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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3 Digital Camera Review

panasonic20110728a.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Michael Gazzola

If you’re working in the middle of construction site, trekking through mountainous ranges, or just the type of person who’s not fussed to let the kids play with your digital camera… then the camera in your pocket is likely to be tough.

The ‘tough’ segment is small with the mix consisting of the Olympus Tough 8010, Sony TX10 and Panasonic’s FT3 digital camera rounding out the main three.

 

panasonic20110728b.jpgAppearance & Functionality


As with each new model car that hits the road, Panasonic too with the upgrade from the FT2 to the FT3 in the still camera segment have made adjustments to the styling along with paint job and ergonomics. The previous model was by comparison boxier and a less sexy unit. This time around, the retail shelf appeal for Panasonic is likely to attract greater attention and convert to larger numbers pushing through the registers.

panasonic20110728c.jpgThe FT3 is available in 4 colours, red, blue, silver and orange. Although orange generally is not my thing, it was the colour of the test unit and looked very slick with its hints of grey and black. But as we all know it’s about what’s under the hood that will get the prospective buyer over the line.

New features for the FT3 include GPS, an altimeter, barometer and compass, plus an additional 2-meters of underwater depth now taking the camera to 12-meters. It’s still freeze-proof to minus -10 degrees and dust / sand proof – both features that were 'a must' and carried over to the new model.

The menu navigation is much like other Panasonic compacts – loads of options and user-friendly, but likely only a handful for most to be used! For piece of mind, you can easily flick to a scene selection, or at a simple press of a button move between movie or stills mode.

 

Image Quality / Lens Quality


The FT3 comes equipped with a newly developed 12.1-megapixel Hi-Speed CCD sensor with advanced image processing LSI, Venus Engine FHD, and produces high picture quality in both photo and movie recording. Staying on the geek side, it also comes with Face Recognition & Detection in still mode, Zoom Macro, Intelligent Auto and countless Scene Modes in both Still and Video modes.

Panasonic has covered the most useful zoom range well with a 28-128mm lens and provided a handy battery that should deliver you over 300 photos between recharging. Under general testing in various lighting scenarios from ambient, fluoro and daylight to combined flash with ambient and combined flash with fluoro lighting the FT3 performed very well where white balancing is concerned.

Testing for grain at 1600 ISO actually produced some surprisingly good results too for an ISO that high. As always with cameras in this bracket the safest and cleanest option for shooting is to stay between 100-400 ISO, however acceptable results at 800 ISO were achieved too but the lighting condition does affect the quality of the image – brighter outdoor lighting produced cleaner images where indoor darker shadow areas showed the ISO level being pushed to its limit.

 

View sample images here: http://www.facebook.com/BuynShoot


LCD / Viewfinder


It seems as though the FT3 has the same 2.7" TFT Screen LCD Display (230K dots). With an AR Coating, and an approximate Field of View of 100% Wide Viewing Angle, the images viewed on screen were punchy and viewable outdoor and in bright overcast weathered conditions at the time of testing.

 

Video


A considerable advantage the FT3 now has over its competitors is the introduction of Full HD movie recording, 1920x1080 movies in AVCHD format which works beautifully with the Leica DC Vario-Elmar lens. Another, second lesser advantage is the addition of 3D Photo Mode which produces a 3D image in the camera and saves the file in MPO format.

As Panasonic say, “just take 20 panning shots and the camera automatically selects the two most suitable images to synthesize a 3D composite”. A clever function however, though it’s not overly useful if you don’t have a 3D TV to view your images on… Perhaps a 55” VIErA Full-HD 3D for your shopping list right after bread, butter and vegemite?

And to maximise the Full HD capability Panasonic have also included, be it small yet thoughtful, a micro HDMI, AV Output (PAL) alongside the USB2.0 High speed socket.

Just keep in mind that with only 19mb of onboard memory, like so many other compacts you’ll need at least an 8gb memory card to get you started before capturing some lengthy video in Full HD.


 

medal-gold-r.jpg

 

Conclusion


The FT3 should be given serious consideration from potential 'tough camera' buyers as Panasonic have given attention to little things such as a double lock on the battery compartment / sd card entry, and sped up the auto focus and start up times from the previous model.

