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A collection of photographs and stories by Invercargill photographer Rick Harvey

Panasonic DMC-FT5

Panasonic DMC-FT5 Weatherproof Camera

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The all-weather Panasonic point and shoot

When I started out on my photography adventures a couple of years ago I picked up a $99.00 14MP Nikon point-and-shoot as a “back-up” camera to my Nikon D5100 DSLR. While it was certainly not capable of results to match images from the D5100, it certainly was a very handy wee camera to have in my pocket – just in case!

But it died! and for quite some time my “back-up camera” was the 5MP camera integrated into my Samsung cell phone. Adequate  – but most certainly not startling, and quite clumsy to setup and use if in a hurry.

But at the start of my most recent overseas trip – to Canada and the USA – I treated myself to a Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5 ruggedised, all weather camera. The reason I chose an all-weather camera was because I wanted a camera that could be used safely while in Alaska where rain, hail, snow and ice are the norm, and I was reluctant to expose my Nikon D5100 to the Alaskan elements.

After considering Nikon, Fuji, Olympus and Ricoh equivalents I was swayed by web reviews and decided on the Panasonic.

Having now used it for almost three months I am pleased to say that I am very happy with it, and the results from it. At the end of the day the Panasonic Lumix FT5 all weather camera is really still just a point-and-shoot compact digital camera, but there are so many things I like about it that outweigh the things I don’t like about it.

Here are some of the things I like about it:

  • Rugged build- – the DMC-FT5 is a true all weather camera. It can be used in rain, hail, snow or shine – and also underwater to a depth of 13 metres; plus – it is shockproof. The specifications say it will survive a drop from 2 metres – and I can say from experience it has done so already on at least two occasions;
  • It is small and easily fits in a pocket, or tucks away nicely in that small space left in your camera bag;
  • This camera is very easy to use being a point-and-shoot at heart. I do most of my shooting using the Program AE mode, but it also has an Intelligent Automatic mode, manual mode (with limitations), sports mode, scene mode, panorama mode – and so on;
  • It uses a Leica lens with optical image stabilisation;
  • The screen is bright and clear in all but the very brightest sunlight;
  • As well as having the facility to over-ride exposure by +/-  2EV it also has a bracketed exposure facility – admittedly only +1 EV and -1 EV, but that feature is quite handy;
  • The built in GPS is great for travel pictures;
  • While the image quality is not stand-out, it still produces sharp, well exposed images with vibrant colour from its 16MP sensor,  and has generally acceptable levels of noise in the ISO 200-800 range, and acceptable chromatic aberration. However, shortcomings in image quality start to show in large prints;
  • The on board WiFi works well (once you are used to it) with the Panasonic Image App which allows control of the camera from a smartphone.

Now here is what I don’t like about it:

  • No RAW images – only JPEGs;
  • No optical viewfinder;
  • Only f3.3 (f5.9 at full zoom) which can be a little bit limiting;
  • The battery – generally good for up to 400 shots with GPS switched off – dies very quickly with GPS on;
  • I still can’t get the NFC wireless function to work;
  • The battery cannot be charged by USB;
  • Reviewing photos on an almost full SD-card can be slow.

To some up the Panasonic DMC-FT5 all weather camera is a good all round performer that has a solid feel about it. The solid feel inspires confidence in being able to just pop it in a pocket, or toss it into your camera back, and know that it will work and work well when you take it out.

I suggest that it would be probably fair to say that Panasonic have made a trade off in terms of sacrificing some image quality to ensure that the Panasonic DMC-FT5 is indeed a rugged all weather camera.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5 all weather camera does what I want, when I want it! I like it!

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