My Panasonic TZ202 pages are intended as an information source for existing and prospective Sony RX100 M4 owners. However, there is no intention to offer a complete or even up-to-date information source, because I do not have the time for such a project. The focus of my pages is on presenting my personal experiences with this camera and thereby providing one or the other useful tip for others.
Note: I use the Panasonic TZ202 mostly in P mode, sometimes in A mode. I will therefore, not cover any of the following modes or specialties: Intelligent Auto mode, Superior Auto mode, Scene mode, Creative style, Picture effect, and many of the other gimmicks. Probably, this list is incomplete...
Since I gave up my SLR equipment at the end of 2009, I have a problem, namely too little focal length in the telephoto range. For the Ricoh GXR, the P10 module with its focal length range of 28-300 mm (equivalent) seemed to be the solution. But because of the small sensor, the image quality was too poor for me compared to the other modules, so that I hardly used the P10 module, except in the early days. Later cameras offered a maximum focal length of 70 mm (equivalent; X Vario, Sony RX100 M4) or 135 mm (Leica M (Typ 240)). So I kept looking for cameras with a 1" sensor in the hope that one day they would offer more focal length in the telephoto range. This indeed happened with Panasonic's FZ1000 and its successors, and Sony's RX10 series, but I could never convince myself to buy one these huge and heavy bridge cameras. Nonetheless, I almost bought the FZ1000 before I finally decided on the Sony RX100 M4.
With the TZ100/101, Panasonic finally launched a camera with a larger focal length range (25-250 mm equivalent) in early 2016. But unfortunately the viewfinder is considered bad, and the lens is also rated as poor, especially in the telephoto range. So I kept my hands off this camera...
At the beginning of 2018, the successor to the TZ100 was released, the TZ200/202, with an improved viewfinder, an extended focal length range (with slightly lower light intensity) and perhaps a slightly better lens. After some to and fro, reading test reports, watching videos about the camera, and finally looking at the camera at the dealer, I decided to buy the TZ202, particularly because I wanted to gain some experience with it before we would go on vacation. On the first day, I promptly had some difficulties to get used to and use the camera. In the meantime, however, I have bought a book and also used the camera a lot, and so these problems have (mostly) vanished...
Rear view, on
Photo: The Panasonic TZ202
The Panasonic TZ202 was not meant to replace my Sony RX100 M4, which is probably the better camera in the focal length range of 24-70 mm, but should complement it in the telephoto range. This also applies to "close-ups in the telephoto range," for example, to butterflies that I cannot get closer to, because otherwise they will fly away. Of course, the Panasonic TZ202 does not deliver "full-size" butterfly photos in the telephoto range, but certainly delivers more details than the Sony RX100 M4 or the Leica X Vario are able provide. My primary concern here is to be able to determine the butterflies later on the basis of my photos.
While I can attach close-up lenses (+5 to +15 diopters) to the Sony RX100 M4 using the Lensmate adapter, this does not seem to be possible with the Panasonic TZ202. It provides the largest object size of our cameras in the wide angle range, but at a distance of 3 cm many animals are scared away and the object is also easily shaded. Furthemore, with plants and other static objects, I achieve much higher magnifications with the Sony RX100 M4 using close-up lenses.
... for more than half a year now. Therefore, here is a first (and maybe last) resumen!
At the beginning, I really had getting used to the camera, because I was used to many other cameras and not even the Sony cameras have such complex menus as Panasonic cameras do. I understood the menu structure and the meaning of some menu items with, for me, cryptic names only after I had supplied myself with the respective literature. But after that, many things seemed logical to me, and I would be cautious to criticize Panasonic for my initial confusion.
All cameras testers scream for touchscreen operation - and criticize Sony in particular. I cannot go along with that! I switched off the touchscreen because I look through the viewfinder with my left eye - and regularly shift the focus point with my nose...
Since I have not created so many pages about this camera yet, and maybe I will not create any more, here are some remarks about this camera!
At the end of 2018, I decided with a heavy heart to part with the Panasonic TZ202 and to buy a "monster" called Sony RX10 M3. Why did I do this? I did so because when I looked at the many close-up photos that I had taken over summer 2018, particularly those from 1 m away, I was not really content with the results. Overall, the close-ups, including those at wide angle, were rather grainy with my settings (I had more or less turned off noise reduction and also used higher ISO values), and while I was able to get very close to the objects at the wide end, I found the long end with its 360 mm (equiv.) not quite sufficient for my purposes.* So I started to use the digital zoom (in form of the i.Zoom) and indeed took photos of larger butterflies that nearly filled the frame. But the technical quality of these shots was disappointing: not surprisingly, they were much more grainy than those with the optical zoom. In addition, autofocus often blocked the camera at 720 mm so that shooting was often really nerve-straining. Manual focus prevents these processing "black outs," but is sluggish because it works electronically. At least, it seems to be better that the MF of my Sony camera's... Furthermore, I find the EVF quality not good enough for manual focusing - despite the fact that the EVF has the same resolution as the Sony EVFs.
*) By the way, this ruled out the Panasonic FZ1000 for me, which I had also considered. Admittedly, the "alternative (to the Sony RX10) monster" FZ1000 has a better viewfinder and its lens offers more speed. But 400 mm at the long end do not bring much more range compared with the 360 mm of the TZ202. This is definitely different with the RX10 M3's 600 mm at the long end...
To sum up, my decision to change to the Sony RX10 M3 was in part based on the lens and in part on the camera's processing. Whether I will be happy with the Sony, is another story that still has to be told. But as a "general" camera for holidays and at home, the TZ202 is nearly unbeatable (perhaps by a Sony 100 M6 at twice the price) in my opinion. And maybe, my wife will move over to the TZ202 and we will keep it...
After the devastating test of the TZ202 at dpreview.com, it is hard to make any recommendations, even if the camera is praised a lot in the book that I bought. In the end, opinions in the forums vary - and this will probably remain so.
If you are looking for a compact camera with a large zoom range, you will not find anything else and probably no better one if you have received a good sample. The camera is easy to use after a certain phase of getting accustomed to it (if you are used to other cameras...), fast, and delivers good results, albeit not as good as comparable 1" sensor Sony cameras.
Thus, if you do not have such special requirements for close-ups as I do, this camera is certainly a good choice for you.