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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £300
inc VAT

Image quality isn't outstanding but the long list of great features, from 12m waterproofing to 1080p video capture, makes this an impressive all-rounder.


1/2.33in 12.0-megapixel sensor, 4.6x zoom (28-128mm equivalent), 175g

There’s no shortage of rugged, waterproof cameras, but the Panasonic FT3 is as resilient as they come. It’ll survive drops from two metres, can operate 12 metres underwater, or in temperatures down to -10 degrees centigrade, plus it’s perfectly happy in dusty and sandy environments too. It looks reassuringly tank-like with its curved metal body and substantial door for its battery, card slot and sockets. Although we didn’t test its rugged credentials to their limits, the design seems to match up with Panasonic’s claims.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3 top

GPS makes perfect sense in a rugged camera. When you’ve taken snaps in the sea or up a mountainside, it’s great to be able to plot them on a map when you get home. A GPS radio isn’t enough for the FT3, though – it also has an altimeter, barometer and compass. The altimeter produced some strange results, claiming that Alexandra Palace was 13 metres below sea level, but the compass worked perfectly regardless of which angle we held the camera.

Ultimately, it’s the GPS data that’s most important, as this is the information that’s recognised by software such as Google Picasa. As usual, it could take over an hour to get a fix on a new location. On these occasions, instead of leaving photos’ GPS tags blank, it often used the last known location – resulting in some tags being 100 miles out. However, once it had got its bearings, locations were updated more quickly and tagging was usually accurate to within a few metres.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3 back

While most rugged cameras are basic point-and-shoot models wrapped up in a tough shell, the FT3 has the photographic talents to justify its premium price. It’s fast, capturing a shot within two seconds of switching on. Successive shots were just 0.9 seconds apart – one of the fastest times we’ve seen from a compact camera. Continuous shooting was at 2.5fps and lasted for seven shots. With a fast SDHC card it could take another burst of seven shots with just one second to catch its breath. The controls are fairly simple, with little in the way of manual tweaks, but key features such as ISO speed, white balance and continuous mode are quick to access via the Q.Menu button.

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Basic Specifications

Rating *****
CCD effective megapixels 12.0 megapixels
CCD size 1/2.33in
Viewfinder none
Viewfinder magnification, coverage N/A
LCD screen size 2.7in
LCD screen resolution 230,000 pixels
Articulated screen No
Live view Yes
Optical zoom 4.6x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 28-128mm
Image stabilisation optical, lens based
Maximum image resolution 4,000×3,000
Maximum movie resolution 1920×1080
Movie frame rate at max quality 25fps
File formats JPEG; AVCHD, QuickTime (M-JPEG)


Memory slot SDXC
Mermory supplied 19MB internal
Battery type Li-ion
Battery Life (tested) 310 shots
Connectivity USB, AV, micro HDMI
Body material aluminium
Lens mount N/A
Focal length multiplier N/A
Kit lens model name N/A
Accessories USB and AV cables
Weight 175g
Size 64x104x27mm

Buying Information

Warranty one-year RTB
Price £300

Camera Controls

Exposure modes auto
Shutter speed auto
Aperture range f/3.3-10 (wide), f/5.9-18 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution) 100 to 1600
Exposure compensation +/-2 EV
White balance auto, 4 presets, manual
Additional image controls i.Exposure (shadow enhance)
Manual focus No
Closest macro focus 5cm
Auto-focus modes multi, centre, spot, face detect, tracking
Metering modes multi, face detect
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, red-eye reduction
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer