Review: Pansonic DMC-FT3 Camera

By Branko Miletic

When it comes to having tough products, many companies talk the talk, but few can walk the walk. Except for Panasonic. The company that includes the Toughbook computer and Tough tablet in its range, has added some extra steel to its latest batch of Lumix cameras.

According to the company, the new DMC-FT3 has been designed with the ‘active user’ in mind. The 12.1-megapixel DMC-FT3 is waterproof to 12m, shockproof to 2m, freeze-proof to -10 degrees Celcius and dustproof.  And now with built-in GPS function, compass, altimeter and barometer, the DMC-FT3 can withstand even the toughest photography challenge, according to Panasonic.

Using a Leica lens with folded optics, starting at the 28 mm wide-angle and zooming up to 4.6x in telephoto mode, this camera is designed to allow users to take pictures just about anywhere in the world.

This camera is powered by a 12.1-megapixel Hi-Speed CCD sensor, meaning 1920 x 1080 Full HD movie recording and high speed continuous shooting for high picture quality is possible.

The 4.6x optical zoom increases its power to 6x equivalent with the Intelligent Zoom function, which is designed to maintain picture quality even when using a digital zoom.

OK, that’s what Panasonic says- but how does this little tough nut operate in the field? And by the field, I don’t mean the local shopping centre car park or some gentrified café in the inner city. No – we tested the FT3 in a mountain glacier, in fast flowing streams and even on a speedboat moving at nearly 90 km/h in Queenstown, New Zealand and found the results to be as good as the specs claim.

So have you ever wanted to stick you digital camera under water? Well now you can. You can even stick it into a body of water that is about 8 C and leave it in there while you go off and have lunch. Yes I did that – and it still works fine and takes great pictures.

What about taking the FT3 and rubbing it into sand like you are using it to drill a hole? Yep, you can do that too. Dropping it onto some rocks from a 1.5 metre height? Sure why not? How about using it in a speedboat that is throwing you around like a ragdoll and pouring water over you and the camera like a waterfall? You bet – the FT3 can withstand that with ease. About the only test we couldn’t try is the snow test, but really, after the FT3 surviving bunch of hardcore conditions, I don’t see why a little cold should bother it.

Ok, it is meant to be a tough camera, so I shouldn’t be surprised at its survivability, but remember, we are talking about a piece of digital equipment here, not a mechanical cog made of steel.

The pictures I took were good- considering the punishment I subjected the FT3 to and although I’m not a professional photographer, the results from the FT3 really made me happy.

Regrets? Well I’ve had a few, but when it comes to this camera, the only thing that annoyed me was the fact the LCD screen is really hard to see on a bright, sunny day.

This of course is not a problem confined to the FT3 or Panasonic, but hey, the FT3 is supposed to be a digital camera that you can use outdoors. I would think improving the 3.5 inch digital display’s ability to be seen properly in direct sunlight would have been something the designers could have looked into when designed the unit.

Other specs of the FT3 included an integrated GPS6 function, which shows the name of the country, state, city and key landmarks using the internal data library, giving users real-time information to locate where the photo is being taken. 

The FT3’s image processor features advanced signal processing capabilities and photos and movies taken with the FT3 can be displayed on a HDTV via a micro HDMI cable, or by inserting the SD Card into the SD Card slot on a compatible TV.

Pros: can be used in demanding environments, easy to use, good RRP
Cons: LCD hard to see in direct sunlight

4 out of 5 Shacks