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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 Digital Camera Review

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 Digital Camera Review - Daniel Bell reviews the latest premium rugged digital camera from Panasonic, the Lumix DMC-FT4.

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Category : Compact Cameras
Product : Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4
Price : £249
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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 Front

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4, the update to the FT3, was announced in January 2012 and is a premium rugged digital camera which is water, shock, freeze and dustproof. It is available in black, blue, orange and silver for £249.00.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 Front 2

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 Features

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 is waterproof to 12m, shockproof to 2m, freezeproof to -10°c and dustproof. It has a 12.1 megapixel CCD sensor and 4.6x optical zoom lens, a 35mm equivalent of 28-128mm, with Power OIS to help take the sharpest pictures possible.

Picture taking is made easy by using iA mode, with the correct settings automatically detected for the scene and changed accordingly. Other shooting modes include manual exposure, sports, snow, beach & snorkeling, underwater miniature and a range of other scene modes. A fairly unique feature found on the FT4 is the Time Lapse Shot mode where you can record a series of shots from the same location over a period of time.

The built-in GPS records the image location data as well as displaying area and landmark information for many countries and regions, with images and videos automatically sorted in alphabetical order. As well as GPS there is a compass, altimeter and barometer.

Videos are recorded in full 1080p HD with optical zoom and iA mode. Sound is recorded using the Dolby Digital Creator system.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 Top

Key Features

  • 12 megapixel CCD sensor
  • 4.6x optical zoom lens (35mm equiv: 28-128mm)
  • POWER OIS (Optical Image Stabiliser)
  • 2.7 inch TFT 230k dot LCD screen
  • Waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof and dustproof
  • Quad Indicator - GPS, compass, altimeter and barometer
  • Full 1080p HD video recording
  • ISO 100-1600
  • 5cm minimum focusing distance
  • 3.7 fps full resolution continuous shooting
  • Time lapse shooting
  • Available in black, blue, orange and silver
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 Rear

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 Handling

The FT4 is a strong camera, well built to withstand extreme shooting conditions. The only external part of the camera which moves is the cover where the battery and memory card is stored. There are two buttons on the cover, one which opens it and the second is a lock ensuring that the cover doesn't accidently open and allow water in. The camera also asks you to make sure the lock is secured when you switch the camera on. After testing the camera underwater some water marks were left on the front of the lens so it requires a good clean after use. We did here that the camera might leak water after an hour underwater, but can confirm this is not the case.

The buttons are fairly typical for a compact camera, with a dedicated button for movie recording. The buttons are easy to press and won't prove much of a difficulty even when wearing gloves. The camera menu system is well laid out and everything is labelled so there is no guess work going on when selecting a scene mode, for example. The 2.7 inch LCD screen feels a little small for the size of the camera, but is bright and easy to see in varying lighting conditions.

The battery has a CIPA rating of 310 shots, we managed over 800 during testing, but will vary dependent on how much you use the GPS. The GPS takes a minute or two to find your position, but it works even when the camera is off, so is available as soon as the camera is switched on. You do have to remember that this will still therefore be using the battery power, even when switched off.

We tested the camera's performance at focusing, shutter response, shot-to-shot time, continuous shooting etc. and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average.

Shutter Response   0.1 seconds
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response   0.125 seconds
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response   0.3 seconds
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo   2.2 seconds
Shot to Shot (without flash)   0.95 seconds
Shot to Shot with Flash   2.0 seconds
Burst
  2.5 fps
High-speed burst
  7.5 fps
Flash burst   0.3 fps

Burst mode records at full 12 megapixel resolution, high-speed burst records at 3 megapixel, as does flash burst.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 Battery And Memory Card

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 Performance

Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review and product ratings.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 Sample Photos


Sample Photos - The FT4 takes colourful images which are well exposed. Portrait shots have decent skin tones, with a slight hint of red-eye. Images can be improved further using the Auto Retouch function available in playback.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 Lens test images


Lens Performance - Images are well detailed when shooting wide, a little detail is lost when using the optical zoom at its longest length, but purple fringing is kept to a minimum. The intelligent zoom is good if you are going to resize your images for use on the web. With a minimum focusing distance of 5cm the FT4 is able to get close enough to take an impressive macro shot.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 ISO test images


ISO Noise Performance - Noise is controlled well at the lower ISO settings of 100, 200 and 400, with just a slight increase visible when going through the range. At ISO 800, images are a little softer, but it's not until you get to ISO 1600 that image quality is really starting to be affected. The FS45 can shoot at ISO 3200 when using high-sensitivity mode, with image size restricted to 3 megapixels, an example of which can be seen below.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 White-balance test images


White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance performs quite well under Tungsten light with the Tungsten preset doing little to improve the image, instead giving it a slight orange cast. Auto White Balance performs very well under fluorescent lighting.

