2013 Waterproof Camera Roundup
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5 (FT5)
16MP | 28-128mm (4.6X) Zoom | $359/£276/€349
>> Click here to read full review
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5 (known as the FT5 outside of North America) is a rugged camera that has been stuffed with virtually every feature imaginable (see below for a list). It replaces the DMC-TS3/FT3, and can take even more of a beating than its predecessor. Other new features include a higher resolution MOS sensor (16MP CMOS vs. 12MP CCD), Wi-Fi with NFC capability, faster burst shooting, true 1080/60p video recording, and much more. Battery life has also been improved by 20%, due to the use of a more powerful battery, which is alway helpful on cameras with battery-draining features like GPS and Wi-Fi.
- 16.1 effective megapixel MOS sensor
- F3.3-F5.9, 28-128mm equivalent zoom lens (4.6X)
- 'Power OIS' optical image stabilization
- Waterproof to 13m, shockproof from 2m, crushproof to 100 kgf, freezeproof to -10C
- 3-inch LCD with 460,000 dots
- Manual exposure control
- Built-in GPS with compass, manometer, landmarks, and tracking
- Wi-Fi with NFC allows for image sharing and remote control with smartphones/tablets and Mac/PC
- 1080/60p movie mode with stereo sound
- 'Torch Light' illuminates your subjects while recording movies
- Optional marine case lets you take camera 45m underwater
As we said, that's about as full-featured as you'll get on a rugged camera. About the only thing you won't find on the DMC-TS5 are built-in maps for use with the GPS.
The Lumix DMC-TS5 is one of those cameras that you know is tough as soon as you pick it up. It's made almost entirely of metal, and the visible screws on the front and back make it look more like a tool that a camera. The lens receives some extra protection from a protruding metal flange that surrounds it. The TS5/FT5 is available in four colors (which may not be available in all regions): orange, blue, silver, and black.
|While the TS5 has a good-sized grip (above), it's made of a slippery material that doesn't feel very secure.|
The DMC-TS5 is 'proofed' in five different areas. It's waterproof to 13 meters (43 feet), shockproof from 2 meters (6.6 feet), crushproof to 100 kgf (220 lbf), freezeproof to -10C (+14F), and dustproof.
|As you'd expect on a rugged camera, there's a rubber gasket behind that door to keep water and dust from getting inside the camera.|
All of the rugged cameras we've tested recently carry numerous warnings about using the cameras outdoors, especially underwater. They remind you to make sure there's no debris on the seal, and to lock the doors before you take the camera out into the elements. Panasonic has gone a different route, hassling you every time you turn on the camera - until you learn the 'trick' to turning it off. Read our full review of the DMC-TS5 to find out how.
|The Lumix TS5/FT5 has a 3" LCD with 460,000 dots. The screen is sharp and colors are vivid, but the real story is its unmatched visibility outdoors (with Auto Power Monitor turned on).|
The displays on the majority of rugged cameras that we've recently tested have middling to poor outdoor visibility - especially those of the OLED variety. Panasonic has figured out a way to make its displays just as bright outdoors are they are indoors, assuming that you've turned on the Auto Power Monitor function. As one might expect, brightening up the LCD will reduce battery life, though Panasonic doesn't say by how much.
While the TS5's flash numbers sound impressive, they don't reflect real-world usage, as they're calculated with the ISO sensitivity set to Auto. The maximum sensitivity in that mode is 1600, which will result in very noisy photos. If you reduce the sensitivity to a more reasonable ISO 400, the flash range drops to just 1.4m at wide-angle and 0.8 m at telephoto. Flash-lovers, you've been warned.
The Lumix DMC-TS5 has a host of features for those who prefer a point-and-shoot experience. The highlight is certainly its Intelligent Auto mode, which handles scene selection, face detection and recognition, smart contrast adjustment, and an Auto ISO mode that detects motion and sets the sensitivity accordingly. The camera can also switch into its handheld night shot and HDR modes if it deems them necessary. If you want a bit more control over camera features, you can switch to a Programmed Auto mode.
|You can bring up a shortcut menu by pressing the Delete/Q.Menu button on the back of the camera. This menu covers the most popular options on the TS5.||The main menu is well laid out, easy to navigate, and features descriptions of each item.|
There are plenty of scene modes available on the TS5. Some of the more notable scenes are handheld night shot (which combines several exposures into one, reducing noise and blur), HDR (combines three different exposures, improving the range of brightness captured), and starry sky (essentially a bulb mode). There's also a time-lapse mode, which captures photos over a period of time, which can be saved separately, or as a video.
