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Panasonic TS2
Overview

Review by David Elrich and Zig Weidelich
Overview by Mike Tomkins
Review Date: 07/28/2010

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2 is a rugged, shockproof, waterproof, and dustproof digital camera with a sensor resolution of 14-megapixels, with a useful 28-128mm zoom range. The Panasonic TS2 has a 2.7-inch LCD with 230,000-dots of resolution. The Panasonic TS2's lens has a two-step aperture, which can select between f/3.3 and f/10 at wide angle, or f/5.9 and f/18 at telephoto. The minimum focusing distance for the Panasonic DMC-TS2 is ordinarily 30 centimeters, but drops to just five centimeters when switched to Macro mode. That rugged body is one of the biggest selling points, though, with the camera being well protected against harsh usage. Rated as capable of passing MIL-STD 810F Method 516.5, the Panasonic TS2 can survive a drop from 2.0 meters. It is also rated waterproof and dustproof to the IEC60529 IP68 standard, which means that it is dust tight, and is suitable for immersion at one meter or below, under conditions specified by the manufacturer. In the case of the TS2, Panasonic states that the camera is waterproof down to a depth of ten meters.

The Panasonic TS2 has an 11-point multi-area autofocus system, which also includes a single-point "high speed" focusing mode. As with many digital cameras these days, there's also a face detection function, with Panasonic's implementation able not only to locate faces and then use the information when calculating both focus and exposure variables, but also to recognize the faces of up to 15 specific individuals for labelling purposes. The Panasonic Lumix TS2 also has an implementation of autofocus tracking, which can monitor a subject as it moves around the frame, continuing to update autofocus as required.

ISO sensitivity ordinarily ranges from 80 to 1,600 equivalents, with the ability to extend this as far as ISO 6,400 equivalent in High Sensitivity Auto mode. The Panasonic TS2 can shoot at shutter speeds ranging from 1/1,300 to 60 seconds. The Panasonic TS2 uses Intelligent Multiple metering, and offers six white balance settings including Auto, Manual, and four fixed presets. A whopping selection of twenty six scene modes let users tailor the look of their images, useful given that the Panasonic TS2 doesn't offer aperture-, shutter-priority, or fully manual modes. There's also an Intelligent Scene Selection function, which can automatically select from a subset of the available scene modes. A five-mode flash includes red-eye reduction capability, and has a rated range of up to 5.1 meters at wide angle, or 2.8 meters at telephoto. There's also digital red-eye correction, and Panasonic's Intelligent Exposure, Intelligent ISO, and Intelligent Auto functions.

As well as JPEG still images, the Panasonic TS2 can capture movies with sound at up to 1,280 x 720 pixel resolution or below, with a choice of either AVCHD Lite or QuickTime Motion JPEG compression. A new Video Divide function allows in-camera movie splitting, letting users trim away the unwanted portions to keep just the parts of movies that they desire.

The Panasonic TS2 stores its images and movies on Secure Digital or MultiMediaCards, including the newer SDHC and SDXC types. There's also a generous 40MB of built-in memory. Connectivity options include a USB 2.0 High-Speed connection, plus standard definition NTSC / PAL video output (NTSC only for North America). The Panasonic TS2 can also output high-definition video via a mini-HDMI connector, and is compatible with Panasonic's proprietary "VIERA Link" system that allows the connected TV's remote control to be used to navigate the camera's slideshows.

Power comes from a proprietary lithium-ion battery with ID-Security feature that prevents use of counterfeit or third-party batteries, and is rated as good for 360 shots on a charge to CIPA testing standards. The software bundle includes PHOTOfunSTUDIO 5.0 HD Edition.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2 began shipping from mid-March 2010, priced at around US$400. Four body colors are available: silver, blue, orange, and yellow.

 

Panasonic Lumix TS2
User Report

by David Elrich

Ever go to the beach and wish you had your camera? Since you're a sensible person you wouldn't dare bring your digital camera near the sand and surf, let alone jump into the pool with one to capture close-ups of your family and friends frolicking in the water. Fortunately, a class of cameras exists that lets you do just that. Most of these digital cameras aren't afraid of the water, plus you can drop them on the rocks, even toss them into the sand. And when the weather gets cold, have no fear taking shots of dancing snowflakes. The 14.1-megapixel Panasonic DMC-TS2 not only takes a beating, but appears to be a solid camera with a wide-angle 4.6x zoom, Optical Image Stabilization, plus it takes AVCHD Lite HD videos. Now let's see if the Panasonic TS2 can take a pounding and stand up to the competition.

Look and Feel. If one of the Transformers or a Special Forces soldier needed a camera as a companion, the Lumix DMC-TS2 would be a perfect fit. It literally has small bolts on it and looks like a twin for Panasonic's highly-durable ToughBook laptops. If you're looking for sleek and svelte, the Panasonic TS2 isn't the pick. Rough, rugged, and Spartan best describe this digital camera. Available in four colors (silver, orange, blue, and yellow), you'll have no problems matching your towels or swimsuits. I liked the overall look but your tastes may run to the Sony TX5 or some of the out-there shapes from other companies.

