The shortcomings of the Lumix DMC-TZ110 which led me to exchange it for something better.

With the trusty old Casio EX-Z750 showing its age early in 2016, I went to Snapshot, a long-established photography shop in Hamilton, and bought the Lumix TZ110. This camera had three times the number of pixels and a zoom range of 9.1 to 91mm, the equivalent of 25 to 250 millimetres in a 35mm camera, so it promised to be a big step up from the Casio. It wasn't long however before I started to notice a certain smeared, blurry quality in some of the photographs, especially towards the upper part of the zoom range and always down the left-hand side.

I dismissed it at first as a result of perhaps dust in the lens mechanism interfering with the positioning, but when I went to Mount Maunganui and took a picture of the resort from the top of the Mount, it was at last time to recognise that some of the photographs were never going to pass muster. Looking at them on an older monitor, one could sometimes overlook the weakness, but on my 4K screen there was no escaping the fact that something was not right. To check that it wasn't just me I showed my wife a couple of examples, and she said that it gave her a headache just looking at them.

I presumed that I had just gotten an substandard example of the camera and took it back to Snapshot. Unfortunately, the owner of the small business wasn't in, and a more junior assistant fobbed me off with claims that it was probably just camera shake. It seemed unlikely to me that camera shake would manifest itself exclusively on the left hand side of the images ( my grip is perfectly steady...), but there was nothing for it but to be a bit more methodical. I first pointed the camera out my window on a tripod and took a few shots using the timer to rule out camera shake. The problem remained. Then I went to a bridge over the Waikato River where there were houses along both banks, all essentially at infinity from the camera and thus ideal for testing purposes. The tests were taken with the camera braced against the bridge structure at focal lengths around 200 mm. equivalent, which was where the problem had been most noticeable. This particular example was as good as many others. Armed with a USB stick of evidential photos, I went back once more to Snapshot, who readily agreed to send the camera to Christchurch, where Panasonic apparently maintain a fully-equipped test laboratory.

Three weeks or so later, the repaired camera was back with Snapshot. A moment's inspection showed that it was in fact a new one, with no real explanation of what, if anything, had been wrong with the original. No problem, but a repeat of the tests wouldn't hurt, so I went back to the bridge over the Waikato, and... the problem was still there! This time Snapshot sent the test shots as well as the camera back to Panasonic. Two working days before we were due to leave for Europe, it was back with Snapshot again, accompanied by a remark from the laboratory that it was "within tolerance". Within theirs, perhaps, but not within mine! Fortunately, Snapshot offered to exchange the TZ110 for something else if I was still not satisfied. Even though there would be no possibility of testing a new model before we left, the opinion I had of some of those test photos was such that I took the risk and plumped for the Sony RX100 Mk 4.

And everybody lived happily ever after, as the photos for 2016 onwards can attest.