What separates the Panasonic Lumix ZS200 (known as the Lumix TZ200 outside of the US, except in Australia where it’s called the Lumix TZ220) from other travel zoom compacts that cost half the price is the sensor at the heart of the camera.
It’s a 1.0-inch sensor with a resolution of 20.1MP, and that surface area is about four times the size of the sensors in most other journey zoom compacts. This means image quality is much better, with much greater detail.
It’s not the first time we’ve seen a 1.0-inch sensor in a travel zoom compact – that accolade goes to the Lumix ZS100 / TZ100, but whereas that camera sported a pretty modest (for a travel zoom camera) 10x zoom range, the Lumix ZS200 / TZ200 sees Panasonic squeeze a 15x zoom into a similar-sized body. The 24-360mm range makes the Lumix ZS200 / TZ200 incredibly versatile, suited to capturing everything from sweeping vistas to tightly cropped details.
Panasonic Lumix ZS200 / TZ200 Specifications
- Sensor: 1.0-inch, 20.1MP
- Lens: 24-360mm, f/3.3-6.4
- Screen: 3.0-inch, 1,240K dots
- Viewfinder: EVF
- Continuous shooting: 10fps
- Movies: 4K
- Battery life: 350 shots
- User level: Beginner/intermediate
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Panasonic Lumix ZS200/TZ200: Price
There’s a large 3.0-inch touchscreen on the rear of the camera (although it sits flush with the body and can’t be angled outwards), while the Lumix ZS200 / TZ200 follows about from the Lumix ZS100 / TZ100 and sports a built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF); this gets a small bump up in resolution over its predecessor, but it still feels pretty small and claustrophobic to look through, so while it’s handy for composing shots in bright sunlight, the rest of the time you’ll find yourself using the excellent rear display.
For hassle-free photography there’s a range of auto modes and features, but the Lumix ZS200 / TZ200 also features more advanced controls too, including aperture priority and shutter priority settings, as well as full manual control. There’s also raw capture to help achieve the best quality results from your images, as the handy handle wheel round the lens offers quick adjustment for a range of settings.
If you want to capture videos on your travels the Lumix ZS200 / TZ200 features 4K capture up to 30p, while Panasonic’s 4K PHOTO mode lets users extract single nevertheless frames from 4K burst files shot at 30fps before saving them as 8MP-equivalent images.
It’s the most expensive travel camera out there right now, but there’s no other camera on the market that offers a 15x optical zoom and 1.0-inch sensor in a compact body.
Panasonic Lumix ZS200: Is it worth buying?
The Panasonic Lumix ZS200 / TZ200 is a great option if you’re looking for a compact all-in-one camera that you can take on your travels. The large 1.0-inch sensor delivers great results, while the 15x zoom range means you should be able to shoot anything from landscapes and architecture to tight portraits and details.
It’s easy to use, but there are also plenty of manual controls should you want to get a bit more creative, as the compact metal body shouldn’t weigh you down.
If the 15x zoom isn’t quite the deal-breaker, then take a look at the older Lumix ZS100 / TZ100. It delivers similar image quality, the 10x zoom still offers a lot of versatility and it’s that bit more affordable. But if you want the ultimate travel compact camera, the Lumix ZS200 / TZ200 ticks pretty much every box.
Panasonic Lumix ZS200: Performance
The ZS200 isn’t the fastest camera in its class, but it’s not slow either. It starts, focuses, and fires a shot in about 1.5 seconds. Autofocus speed varies based on lighting conditions and the selected focus area. With the wide focus area enabled and under bright light, the ZS200 locks on in almost no time at all. But it does slow down significantly in dim light, to about 0.7-second, and if you opt to use the tiny, but very precise, Pinpoint focus function, it requires about 0.8-second, even in bright light.
The Pinpoint function is useful for scenes where other distractions in the frame may draw the attention of the larger boxes used by the standard focus system, like photographing a bird through tree branches, for example. I wish it was as speedy as the other concentrate modes, but you should only need to use it in select scenarios. The RX100 VI’s phase detect system does a better job overall, even when honing in on a very small region of interest, but it’s one of the reasons the RX costs $400 more.
Continuous capture is available at 9.4fps (a little shy of the 10fps advertised by Panasonic) when shooting full-resolution JPG or Raw photos with fixed focus, and at about 6fps with tracking concentrate enabled. The duration of capture changes based on the image format. The camera’s buffer is good for 29 Natural+JPG, 32 Raw, or 170 JPGs before filling up. Clearing to a SanDisk 280MBps memory card (an overkill-the ZS200 doesn’t support UHS-II speeds; you’ll be fine with a 95MBps UHS-I card) requires 28.8, 19.8, and 21.7 seconds, repectively. You can continue to capture images and use the camera because the buffer clears, nevertheless, you can’t start recording a video clip until all images are committed to memory, so be careful with those big bursts if you like to add video to the mix.
There’s also Panasonic’s 4K Photo mode. Leveraging the movie engine, 4K Picture extracts JPG still frames from video clips, allowing the ZS200 to capture 8MP JPG images at a staggering 30fps. But because the ZS200’s video engine introduces a crop to 4K, the widest angle you’ll be able to use in 4K Photo is 36mm. There are options to vary focus points during 4K bursts, but you don’t get true subject tracking capability. If you do need extreme burst shooting at full resolution with subject matter tracking, once again look to the $1,200 RX100 VI-it shoots in Natural and tracks subjects at up to 24fps.
