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I bought this camera for my husband for his birthday 2 years ago. I wanted one that was compact and transportable. It's great, the picture quality even under water is fantastic. It's easy to use, I'm a point and press girl myself and even I can work it. However if you do want a bit of a challenge it has some really great functions. It will even show a slideshow of all the photos stored on the camera with music, not particularly good music, and a choice would be nice, but hey, it's an interesting feature.
It has a good range and is capable of taking photos in all levels of darkness. He did have trouble getting a decent shot of the Northern lights but that could be lack of practice with the time lapse facility.
If I have one complaint, I find the screen somewhat difficult to see in sunlight. Fortunately it's such a good camera, if I point it in the right general direction and press the button it usually turns out OK.
In my view it's biggest asset is the fact it is waterproof and it is completely waterproof. We've taken it snorkeling. We have some lovely photos of fish. This also means you can feel confident taking pictures in wet weather.
Super little waterproof, shockproof and dustproof digital camera. I've had equally good results on land and underwater.
Its been snorkeling with me several times now and I've had very little leakage into the sealed areas (its important to wash an underwater camera after using to avoid salt build up) Its possible to take this camera down to 3 meters without buying additional housing.
Image quality has been as good as you would expect from a Lumix. Being rugged the size and weight of the FT1 is a little larger/heavier than other compact non waterproof digital's but compared to other rugged cameras the FT1 is a very neat package.
Overall i would recommend this camera without hesitation for those who want to get it wet! If you don't want to take it in the sea I would be tempted to get a non-underwater lumix as they are a little bit lighter.
Image quality was excellent, bright and sharp. A very good value unit.
As a DSLR user, I need a camera for taking to places that might be the end of my DSLR - the beach, snorkelling, nightclubs, and so on. The FT1 is perfect for this purpose.
Previously I had a Pentax Optio W80 but was disappointed with the image quality so decided to buy the Panasonic instead.
PICTURE QUALITY: Excellent for a waterproof compact. Vivid colours, sharp details and good exposure metering. I have been very impressed with most of the pictures I've taken with this camera. It does suffer from a bit of image noise when taking night shots without the flash, but this is not too much of a downside for me as I use my DSLR for night shots.
RELIABILITY: Excellent. I have taken this camera skiing, snorkelling, sailing, surfing and mountain biking and it has never let me down. The battery life could be a bit longer.
EASE OF USE: Clear menus that are easy to navigate, but the buttons can be fiddly to operate when wearing gloves as they are quite small.
FEATURES: Good, but few manual controls. The snow and sea modes are great in bright environments.
Overall: A great camera that I'm not worried about damaging. Having this camera lets me take photos of places where I wouldn't usually take a camera.
As I am sure most of the members on here will now know, I am a professional photographer but as well as taking pictures I also hold photography seminars at my local camera club and over the last few years I have become somewhat of a target for sales persons asking me to try out their latest digital cameras and give talks and written reviews on them.
I figured a couple of years back if I was going to be testing out all these cameras and doing reviews anyway then I may as well be posting them on Ciao and Dooyoo and making some money for charity which a lot of members know is what I do now.
Sometimes it can become a bit stale and even boring when testing compact cameras as they are all so alike these days but last week I was handed something completely different and at last I got the chance to have a go at a compact that claimed to be much different than the others and also better.
Before we get into the was it better question lets first deal with what is so different about it, the first thing anyone will notice when looking at it is that gone is the traditional round lens centred on the unit and in its place we have a squared lens that sits of to the top right as you look at it, the squared lens and the tiny flash that sits of to the side has managed to get this compact to do something no other manages and that is to take pictures with the flash on and get very little, sometimes no red eye.
Ok so it looks different and it can eliminate red eye but what else? Well it is a well known fact that electrical goods and water do not mix and that is never more so a rule than with cameras, a tiny splash of water in the wrong place can destroy a camera but not this one, this one is fully water proofed and also shock proof, making it an ideal camera for someone that shoots outdoors and especially someone into things like hill climbing or even skiing or snowboarding.
With all that explained it should therefore be obvious that the unit is robust and well made but it actually does not feel any sturdier or more reassuring than most other compacts but I can vouch for its ability to shoot in and around water without problems because I tried it and the Panasonic rep urged me to knock it about a bit and so I gladly did, I dropped it three feet onto a hard wooden desk and also thumped it quite hard against a stone wall and not even a paint chip to speak of, I am still not sure I would expect this camera to take a lot of this treatment but I have to say that other compacts would have stopped working straight away, so if you are rough with a camera then this might be for you.
Ok so it is a tough little bugger but is it any good as a camera? The first thing I noticed about the images taken straight off with this unit was the vibrant colour reproduction that is more common with DSLR`s, the colours were so bright and crisp that I was instantly impressed and could not wait to try the unit in different conditions.
The Panasonic FT1 has a 12.1 megapixel sensor and an optical zoom of 4.6x so it is capable of capturing very good and very clear images and because the lens is so good, even when used at full zoom the images were sharp and vibrant. There is the option to set things like aperture, shutter speeds and even white balance and ISO manually but I have to say that the intelligent auto on this unit got the settings pretty much perfect more often than not so if you are a novice or just want to capture great pictures without having to think about settings then this unit is going to get it right where many other compacts fail to do so.
