Hiking in Finland

Climbing, bikepacking, skiing & packrafting in the north

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10 Review

I'm a DSLR kind-of-guy. The options available in shooting with a DSLR, as the ability to compose a photo with a real viewfinder, different lenses and a bunch of settings usually make me take my Canon 50D on trips. But then there is the weight, and seeing to what effects some point-and-shots are used, which made me reconsider. This is the story of how I found a compact camera which I feel comfortable taking into the outdoors, knowing that I can bring superb photos and HD videos back home.

Earlier this year I started to leave my Canon 50D at home in favour of the Panasonic Lumix GF1, a small size DSLR but with big skills. After returning the GF1 I got so used to the light weight around my neck, that using the 50D again seemed odd. Was I thus ready to step on step further down and try point-and-shots? As a dedicated UL backpacker and traveller, the answer was yes. A suitable camera was quickly found, as the likes of Joe Newton, Peter MacFarlane and Martin Rye have used a Lumix compact camera to great lengths on their trips, taking superb photos with a camera which is both compact and light. An email was written, a business trip to Helsinki was combined with a visit, and I took home a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ10.

195 g TZ-10 body
022 g TZ-10 battery
001 g SDHC 8 gb memory card
218 g Total

If I compare that with the weight of the Canon 50D or even the GF1, it is so much lighter, and way more compact = Win. But can it take excellent photos? Lets see:

The amount of detail the TZ10 can capture is fabulous, check the printing on this flyer.

It also can handle fire shots like these just perfectly.

Misty mornings by the lake: Full marks.

Close-ups: Check.

Occasional holiday photos: Superb.

So far, so good. So what is special about it? Well, for one it geo-tags your photos with the GPS coordinates they were taken, and in case they were taken at a special location, like the National Opera in Oslo, for example, it will even be able to name the structure. Sweet, I hear you say, and I concur. Never again arguments with the significant other/ backpacking buddy where exactly the photo was taken - a look at the coordinates, for example in Picasa, and the mystery is solved. Some people think the GPS function drains the battery, which is, hmm, "true". I can go on a weekend backpacking trip without a second battery and come home with the camera still working, but more than that and it gets critical and a second battery is advisable.

In this screenshot from a photo uploaded on Picasa, you can see on the right the geo-tag. It is very accurate!

Back of the TZ10. Display mode in raster is the most useful, as it helps you to compose photos very well.

But that ain't all - as if superb, geo-tagged photos from afar and close-up wouldn't be enough, no, Panasonic decided to throw in a 720p HD video recording with stereo function. Pretty much all the videos I took during the last weeks were taken with the TZ10, and let me tell you that it does take superb videos, as the example underneath shows:

The layout of the camera is good, all buttons are easily reached, with exception of the video record button, which, while sitting a tad deeper, still got pushed the occasional time, but apart from that, a solid layout. The screen has gathered a couple of "Ohhhs!" and "Ahhhhs!", so sharp are the pictures on it. Panasonic also allows you to put the flash off forever, full marks for that. Deleting photos, single or multiple, goes quick and easy. The TZ10 has 12x Optical Zoom, but I honestly can't have used it more than half a dozen times, the 25 mm wide angle lens is perfect for my needs (landscape, macro, mostly).

The TZ10 has a manual exposure control, with aperture priority, shutter priority and full manual exposure. I played around with these - you'll need them for night shots - but I also think the "Intelligent Auto" does a decent job if you can't be bothered. Some of the above photos were shot with iA, and in my opinion they look as good as those shot on Manual. It doesn't do RAW, only JPEG, that's a little trouble if you like to edit in Lightroom 3, but not a dealbreaker (you can edit other formats than RAW in Lightroom 3!).

The two apps I use to edit and share photos.

Before I sum it up, a few quick words on editing. I use Photogene on the iPad, as the intuitive and easy to use interface is superb. After editing I could upload directly from the app to Flickr, though as I am a Picasa user I use Photo Share to upload the edited photos. If you're an iPad user (and trust me, the iPad rocks - I replaced my MacBook with it) and do any photo editing at all, consider investing the less than 4€ for those two apps.

Editing in Photogene.

Sharing with Photo Share.

Well, how to round this up? I need to return, with much sadness, I have to admit, the TZ10 again, as it was only a loan. Yesterday I took product shots for my significant other - she's a graphic designer - and as I wasn't able to get the 50D to cooperate, I took the TZ10 out and started taking photos. The small camera had no problems and did what I wanted it to do, resulting in such good photos that I was immediately entrusted with more work! I guess that means that if the TZ 10 is able to reach the high standards of a graphic designer, and at the same time is able to satisfy the heart of a UL backpacker who likes to take good photos, then the TZ10 can't be a bad deal. It is a great package, taking excellent photos, HD videos, geo-tagging both and does always cooperate, without grumbling. If you're in the market for a new camera, click the link underneath and give yourself an early present! To conclude, I reckon it means that I am not that much of an DSLR kind-of-guy after all =)

Disclosure: I have a Amazon Affiliate account and might earn something if you click and buy from above.

The Week in Review

Week four at the IWG school is over, and it saw me learning to navigate with a kayak and canoe as well as practicing safety and rescue in both - fun times, but spending a good amount of time in cold water means the flu which is going around got me. Bedtime and reading blogs is what I did this weekend, and here is what I found interesting.

+ I Had too Much to Dream Last Night - ULVER

Hana and her owner went scrambling in the Northern Alps of Japan. Gorgeous photos of mountains, flora, fauna and Hana the dog. Recommended read!