Panorama | 1/400 sec | f/10.0 | 4.9 mm | ISO 500
Panorama | 1/400 sec | f/10.0 | 4.9 mm | ISO 500

Panorama | 1/250 sec | f/10.0 | 4.9 mm | ISO 500
Panorama | 1/250 sec | f/10.0 | 4.9 mm | ISO 500

Panorama mode - Panoramas don't have loads of detail, but are generally stitched together nicely and look good for use on the web, rather than large prints.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 Other sample images


Above are some example images using some of the features available. i-exposure increases the exposure in under exposed areas of the image, with i-resolution sharpening edges to increase quality.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 Low light images


The low light images above have been taken using the high-sensitivity mode, which uses ISO 3200 to increase the shutter speed, with the restricted image size previously mentioned. The second has been taken using P-mode, with auto ISO.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 Digital filters


Digital Filters - As well as standard, there are three other colour modes to choose from, with examples of each above.

Video - The video below has been recorded at full 1080p HD, optical zoom is available during recording, with an example on the ePHOTOzine Youtube page.



Value For Money

If you want the most waterproof and shockproof camera, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4, priced at £249.00, ticks the box, as does the Olympus Tough TG-1.

Camera
Waterproof Shockproof Freezeproof Price
Kodak Easyshare Sport C123 3m - - £50.00
Nikon Coolpix S30 3m 0.8m - £79.99
Olympus Tough TG-320 3m 1.5m -10°C £114.00
Fujifilm FinePix XP50 5m 1.5m -10°C £119.95
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT20 5m 1.5m -10°C £138.00
Pentax Optio WG-1 / (GPS) 10m 1.5m -10°C £164.00 / (199.00)
Fujifilm FinePix XP150 GPS 10m 2m -10°C £174.00
Olympus Tough TG-620 5m 1.5m -10°C £179.00
Canon PowerShot D10 10m 1.2m -10°C £209.00
Fujifilm FinePix XP170 10m 2m -10°C £219.00
Olympus Tough TG-820 10m 2m -10°C £219.00
Nikon Coolpix AW100 10m 1.5m -10°C £219.00
Pentax Optio WG-2 / (GPS) 12m 1.5m -10°C £229.00 / (£269.00)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 12m 2m -10°C £249.00
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3 12m 2m -10°C £249.95
Canon PowerShot D20 10m 1.5m -10°C £279.00
Sony Cyber-shot TX20 5m 1.5m -10°C £294.00
Olympus Tough TG-1 12m 2m -10°C £309.00
Ricoh G700 5m 2m -10°C £599.00

You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 Verdict

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 is similar in many ways to its predecessor, the FT3, with a few tweaks to some of the features found. You get good image quality, a solid body and more although we'd like to see a slightly larger screen and panoramas with a little more detail. If it's all about picture quality for you, you can find it in cheaper cameras, but for those active, outdoors photographers, the extra features are bound to appeal.

 
  The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 is a feature packed, rugged digital camera that takes images you can be proud of.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 Pros

Solid build
Good image quality
Full 1080p video recording
Can shoot a 7fps, albeit at 3 megapixels
Noise is low up to and including ISO 800
Impressive macro shots possible

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 Cons

Screen is perhaps a little small at 2.7 inch
GPS takes a little while to kick in initially
Panoramas don't have enough detail to view in large format

FEATURES  
HANDLING  
PERFORMANCE  
VALUE FOR MONEY  
VERDICT  

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 Specifications

ManufacturerPanasonic
Lens
Max Aperturef/3.3 - f/5.9
35mm equivalent28mm - 128mm
Optical Zoom4.6x
Image Sensor
CCD pixels12.1Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W)4000
Pixels (H)3000
Sensor TypeCCD
Sensor Size1/2.33 inch
Sensor Size (width)4000mm
Sensor Size (height)3000mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 4:3
  • 3:2
  • 16:9
  • 1:1
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor2.7in
Screen resolution230,000 dots
Touch ScreenNo
Focusing
Min Focus5cm
Focusing modes
  • Spot
  • Face Detection
  • AF Tracking
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest1/1300sec
Shutter speeds longest60sec
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
  • A
Metering
  • Multi Pattern
ISO sensitivity100 - 6400
White balance
  • Auto
  • Outdoors/Daylight
  • Cloudy
  • Incandescent
  • Shade
Exposure Comp+/-2
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting3.7fps
Video
Movie modeYes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080
  • 1280x720 720p
  • 640x480 VGA
Video FPS25
Stereo SoundNo
Optical Zoom with VideoYes
Other Features
Image StabilisationYes
Interface
HDMIYes
USBUSB 2
Wi-FiNo
Storage
Card Type
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • JPG
Power Source
Battery TypeLi-ion Battery Pack
CIPA Rating310
Box Contents
Box ContentsBattery Pack, Battery Charger, AC Cable, Brush, AV Cable, USB Cable, Hand Strap, CD-ROM
Dimensions
Weight175g
Width103.5mm
Height64mm
Depth26.5mm

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Photographs taken using the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4

Rain in Koh ChangUntitledUntitledUntitledUntitledCity living - Aldgate
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