Panasonic Lumix ZS200: Features
While Panasonic managed to squeeze a 10x optical zoom into the Lumix ZS100 / TZ100, with a range of 25-250mm and a maximum available aperture of f/2.8-5.9, the Lumix ZS200 / TZ200 incorporates a 15x optical zoom with a coverage of 24-360mm and an optimum aperture of f/3.3-6.4; a touch wider at the start of the zoom range then (although with a slightly narrower/slower maximum aperture), but noticeably more reach at the long end. The new lens design also enables the Lumix ZS200 / TZ200 to focus down to 3cm to enable the capture of close-up macro shots.
With such a large 15x zoom comes the risk of camera shake ruining photos, so Panasonic’s Power OIS stabilization system is on hand to counteract unwanted movement for stills photography, and there’s five-axis hybrid OIS stabilization for video.
What made the Lumix ZS100 / TZ100 unique among travel zoom compacts was its relatively large 1.0-inch sensor, and the Lumix ZS200 / TZ200 features a similar 20.1MP 1-inch sensor offering an ISO range from 125-12,800 (expandable to 80-25,600).
The Lumix ZS200 / TZ200 boasts Panasonic’s Light Speed AF technology, and we found focus speeds to be pretty snappy throughout the zoom range in good light; the AF system will struggle when light levels are really poor, but this isn’t unique to the Lumix ZS200 / TZ200. The digital camera isn’t really suited to fast-paced action, but the Lumix ZS200 / TZ200’s focus tracking will do a solid job for general subjects.
As well as a rear 3.0-inch touchscreen display, which has a decent resolution of 1,240,000 dots, there’s also a small built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF) on the Lumix ZS200 / TZ200.
Compared to the EVF found on the Lumix ZS100 / TZ100, the newer model gets a decent boost in resolution, from 1.17m dots to an impressive 2.3m. It’s also a little larger at 0.21 inches (compared to 0.2 ins on the older model), and offers slightly better magnification, at 0.53x in comparison to 0.45x.
These improvements make framing shots in bright ambient light that much easier, but it’s still pretty cramped, and you’ll be much better served using the rear display in most shooting situations.
The battery in the Lumix ZS200 / TZ200 / TZ220 is rated for 350 shots, or 300 if you use the EVF. The camera also features a new eco30fps mode, which reduces the Live View refresh rate and which should see the digital camera good for around 370 shots (if you’re using the rear LCD) per charge. The battery can be charged via AC or USB, although if you are not going to be near a power supply for a while, you might want to invest in a second battery.
Finally, there’s a Bluetooth Low Energy connection to enable a consistent connection with a smartphone or tablet with minimum power consumption, alongside the usual Wi-Fi connectivity, which allows for quick transfer of images.
Panasonic Lumix ZS200: Image Quality
As we’ve seen with other cameras that feature a 20.1MP 1.0-inch sensor, the Lumix ZS200 / TZ200 is capable of delivering nicely detailed shots which have a natural, yet bright and vibrant look; if you’re going to be printing images at A4 or below these certainly stand up very well compared to cameras that enjoy larger sensors.
When it comes to image noise (the grain-like effect that encroaches on images as you increase the ISO), the Lumix ZS200 / TZ200 performs very well for a travel zoom compact. At lower sensitivities pictures (both JPEG and raw) handle noise well, but inevitably the quality of JPEGs in particular suffers as you boost the ISO.
If you’re shooting JPEGs, be prepared for images to display signs of detail smoothing as the camera tries to reduce the effects of noise. Raw files are a lot more pleasing at higher sensitivities – while image noise is present, more detail is retained, and you’ll ultimately get a better result if you’re prepared to process your images once you’re back home.
If you are traveling, chances are you’re going to be shooting in some pretty high-contrast conditions (bright sunlight and shade for example). This can cause digital cameras to struggle, either producing images that are too dark or too light, because the sensor doesn’t have the dynamic range to cope with the wide tonal range.
While it’s possible to recover some lost detail with JPEG files, the ability to capture natural documents with the Lumix ZS200 / TZ200 means that at lower ISOs you can claw back a good deal of detail in the shadows for a much more pleasing final image; try and avoid shooting at increased ISOs if you intend to do this, though, as you don’t get quite the same flexibility.
Lens performance is good considering that Panasonic has managed to squeeze a 15x optic into such a compact body. Sharpness does suffer a little at the long end of the range, but vignetting and distortions are well controlled at the wider finish.
Panasonic Lumix ZS200/TZ200: Key Features
- 20.1MP 1″-type BSI CMOS sensor
- F3.3-6.4 24-360mm equiv. zoom lens
- 2.33M-dot equiv. EVF with 0.53x equiv. magnification
- 10 fps burst (focus locked on first shot), 6 fps burst (continuous AF)
- UHD 4K video at 30p and 24p
- 5-axis Hybrid IS for 1080p video
- 3″ touchscreen LCD
- Depth from Defocus AF
- Wi-Fi with Bluetooth
- 4K Photo with new Sequence Composition feature
- USB charging
Panasonic Lumix ZS200/TZ200: Conclusion
The Panasonic ZS200 (known as the TZ200 outside of North America) is a compact travel zoom camera with a 24-360mm equiv. lens and a 20MP, 1″ sensor that’s larger than what you’d find on a typical long-zoom camera. In addition to capturing 20MP stills, it can also record decent quality UHD 4K video. In general, we like what the ZS200 has to offer in terms of spec and performance, though lenses in this class of cameras are often on the soft side. While the ZS200 has the longest zoom of any nearly pocketable enthusiast compact, most people will be better served by the less expensive ZS100, if they don’t mind less zoom range.