Steven had a short but eventful Wainwrights Coast to Coast walk, beautiful photos and a gripping write-up, make sure to check it out.

Biking the Sawatch was an adventure undertaken by Royal Wulff of Dry Flies & Fat Tires.

David Chenault of Bedrock & Paradox went on a packrafting trip, and this video made by his mates deserves an Oscar - love it!

Nibe from the Netherlands went to the Danish mountains and want to come back in the winter.

Odinius from France went on a two day trip in Ile de Ouessant, a very pretty region.

Ross Collard from Mountain Missions went on another trip along the corridor and brought back great panorama shots from the British hills and fells.

Roger walked from Lerjrevallen to Östafors and pitched his yellow SpeedMid in a fine spot for the night.

Laufbursche is back from his Alp cross, which didn't go as planned.

David's Pyrenees trip report is splendid. Check out day 14 and then go back to the beginning, some stunning photos.

Some great photos from the CDT are brought to you by brass & butter.

Maz starts his Mont Blanc trip report with days one and two, go check it out.

Dondo walked the Indian Peaks Southern Loop, stunning photos which you should see.

After my Vibram Five Fingers KSO review Jörgen and Martin from Fjäderlätt followed suit and showcased alternatives in Barefoot footwear.

Rio on the other hand thinks already about winter, and bought a Western Mountaineering HotSac VBL, his first look is great and shows a lot of details. If you're on the lookout for a VBL, give this article a look.

Martin reviews the book A Long Trek Home.

Got excited about taking your dog along on the trail after seeing Hana? Check out the Husky Hiker's article on Hiking with your dog then!

Joe went hunting nature's bounty and came home with muddy shoes.

Tomas got a food dehydrator and made a great photo guide of how to make beef jerky.

Dave tells us how to get squeaky in the woods.

Kevin the Lap(Fen)lander tells us about food and fire making.

Remember, you now can become a Fan of Hiking in Finland and Nordic Lightpacking on Facebook!

Vibram Five Fingers KSO First Look

Two weeks ago a light and small package from fitnessfootwear.com landed on my doorstep. In it I found a pair of Vibram Five Fingers KSO in Ninja Black (what else?!), Size 41, weight 300 grams for the pair. Since then a new relationship has started, and wearing any other shoes is something I don't look forward to.

VFF KSO 6 Chillin at the lake. And yes, you can swim in them!

The first time I read about Vibram Five Fingers "shoes" was on the Red Yeti's blog, and earlier this year LAUFBURSCHE and Ultra Knilch went for a hike and run with them. All of them were of the highest words about them, and so I decided to get a pair.


I was thinking a bit about which VFFs to get - the Bikilas looked tempting, but as they weren't yet available I went for the KSOs. The strap around the top of the foot for some extra support is useful, and the abrasion-resistant stretch nylon/ mesh upper is warm when wet wet yet airy, so no overheating. The problem with the mesh is that it lets a bit of tiny sand through, and worse, allows mosquitos to bite you.

Perfect grip on rocks, wood, mud, forest floor, moss and anything in between...

... thanks to the super grippy Vibram sole.

So, how is it walking "barefoot"? I love it. As I said above, after wearing my VFFs it is difficult to put other shoes on. My gait in the VFFs is more natural, I love the "massaging" effect of them - no worries, you're not getting hurt when walking over sharp stones, gravel, glass or similar sharp objects which usally would feel painful when walking barefoot. My partner tried them on last Sunday, and came home with a smile on her face and told me that it was the first time she felt she'd like to go for a run, and decided to get a pair herself!

Feels so soft and great, walking on moss!

During the IWG Forest week I wore the VFF KSOs for the first time, a whole day straight, including offtrail navigating through dense forests, bogs, clearings, up and down hills with small climbing passages, and never did I feel scared to hurt myself, twist my ankle or similar. The perfect sole protects your foot so well that I didn't even bother looking where I walked. Last week I was wearing them when we went to search mushrooms, and this week - BCU Canoe and Kayak week - I will wear them every day as they're perfect for that. Even hiking with a good 10 kg on my back they were perfect, I didn't worry I might injure myself - which I think is the biggest worry people might have.

That worry comes from the brainwashing Meindl, HanWag & Co. are sending out (of needing boots to protect your ankles, etc.) and after decades of brainwashing the idea that hiking = hiking boots is firmly in the minds of the majority of hikers. But with the VFFs your feet are moving the way evolution intended them to, your five toes give the best grip - better than any sole ever will (that includes, I am afraid, the Inov-8 Roclite sole). Your gait is natural and you strike ball first, instead of heel first - the latter sends a shockwave through your joints and spine and is very unhealthy.


Well, what is the conclusion? I will continue to use my Inov-8s, yes, but my number one go to footwear till the snow is here will be my VFF KSOs. They feel just to comfortable, natural, healthy, relaxing and good to miss an opportunity to use them. On the coming Russia expedition we apparently are "required" to take Wellies to cross bogs and rivers - I will take my KSOs at a fraction of the weight and triple the comfort. After all, wet feet should be embraced instead of feared. In my opinion they are perfect for the lightweight and UL backpacker, as with our small loads and our open minds we are ready to take the next step of going barefoot! Finally, I'll follow this first look up with a long-time review after I walked few more hikes and trips with them, but so far I haven't been that excited to put my shoes on since I learned to tie my laces!

In case you now are ready to try barefoot walking, visit the Vibram Five Fingers UK stockist FitnessFootwear.com and choose a pair for your needs. I'm getting a second pair for when the first is in the wash =)