The tough camera market is more crowded than ever with manufactures falling over themselves to make increasingly indestructible compacts. So, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3, the latest 'ard nut to hit the street, needs to be something special to stand out against our current rugged favourites: the Olympus Tough-8010, Pentax W90 and Sony DSC-TX5.
With a choice of bright colours and boasting a funky yet expensive looking design, the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FT3 gets full marks for aesthetics . While at 103.5 x 64.0 x 26.5mm it's not the smallest camera, it's not too bulky either – in fact it feels very nice and weighty in the hand and, thanks to the well-placed buttons, it's easy to operate with gloves on – important in the tough camera market.
Build quality is especially good: the camera body, which features rubber padding and reinforced glass, is airtight allowing the camera to be used underwater to 12 meters. The lens is reinforced by a supplementary damper to adsorb shock and battery and memory card are virtually bomb proof locked into the camera by a robust metal lockable panel.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3: Features
The 12.1 MP compact has a feature-set which should really appeal to adrenalin junkies and extreme sports types – it's dustproof, waterproof to 12 meters, shockproof to 2 meters and freezproof to -10 degrees. Furthermore the camera is equipped with a compass, altimeter and barometer. There's also full HD Movie recording and the great GPS function we've seen in the LUMIX TZ series, which shows location and landmark using internal data – it's accurate and fast.
While the 3D shooting mode is only really of interest if you have a compatible TV, there are a wide range of shooting and scene modes accessed via the D-Pad on the back, including Intelligent Auto, which Panasonic has improved for this model. IAuto does everything for you – setting Face Recognition and detection, AF Tracking, Intelligent ISO control, Intelligent Scene selector and Intelligent Exposure for you – good news for the camera's target market who will be busy with their hobby or sport and just want to capture that, rather than changing settings.
- Check out T3's list of best digital cameras 2011
Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FT3: Image Quality
The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FT3 really impressed us in terms of image quality. Pictures are sharp, with little noise or chromatic aberrations and colours natural looking but still quite punchy. The camera exposes very well for what is essentially just a point and shoot.
The macro feature is impressive, allowing very detailed close-ups. Video quality follows suit and is also good, we like that there is a dedicated button on the top panel too. If you're looking for a compact camera that is tough enough to take anywhere but still produces good quality images, you just found one.
Panasonic Lumix FT3 launch date: Out now
Panasonic Lumix FT3 price: £249-£320 online, link Panasonic