Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FT4 Tough camera (preview)
Panasonic's DMC-FT4 Tough camera can take photos 12m under water and also after it's been dropped from 2m
Price$ 449.00 (AUD)
Panasonic's newest tough camera, the Lumix DMC-FT4, is waterproof to 12m and drop-proof from 2m. It's also freeze-proof, dust-proof and somewhat idiot-proof. It makes the perfect companion for most outdoor activities, including bushwalks and water-based activities and its performance is nothing to scoff at. Panasonic invited me to go on an all-expenses paid trip to Norfolk Island to put this camera to the test. How could i refuse!
It has a 12-megapixel sensor along with a 28mm-128mm, 4.6x zoom lens. The design of the DMC-FT4 is similar to the previous iterations of Panasonic's Tough camera, with seals and locks ensuing that your battery and memory card are kept safe from water penetration. The controls at the top and on the back of the camera are easy to press for the most part, but I did have some problems pressing the dedicated video recording button, especially while underwater — it requires the pointy end of your finger, rather than the fleshy part.
The camera is well balanced and feels good in the hand, but the location of the lens at the left corner of the body means you have to be extra careful not to get your fingers in the way of any potential prize-winning shots. Very often I ended up with shots that had a black shadow in the top corner — my finger. Because it's a camera that you're likely to throw around and use in the water, you also have to make a habit of cleaning the lens, otherwise many shots will be tarnished by smudges.
I found the overall picture quality from the DMC-FT4 to be reasonably clear and rich. It's not quite as good as what the DMC-TZ30 can capture, but for a tough camera it can do impressive things. However, chromatic aberration can be a problem, and the image quality can sometimes look a little too harsh. Furthermore, I found its white balance to be inconsistent, whether the camera was shooting on land or underwater. This is something that can easily be fixed in post-processing though.
The Lone Pine. This is one of Norfolk Island's oldest trees as taken by Panasonic's newest Tough camera.
Underwater shots taken in auto mode. You can see the difference in white balance between the two shots.
You can have lots of fun with the camera as is, you can use its manual mode, or you can use one of the many scene modes that it offers, including a time-lapse function, miniature capture and sweeping panorama. The sweeping panorama is lots of fun to use, but its quality is not as good as that of the DMC-TZ30. Some of the panoramic images I captured had noticeable streaks running across the image and looked a little too blotchy.
The panorama mode is lots of fun and very easy to use, but I found that it sometimes suffered from blotchiness and streaks.
Other features of he FT4 include GPS tagging, 3D photo capture, an altimeter, a compass, a barometer and Full HD video recording. Its video recording performance is of good quality and, in particular, I found it did a good job while capturing moving images under water. Of course, keeping the camera as steady as possible will provide the best results, and it also helps to hold the camera in the correct orientation.
A short underwater video clip.
If you'll be using the FT4 at the beach or similarly sandy areas, then you'll want to be careful not to get grains of sand inside the camera if you open it up to access your memory card. The chances are that you'll never have to open the camera's cover until you get home and have had a chance to clean the camera, but for my tests I had to swap memory cards while on the run and I found it quite hard to clean sand out of the camera once a few grains got stuck inside it.
Overall, the FT4 looks to be one of the best tough cameras on the market. Its image quality isn't stellar, but it's not too bad either. I liked the camera's ease of use and its shot-to-shot speed, which allowed me to take successive shots while holding the camera underwater. Its video quality isn't too shabby either. I'll have to wait for a proper review model before I can rate it though.
The author of this hands-on review was a guest of Panasonic's on Norfolk Island, where he got to road test the company's 2012 digital camera and camcorder models.
Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Sony Xperia Z5 Premium review: Is the world ready for a 4K phone?
- 2 Mazda MX-5 (2016) review: Absolute driving purity
- 3 Sony 75-inch UHD TV (X9400C) review: Sony and Android are a winning duo
- 4 LG 55EG960T OLED UHD TV
- 5 Panasonic Viera UHD TV review: good hardware, fragmented software
Best Deals on Good Gear Guide
Latest News Articles
- CES 2016: Top 10 trends
- Sony α7S II aimed film-makers and low light photographers
- Canon goes big on resolution with 250-megapixel sensor
- Hey, Saturn, take a selfie! World's biggest digital camera will photograph the universe
- GoPro Hero4 Session: half the size, waterproof to 10 metres
GGG Evaluation Team
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.
The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.
My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.
- CCSenior Business Analyst, Enterprise Software SolutionNSW
- CCEXCEL Guru / Data AdministratorNSW
- CCCitrix Systems EngineerNSW
- FTNetwork Engineer | Canberra | NV1 NV2 clearance | Defence projectsVIC
- FTInfrastructure Specialist - VMwareNSW
- CCBusiness Project Manager - Transformation ProgramNSW
- CCJunior .NET DeveloperQLD
- FTSenior Systems/SAN EngineerNSW
- CCEnterprise Systems Infrastructure SpecialistNSW
- CCOpen_5pm 5th February_Program ArchitectACT
- FTChange LeadNSW
- CCSenior Information Security SpecialistNSW
- FTPrograme ManagerNSW
- CCSenior Project Manager - HRIS ProjectQLD
- FTSystems Engineer / Administrator - Managed ServicesNSW
- CCSenior Business Analyst - IT SecurityNSW
- FTProject Manager / Scrum MasterNSW
- FTSecurity ArchitectWA
- CCContract System Analyst (Website/PHP development) 160122/SA/vmtAsia
- CCSenior Visual DesignerNSW
- FTIT Technical LeadVIC
- FTHelpdesk support - Level 1VIC
- FTProgram Test DirectorNSW
- CCFront End Developer - MelbourneVIC
- CCSAP Test ManagerSA