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Panasonic Lumix FT20 Digital Camera Review

panasonic20120827aa.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Keith Parsons

The Panasonic Lumix FT20 falls straight into the quickly growing tough compact camera category. With features like 720p HD video, 2.7” LCD and a handful of scene modes the camera offers quite a lot especially with its sub $300 retail price.

Though the FT20s real beauty lies in its tough nature with the ability to shoot underwater or in snow as well as the cameras ability to take drops of over 1m makes it ideal for shooting in a number of unconventional scenarios.

 

Appearance & Functionality


The Lumix FT20 is available in a range of colours (Black, Blue, Orange & Red) and any of the options look classy. The camera is overall a very simply designed unit that utilises a minimalist design scheme. There is essentially two panels sealed by a water tight venire running around the join and ensuring water doesn't leak into the body. Though the cameras waterproof ability alone does not award the FT20 its 'tough' title as it is also dust, shock and freeze proof according to Panasonic which will allow you to shoot in all conditions.

panasonic20120827ab.jpgThe majority of the rear panel is taken up with the 2.7” LCD screen although the bulk of the buttons are also found on the right hand side in a logical layout. The cameras buttons are large enough for most fingers and almost all of them feature symbols next to them to distinguish what exactly they do. That is except for the the 4 way directional pad which when in shooting mode allows access to the flash control, self timer, macro settings and exposure compensation, although the symbols are lost on the buttons themselves and you will need to memorise them for effective use.

The Lumix FT20s menus are a breeze to use, as with a white background the headings are easily read, as well as easily navigated, by the directional buttons. This simplicity is furthered by the division into three sub menus (Rec, Motion Picture & Setup).

Playback is a breeze as well with an easily located playback button allowing quick access to your previously taken images/videos. The camera shows basic information for each image like how many images are on the card and the time and date of capture although the screen can easily be switched over to show just the image alone. Zooming of images in the playback menu is also possible.

The Lumix FT20 keeps the simplicity flowing with its shooting operation. When the camera is turned on you are delivered straight to a live view screen and with the press off a button you are away. It really doesn’t get much more complicated than that unless you want it to and if you do the Lumix FT20 offers a small number of scene modes including sports, snow and two underwater options. On offer is also some exposure compensation, flash control, basic macro settings and a self timer.

The Lumix FT20 is rated as drop proof from 1.5m and also freeze proof to 1.5m so it is easy to envisage this camera being used whilst out snowboarding or skiing for example. I would recommend using the included hand strap though as the aluminium casing doesn't provide a lot of grip and it would be a shame to lose this camera to the ocean floor!

 

Image Quality


The Lumix FT20 utilises a 16.1megapixel 1/2.33” CCD sensor than can produce a maximum image resolution of 4608x3456. The images do however appear with grain in the shadows even at the lowest ISO setting of 100. Though it does not really become all that apparent until you begin to push over the 400ISO mark though from here onwards image quality becomes reduced.

panasonic20120827ac.jpgWith the settings the  Lumix FT20 offers you are able to select a number of image sizes and aspect ratios which will help you if you are trying to use the images for certain outputs. For example if you intend to share your images online then one of the smaller sizes will suit you. Though if looking to make prints from the images I would recommend keeping the full resolution going as it will provide the highest quality images.

The camera does allow you to set a customised white balance and if you are able to I would recommend setting the white balances for different shooting scenarios via the Q.menu. The auto white balance does a fair job although is sometimes just slightly off.

 

View street test images on our Facebook page

 

Lens Quality


The Lumix FT20 incorporates a 25-100mm lens (35mm equivalent) which offers a standard amount of zoom. Unless you are planning to shoot wildlife or other longer distance subjects the zoom range on this camera will stand up to most shooting situations. The 25mm wide angle will allow for portraits of groups of people and the inbuilt flash will give just enough kick for these types of shots. The wider end of the lens will also work well in underwater situations as very rarely is your subject matter further away than a few meters.

The main reason the lens on the Lumix FT20 offers only a standard zoom is that it doesn't extend outwards from the camera body. A major fault in years gone by with compact cameras is that eventually there outward extending zoom motors break and a new camera is required although with Lumix FT20 this wont be an issue.

 

LCD


panasonic20120827ad.jpgA 2.7” LCD covers a large portion of the rear panel and has a modest 230,000 dot resolution. The screen does lack a bit of detail and contrast ability though you are still able to easily judge images for sharpness and exposure.

Though hats off to Panasonic for attempting to fix the largest problem with LCD screens in that they cannot be viewed in bright sun or above the head. There is a setting under the quick menu that allows you to set the screen to a number of pre set brightness controls including options for holding the camera above your head and looking upwards at the screen.

 

Video


The Lumix FT20 possesses video as is expected of almost all stills cameras in todays market. The video quality tops out at 720p HD (VGA quality is also available) which is ok although not great and will only get you by for basic operations. The cameras image stabilisation does add some much need stability to the footage and would allow its use in some slightly more active scenarios.

The audio quality does let the video down with only mono sounds available. Though really  it is nice to just have the option of good video in a stills camera and the Lumix FT20 is covered in this regard.

 

 

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Conclusion

 

The Lumix FT20 cannot be faulted for doing what it was designed to, it handles 'though' conditions with its solidly constructed body and will work in conditions other cameras will not and should be applauded for doing so.

The image quality is ok the video quality also though this camera offers great value for money with art filters, scene modes and straightforward functionality in a camera that retails for under $300.

 

Accessories Used During Testing:

SanDisk Extreme 30MB/s SD Card 

Tamrac Evolution Zoom 16 / 5715 Bag


 

Recommended Retailer:

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View / Buy The Panasonic Lumix FT20  

 

Appearance rating 4 stars
Functionality rating 4 stars
Image quality
3 stars
Video quality
3 stars
Lens quality
3.5 stars
LCD screen (Rear)
3 stars
Value for money 4 star
Street Price
$249.95
SPACER.GIF  
Effective Pixels 16.1 megapixels
Sensor Type
1/2.33-inch CCD sensor / 16.6 Total Megapixels / Primary Color Filter
Image Sizes 9 sizes / 2 ratios
Lens 4.5-18.0mm (25 -100mm equiv. in 35mm photography)
Lens Mount
-
Resolution Settings: Stills [1:1] 3456x3456 (12M)
[4:3] 4608x3456 (16M)
3648x2736 (10M EZ)
2560x1920 (5M EZ)
2048x1536 (3M EZ)
640x480 (0.3M EZ)
[3:2] 4608x3072 (14M)
[16:9] 4608x2592 (12M)
Resolution Settings: Video [HD Video] 1280 x 720 pixels, 25 fps (HD: 10Mbps / MP4)
[STD Video] 640 x 480 pixels, 25 fps (VGA: 4Mbps / MP4)
GPS No
Face Detection Yes
Manual Focus No
Auto Focus Yes
Aperture Priority No
Shutter Priority
No
Shutter Speeds 8 - 1/1300 secs
ISO 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600
High Sensitivity mode (ISO 1600-6400)
LCD Monitor 2.7" TFT Screen LCD Display (230K dots), AR Coating / Field of View : approx. 100% / Power LCD mode, AUTO Power LCD mode, High Angle Mode
Viewfinder -
Flash Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction, Forced Off, / 0.3 - 4.4m (Wide/ISO Auto), 1.0 - 3.0m (Tele/ISO Auto)
Hot Shoe No
White Balance Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Incandescent, White Set
Self Timer 2 seconds or 10 seconds
Stills Format/s
JPEG
Video Format/s MP4
Video Recording Time/s 29 Minutes / 4GB
Storage Type - External SD, SDHC, SDXC memory cards
Storage Type - Internal
70MB
Connectivity AV Output (PAL/NTSC), USB2.0 High speed
Power Source -
Battery Options Li-ion Battery Pack (3.6V, Minimum: 680mAh)
Battery Life Approximately 250 Shots
Dimensions 101.0mm (W) x 58.3mm (H) x 19.2mm (D) 
Weight 142g (including battery and 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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