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
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!
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
Google Daydream VR headset
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Acer Swift 7
Huawei Mate 9
Lexar® Portable SSD
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Surface Pro 4
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Gigabyte Aorus GA-AX370-Gaming 5 AMD Ryzen AM4 motherboard review
- 2 Kogan curved 4K UHD 55-inch LED LCD TV review
- 3 Panasonic Blu-ray recorder PVR set-top box review
- 4 Garmin Fenix Chronos fitness tracker smartwatch review
- 5 Star Wars Death Star Bluetooth levitating rotating speaker review
Latest News Articles
- Boom: SanDisk just dropped the world's largest SD card
- Camera app makers tap into RAW power with iOS, and look forward to dual lenses
- Google Camera 3.2 lets you snap pictures while recording video
- CES 2016: Top 10 trends
- Sony α7S II aimed film-makers and low light photographers
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
- First look at the Formula 1 2017 pit lane in Melbourne, Australia
- LG 2017 OLED and Super LED UHD 4K TVs: Hands-on review
- Oppo R9s Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- Which flagship TV is best? Sony 4K HDR Bravia 2016 versus LG 4K HDR OLED 2016
- 10 Blu-ray movies / Best looking Blu-ray movies
- FTSocial Media ExecutiveNSW
- FTDatabase Modelling SpecialistVIC
- FTService Desk Operations AnalystNSW
- FTGraduate Software EngineerNSW
- FTData Centre Technical SpecialistACT
- FTMicrosoft Designer / ArchitectVIC
- FTPMO CoordinatorNSW
- CCUser Researcher/Business AnalysisACT
- FTIT Business Process Analyst x 3 - (government background)NSW
- TPSenior Node.JS DeveloperNSW
- TPSenior Communications Officer | SharePointQLD
- CCFrom Security Operations to Technical Business Analyst, make the move now!NSW
- FTDatabase Modelling SpecialistQLD
- FTSystems AdministratorNSW
- CCTest Manager with PV Security ClearanceACT
- FTImplementation Consultant - SMSF SoftwareNSW
- FTResponsive Design Developer, Frontend, PHP, WordpressNSW
- CCSAP FICO ConsultantWA
- FTLevel 3 Application Support AnalystVIC
- CCTechnical Project ManagerNSW
- FTApplication Support Analyst - Accounting SoftwareNSW
- CCEnterprise/Solution ArchitectNSW
- FTTest LeadNSW
- FTFull Stack DeveloperWA
- CCBusiness AnalystQLD