Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT1 review

Ben Pitt
23 Jun 2009
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Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
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1/2.33in 12.0-megapixel sensor, 4.6x zoom (28-128mm equivalent), 162g

The DMC-FT1 has an industrial appearance that manages to be both rugged and stylish.

Underneath its aluminium shell, internal components are encased in a resin chassis to absorb impacts. The camera passes US Military Standard tests to survive falls from 1.5m, and comes with IEC numbers to certify its 3m water-resistance and dust-proofing.

This was marginally the fastest of the waterproof cameras, taking two seconds to switch on and shoot and the same time between subsequent shots, rising to 2.4 seconds with the flash enabled. The zoom lever could be better placed, but we like the dedicated button for video capture.

Among the menus is an option to register friends and family members' faces to prioritise them when multiple faces are detected. It's not easy deciding how to rank your kids in order of prioritising, but the reward of seeing their names magically pop up onscreen as you point the camera makes it worthwhile.

Of the six waterproof cameras, the DMC-FT1 battled with Canon's D10 and Ricoh's G600 for the top spot on the image-quality podium. The DMC-FT1 and Canon D10 were both extremely reliable at choosing faultless automatic exposure settings. The D10 was sharpest in bright light, while Ricoh's G600 took the lead in low light, but the DMC-FT1 was a close runner up in both situations. Meanwhile, its 4.6x zoom and wide-angle lens is more versatile than the Canon's 3x zoom lens.

This may be a stills camera first and foremost, but we were just as impressed by its video mode. The camera bears the AVCHD Lite logo, and it's the same mode as the DSC-TZ7's complete with HDMI out. The only differences are that a video lamp illuminates subjects at close range, and that audio is recorded in mono rather than stereo.

This is one of the more expensive waterproof cameras, but the superb photo and video quality, versatile lens and compact, rugged design make it worth splashing out on.

Basic Specifications

CCD effective megapixels12.0 megapixels
CCD size1/2.33in
LCD screen size2.7in
LCD screen resolution230,000 pixels
Optical zoom4.6x
Zoom 35mm equivalent28-128mm
Image stabilisationoptical, lens based
Maximum image resolution4,000x3,000
Maximum movie resolution1,280x720
Movie frame rate at max quality25fps
File formatsJPEG; QuickTime (M-JPEG), AVCHD Lite


Memory slotSDHC
Mermory supplied40MB internal
Battery type3.6V 940mAh Li-ion
Battery Life (tested)340 shots
ConnectivityUSB, AV, mini HDMI, DC in
Body materialaluminium
AccessoriesUSB and AV cables

Buying Information


Camera Controls

Exposure modesauto
Shutter speedauto
Aperture rangeauto
ISO range (at full resolution)80 to 1600
Exposure compensation+/-2 EV
White balanceauto, 4 presets, manual
Additional image controlsnone
Manual focusNo
Closest macro focus5cm
Auto-focus modesmulti, centre, tracking, face detect
Metering modesmulti, centre-weighted, centre, face detect
Flashauto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction
Drive modessingle, continuous, self-timer