DMC-TS4 vs AW-100

Started Apr 27, 2012 | User reviews thread
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BobBaer
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DMC-TS4 vs AW-100
Apr 27, 2012

I'm looking for a durable, versatile and extremely easy to use waterproof that my family can use on vacation. Narrowed it down to the DMC-TS4 and AW-100 since the Sony a20 won't be out for another month. As usual, there are mixed reviews on both, so I ordered one of each and will return my least favorite. Here's an overview from my perspective after a week of non-swimming use. I'm not going to regurgitate the specs - you know where to read them. Just the features that stood out to me...

Panasonic DMC-TS4:
Pros:
- stuffed with gadgets: Altimeter, barometer, compass.
- decent LCD
- small, light, but rugged-looking
- nicely placed buttons for my big fingers.
- natural finger grip that would be great if I was right-handed
- automatic mode plus lots of special modes - something like 14
- reasonably fast startup
- face recognition
- the quad indicator screen is very cool - right out of a jet fighter cockpit
- but it's a bit too much to have on the screen - a simple view would be better
- flash works well, but only out to about 6 ft.
(make a mental note that I didn't mention picture quality here...)

Cons:
- chews batteries up quickly
- GPS only works outside, but takes a long time to sync
- effectively using the GPS requires reading the manual and understanding its idiosyncrasies
- picture quality:
--- switches to macro ok, sometimes flashes, sometimes not
--- need to take several macro shots to get a decent one - focus is not dependable
--- mid-range shots on a sunny day are ok, well saturated but not overdone
--- in auto mode, consistently overexposed, especially on cloudy days.
--- shots often look like they need an infrared filter - they have a white haze over them especially when there is indirect sun and/or clouds
--- wide shots are a major problem, and I love to take landscapes. When set to wide, you see two bright, blurry dots on your shot, one on the left about a quarter of the way down from the top, another same place on the right. And usually a semi-circular blur connects the two. I'd bet we're seeing the edge of the lens. Talked to Panasonic support who said to send it back.
--- overall I'd say the shots are generally soft

Nikon AW-100

Pros:
- larger, brighter, more detailed LCD
- decent button placement and size
- obviously faster power-on to shoot speed
- more powerful zoom
- GPS locks in faster
- lots of scene modes - more than 25
- image quality:
--- better exposed, far fewer exposure problems
--- no bright blurry spots
--- decent focus

Cons:
- macro focus could be better
- case is plastic, somewhat rugged-looking but not metal

I'd be happy to hear any comments on what may be going wrong with the DMC-TS4 - I expected this to be a tough decision. While it has a better "cool" factor, I certainly can't deal with the image artifacts and am unimpressed by the battery performance.

To be fair I'll post this in the Nikon forum also.

Problems:

Bright blurry spots in the widest zoom. Very visible.
Chews batteries quickly.

 BobBaer's gear list:BobBaer's gear list
Nikon D7000
BobBaer's score
2.5
Average community score
1.9
bad for good for
Kids / pets
acceptable
Action / sports
acceptable
Landscapes / scenery
weak
Portraits
unrated
Low light (without flash)
mediocre
Flash photography (social)
mediocre
Studio / still life
acceptable
= community average
Pentax Optio A20
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