The front of our silver-bodied review sample had a nice brushed-metal appearance dotted with typical raised logos and decals. They're fairly subdued and attractive. Like most other rugged cameras, the Panasonic TS2 has an internal folding-type optical zoom that doesn't extend from the body. A raised metal frame surrounds the lens for added protection and accents the tough-guy appearance. Also on the front are a flash and small LED light to add illumination to scenes above and underwater. The LED also acts as an AF Assist lamp/self-timer indicator.

The rear continues the Transformer feel with its four corner bolts and brushed metal finish. A 2.7-inch LCD is the key feature but it's only 230K dots. A $399 camera should have 460K. In the Auto Power LCD mode, the screen is usable even in direct sunlight and underwater but it tends to smear in low light. Other controls are the digicam classics: a mode dial, Movie (with a red dot), Playback, a four-way controller with center Menu/Set key, Display and Q (Quick) Menu. The compass points on the controller give access to exposure compensation, macro, self-timer and flash options.

On the top of the TS2 is a pinhole mic, speaker, on/off button and zoom toggle switch. The shutter has a knurled surface which is a good thing since it's parallel to the zoom and very close. The different feel between the two helps ensure you don't hit the wrong one. That said, it's a strange, puzzling set-up. We'll let you know if this is a major issue in the "Shooting" section.

On the right side is an eyelet for the wrist strap, which you should religiously attach every time to pick up the camera. No sense letting the digicam fall to the bottom of the ocean, pool, or the patio for that matter (Our senior editor lost the Panasonic TS1 to the Atlantic ocean last year because its weight exceeded the flotation of the float he'd attached; had the wrist strap been on his wrist, that wouldn't have happened). There is a water-tight compartment for the mini-HDMI and proprietary A/V-USB ports. This door and the similar one for the battery/card on the bottom are indicative of the build quality. There are large rubber sealing gaskets and a locking system with a red indicator that lets you know if you've closed it properly. There's also a secondary lock option to prevent accidental opening of these doors while you're using the camera. Good thinking on that score. Panasonic supplies a USB and an A/V cable which is a basic red/yellow/white RCA connection. In other words, do yourself a favor and purchase a mini-HDMI cable so you can enjoy stills and videos in high-def on your HDTV. The left side of the Panasonic TS2 is bare.

You'll find a plastic tripod mount on the bottom and another secure compartment that holds the battery and SD/SDHC/SDXC card. This Made-in-Japan camera measures 3.91 x 2.48 x .96 (WHD, in inches) and weighs 6.7 ounces (190g) with battery and card. Overall it feels substantial and sturdy--as a rough-and-ready digicam should.

Lens. The Panasonic TS2 has a 4.6x wide-angle optical zoom with a focal range of 28-128mm. It's a nice range. The TS2 Leica DC Vario-Elmar 4.6x zoom has 10 elements in 8 groups with 5 aspherical lenses, 6 aspherical surfaces and 1 ED lens. It's rated f/3.3-5.9, 2-step f/3.3-10 (wide) and f/5.9-18 (tele). Macro gets as close as 5cm (1.97 inches).

Since the Panasonic TS2 is designed to be jostled around--to say the least--image stabilization is very important to eliminate blur as much as possible. The camera has Panasonic's Power O.I.S. (optical image stabilization) which nearly doubles the hand-shake correction power of conventional MEGA O.I.S., according to the company. We'll see if their claims hold any water in a bit.

Controls. For the most part, the main controls of the Panasonic TS2 are logically placed and identified (see photos)--other than the shutter and zoom toggle right next to each other. I don't understand why Panasonic didn't use a round shutter button surrounded by zoom toggle control. I'm sure I'd get a White Paper explaining the ruggedized reasons but it's still a weird design. The rest of the controls are very straightforward and have a nice solid feel.

Modes. Like all digicams, the Panasonic TS2 is designed to be point-and-shoot simple to operate. The mode dial--which has very reassuring clicks as it moves into position--offers iA (Intelligent Auto), Normal Picture, Sports, Snow, Beach, SCN (Scene), and Clipboard. There is no Movie mode on the dial, you simply press the red button on the back and recording starts. Intelligent Auto is photography at its easiest. The camera decides what is in front of it and adjusts accordingly. While other digicams may use more or less, the Panasonic TS2 chooses between 7 (i-Portrait, i-Scenery, i-Macro, i-Night portrait, i-Night Scenery, i-Sunset, i-Baby), pretty much the common situations you'll encounter. This system works as well as it does with other top manufacturers' models.

Normal Picture is comparable to Program AE in other cameras. Why Panasonic calls it this is another one of life's mysteries. In the Normal setting when you press Q. Menu button you get access to the key parameters including metering, white balance, ISO, resolution, movie quality, LED light (on, off, auto) and Auto Power LCD to quickly brighten the screen. Hit the Menu key and more options are available such as Face Recognition on/off, AF mode, Color Mode (standard, natural, vivid, and so on). Since this is a point-and-shoot, there are no options for changing the aperture or shutter speed. If you want these adjustments, you must look elsewhere.

