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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

The Video mode is another highlight, with 1080p capture in AVCHD format and clip lengths up to 30 minutes. Picture quality was excellent, with crisp details, balanced colours and effective noise reduction in low light. Face detection was available for video – a rare feature in stills cameras’ video modes and one that helped avoid exposure and focus problems. The autofocus and zoom motors remained active while recording and didn’t spoil the high quality soundtrack. There’s an LED video lamp to illuminate nearby subjects in low light, which might prove really useful when snorkelling or exploring caves.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3 front

Photo quality is perhaps the FT3’s least noteworthy trait, but it did well not to fall short of our high expectations at this price. The lens and 12-megapixel sensor captured sharp details, struggling a little in the corners of wide-angle shots but showing a massive improvement on the Fujifilm XP30 and Olympus TG-310, two other – admittedly much cheaper – rugged cameras we’ve seen recently. The Intelligent Auto mode lived up to its name by choosing sensible settings for a wide range of lighting conditions and subject types.

Noise reduction was a little odd. There was no sign of noise in brightly lit shots using slow ISO speeds but fine textures had a subtle cross-hatched appearance, with a propensity towards vertical and horizontal lines. It was usually barely noticeable (as in the ground of our woodland, example shot below) so it wasn’t much of a problem, but it’s still a little perplexing. The other surprise was that, as we raised the ISO speed, noise levels and detail-zapping noise reduction were unusually gentle for a 12-megapixel compact camera. Shots taken at ISO 800 and 1600 did suffer from smeared details and grubby shadows, but less so than from most cameras that use small, high-resolution sensors. The upshot was that the FT3 turned in respectable photos throughout our tests.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT3 sample 1
Click to enlarge this example shot

This is an expensive camera. Most retailers are out of stock as we go to press, so the price may come down a little when it’s more widely available. While it’s hovering around £300, its image quality is overshadowed by cameras costing just a little more, such as the Panasonic LX5. However, the combination of solid photo quality, excellent videos, fast performance and a rugged, waterproof shell make this an outstanding jack-of-all-trades. It’s a great choice for the beach and outdoor pursuits, and makes a perfect second camera for SLR owners.

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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