FT3 / TS3 - the good, the bad and the foggy
Aug 26, 2011
For a couple of years I'be been using the excellent Canon D10 for snorkelling, ever since it came top in the DP Review test of tough cameras. I've been very pleased with it in every way except for three factors; it's a bit bulky for a compact, the video performance is poor and there is a very limited zoom range.
So I bought a Lumix FT3/ TS3 for my latest snorkelling trip, 3 weeks on the Greek island of Paxos. The lens has a 5 times zoom, it shoots HD video and it's very small.
The good news is that the video performance is excellent. For stills it is a bit of a mixed bag. I don't think it has the resolving power of the D10 but it does have lower distortion especially at the ends of the zoom range and I think lower chromatic aberation too.
It didn't let in water either - but here the good news ends. The real problem is that the lens and viewfinder mist up at the slightest provocation. Just a small change in temperature is enough to make the lens fog over and as the manual says, it can take up to 2 hours to clear! Now I do understand that if the air in the camer is a little moist and you carry it in a hot climate and then get into cooler water this sort of thing is alwasy a risk, but 2 years ago I took the Canon D10 to the same location at the same time of year and it only misted up once. The FT3 misted up every single time I wanted to use it - sometimes even when it had not been in the sea at all! For example, one day we hired a small motor boat and drove around the island, the camera kept misting up for no apparent reason all day long. I tried leaving it for a few hours in a dry place with the door open and the battery out but it didn't seem to make any difference. I missed so many "once in a lifetime" shots due to a fogged up lens I'm seriously considering selling it and buying another D10, having sold the old one to go towards the cost of the FT3.
I suspect the problem is at least in part explained by the small size of the FT3 - very little thermal mass so if the temperature of the environment changes, the camera optics change temperature very fast. Whatever the cause it's a great shame, you can't get a decent shot through a fogged up lens however good it might be!