Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 tough camera
A go-anywhere camera that supplies reasonable image quality and a decent user experience
- Can handle a few knocks
- Doesn't mind the drink
- Not hard to use
- Image quality is a little muddy
- GPS sometimes way off
- Screen can be hard to view in sunlight
Panasonic's Lumix DMC-FT4 is a tough camera that's designed for the great outdoors. It supplies decent enough image quality for a camera of its type and it even packs in features such as GPS tagging and a panorama scene mode. It's easy to use for the most part, although its screen can be hard to view when shooting outdoors on a sunny day. All up though, a good camera to choose before embarking on some adventurous photography.
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 tough camera is designed for adventure, allowing it to endure a reasonable amount of thrills and spills. It's waterproof down to 12m, shockproof from 2m, and it's also dustproof and freezeproof (perfect for use during sandstorms and snowstorms, if you ever get caught out there). The design of the camera is elegant and it has good controls that don't feel overly spongy. Importantly, its picture quality is quite good for a tough camera, offering passable colour and clarity.
Design and features
The FT4 has a 12-megapixel sensor that sits behind a 4.6x optical zoom lens, which can shoot from 28mm to 128mm. It's a decent range for a compact camera, and especially for one that has such small, integrated optics. The lens itself sits inside the body of the camera, protected by toughened plastic in front of it, which acts as a permanent lens cover. You have to remember to clean this often, especially if you've been in the water. Another thing you'll have to keep in mind is the position of the lens: it sits in the top-left corner, which means you have to mindful of your fingers as you hold the camera — they can easily get in the way and ruin the shot.
A 3in screen on the back allows you to frame your pictures, and you'll get the sharpest possible results if you place your subject of focus directly in the centre of the frame. The layout of the shutter button and menu controls is comfortable and logical. The shutter could use more of a distinction in its focusing step though. Instead of a zoom rocker, you get separate zoom in and zoom out buttons, and these can take a while to get used to. These zoom buttons feel a little spongy, but they are tolerable. The other buttons don't feel spongy at all, but the on/off button and the dedicated video recording button can be hard to press because they are set flush with the camera's body.
It's quite an easy task to take photos with this camera, epecially if you just leave it in inteligent auto mode. You can also choose to use program mode, which allows you to play with the exposure compensation, ISO, white balance and focus settings, or you can choose manual mode. It's not a real manual mode as it only allows you to change the aperture value, and even then it only has two values to choose from: f/3.3 and f/10. There are scene modes that can be used as well, including "beach and snorkeling", "underwater" and a useful sweeping panorama mode. All of these modes can be accessed by pressing the mode button on the camera — is no dial.
Before taking the FT4 out and about, you'll have to make sure that its cover is closed and locked. The cover has a plastic prong that clips into place when you close it, and there is a sliding lock under it that holds the main lock in place, ensuring that it can't easily come out. It doesn't feel like a very sturdy lock though, and we'd prefer it if Panasonic used metal prongs rather than plastic to hold the cover closed — the Fujifilm FinePix XP150, for example, has metal on its cover and the way it closes feels a lot more reassuring. On the inside of the cover, there is a rubber water seal that is just under 2mm thick — the Fujifilm tough camera has a little more rubber in its seal.
The camera is appropriate for shallow water shenanigans, as well as snorkelling adventures. It has a maximum depth rating of 12m, but as is the case with all tough ratings, it's best not to take it to the extreme. We didn't hit the water in Sydney's cold weather, but we did leave the FT4 submerged in a third of a metre of water for a few hours; the seals managed to keep all the water out and the SD card we left in there remained dry. It's important to remember not to take the SD card out before the camera body is completely dry.
As for taking photos underwater, your results will vary depending on how much light is available to you. Without enough light, the images will look blurry. You may also need to adjust the white balance of photos once you transfer them to a computer. Changing settings while underwater can be difficult, so it's best to just leave the camera in one of its auto modes (or in underwater scene mode). We took some underwater shots with this camera back in February and you can see some examples in our preview article.
On land, the FT4's camera can capture well-saturated images (as long as the light is strong) and an adequate amount of detail. Photos will look good enough to share online, to view on Full HD TVs, and to print out in the form of photo books. Heavily cropping images will expose the camera's lack of definition at the pixel level though, which means you should frame your photos in such a way that cropping won't be required. In dim lighting situations, images shot with a value up to ISO 800 will look reasonably free of noise, but will have noticeable muddiness. Where possible, try not to use anything above ISO 400. In some high-contrast scenes, discoloured edges can be a problem and we noticed this when shooting black objects on a white background.
Overall, this is a fine camera for anyone who wants a camera that can be taken pretty much anywhere without much fear of it breaking. Its image quality isn't up to the standard of most regular, non-toughened compact cameras, but it's nevertheless good enough for displaying pictures online, on TV or in photo books.
• Related review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ7 digital camera
Join the newsletter!
Samsung QLED 8K TV
Bang and Olufsen Beoplay A9 Speaker
Ballistix Sport AT
Cartier Calibre de Cartier Diver Watch
Ballistix Tactical Tracer RGB 3000
Apple iMac Pro
Toys for Boys
Oregon Pro WMR500 Weather Station
Tivoli PAL BT
ESET Cyber Security Pro for Mac
Osmo Coding Awbie Game
Nix Pro Colour Sensor
ESET Internet Security
ESET Smart Security Premium
Little Bits DROID Inventor Kit
Naztech Xtra Drive Mini + 256GB microSD Card
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth Speaker
Ikea RIGGAD work lamp with wireless charging
SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3
TimeFlip Magnet Simple Time Tracking Device
Developing data science skills is one of the best things that you can do for your career.
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Oppo R17 Pro review: Oppo's thriftiest flagship yet drives a hard bargain
- 2 Nokia 7.1 review: A modest and modern mid-tier option
- 3 Tenda Nova MW6 review: A gateway drug for mesh Wi-Fi
- 4 Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: Expensive, but probably the best phone you can buy right now
- 5 Apple iPhone XS review: Astonishment at a price
Latest News Articles
- DJI launches Osmo Pocket stabilised camera
- Fujifilm launches Cashback promotion of up to $1,000
- Fujifilm unveils latest Rangefinder style GFX 50R
- Panasonic develops its first full frame mirrorless cameras
- Canon announces new PowerShot SX70HS
PCW Evaluation Team
Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications
I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)
It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!
The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.
I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.
If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.
- PC World 2018 Editor's Choice Awards
- Huawei Mate 20 Pro review: Full, in-depth, Australian review
- Razer Phone 2 review: One for the fans
- Everything you need to know about Smart TVs
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?