The Lumix DMC-TS5 has an extensive, but distinctly clunky Wi-Fi feature. On the surface, it sounds good: you can remotely control the camera, send photos to your mobile device or PC while photos are taken (or later), and view them on a Panasonic HDTV. What's more, the camera has built-in NFC (near-field communication), which lets you pair your camera and smartphone simply by tapping them. While the smartphone connectivity worked well, trying to connect to a Mac or PC, or use NFC is an exercise in frustration. It didn't help that the camera - which supports 802.11b/g/n - has really poor Wi-Fi reception.
There are two routes you can take for getting Wi-Fi up and running on the TS5. You can connect to an existing network, or have the camera set up its own. Joining an existing network can be easy or frustrating. If it's an open network, it takes just a few button presses. On protected networks using WPS, it's still fairly simple. If your router does not have WPS then you'll have to enter the password using the old school keyboard pictured above, which requires a lot of button-pressing.
When you're finally connected, you'll have four options: remote shooting, playback on a DLNA-compatible TV, sending images as soon as they're taken, or browsing images already stored on the camera.
If you're using a smartphone or other mobile device, you'll find need Panasonic's Image App for iOS or Android. You can then pair the two on a shared network or set up a peer-to-peer connection. If you have a smartphone that supports NFC, then you can do everything (including photo transfer) simply by tapping it against the bottom of the camera - in theory. We tried using NFC on a number of phones (and two TS5s running the latest firmware) but were unable to get it to work (and we're not alone). We reached out to Panasonic, who was unable to provide us with a reliable way of making this feature work.
|When composing a photo on your smartphone you can adjust the zoom and take a photo.||In 'playback mode' you can view the photos on the camera, and choose which are transferred over. Once they're on your mobile device, they can be sent onward via e-mail or other services.|
Once you get your smartphone connected, you can do a number of things. You can remotely control the camera with decent live view quality, and control of the most important functions. As mentioned above, you can also have the camera send photos to your smartphone as they're taken, or you can browse through what's already on your memory card. Once the photos are on your phone or tablet, they can be forwarded on to social networking sites or e-mailed.
For more on our Wi-Fi experiences, check out the full review of the DMC-TS5.
The Lumix TS5 has a pretty nice GPS system. It not only figures out your longitude and latitude, but also your altitude or depth (using a pressure meter), your direction, as well as any nearby landmarks. The only thing you won't find are pre-installed maps.
|In playback mode you can see the landmark, basic shooting settings, and a graphic similar to the one at right showing tons of GPS info.||In record mode you can press the display button a few times to see current GPS information. The graph at the lower-right tracks barometric pressure.|
The DMC-TS5 has a decent database of landmarks, which covers a good portion of the world. If the camera doesn't pick the right one, you can choose from other options, type in your own, or delete it entirely.
The GPS can also do some other neat tricks. One of them is altitude logging, which does just as it sounds. If you're going for a hike in the mountains, you'll be able to see a graph showing altitude over a period of time. The camera can track your route as well, which you can output to a KML file, which can then be imported into Google Earth.
By default, the GPS is very slow to acquire its location. However, if you download the Assisted GPS data from Panasonic, it'll be much faster. In relatively open areas - such as the rooftop of DPReview HQ - the camera figured out where it was in 30-60 seconds. If you're in amongst buildings in the big city, forget about it - the TS5 will struggle and eventually give up. This is common on cameras with GPSs.
The Lumix DMC-TS5 is the only currently shipping rugged camera that can record movies at 1080/60p, with stereo sound. That means that you get smoother video compared to 30p, without the interlacing found on cameras that use 60i. If you don't want to use the default AVCHD format, you can switch to MPEG-4 - which some find easier to edit and share - though the frame rate drops to 30 fps. You can record up to 30 minutes of continuous video with AVCHD, and for a bit less using MPEG-4 (which is subject to a 4GB file size limit).
The camera lets you use the optical zoom and image stabilizer while you're recording a movie, and focus can be adjusted continuously, if you wish. The built-in LED illuminator can be used to brighten up your subjects, though its range is limited to just half a meter.
The only manual control in movie mode is a wind cut filter. Movies can be 'divided' in playback mode, which allows you to remove unwanted footage. It's also worth mentioning that GPS data can be embedded in a movie.
You'll find a few sample videos on the following page.
I own it
I want it
I had it
I own it
I want it
I had it
I own it
I want it
I had it
I own it
I want it
I had it
I own it
I want it
I had it
I own it
I want it
I had it
I own it
I want it
I had it
|Moon 99% D55 C14 St-Zénon 20170806 DP by MarioSS|
from Best Picture of the Week
|Reeds on lake by kkardster|
from Abstracts in Nature
|Florence & the Machine by Dutch Newchurch|
from Second chances..
If you're shooting the solar eclipse here's a hint: don't fry your camera's sensor. Use a proper solar filter that offers at least 16 stops of light filtration, along with UV and IR filtering. More important? Don't look at it unless you've got solar filters. Sensors can be replaced, your retinas can't.
