Sunday, August 21, 2011

Panasonic Lumix FT3 digicam- rugged, waterproof, shockproof

Product Review of Panasonic Lumix DMC FT3 Digital Camera: Part 1 of 2

If you’re into heavy outdoor activities- such as trekking, rock climbing, mountaineering, cycling, swimming and the likes, what kind of camera do you prefer? You might prefer to carry a DSLR that lets you take great photos, but DSLRs are heavy and bulky. You already have several essential accessories related to your expedition and having to carry another dedicated bag for your DSLR and its accessories may not be practical. Even if you manage to carry it, using it to take a photo while hanging from a cliff 1000 meters above sea level is not really practical. An entry level digicam that fits into the pocket is ideal to carry, but these cameras don’t take great photos and you’ll end up with disappointing photos of your otherwise great expedition. Digicams are extremely susceptible to water, moisture, shock etc and even lightest negligence can damage the camera. While exploring unknown terrains braving rain, sun, dust etc, caretaking of the camera becomes a pain.

Well, there’s an alternative. There’re few rugged and heavy duty cameras in the market today that are small enough to fit in the pocket, good enough to take great photos and can protect itself from water, dust, shock etc.  Exactly the one you need for an adventure trip.

Panasonic Lumix DMC FT3 might look like an ordinary digicam from a distance, but it is not. Its rugged design and build will be evident in the first look. Bright orange colour instantly distinguishes it from ordinary black and gray cameras.

Lumix FT3 is loaded with several features not otherwise available in most of the cameras.  Lumix FT3 has a strong build, visibly reinforced with additional protection all over.  It works underwater, can survive small fall and impacts, has utilities no other camera offers- compass, GPS, altimeter, Barometer and so on.
Let us check its features one by one.

Waterproof up to 12 meters:
It is water proof up to 12 meters. (up to 3 meters without any protection- you can just immerse this camera in water and take photos, for depth ranging from 3 meters to 12 meters, you need to use marine case- marine case is an additional casing for the camera, which needs to be bought separately.)
To confirm that the camera is indeed waterproof, I switched it on, put it on 10 second self timer, immersed it in a bucket of water. Some 20-30 seconds later I took it out; it wasn’t affected in any way. Be sure to lock the case before immersing in water.

Shockproof up to 2 meters:

Build is very rugged, incorporates water draining mechanism. Has an opening door on the side which houses battery, memory card etc. Side door has additional lock to ensure water-tightness.

On your right: DMC FT3 Camera fresh out of water and below: the photo taken by the camera from the bottom of the bucket...

If immersed in salt water, it is highly recommended that camera be washed again in fresh water. Do read and follow guidelines given in the owner manual to ensure best performance of the camera.

It is also shock proof for 2 meters. It is designed to survive the fall from 2 meters on to a 3cm thick plywood surface (remember, NOT Concrete). I was tempted to test this, but withheld my temptation.

Compass, Altimeter and Barometer
I had tough time getting to these info- The manual didn’t specify how to go to Compass, Alitmeter info in Panasonic Lumix FT3. Eventually I found out that clicking display button couple of times will take us to this screen. This camera can replace couple of accessories you would have carried otherwise for the expedition. Built in compass can help you correlate a map and identify which direction to proceed.

Altimeter tells your position above mean sea level or how many meters below water surface. Excellent utility while climbing hills and mountains. Refer screen below for real time GPS, height and other info provided by the Lumix FT3

GPS: Camera has built in GPS to display and record the global position real time. It is supposed to show latitude, longitude etc.  GPS wasn’t precise to the last meter, but it could locate itself correctly within few km radius of actual location.
Once the location is identified, camera also loads key landmarks around. This way you can select the precise landmark where you’re clicking.

Having this camera can reduce the need for a different GPS device or GPS enabled mobile phone, though the camera doesn't have maps for GPS enabled navigation. Impact of keeping GPS ON on the battery life of the camera needs to be studied.

Playback mode shows GPS information (example below, actual location where I clicked it is few kms away from the position showed)

Standby for part 2 of the review, which may also include a video review of this camera

Similar: Sony DSC H50 review * Panasonic toughbook review *


Sheshadri N said...

hw abt the cost nidhi?

Deguide said...

Lumix FT3 digicam seems to be loaded with feature, i assume it should cost around 15 k, good review Hande

Divenita said...

:) Good review! i have a bulky one and seriously :) Thanks -- a life saver

Shrinidhi Hande said...

Sheshu: have asked Panasonic for street price in India...will specify in part 2 of the post

Umesh SIr: yes, it is loaded and expected to cost 20k+

Divenita: which one do you have?