Panasonic TZ Series vs Canon SX

Consumer’s Institute in NZ reviews digital cameras regularly and have just issued their latest report. Basically from their POV the competition for the top P&S spot is down to Panasonic and Canon, and I agree. I’ve compared the Canon and Panasonic offerings for some time and I would continue to choose Canon first time every time. Although Panasonic was first off the block with the TZ1 ultrazoom compact, Canon after a couple of false starts (the weird TX1 for example) eventually responded with the SX100, with the probability of an update this year. I took a few moments to check out the SX100 against the latest Lumix TZ4/TZ5 models. My choice for all four digitals so far has been Canon and would remain so in this particular segment, the SX100 being preferred for the following reasons:

  1. Uses AA batteries; you aren’t tied to proprietary expensive power solutions.
  2. Uses standard USB cable; don’t need an expensive proprietary cable (Panasonic uses a special one with the A/V signal pins added to it)
  3. More exposure control options on the SX100. It has a full range of manual settings just like the S5, in fact this camera is really just a scaled down S5 in features. Panasonic has a few scene type settings, more like my A460 which is much cheaper.

I’ll credit the TZ4/TZ5 Lumixes with HD video, battery metering and some other useful features. With the inbuilt lithium power source, you do have the advantage of having less bits and a charger supplied with the camera. Lithium may be more predictable than some NiMH solutions. However my experience of AA cameras has been that I have got out of more than one sticky situation by carrying a set of Energizer Lithiums along with my usual sets of rechargeables. You can get a choice of charger as well and right now I have one that can plug into a USB port or car in addition to the mains. The latest advances into low leakage NiMH cells shows a very promising trend of improving their capacity and retention which in my experience in the first six months of this year is going a long way towards lithium-like performance in an economical package.

Would I buy an SX100? Yes – if I didn’t already have the preference of the A460 / S1 combination. The SX100 is just a little too bulky compared to the A460, yet lower featured than the current S series models. My current choices suit me well as the basic A460 can still do a lot of things when I carry it with me everywhere and is cheap enough to be updated every couple of years. The SX100 is a great camera if you can compromise enough or don’t need the extra performance of the S series.