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 megapixel, 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 (described in our full review) 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 aggressively. 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 TS5 produces pleasing color and exposure, with less highlight clipping that its peers.

ISO 100, 1/1000 sec, f/4.5
When you view this image at 100%, you'll see chromatic aberrations on the building, and mushy details on the tree.

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 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 light source (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

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.

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

ISO 100, 1/200 sec, f/5.5
The photo, on the other hand, has a strong blue/green cast.

ISO 125, 1/100 sec, f/5.6

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. For more on that, and photo quality in general, please read the full review of the DMC-TS5.

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

Our second 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.

Final Thoughts

There's a lot to like about the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5 (FT5). It's extremely rugged, has a high resolution LCD that's actually usable outdoors, and is loaded with nearly every feature imaginable. Some of those features include a very capable Intelligent Auto mode, manual exposure control, a well-implemented GPS system, Wi-Fi, and 1080/60p video recording. Battery life is excellent, as well. Photo quality is typical for this class. Vivid color, accurate exposure, but detail smudging and, in the case of the TS5, chromatic aberration. Still, for what the average consumer will be doing with their photos, they probably won't notice these issues.

Some other things that bugged us about the TS5 include its slow lens (which is the 'worst' in this group), very weak flash, and poor Wi-Fi reception. The Wi-Fi feature does work, though you'll want to use an 'ad hoc' connection for best results. If you're trying to 'tap' your phone to the camera using NFC, you'll be lucky if anything happens. Connecting to a Mac or PC is similarly frustrating.

Make no mistake: the TS5 is a very good rugged camera. It's really the items in the previous paragraph that keep it from greatness.

Click here to read the full conclusion from our Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5 review