
Against the Panasonic TZ200 / ZS200
- Slower aperture than TZ100
- No tilting screen
- Detail softer at telephoto end
- LVF is great, but not essential
With a high asking price (for a compact camera), the TZ200 – known as the ZS200 in the United States – is a premium offering, but the good news is that it has a premium build quality to match.
The Panasonic TZ200 / ZS200 sees some improvements to its design when compared with its predecessor (the TZ100). The most noticeable improvement, from the outside at least, is the addition of a new handgrip.
Panasonic says that it received feedback that the lack of a handgrip on the TZ100 was problematic, so it has corrected the issue for this generation by adding a rubberised strip to the front of the camera. With it, the Panasonic TZ200 / ZS200 feels much more secure in the hand, while the addition of a red strip is a classy touch.
As the TZ200’s / ZS200’s lens is longer, it is naturally bigger in size than the TZ100’s, but the overall size of the camera is still very pocket friendly, making it a good choice for travel and holiday photography.
Another big improvement has been made to the viewfinder, which now boasts almost double the resolution (2330k vs 1170k), a higher magnification, and a slightly larger size – overall this makes for a much more comfortable viewing experience, and during our brief time with it so far, it felt like a very natural viewfinder to use.
If you prefer to use the screen to compose your images, there has been a slight improvement there too – it is now 1240k-dots, compared with 1,040k-dots. It remains touch-sensitive, being very responsive and quick to use during our initial hands-on session.
The TZ200’s screen doesn’t tilt or articulate, which is a shame, but it helps in keeping the overall size of the product down.
The top of the Panasonic TZ200 / ZS200 is actually very similar to the TZ100, featuring a mode dial, a dial which can be used for a variety of functions (dependent on shooting mode, or whether you’re looking at the menu), and the zoom mechanism and shutter release button. The dedicated video record button is also found in the same place.
Just like the TZ100, there’s a ring around the base of the TZ200’s / ZS200’s lens, which you can use for a number of different functions – you have the option to choose a custom function in the camera’s main menu.
The Panasonic TZ200 / ZS200 has a real premium feel too it. It’s small and portable, but it has a reassuring weight.
On top of the TZ200 / ZS200 is a pop-up flash, mode dial, shutter button with zoom toggle, one-touch movie recording button, on/off button and a dial for adjusting shutter speed, aperture and other exposure values.
On the mode dial are your standard PASM modes, plus a manual movie mode option and Panasonic’s iA, panoramic and scene modes.
On the back of the camera are three function buttons and the standard four-way control buttons, which double as direct controls for the drive modes, White Balance, exposure compensation and macro mode. At the top next to the EVF is an AF/AE Lock button, and of course you have that large, bright 3-inch touchscreen.
On the front of the camera the TZ200’s handgrip has been revamped and fits in your hand a little better than its predecessor did. There’s also a new rubber thumb grip on the back of the camera, which really makes a difference when holding the camera at your side as I did when out shooting street photography.
Overall, it’s very comfortable to hold and all of your settings and main controls are easily reached. It’s also a very customisable camera, which is useful for working quickly when shooting fast-moving street scenes.
To complement its luxury feel, all of the buttons and doors feel solid and secure in their position.
The touchscreen is also very responsive, and I found it quite easy to use even in bright conditions, such as those we had on our last day in Palma, Spain, when on a photo walk with Panasonic. One thing that would make the TZ200 / ZS200 even more formidable would be a side-articulated touchscreen for shooting at odd angles, as I wanted to do with some of the Spanish architecture, but perhaps we’ll see this on a later model.