Hands on: Panasonic FT5 review

Panasonic updates its toughest compact camera

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Waterproof or rugged compact cameras such as the Panasonic FT5 (TS5 in the US) are a great choice for outdoor types who likes to take photographs while canoeing, snorkelling or orienteering and the like.

In many respects, the Panasonic Lumix FT5 is similar to the Panasonic FT4 that it replaces, but it can survive being taken down as far as 13m (42.7ft) underwater (1m more than the Panasonic FT4 and 1m more than is marked on the sample camera we handled).

It can also cope with being dropped from 2m (6.6ft) and frozen down to -10C (14F) - like the Panasonic FT4.

Significantly, the new camera's pixel count has been raised to 16.1MP from the 12.2MP of the Panasonic FT4. This is a sizeable jump in resolution, and it brings the Panasonic FT5 up to speed.

Panasonic FT5 review

In addition, the Panasonic FT5's new processing engine enables 10fps burst shooting, time-lapse recording (with the movie created in-camera) and Full HD 50p video recording.

Like the Panasonic FT4, the Panasonic FT5 has a Leica lens with a focal length range equivalent to 28-128mm. We found that this performed pretty well on the Panasonic FT4, so it will be interesting to see what it can do with an extra 4 million pixels at its disposal.

The addition of NFC (Near Field Communication) and Wi-Fi technology is likely to be popular with those who want to share their images quickly. This seems a particularly good addition for a rugged camera that is likely to get wet and dirty, because it means no port covers need to be opened to download images.

NFC technology makes connecting to a Wi-Fi network extremely simple, since it just requires you to touch two NFC-enabled devices together.

Panasonic FT5 review

While new Android smartphones have NFC chips, Apple has yet to include one in its iPhone - it's hotly rumoured to be coming for the iPhone 5S, though.

Panasonic has also augmented the FT5's ability to geotag images because, in addition GPS technology, it has GLONASS technology for improved coverage.

Since it withstands submersion to 13m, the Panasonic FT5 is likely to find favour with scuba divers and snorkellers.

These people will also be pleased to learn that Panasonic has improved the camera's underwater performance by linking the white balance system to the barometer in Underwater mode. This means that the colour shift that occurs as you dive deeper into the water is corrected.

Build and handling

Apart from the changes to the LCD screen, the design of the Panasonic FT5 is very similar to the Panasonic FT4's.

The buttons are sensibly arranged, and it's easy to find your way around the menu. However, it is always tricky to strike a balance between producing a camera that has buttons that can be operated easily when wearing gloves and making one that looks like a child's toy.

Panasonic FT5 review

On the whole, we think Panasonic has opted for sleekness, and this may mean that skiers have to remove their gloves before making any adjustments to the camera settings.

Those wearing wetsuit gloves are unlikely to have this luxury, but it should be possible to make adjustments, even if it is a bit frustrating.

As usual with most compact cameras these days, the Panasonic FT5 has no viewfinder, and images are composed on the LCD screen.

This is now a 3-inch 460,000-dot unit (the Panasonic FT4 has a 2.7-inch 230,000-dot LCD) and on the pre-production sample we saw it provided a nice, clear view of the scene.

Panasonic FT5 review

However, we were only able to use the camera indoors in fairly low light, so we will have to wait to get a final production sample in for our full review before we can comment on how well it copes in bright conditions.

This is an important issue for a camera that is designed for use in water or snowy conditions.

Early verdict

Although many aspects of the Panasonic FT5 are the same as the Panasonic FT4, the fact that the sensor and processing engine has changed means that the image quality it produces is an unknown quantity.

As yet we have only handled a pre-production sample, and we have not been able to examine any images from it. We are looking forward to giving the Panasonic FT5 a full test as soon as a production sample becomes available.

What is a hands on review?

'Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.


Tech Specs

Product TypeCompact Camera
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Green CompliantYes
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
Wireless LANYes
Effective Camera Resolution16.1 Megapixel
Wide AngleYes
Product FamilyLumix FT
HD Movie ModeYes
Memory Card SupportedSecure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC)
Image StabilizationOptical
Optical Zoom4.6x
Digital Zoom4x
Brand NamePanasonic
DurabilityWater Proof, Shock Proof, Freeze Proof, Dust Proof, Pressure Resistant
FeaturesContinuous Shooting Mode, Live View, Orientation Sensor, 3D Shooting, Face Detection
Screen Size7.6 cm (3")
Video FormatsAVCHD, MP4
Viewfinder TypeNo
Weight (Approximate)188 g
Green Compliance Certificate/AuthorityREACH
Image Sensor Size1/2.33" (6.13 mm x 4.60 mm)
Maximum Image Resolution4608 x 3456
Display Screen TypeLCD
Height67.4 mm
Width109.2 mm
Depth28.9 mm
Product SeriesFT
Focal Length4.90 mm to 22.80 mm
Image FormatsJPEG, MPO
External FlashNo
Focus ModesAuto
Product ModelDMC-FT5
Product NameDMC-FT5 Digital Camera
Product LineLumix
Exposure Control
  • Program AE
  • Manual
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberDMC-FT5EB-S
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.panasonic.co.uk
Marketing Information

Rugged Digital Camera FT5 - Featuring Ultimate Toughness and Photo / Video Hybrid for All Kinds of Outdoor Excitement

The DMC-FT5 is waterproof to depth of 13m/43ft and dustproof equivalent to the "IPX8" and "IP6X" standard. It is also shockproof droppable from a height up to 2.0m/6.6ft, freezeproof that endure the temperature as low as -10?C/14?F, and comprehends pressure resistance of 100kgf/220lbf. It newly adopts an anti-fog glass to prevent from being fogged with steam. Take out the camera to fishing, camping, diving, snorkeling, surfing, climbing, skiing or snowboarding - The DMC-FT5 is an all-year-round active field player to record stunning memories.

The DMC-FT5 can record high-resolution full HD 1,920 x 1,080 videos with stunning smoothness at 50p in AVCHD Progressive and 25p in MP4. The videos also come with the high-quality stereo sound of Dolby® Digital and a stereo microphone with zoom noise reduction. The Time Lapse Shot is advanced for DMC-FT5. Once the start time, the interval and the number of picture to shoot are set, the camera will automatically shoot images and those images can be combined in a camera to produce a time lapse video.

The DMC-FT5 integrates Wi-Fi® connectivity and NFC technology. NFC lets users connect the camera with a smartphone/tablet by just placing them nearby and follow the simple guidance. With "Panasonic Image App", users can enjoy remote shooting, easy SNS upload, and Instant Transfer, which allows the camera to automatically transfer data to the designated electronic devices. Transferring data to PC is available via wireless access point (router) at home. The Wi-Fi Direct™ allows direct playback of images on some of the DLNA-compliant VIERA HDTV.

The GPS complies with GLONASS to further enhance its accuracy. It shows the name of the Country/Region, State/Prov./County, County/Township, City/Town/Village, and worldwide landmark information. The photos and videos with the location names are automatically sorted in the camera for quick reach and newly added logging function allows memorizing travelling distance which can be displayed on the Google Earth application. Compass, altimeter and even barometer are adopted for active outdoor use.

Package Contents
  • DMC-FT5 Digital Camera
  • Battery Pack
  • Battery Charger
  • AC Cable
  • USB Cable
  • Hand Strap
  • Software CD-ROM
Limited Warranty1 Year