Performance (speed)

The TS5 is a pretty snappy camera in general use. You'll wait for just 0.9 seconds for the camera to turn on after you press the power button. and autofocus speeds are very impressive in bright light. Unfortunately, the TS5 doesn't fare as well, in low light, posting speeds of around 1.5 seconds to accurately acquire focus.

Shot-to-shot delays are very brief when the Auto Review feature is off. You can take another photo in about 0.7 seconds without the flash. With the flash, you'll wait 3.5 seconds, which is about average.

The Lumix TS5 has a number of burst modes, which range from 2 to 10 fps. At 2 and 5 fps, Panasonic claims that take up to one hundred photos in a row, with the camera re-adjusting the focus before every shot. We tested the 5 fps mode with a super-fast 95MB/sec SDHC card, and the camera was able to take eleven photos in a row at 5.2 fps, before slowing down considerably. A faster 10.3 fps burst mode is also available, but is limited to seven shots. In Intelligent Auto mode, the TS5 can decide what frame rate to use based on subject motion.

Like a lot of compact cameras, the TS5 can shoot continuously at ultra-high frame rates. The TS5 can shoot at 40 or 60 fps, though the resolution will be cut to 5 and 2.5 megapixels, respectively.

The Lumix DMC-TS5 can keep shooting for a long time, courtesy of its 4.5 Wh lithium-ion battery. It has a CIPA rating of 370 shots per charge, which is excellent for a compact camera. That said, if you turn on the GPS, brighten up the screen, or use Wi-Fi, expect the battery to drain much quicker than the rated figure. We struggled to get a full day out of the camera with the GPS and Auto Power Monitor features turned on. The battery is charged externally and takes about three hours to charge fully from empty.

Image Quality

The photo quality on the Lumix DMC-TS5/FT5 is quite similar to that of other compact cameras in this class. On the positive side, colors are vibrant and photos are well-exposed. The TS5 doesn't clip highlights as much as some other rugged cameras that we've tested, and if it does, the HDR feature will reduce that annoyance.

As you'll see in the example below, the camera smudges and mottles low contrast detail. That said, the average user of the TS5 (and other compact cameras) won't be bothered by this unless they're viewing images at 100%, making giant prints, or cropping the image very aggrressively. The TS5 also has more of an issue with chromatic aberrations than we'd expect from a Leica-branded lens, especially near the edges of the frame.

Bright Light, Low ISO
The vibrant colors in this photo really capture the beauty of Maui.

ISO 100, 1/1000 sec, f/4.0

However, if you view the image at 100% - which the majority of TS5 owners won't be doing - you'll see mottled details like the water above.
Another example of a photo that looks great when viewed relatively small... ... and not so hot when viewed at 100%. You can see that the grating on the building is really fuzzy, and there's some chromatic aberrations, as well. Again though, unless you're making very large prints, this isn't an issue.

The TS5 performed better than expected at high sensitivities. You probably won't be printing posters at high ISOs, but they're still good enough for web sharing and small prints.

Low Light, High ISO
The photo at left, taken at ISO 800, has lost quite a bit of low contrast detail, but that shouldn't stop you from downsizing it or making small prints. Detail capture remains relatively high.

ISO 800, 1/20 sec, f/3.3

The TS5 performed surprisingly well at ISO 1600, once again producing an image good enough for sharing on social networking sites. Even going a stop higher (to ISO 3200) still resulted in usable images. The only thing that's a bit 'off' here is color but with very little blue in the lightsource (we shot this under tungsten lighting) there's only so much that the AWB system can do.

ISO 1600, 1/20 sec, f/3.3

As is the case with all compact cameras, you'd be able to get techhnically better results from the TS5 if Raw mode was available, but that's not a feature you'll find in the rugged/waterproof class, for understandable reasons.

This outdoor portrait, taken at the long end of the TS4's zoom range, has accurate skin tones and is well-metered. If you look closely you'll see that noise reduction has smudged our subject's hair, though.

ISO 100, 1/400 sec, f/5.8

We mentioned earlier that the flash on the TS5 is very weak. In fact, it's so weak that we had to crank the sensitivity all the way to ISO 1600 to obtain proper exposure, which leads to a noisy image. The camera's redeye removal systems did a good job of eliminating that issue.

ISO 1600, 1/60 sec, f/5.9

We didn't have the best luck taking photos underwater with the DMC-TS5. While there are always a lot of 'throwaway' photos when shooting underwater (usually due to blurring), it seemed like that percentage was higher on the TS5. The camera was hit or miss on the bluish cast that often occurs underwater. If you notice that photos are especially blue, try adjusting the 'Color Reproduction' option when using the underwater scene modes, or later in playback mode.

The TS5's beach & snorkeling scene mode - used for all our underwater photos - kept the ISO below 200 most of the time, which kept noise from getting out of control, as you can see in the sample below.

The photo at left is one of the better underwater shots that we took, with pleasing colors.

ISO 100, 1/200 sec, f/5.5

The photo at lower-left has a strong blue cast. Going into playback mode and using the Color Reproduction tool did a good job of correcting the color.

ISO 125, 1/100 sec, f/5.6

Since the TS5's lens is so 'slow', it's highly recommended that you can shoot at the wide end of the lens. Once you're near telephoto, the maximum aperture tightens up to F5.9, which doesn't let in a lot of light. That means that the ISO sensitivity has to go up in order to obtain a sharp photo, with translates into more noise in your pictures. Plus, with 16MP to play with, you've got plenty of scope for post-capture cropping, so shooting wide gives you more options.

Video Quality

As we covered on the previous page, the TS5 has one of the nicest movie modes that you'll find on a compact camera, with the ability to record up to 30 minutes of 1080/60p video with stereo sound. Below are three examples - two above water, and one below.

Sample Video 1

Video number one shows some mini sailboats sailing around a pond. Video quality is good, with smooth motion thanks to the 60 fps frame rate. The wind noise filter is set to 'Auto' (with 'off' being the other choice), and didn't do a whole lot in this situation.

1920 x 1080, 60p, 28 Mbps, 104.9 MB, 12 secs  Click here to download original video

Sample Video 2

The next video is short, but sweet. What we're trying to show here is how the camera performs when it's quiet. While you can easily here the chicks in their nest, if you listen closely you'll hear what is most likely the image stabilizer.

1920 x 1080, 60p, 28 Mbps, 12.9 MB, 6 secs  Click here to download original video

Sample Video 3

Our final video was taken underwater in the clear water of Maui. The TS5 did a really nice job here, capturing the scene without a blue color cast. The audio doesn't sound like much, but that's to be expected.

1920 x 1080, 30p, 16.4 Mbps, 226.6 MB, 12 secs  Click here to download original video

Overall, the DMC-TS5's video quality is very good, and the 60 fps frame rate puts it in a class by itself.