Panasonic TZ202: First Impressions
Some First Comments by Me
So what can I say about the Panasonic TZ202 after a couple of months of
use? First of all, I had to get used to it! Second, here are some first observations:
- The camera is small and light, but larger and heavier
than the Sony RX100 models.
This makes it, in my eyes, easier to use. For details see below...
- It has enough external buttons and controls so that I can access
the for me most important functions.
So, there is less need to dive into the menus than for other compact cameras.
On the other hand, I really had get to used to the logic of the Panasonic
menu system and new "speak"...
- Regrettably, the viewfinder image is comparatively small. I find
it also fairly dull, lacking contrast, and often appearing somewhat fuzzy
to me. I cannot see the pixels, which is nice, but this is not that important
for me. It is really the size
of the viewfinder image that matters for me, not only for manual focusing,
but also in general.
- The camera is easy to carry around on a walk.
Usually, I hold it at its grip, but for safety reasons, I always use a wrist
strap when taking the camera on a photo trip...
Rear view, on
Photo: The Panasonic TZ202
It's all there!
When using the Panasonic TZ202, I have to say that "it's all there" what
- Focusing (Control Ring): Can be "manually" set
at the lens by turning the Control
Ring - and needs some practice, because it it "by wire" and
not mechanical. But using MF Assist (screen magnification) and (Focus)
Peaking, I am successful most of the time.
Cons: The manual focus has some hysteresis, but it works better than
on my Sony cameras.
- Zooming (Zoom Lever): Can be done using the Zoom
You can also set step zoom (zooms in predefined steps that correspond to
"standard" focal lengths).
- Mode: Mostly, I use the camera in P mode, sometimes
in A or M mode. Switching to A or M mode is easy thanks to the
Mode Dial on the camera top.
- ISO: Can be accessed faster using a function button. I reassigned
the Fn2 button to ISO...
- Exposure compensation: The "Up" cursor key is firmly
assigned to exposure compensation. Exposure can be corrected by pressing
this button and then rotating the rear dial. Occasionally I had fixly assigned
exposure correction to the rear dial, but this resulted in unwanted limitations,
so that I canceled this assignment.
- MF Assist (Screen magnification): I set it to "automatic" so that
it is activated whenever I turn the control ring at the lens (MF
By turning the rear dial, you can increase magnification up
to 6 x.
- Focus area: Changing the size and position of the focus field (Focus
Area Set) can only be accessed using a function button. I reassigned
the Fn1 button
to function Focus Area Set.
- Level: Can be activated using the DISP button; I
use it most of the time.
- Self-timer: Is rarely used by me... I can access it by presssing
the "Down" cursor key, which is firmly assigned
- Focus mode: The left cursor key is firmly assigned to the Focus
Mode function (AF, MF, and more...).
- Lock focus (AF/AE Lock Button): AFL is provided by the AF/AE
Lock Button. Since I set it to AE Lock, the AF Lock function is no
longer available to me...
- Lock exposure (AF/AE Lock Button): AEL is provided by the AF/AE
which I set to AE Lock and also to toggle mode so that I need not press the
button all the time (this is called "hold" by Panasonic)...
- Q.Menu (Fn3 Button): Provides access to some functions that
I use more often so that I need not dive into the menu system for these functions.
Much more I (usually) do not need...
Top view, on, wide angle
Top view, on, telephoto
Photos: Views of the Panasonic TZ202
Some of My Settings
Favorite camera settings vary from photographer to photographer and also depend
on the situation at hand. Therefore, it is difficult to recommend camera settings
to other people. Nevertheless, I list some settings that I typically use -
maybe, they offer one or the other inspiration for others:
- Image Format: JPEG extra fine, 20 MP
- ISO: Between 125 and 1600 (often between 200 and 800), when it
is dark ISO 1600, rarely ISO 3200
- Exposure Simulation: I set the function Live View Display to
Settings Effects On - that is, yes!
