Steve's Conclusion

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Steve's SnapShot
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  • 12.1-Megapixel Imaging Sensor
  • 2.7-Inch LCD Screen
  • 4.6x Optical zoom lens: 28-128mm (35mm equivalent)
  • POWER O.I.S.
  • Dedicated Video Record Button
  • iAuto mode
  • 1080p HD video recording
  • Waterproof to 40ft.
  • Dustproof
  • Survive drops from 6.6ft.
  • FreezeProof to 14°F
  • AVCHD Lite HD video captrue
  • SD/SDHC/SDXC memory card compatible
Pros
  • iAuto shooting mode is accurate and easy
  • Dedicated Video Capture Button is always ready to record
  • AVCHD Lite HD video capture is high quality and small files
  • "Tough" features: Waterproof, Dustproof, Shockproof and Freezeproof
  • Excellent Image Quality from indoor images
  • POWER O.I.S. is very helpful when shooting on the move
  • Nice, Bright 2.7-inch LCD
  • Good shooting performance
  • Good Battery Life
  • Competitively priced
Cons
  • Struggles a little with high contrast outdoor scenes
  • Image noise in low-light, shadow areas
  • Screen can be hard to see underwater
Timing Test Results
  • Power up to first image captured = 2.7 seconds
  • Shutter lag when prefocused  = less than 1/10 of a second
  • Shutter lag with autofocus = approx. 6/10 of a second
  • Shot to shot delay wo/flash = 1.16econds
  • Shot to shot delay w/flash = 2.10 seconds
  • Sequential burst =  2.33ps for 7 images
  • Sequential burst infinite = 8.18fps 3M
  • All tests were taken using an PNY Pro Class 10, 8GB SDHC memory card, Program Mode, ISO auto, Flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise.
Bottom Line
If you need a camera that can keep up with even the craziest of lifestyles, the Panasonic Lumix TS3 is for you. This "tough"camera can handle anything you throw at it. Sporting a 12-Megapixel imaging sensor, Leica zoom lens, iAuto mode and full 1080p HD video capture, it is also full of great features.
Pick This Up If...
You are looking for a camera that you can take into any situation and not have to worry about what happens to it. It is great for around pools and kids.
Panasonic's new Lumix DMC-TS3 extends their line of "tough" cameras. This camera leads the way with its ability to survive extreme situations. It is capable of surviving depths of up to 40 feet under water, falls from up to 6.6 feet, temperatures as low as 14°F and its seal also keeps dust and sand out. On top of this outstanding ruggedness, you also get the quality and ease of use expected from a Panasonic digicam. Sporting a 4.6x optical zoom lens, 12.1-Megapixel imaging sensor, iAuto shooting mode and full 1080p HD video capture; you are not sacrificing anything for the tough features. A GPS radio was added that allows the camera to record where each of your images was captured. Available in 4 standout colors; Orange, Aqua Blue, Deep Red and Silver, this camera is also very eye-catching.

When compared to the Lumix DMC-TS1, not much has changed. The camera design is very similar, with just a few minor changes that make the camera a little easier to handle. A small edge has been added to the right side of the camera, making it easier to hold on to. The zoom lever was also replaced with two easy to reach buttons on the back of the camera and the mode dial was replaced with a mode button. Other than that, the camera body has not changed much. Framing and viewing your images is still done on the same 2.7-inch, 230,000 dot LCD screen. With its anti-reflective coating, this screen is easy to see in almost all lighting conditions. However, when shooting under water on a bright day, the screen can be very hard to see.

The image quality of our outdoor sample images was surprisingly disappointing. Areas of overexposure are evident with just a glance at the photos. When looking closer, we also see some edge softness and a great deal of noise in shadow and lower light areas. Only with the Firehouse shot was the camera able to pull it all together and produce the excellent quality image that we normally see from a Panasonic camera. Using an internal 4.6x Leica optical zoom lens for adjusting your composition, there are no moving parts or protrusions from the outside of the camera to leak or break. This lens provides a great wide end with a 35mm equivalent of 28mm and allows you a little zooming ability getting you to 128mm.

Opposite our outdoor images, the indoor images look excellent with great colors and exposures. These images are crisp, showing  wonderful details throughout the image. Looking closely, we can see that there is very little, if any, noise within these images. All ISO settings are excellent, producing printable images, even at ISO 1600. Assisting with your low-light and indoor situations, the built-in flash unit has a range of up to Approx. 18ft. (W), allowing you light a small to medium sized room without too much difficulty. Next to the flash is a small but powerful LED light. This light assists with focusing in low-light and underwater, as well as working as a recording light in video mode.

Panasonic's face detection software is so capable that it picks up faces within a frame as soon as they are visible, even from the side. Our sample images show excellent exposures based on the faces, even outside. The flash worked well as a fill flash, providing even light throughout the face. You can also see the excellent skin tones and eye color (in the first portrait image), giving this image more character. Our second portrait shot, being outdoors at night, showed a lot more noise throughout the image and some redness within our subjects eyes. This is a little more common with the situation than the camera as the flash is providing the majority of the light for the image.

With just one touch of the dedicated video record  button, the TS3 has the ability to capture full 1080p HD video with sound. Our sample video looks and sounds excellent with bright good exposure and bright colors. The sounds, although just running water, sound clear. While the large file is a little choppy during playback on a computer, it is very smooth on the camera and when viewing it on a HDTV via an HDMI cable. If you happen to have a Panasonic HDTV with VieraLink, you will be able to watch your movies that way as well.

Powering the TS3 is a 3.6V, 940mAh Li-Ion rechargeable battery, that during our tests was able to capture just shy of 175 images and videos with no worries of the batteries running low. This fits well with Panasonic's claims that the battery can provide up to 310 images on a single charge. Also included with the camera is a compact and portable quick charger, which allows you to keep your battery and a spare charged and on hand at all times. Even with a good battery life, this camera's ability to shoot in extreme situations would be the last place you would want to find yourself without a backup.

Bottom Line - Panasonic's Lumix TS3 was created to be a go anywhere "tough" camera, and it has lived up to expectations. We had no problems with the camera in a pool, and it easily survived a fall from 5'9" while recording. On top of that you get a 12-Megapixel imaging sensor, Leica 4.6x optical zoom lens, Intelligent Auto shooting and full 1080p HD video capture with just one push of a button. The outdoor image quality was a little surprising, as it struggled a bit with the high contrast scenes, but once indoors it was back to the outstanding quality that we are used to seeing from Panasonic. With a MSRP of US $399.99, this is an excellent tough option for the money.

Visitors of Steves can visit the stores below for real-time pricing and availability. You can also find hot, soon to expire online offers on a variety of cameras and accessories at our very own Camera Deals page.

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