ZS3/TZ7 versus ZS7/TZ10


The Panasonic ZS7/TZ10 was announced in January 2010, some 12 months after the ZS3/TZ7.  The two models have similar lens, zoom range, aperture range, sensor dimensions and basic body size.  The major difference between them is that the sensor on the ZS7/TZ10 has an effective 12.1MP while the ZS3/TZ7 has an effective 10.1MP, meaning that the pixel density is higher on the newer model.  Other improvements on the ZS7/TZ10 include manual exposure controls and the addition of GPS.

Neither cam model has an EVF, which I found to be quite a disadvantage, having been accustomed to using the EVFs on my FZ cams.  I found that in bright sunlight it was often very difficult to view the LCD clearly on my FZ3, and framing a shot became guesswork at times.  I had seen discussed favourably on the DPR Panasonic forum a product called the Boxwave “ClearTouch Anti-Glare”, which is a clear plastic film LCD protector with antiglare properties.  I purchased one and I found that it did help to reduce the glare on the LCD but to my eyes it did not eliminate it.

More recently I saw favourable remarks on the forum about a device called a “Clearviewer” made by DPR Forum member Gary R. which consists of a lens in a folding mount which is attached by a screw to the tripod socket.  Folded out for use, the lens when held up to the eye shows the full area of the LCD screen in sharp detail.  I purchased one of these viewers and I found it to be very good, and in combination with the antiglare protector it acts in a very similar way to an EVF.

Comparing the IQ of the ZS7/TZ10 and the ZS3/TZ7

There has been much discussion on the forums about the comparative IQ of the two models, with claims that the ZS7/TZ10 shows more noise and “smearing” of fine detail, so I looked for some independent test results.  DIWA Labs has presented detailed charts derived from testing with the DxO Analyser for both the ZS3/TZ7 and the ZS7/TZ10.  The charts can be viewed here:

ZS3/TZ7: http://www.diwa-labs.com/wip4/test_result_overview.epl?product=7652&id=466444

ZS7/TZ10: http://www.diwa-labs.com/wip4/test_result_overview.epl?product=8130&id=492378

I compared the corresponding published charts for both cams as shown below.

Chromatic Aberration (CA)

The TZ10 appears to suffer from more CA than the TZ7.  At full WA the results are low and similar for both cams, but at max zoom the CA of the TZ10 reaches "Annoying" levels.  At mid-range focal lengths the CA of the TZ10 reaches a level between "Noticeable" and "Annoying" and is thus also higher than the TZ7.

Dynamic Range

The TZ7 dynamic range falls in the "Good" to "Very Good" range at ISO settings from 80-800 and only falls to "Poor" at ISO 1600.  The TZ10 dynamic range is improved at ISO 1600 compared with the TZ7, and falls in the "Good" range.  However, at ISO 200 and 400 the TZ10 dynamic range for the blue channel is lower than that of the TZ7 and falls almost to the "Poor" range.

MTF 50% for the green channel (a measure of resolution/contrast; a higher value is better)

The average values (of centre and corner) for the TZ7 and TZ10 are about the same at full WA and at mid-range focal lengths, but at max zoom, the value is somewhat higher for the TZ7 than for the TZ10.


Based on these comparisons, it seems that the TZ10 is not superior in IQ compared with the TZ7 except for its better dynamic range at ISO 1600.  At maximum zoom the TZ7 has less CA and a higher average MTF 50% value than the TZ10 and thus is better than the TZ10 in these respects.

I had an opportunity to test for myself the difference in IQ between the cams, and these results are shown under “ZS3/TZ7 with Teleconverters” in the link below.

Continue to ZS3/TZ7 with Teleconverters

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