- Exposure Compensation: Usually 0, sometimes -0.3 or even -0.7. Other
values in special situations. I had set my previous cameras often on EV -0.3
to avoid blown-out highlights, but the sensor is "better behaved" in
- (Light) Metering Mode: Multi
- Focus Area: Flexible Spot or Center
- White Balance: Auto
- Acoustic Signal: Off
- Contrast, Sharpness, Saturation: Standard
- Focus Magnification: Automatic = As soon as you turn
the Focus Ring on the lens, the enlarged detail appears (MF Assist).
Moreover, I reserved a function key for activating this functionality manually
(Focus Magnifier). In both cases, the enlargement
factor can be changed pressing the OK button.
- Focus Peaking: Red and Mid
- Level: On
For details see page Configuration.
Top view, off
Rear view, off
Weight and Size
With 340 g "operating weight," the Panasonic TZ202 is not light,
but it is also not heavy. It appears almost lighter than the actually lighter
Sony RX100 M4, probably because it is larger.
The Panasonic TZ202 is not a camera for your trouser pocktes, but still a
pocket camera, for example for your coat pockets. It is bigger than the Sony
RX100 M4, but for me easier to use for this reason. Compared with the Sony
RX10 M3, it looks like a dwarf - even when the lens is extended.
Size and weight comparisons can be found here.
All in all, the lens is definitely the most important component of this camera.
With a focal length ranging from 24 mm to 360 mm (equivalent), it offers the
largest range yet for a compact camera with a 1" sensor (February 2019).
For me, the close-ups behavior of the lens is also important. This means,
above all, that I want to achieve high magnifications even from greater distances
(1 m and more). This requires long focal lengths, and therefore the close-up
limit at these focal lengths must be short enough for sufficient magnifications
to be achieved. The lens of the Panasonic TZ202 has its "sweet spots" at
160 mm and 360 mm, where the minimum object width is about 11 cm - at 160 mm
at a distance of 50 cm, at 360 mm at a distance of 1m.
Of course, high magnifications at the wide-angle end are also welcome if the
objects are close enough and do not run or fly away (shading can be a problem,
though). The lens magnifies the most at 28 mm (minimum object width 5 cm),
where shading can be a problem.
Details can be found here.
The Viewfinder and Touchscreen
Here are the technical data for the viewfinder of three of my cameras:
- Panasonic TZ202: Field-sequential display 2,330,000 dots / 0.53 x magnification
- Sony RX100 M4: 0.39-type electronic viewfinder (OLED) / 2,359,296 dots
/ 0.59 x magnification
- Sony RX10 M3: 0.39-type electronic viewfinder (XGA OLED) / 2,359,296 dots
/ 0.7 x magnification
So, the viewfinders all have the same resolution, but offer a different magnification.
I like the Panasonic TZ202's viewfinder the least of the three. It has
the lowest magnification, and often the view looks of pale and blurred.
The Panasonic TZ202 is my first camera with a touchscreen - that I do not
use. Since I look through the viewfinder with my left eye, my nose smears the
screen und would also move the focus point...
What Is Missing or Could Be Improved (in My Opinion)?
- Manual focusing: Manual focusing with the control ring at the lens
is a pain for me, because it is "by wire" and sluggish.
- Image processing: I would like to see a similar (but not as aggressive)
image processing as with the Sony RX cameras. All my changes of possible
Photo Style) has not much achieved so far...
- AE Lock indicator: The activation of the AE lock is only shown on
certain screen displays (display with detailed information) at the bottom
left. In my opinion, it should appear on every screen (like Sony does it),
because this information is so important.
Note: If you set the viewfinder or monitor to viewfinder style (information
partially displayed outside the viewfinder image) instead of monitor style (information
in the viewfinder image), the AE Lock indicator will always appear at the
bottom left. I really wonder why this is not also the case for monitor
The function for switching the display style is a bit confusing for me -
it is always done for the currently active part, i.e. the viewfinder (when
you are currently looking through it) or the monitor (on which you are currently
These are just a few preliminary ideas, comment, habits, opinions, and so
on. This page will therefore change and perhaps also grow a little over time...