If it’s just about handling the Panasonic FT3 does well in this area too as it sits nicely in your hand with all the relevent buttons easily located... may be the comfort comes from holding the camera more loosely than usual knowing that in the event that it may be dropped, the steel outer and shock resistant build are protecting the elements inside.

 

What ever the draw is, the FT3 should be in the mix.

Thumbs up.

 

 

Appearance rating 4.5 stars
Functionality rating 4 stars
Image Quality 3.5 stars
Lens Quality 4 stars
View finder / LCD screen 3.5 stars
Value for money 3.4 stars
RRP (AUD) $599
   
Effective Pixels 12.1 Million mega pixels
Image Sizes 21 Sizes
Compaitble Lens
LEICA DC VARIO-ELMAR, 10 elements in 8 groups
(5 Aspherical Lenses / 6 Aspherical surfaces / 1 ED Lens)
Dust Filter
Supersonic Wave Filter (dust reduction system for image sensor)
Resolution Settings 640x360 to 4000x3000
Shooting Modes Portrait, Soft Skin, Transform, Self-Portrait, Scenery, Panorama Assist, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Handheld Night Shot, Food, Party, Candle Light, Baby1, Baby2, Pet, Sunset, High sensitivity, Hi-Speed Burst (Image priority, Speed priority), Flash Burst, Starry Sky, Fireworks, Aerial, Pinhole, Film Grain, High Dynamic (standard/ art/ B&W), Photo Frame
Sensor Size
1/2.33-inch CCD sensor
Field Of View 100%
Sequential Shooting
Full-Resolution Image, 3.7 frames/sec Max. 7 images
Focus Modes
Normal: Wide / Tele 30 cm - infinity
Macro / Intelligent AUTO/ movie recording: Wide 5 cm - infinity / Tele 30cm - infinity
Shutter Speeds Still: 8 - 1/1300 sec
Starry Sky Mode : 15, 30, 60sec.
ISO Auto / i.ISO / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600
High Sensitivity mode (ISO 1600-6400)
LCD Monitor Yes
LCD Size 2.7" TFT Screen LCD Display (230K dots), AR Coating
Field of View : approx. 100% Wide Viewing Angle
Power LCD mode, AUTO Power LCD mode
Viewfinder -
Flash Retractable flash, GN=18 @ISO200, (GN=13 @ISO 100.m)
Hot Shoe -
White balance Auto / Daylight / Cloudy / Shade / Incandescent / White Set (Selectable at Portrait, Soft Skin, Transform, Self-Portrait, Panorama Assist, Sports, Baby, Pet, High Sensitivity, Highspeed Burst, Pinhole, Photo Frame, High Dynamic)
Self Timer 2sec / 10sec
Movie Options Recording (*2) 4:3 - VGA: 640 x 480 pixels, 30fps (Motion JPEG), QVGA: 320 x 240 pixels, 30 fps (Motion JPEG)
HD Movie - 1920x1080 pixels, 50i (Sensor output is 25p)
(FSH:17Mbps, GFS:17Mbps/ AVCHD)
1280x 720 pixels, 50p (Sensor output is 25p) (GS:17Mbps, SH:17Mbps/ AVCHD)
1280x 720 pixels, 30fps (QuickTime MotionJPEG)
Video Out Yes, HDMI and USB
Storage Type 19mb Built-in Memory, SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card, SDXC Memory Card
Image / Audio Formats Still Image: JPEG(DCF/Exif2.3)
3D Image: MPO
Movie Format AVCHD, QuickTime Motion JPEG
Connectivity Micro HDMI, AV Output (PAL), USB2.0 High speed, DC Input (requires optional DC Coupler)
Power Source ID-Security Li-ion Battery Pack (3.6V, Minimum: 940mAh) (Included)
Battery Options AC Adaptor (Input: 110-240V AC) (Optional)
Dimensions 103.5 mm (W) x 64.0 mm (H) x 26.5 mm (D)
Weight 175g without Battery and SD Memory Card

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Panasonic

 

Panasonic Australia is a proud member of the Australian corporate community. With long standing links to local manufacturing and with hundreds of employees, Panasonic Australia is committed to fostering good relationships with consumers, businesses and governments alike.

 

On both a Local and International basis Panasonic is deploying long term strategies related to stable economic growth, responsible use of resources and being friendly to the environment.

 

The pages contained within the 'About Us' area will give you an insight into how Panasonic Australia operates and an overview of our companies history.

 

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