Photographer Rick Wenner recently captured an odd event called the Race of the Gentlemen with a rather odd camera: The Phase One XF IQ3 Achromatic, the world's only 101MP black-and-white digital back.
Buying used is a good way to save some dough, and with the right precautions you can protect yourself from falling victim to a scam.
This two-part video series takes a deep dive into the world of dynamic symmetry and geometric composition, using iconic photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson's brilliant photographs as a guide.
Award-winning photographer Jeremy Cowart tells the moving story behind this drone photograph, captured in the aftermath of the devastating wildfire in Gatlinburg, TN in 2016.
Happy 2017 World Photo Day! We asked everyone on staff at DPReview to share one photo that they took within the last year that makes them jazzed on photography. Here's what we chose.
French President Emmanuel Macron has lodged a legal complaint against a paparazzo who snuck onto the president's private vacation property to take pictures.
Ever wonder what the difference is between compressed, uncompressed and lossless compressed Raw files? Photography Life's Nasim Mansurov breaks it down for you in this informative article.
The oldest known portrait of a US president was just discovered after over a century in storage. It's going up for auction in October, where it's expected to fetch between $150,000 and $250,000.
If you're using the popular Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 Art lens with Sigma's MC-11 converter, listen up: you'll want to update your lens and converter firmware ASAP.
If you've heard it once, you've probably heard it a thousand times: never check in your camera gear when flying. This shattered $11,000 lens is what can happen when you do.
Lensrentals just did its first Cine lens comparison, pitting five top-notch 35mm primes against each other: the Zeiss CP.2 35mm T2.1, Canon CN-E 35mm T1.5, Sigma 35mm T1.5 FF, Rokinon Xeen 35mm T1.5 and Schneider Xenon 35mm T2.1.
A team of Google researchers have found that slightly warping watermarks when embedding them into images can help prevent automatic removal.
You don't have to empty your savings account to take your photography to the next level. These cheap buys cost about $50 or less, and come with outsized benefits for your photography.
Joey L, Dani Diamond, Brandon Woelfel and Jessica Kobeissi go head-to-head in an episode of "4 photographers shoot the same model."
The latest flagship phone from Asus combines a 12MP 1/2.55" Sony IMX362 main sensor with a smaller Sony IMX351 chip for 2x zoom and a background-blurring portrait mode.
The company behind popular photo editor Picktorial 3 just released the X-Pack: a preset package that allows you to add Fuji's in-camera film simulation profiles to your RAF files in post.
Photoshop. GoPro. Every once in a while a product emerges that defines a category. And sometimes, it vanishes just as quickly as it arrived on the scene. This week's Throwback Thursday remembers the Flip, the pocket camcorder everyone had – until they didn't.
The Nokia 8's dual-cam combines the image data from a 13MP RGB sensor and a 13 monochrome chip for better detail, improved dynamic range and lower noise levels.
The company behind retail giant B&H Photo has agreed to pay out $3.2 million in monetary relief and back wages to settle a discrimination and harassment case from 2016.
After a popular Facebook teaser and some studio portrait samples, Godox has finally officially released the Godox A1 smartphone flash and flash trigger. Cheap, versatile and innovative, color us intrigued.
Canon’s EOS 5D Mk IV has won the European Imaging and Sound Association’s Professional DSLR of the Year award, making this the third year in a row that the brand has beaten Nikon to the top spot in the professional camera category.
A photograph and quote tweeted out by former president Barack Obama has officially become the most popular tweet of all time, receiving over 1.3 million retweets and 3.4 million likes.
Edward Weston was one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century, and in this episode of Advancing Your Photography we learn the extreme technique he used to capture one of his most famous still life photos.
Instagram just released a small update that will make a huge difference if you're active on the photo sharing app: threaded comment replies.
Venus Optics has announced the price and delivery date of the second lens to join its Zero-D line up: the 15mm F2 for Sony’s E mount. A lens they've dubbed, "the world's fastest 15mm rectilinear lens for full-frame."
Cinnac is a new social network for photographers that will help you separate your good photos from your great ones through a Tinder-like community-based rating system.
The Canon EF 35mm F2 IS USM is an understated jewel of a lens, and one that we've enjoyed on a variety of cameras since its release almost five years ago. Its relatively small size and image stabilization make it a versatile tool for a variety of photography - check out our sample gallery.
You don't need a fancy studio or tons of gear to capture the kind of classic product photography you see in magazines. In this video, Dustin Dolby shows you how to do it with just a couple of speedlights and some know-how.
The life-logging camera is trying to make a comeback. Say hello to FrontRow, a live-streaming enabled life-logging camera from Ubiquiti that hangs on a necklace like a pendant.