The built in optical image stabilisation or (OIS) for short, works wonders on this camera and you can get hand held blur free shots in situations that would otherwise be impossible, even in poor light at dusk and with the zoom at maximum I was able to hand hold for blur free images of passing trains, most compacts could not have gotten near the clarity of image that this unit produced in such circumstances.
Ok so with everything going so well this review was going to be like it had been written by the rep himself and not at all a balanced independent appraisal like the ones you have come to expect from me so I was glad when I found t least a couple of problems to report, the main thing wrong with this camera is that the controls are a bit small and fiddly and the shutter button and the zoom are so similar and close it is easy to mix them up.
The second thing I could point a finger at in respect of it not being very good is the video capture but I am being very picky if I do so because the video capture on all compacts are poor and this one is no different from others in that it will record decent video in perfect light but useless video in anything other than perfect light, if you have read my camera reviews in the past you will know that I am a big believer in cameras taking still photographs and video cameras doing the videoing and the two should never mix.
So with a small finger pointed at a couple of slight issues that I had with this unit it is back to what's great about it. The amount of pre set settings that you have to choose from is good if you want to quickly let the camera set up for certain shots and as with the intelligent auto, these pre sets are pretty good. The pre sets for sunset, portrait and starry sky were almost exactly the settings I wuld have gone for a as a pro photographer and for a simple compact to get these settings so close is very impressive.
Another thing in this cameras favour is that Panasonic have had the simple common sense to fit this unit with a rechargeable lithium battery and not gone down the route of using AA batteries that will only last five minutes. The battery in this will take between 250 and 300 shots between charges and only takes one hour to fully charge ready to go again.
The camera is fairly easy to get to grips with and if you do need a bit help than the instruction booklet is top notch and explains everything very simply and clearly. The software that comes with the camera is very simple to install and use, it took less than five minutes to install to my laptop and an idiot could figure out how to use it (well I did didn't I).
There are so many good things I could go on to tell you about this unit but I think you are getting the picture are you not? This camera also benefits from a virtually silent and very fast through the lens auto focus as well as a fairly quick 2 frames per second shooting burst mode, these combined allow you to take great pictures of moving objects, freezing the subject blur free, great for sports photography like the skiing and snowboarding I mentioned way back at the beginning of this now very long review.
I will shut up now for a bit and let the cameras specifications do the talking.
Sensor resolution 12.1 megapixels
Optical sensor type CCD
Optical sensor size 1/2.33 in.
Light sensitivity ISO 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 (up to 6400 at reduced resolution)
Digital zoom 4 x
Shooting programs: Program, sports, snow, beach & surf, portrait, soft skin, transform, self portrait, scenery, panorama assist, night portrait, night scenery, food, party, candle light, baby 1, baby 2, pet, sunset, high sensitivity, high-speed burst, flash burst, starry sky, fireworks, aerial photo, pin hole, film grain, underwater
Special effects Natural, vivid, B&W, sepia, cool, warm
Analog video format NTSC, PAL
Max shutter speed 1/3000 s
Min shutter speed 60 s
Continuous shooting speed 2 fps
Exposure metering Multi-segment
Exposure compensation ±2 EV in 1/3EV steps
White balance Automatic, presets, manual
White balance presets Daylight, cloudy, shade, incandescent
Still image format JPEG
Digital video format AVCHD, Motion JPEG (QuickTime)
Auto focus TTL auto focus
Lens type Zoom
Focal length 4.9-22.8 mm
Equivalent 35mm focal length 28-130 mm
Interchangeable lens No
Focus adjustment Automatic
Min focus range 300 mm
Lens aperture F/3.3-5.9
Optical zoom 4.6 x
Zoom adjustment Motorised
Flash type Built-in
External flash terminal None
Flash modes Auto, fill-in, flash off, red-eye reduction, slow sync
Red-eye reduction Yes
Effective flash range 0.3-5.1 m
Viewfinder / Display:
Viewfinder type None
Display type TFT
Display mounting Fixed
Display size 69 mm
Display resolution 230,000 pixels
TO SUM UP:
I am sure I have made it obvious by now that I am well impressed with this cameras capabilities and I cannot think of a compact right now that offers as much as this one does, there is the Olympus mju Tough-8000, which does offer similar settings and also the waterproof and shock proof factors but it simply does not produce images of the quality of this little unit and the only other thing out there that could possibly compare would be the Canon Powershot D10 which I will be getting my hands on soon.
The images taken with this unit were so good that I might have been persuaded to believe they had been taken by a mid range DSLR rather than a compact and this is the first time I can remember a compact taking images that good, so if you are serious about photography and want something light and compact but strong and reliable and that will take top end images then here it is but be warned it does not come cheap, the FT1 is currently priced at £279 so you do have to pay for the privilege of using such a great camera but I am sure with time that price will drop a bit and even at that price it is still good value for money if you ask me!
LOOKS - 8/10
BUILD QUALITY - 9/10
EASE OF USE - 8/10
IMAGE QUALITY - 9/10
FUNCTIONS AND FEATURES - 8/10
VALUE FOR MONEY - 8/10
OVERALL - 8.5/10
Thanks for reading.