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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT1 / TS1 Ken McMahon, October 2009
   
 

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT1 / TS1 verdict

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT1 / TS1 is the company's first waterproof compact. It also features 12.1 Megapixel resolution with a 4.6x optical zoom and a 2.7in screen.

The FT1 / TS1 is waterproof to a depth of 3 metres and is also dust proof and shock proof. Unlike the Canon PowerShot D10, the Lumix FT1 / TS1 doesn't look any different from a conventional compact and, aside from an enclosed lens system, sealed doors and a slightly thicker body, has similar styling to other Lumix compacts.

The Lumix FT1 / TS1 is an excellent all-round compact. Its zoom range is capable enough, covering the ground from wide angle to short telephoto. The FT1 / TS1 also sports decent movie facilities, with support for 720p HD video, an HDMI port so you can playback movies in high definition directly on your HDTV and it has an optical zoom that can be used while shooting video. The one-touch recording button is one of the few physical controls that Panasonic has got spot-on.

The quality of the FT1 / TS1's photos is very good indeed. The images in our tests were on a par with, or better than, other underwater cameras and as good, or better, than you'll find in many conventional compacts designed for use in the dry.

The only thing that really let's this camera down is that its design isn't really suited for use in the water. The small metal buttons with engraved labels and the stiff mode dial require effort and concentration on land; in pounding surf and below the waterline they became too fiddly to bother with. We found ourselves setting the camera up before going in the water then avoiding making changes.

Because of those drawbacks we could only recommend the FT1 / TS1 for casual use in the water. It's fine for paddling at the beach, taking to the swimming pool, or on a boating trip, but if you're into surfing, white water rafting, diving, coasteering, or other water-based high-octane activities, this probably isn't the best choice. Think of it as a good normal compact which is fine for occassionally messing about around water, as oppose to a model primarily aimed at underwater activities.



Compared to Canon PowerShot D10

 
 
     

On paper, the Panasonic DMC-FT1 / TS1 is a superior camera to the Canon PowerShot D10 in almost every respect. The two cameras both have 12.1 Megapixel sensors, but the similarity ends there. The Lumix DMC-FT1 / TS1 has a wider optical zoom range, supports HD video with optical zoom and HDMI output, has better continuous shooting capabilities and a slightly larger (though not brighter) LCD screen.

There's little to choose between the two cameras in terms of image quality, with both producing excellent pictures in most circumstances, including in and underwater. But for a camera that's as easy to use in the water as out, our choice would be the Canon Powershot D10.

Designed primarily for use in the water, the D10 is not only waterproof to a greater depth (10 metres) than the FT1 / TS1, but its controls are designed so that you can easily make use of them in the water. Despite it's excellent all-round credentials, the FT1 / TS1 just doesn't work as well in the water as the Canon, so if you want a camera that's going to spend a lot of time under these conditions, the D10 is a better overall bet. See our Canon PowerShot D10 review for more details.

Compared to Olympus TOUGH 8000

 
 
     

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT1 / TS1 and Olympus TOUGH 8000 have quite a lot in common. Both have 12.1 megapixel sensors and 2.7in LCD panels. The zoom on the FT1 / TS1 starts in the same place but extends further - to 22.8mm (128mm equivalent) compared with 18.2 (102mm equivalent) on the Olympus. Both cameras also look quite similar - rectangular silver slabs, highly polished in the case of the Olympus, matt for the Panasonic.

A couple of things win it for the Panasonic though. It has far better video capabilities than the TOUGH 8000 but, more importantly, in our tests the Image quality of the FT1 / TS1 was much better than the TOUGH 8000.

It's interesting to see the two new players in the underwater camera market, Panasonic and Canon, delivering much better image quality than the established player in our tests, and while the TOUGH 8000 is one of the best-selling waterproof compacts on the market, we'd advise you to carefully consider one of its two new rivals here.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT1 / TS1 final verdict

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT1 / TS1 is an excellent all-round compact that can also be used in the water to a depth of 3 metres. It has a 12.1 Megapixel sensor, a good all-purpose 28-128mm equivalent optical zoom with very effective image stabilisation. It also boasts excellent video capabilities, delivering 720p HD video in the choice of two formats with the ability to optical zoom during shooting, and output both movies and stills over its HDMI port.

If you're looking for a great all-round compact which can also be taken to the beach without worrying about sand or splashes, then the Panasonic FT1 / TS1 won’t disappoint. It’s also ideal for occasional dives underwater when snorkelling on holiday or taking snaps of the kids around the pool. But the design and controls are not designed with underwater activity as their primary focus, and often frustrated us under more demanding conditions.

So if you're really serious about water-based activities and need a camera to record your adventures in the water we'd recommend you take at look at the Canon PowerShot D10 instead. The FT1 / TS1 is a great general-purpose camera which can also go underwater, whereas the D10 is specifically designed for it.




Good points
Great image quality.
Waterproof to depth of 3m.
HD video with optical zoom.
HDMI port.

Bad points
Slow power on button
Design and controls not ideal underwater.
Poor AF underwater.
Very stiff mode dial.



Scores

(relative to 2009 compacts)

Build quality:
Image quality:
Handling:
Specification:
Value:

Overall:

16 / 20
17 / 20
13 / 20
17 / 20
17 / 20

80%


All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2014 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

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