When it comes to all weather cameras there aren’t too many to choose from but there are some pretty good and swanky models. For instance the recently reviewed Olympus Tough-3000 proved to be a versatile little camera and the Panasonic DMC-FT2 promises to be even better.
The Lumix DMC-FT2 is a 14.1 MP camera and is probably one of the toughest looking cameras around with rivets on all four corners (front and back). However they are mere showpieces that add to the overall look of the camera. But that shouldn’t make the DMC-FT2 any weaker in its overall build. The camera features a brushed metal finish (front/back) that is far more appealing than the glossy body that some feature. In fact the rivets and the metal finish give the FT2 a very retro look. Just like any other all weather camera the DMC-FT2 is a chunky device that measures in at 3.91 x 2.48 x 0.96 inches. However don’t be fooled by its size – the camera can withstand a fall from a height of 2 meters and can be submerged to a depth of approximately 10 meters. In addition to this the FT2 is also built to survive sub zero temperatures. However it does have limitations of up to -10 degrees C. In terms of weight the camera is a little heavy at 190 g but can be overlooked for its sheer ruggedness.
The boxy look that it sports doesn’t quite make it a stunner but the features should be enough to satisfy adventurists. Moreover to improve the durability of the camera the FT2 comes with a rubber sleeve that fits tight when worn. So you can be rest assured that your camera will survive the harshest of falls unless you really chuck it against something hard. Pictures and videos can be viewed via the 2.7-inch screen and the overall screen performance is good allowing you to view images even on a bright sunny day. Buttons on the FT2 are well placed and come slightly raised from its base, allowing you to navigate with ease. Towards the top you will find the zoom and shutter release buttons.
Apart from its 14 MP CCD sensor the FT2 also features a 28 mm wide angle lens that allows you to capture a wider aspect than traditional 32 mm lenses. There are around 26 different scene modes to choose from apart from the dedicated Beach and Surf, Snow and Surf modes. And just like most Panasonic camera the FT2 comes with a quick menu mode which allows you to configure settings such as Auto Focus, Picture size, Video/Record quality and a few more. However the settings that are available are dependent on the shooting mode that the camera is set to. Camera interface remains the same as most other Panasonic models. Nevertheless navigating between menus is easy and the large sized and protruding keys add to the overall responsiveness.
Apart from the conventional VGA video recording the FT2 is also capable of recording videos in HD but at a scaled down resolution of 720p. Having said that the overall clarity of the video is a little disappointing as it doesn’t appear as crisp as a normal HD video. Panning issues were also noticed during playback. However the cameras IS performed rather well and maintained a jitter free video. What I personally liked about the FT2 is the slow transition it makes when zooming in out of the subject. Overall color balance of the camera is well maintained but it does take a little time for the lens to adjust when shifting from a well lit area to a dimly lit area or vice versa.
Surprisingly the FT2 handles color quite well without making it appear too bright or dull. No apparent color bleeding and fringing is noticeable. Overall exposure is also handled well giving you a good balance of brightness to contrast ratio.
Picture sharpness is where the FT2 really performs. Objects at a distance appear nice and crisp even when scaled to a full 100 percent. For instance the sharpness of leaves or even bystanders appear visibly clear.
Ability to perform at night is another strong aspect that the camera features. The Starry Sky mode allows you take snaps with a 15/30/60 second exposure level. The picture below was shot with a 15 second exposure level and as you can see the overall details are handled exceptionally well. However you will need a tripod to be able to capture steady shots.
Cameras macro range averages out at 4.5 cm which is really disappointing as it doesn’t deliver enough depth of field to add that extra punch to the image. Nevertheless sharpness and details are well maintained. There is a certain degree of noise when the picture is zoomed to 100 percent but it isn’t something to worry about as it only becomes visible when scaled to its original size.
The Panasonic DMC-FT2 is a very good all round camera and doesn’t leave you high and dry in the performance front. Picture captured appear rich and vibrant which in comparison is much better than most other similar products. The ability to capture crisp and sharp images is also a major plus for the FT2. With a price tag of Rs. 25,990 the Panasonic DMC-FT2 is an expensive proposition. But if you are in search of camera that’s not only tough on all fronts but also performs then the FT2 should be amongst your top 10 requirements.