Fancy a camera that lets you do most everything without needing mostly every lens? Panasonic’s TZ90 could be that option, provided you’re good to wait until July.

The argument for a dedicated compact camera is one that’s becoming harder and harder every year.

Between your phone camera being the staple we all turn to and the big interchangeable lens camera you keep telling yourself you’ll get out for every event, it seems there’s little room for the dedicated compact these days.

But if you’re after something that serves as a middle ground ideal for situations when a phone camera won’t get you close enough — and digital zoom is still poor quality, because let’s all be honest as it is — and the smaller lens-based camera is still much bigger than you’d like, you might want to see yourself looking at the advanced point and shoot.

A little more full-featured, these tend to offer longer zooms, more options, and a bit of manual control if you so choose, and Panasonic has recently added one more to its line-up.

It’s called the TZ90, and if you follow standard model names, it is the follow-up to last year’s TZ80, with the camera features much of the same technology but a change here and there.

For starters, the sensor technology has seen a bit of an upgrade, jumping from 18 megapixels to 20 megapixels, with big images capable out of the camera as well as big video too, supporting 4K video’s 3840×2160 video capture at 25p while also being able to use a 4K mode like on Panasonic’s interchangeable lens cameras to pre-fire before the shutter is shot and then a little after, ideal for when you’re heading to the sports ground and you’re not sure when something amazing is going to happen.

Getting close to the action is a big part of this camera, and so Panasonic has kept the 30x zoom from the previous generation around for this one, delivering what is basically the equivalent of 24 to 720mm in a 35mm camera. This zoom range will work with Panasonic’s Depth From Defocus technology to cut down on focusing time, which is also just marketing spiel for “faster autofocus”, something everyone tends to crave.

Achieving that focus can also be done with touch, because the 3 inch screen on the back of the camera is also a touch screen, and new to this year, it will also flip up 180 degrees if you’re keen to capture a selfie.

You’ll also find WiFi support for sending the images back to your phone for sharing online, a 5-axis image stabiliser for ensuring images aren’t all shakycam, RAW support and in-camera charging, and a control ring on the lens barrel to make you feel like you’re using a real camera if that’s the sort of control you prefer, not to mention USB charging, something we wish all camera makers would move to support.

Sadly, if you want the Panasonic TZ90 now, you will have to wait, as July is the time Panasonic has penciled in Australia to receive the camera, hitting electronics stores and photographic specialists for a recommended retail price of $599.

But hey, the upside is that the TZ80 — the model it replaces — should be seeing a few price cuts here and there in the meantime, and if it isn’t, it might be time to point out to the retailer that you know it’s being replaced very, very shortly.

A technology journalist working out of Sydney, Australia, Leigh has written for publications including The Australian Financial Review, GadgetGuy, Popular Science, APC, PC & Tech Authority, as well as for radio and TV since 2007.

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