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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.
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.
- 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
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|
|Flash burst||0.3 fps|
Burst mode records at full 12 megapixel resolution, high-speed burst records at 3 megapixel, as does flash burst.
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 Sample Photos
Portrait | 1/60 sec | f/5.6 | 15.3 mm | ISO 400
Landscape | 1/640 sec | f/3.3 | 4.9 mm | ISO 100
Miniature | 1/160 sec | f/5.8 | 20.3 mm | ISO 100
Pet | 1/100 sec | f/5.7 | 17.4 mm | ISO 200
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
Wide Angle | 1/1000 sec | f/3.3 | 4.9 mm | ISO 100
Full Optical Zoom | 1/500 sec | f/5.9 | 22.8 mm | ISO 100
Intelligent Zoom | 1/500 sec | f/5.9 | 22.8 mm | ISO 100
Macro | 1/13 sec | f/3.3 | 4.9 mm | ISO 100
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
ISO100 | 1/4 sec | f/5.6 | 14.3 mm
ISO200 | 1/8 sec | f/5.6 | 14.3 mm
ISO400 | 1/15 sec | f/5.6 | 14.3 mm
ISO800 | 1/30 sec | f/5.6 | 14.3 mm
ISO1600 | 1/60 sec | f/5.6 | 14.3 mm
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
AWB preset - incandescent lighting | 1/10 sec | f/4.0 | 6.8 mm | ISO 100
Incandescent preset - incandescent lighting | 1/10 sec | f/4.0 | 6.8 mm | ISO 100
AWB preset - fluorescent lighting | 0.8 sec | f/4.0 | 6.8 mm | ISO 100
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 | 1/250 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
i-Exposure | 1/800 sec | f/3.3 | 4.9 mm | ISO 100
i-Resolution | 1/1000 sec | f/3.3 | 4.9 mm | ISO 100
Trees | 1/60 sec | f/3.3 | 4.9 mm | ISO 250
Underwater | 1/10 sec | f/3.3 | 4.9 mm | ISO 400
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
High Sensitivity | 1/25 sec | f/4.5 | 8.4 mm | ISO 3200
Low Light | 0.3 sec | f/4.5 | 8.4 mm | ISO 400
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
Standard | 0.5 sec | f/5.7 | 18.3 mm | ISO 100
Colour Mode Vivid | 0.5 sec | f/5.7 | 18.3 mm | ISO 100
Colour Mode Black And White | 0.5 sec | f/5.7 | 18.3 mm | ISO 100
Colour Mode Sepia | 0.5 sec | f/5.7 | 18.3 mm | ISO 100
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 MoneyIf 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.
|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|
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.
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 ProsSolid 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 ConsScreen 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
|VALUE FOR MONEY|
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 Specifications
|Max Aperture||f/3.3 - f/5.9|
|35mm equivalent||28mm - 128mm|
|CCD pixels||12.1Mp (Megapixels)|
|Sensor Size||1/2.33 inch|
|Sensor Size (width)||4000mm|
|Sensor Size (height)||3000mm|
|Screen resolution||230,000 dots|
|Shutter speeds shortest||1/1300sec|
|Shutter speeds longest||60sec|
|ISO sensitivity||100 - 6400|
|Optical Zoom with Video||Yes|
|Battery Type||Li-ion Battery Pack|
|Box Contents||Battery Pack, Battery Charger, AC Cable, Brush, AV Cable, USB Cable, Hand Strap, CD-ROM|