Panasonic DMW-MCFS5 Marine Case
- Exceptional clarity, access to all major camera buttons, watertight up to 40 metres
- Too expensive
The DMW-MCFS5 is a bit over-priced for casual happy-snappers, but it will provide flawless underwater photography for those who need it.
Price$ 399.00 (AUD)
The majority of consumer-level underwater cameras are, to use the technical term, a bit rubbish. Because they are 'niche' products with a limited user base, most vendors are hesitant to invest in production costs, resulting in cheap models with rudimentary features. What you're usually left with is a poor-resolution camera that's neither sea nor land-worthy (check out the Caplio 400G for a prime example).
If you're interested in underwater photography, it's therefore a good idea to invest in a waterproof case for a regular compact camera – which is where the subject of this review comes in. To coincide with the new Lumix DMC-FS3 and Lumix DMC-FS5, Panasonic has released the DMW-MCFS5; a dedicated marine case with a waterproof rating of up to 40 metres. While it performs its primary function well, a hefty price tag – combined with restricted compatibility – slightly lessens its appeal. Nonetheless, it will prove a perfect accompaniment for FS3/FS5 owners who regularly frequent the beach.
As mentioned above, the DMW-MCFS5 has been specifically designed for the DMC-FS3 and DMS-FS5, which means it won't work with any other camera (including similarly-sized Lumix models, such as the Lumix DMC-FS20). In other words, unless you own or plan to buy either of these cameras, the DMW-MCFS5 will be of no use to you.
On the plus side, this means that practically every button on the DMC-FS3 and DMC-FS5 can be accessed through the marine case's dedicated housing. It achieves this feat by replicating the control layout with an assortment of waterproof plastic buttons, complete with accompanying labels. This allows you to adjust and select menu settings to your heart's content, without having to remove the camera first.
Installing the FS3/FS5 into the device is a foolproof process that only takes a few seconds. The see-through case allows you to view the LCD screen clearly, while the durable lens cover remains highly resistant to stains and smearing. This will help ensure that your photographs enjoy crystal clear focus – indeed, we took a few test shots out of water, and noticed no discernible difference between shots with the marine case attached and shots without. Being waterproof, any stray dirt obscuring the lens can be quickly removed by simply dunking the case in the water. Handily, the case also floats; thus eliminating the chance of losing your camera to the deep.
With a waterproofing of 40 metres, the DMW-MCFS5 is ideal for experienced scuba divers who want to preserve memories of their underwater explorations. Coupled with either camera's underwater scene mode, the DMW-MCFS5 is capable of taking stunningly vibrant underwater photography (both models offer a pixel resolution of 10.1 megapixels). Likewise, the inclusion of an advanced image stabiliser and Intelligent Auto mode (which automatically adjusts settings to match the environment) makes the FS3 and FS5 worthy aquatic performers. We found it was possible to get great photographs of passing marine life by simply pointing the camera and clicking. This makes the DMW-MCFS5 ideal for casual users who would rather enjoy themselves in the water than set up meticulous shots.
With an RRP of $400, the DMW-MCFS5 isn't something you would buy for a one-off trip to the coast. Rather, it will suit frequent snorkelled and diving enthusiasts who are bound to get plenty of value for their money.
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