The Panasonic TS2 is one of the few digicams using the AVCHD Lite format in addition to Motion JPEG (most others use only Motion JPEG 720p). When set to SH, you can record 1,280 x 720 pixel videos at 30 fps with a bit rate of 17 Mbps. You can also choose 13 Mbps (H) or 9 (L). The AVCHD Lite codec lets you record approximately twice as much footage compared to Motion JPEGs, so 4GB cards hold 30 minutes of HD video versus 15 minutes.

Menus. I found the menus of the Panasonic TS2 a little old-fashioned compared to many of the more recent cameras. They're very basic, but that's not a true negative; it just shows other companies have made some advances that may not be relevant to the TS2's core purposes. Still they're understandable and the screen gives brief descriptions of the setting you choose. Press the Menu key--depending on the mode you're in--and you'll get access to adjustable parameters. You press the Menu/Set key, then use the four-way controller to step through the choices. In iA, for example, you only get compression and resolution adjustments. Move to Normal mode and there are many more options as detailed earlier.

Storage and Battery. The Panasonic TS2 uses SD and SDHC cards as well as the newer SDXC format. Since AVCHD Lite video is an important feature, at least a Class 4 high-speed card should be used. Class 6 is needed for Motion JPEG. I suggest 8GB or 16GB before heading outside. It would be a real bummer to be out on boat snorkeling and get a "Memory Card Full" message on your LCD screen.

The Panasonic TS2 comes with a DMW-BSCF10PP lithium-ion battery. Per CIPA standards it lasts for a solid 360 shots in still mode. Even with that figure, buying a spare makes sense especially if your day at the beach lasts longer than expected. And don't forget those boat rides.

Playback. Tap the Panasonic TS2's Playback key near the LCD and you can easily review your shots. By pressing the left/right controller keys you move forward and back one image at a time. Press the right side of the zoom toggle and you can enlarge the photo up to 16x. Press the left side and you can change your view from single shot to thumbnails, and finally to a calendar view. It's straightforward and usable but a higher-res screen would certainly come in handy.

Shooting with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2

Liberating. That's the first word that comes to mind when taking the Panasonic TS2 with you into the elements. I was standing next to my pool and simply chucked it in--to the shallow end at first, making sure all the camera doors were closed properly beforehand. Jumping in afterwards, I picked it up and then shot stills and videos. It was fun. Now I also had the camera with me on visits to big, bad New York City and resisted the urge to drop the camera into a sewer or onto the subway tracks to scatter the ubiquitous rats. The Panasonic TS2 may be tough but it's not Superman! That said it's nice to know the camera could take this sort of beating. I used it over a period of several weeks, saving the "drop tests" until the very end, in case I short-circuited the review process by giving it a death blow. My precautions were unnecessary, though, because the Panasonic TS2 survived everything I threw at it.

Before getting into the results, let's discuss overall handling and ergonomics. I had really no problem with the LCD--especially shooting with the sun hitting it directly. I had no issues with the screen underwater as well. Panasonic's Auto Power LCD mode adjusts brightness appropriately. It worked well but I do wish the screen didn't smear as much in low light. (Note: the Auto Power LCD feature drains the battery more than the basic setting so keeping a spare handy is a good idea.)

Controls, for the most part, were logically placed. The parallel zoom and shutter buttons were initially annoying but I got used to them. They're not a deal breaker, but a more traditional design would take the issue off the table. The onscreen menus won't win any awards, but you'll be up and running after a brief review of the supplied basic manual. I did most of my shooting at the 4,320 x 3,240 pixel Fine JPEG level, starting in Auto then trying the various mode dial options including the Underwater scene mode. Videos were shot in AVCHD Lite and Motion JPEG. Everything was downloaded to a PC, I made full-bleed 8x10 prints with no post processing and viewed videos on a 50-inch plasma HDTV via HDMI. Images were also closely examined at 100 percent-plus on my monitor.

Pool. The Panasonic TS2's fast shutter speed make for good underwater shots. Images are somewhat flat, though, until they're processed with auto-levels in a program like Photoshop.

Since it was about a billion degrees out, I had no problems jumping in the pool to retrieve the Panasonic TS2, which I had casually tossed into the water. Unfortunately there were no coral reefs or colorful angel fish to shoot, just typical items such as a Polaris pool sweeper; the underwater Scene setting was used. The Panasonic TS2 did a nice job capturing it and the color of the liner. Although there was some haze this was more an issue of the water itself rather than the camera. It was a lot of fun paddling around, camera in hand, shooting underwater and the results were more than acceptable. The camera was none the worse for wear although some lines appeared in the LCD screen. They were temporary effects and disappeared after a short time. Beachgoers will appreciate the brush Panasonic supplies to wipe away any sand or dirt before you open the compartment doors. Washing it off with clean water and letting it stand upright to drain as a matter of course would be a good plan.

Manhattan. 28-128mm is a pretty decent zoom range.

I took many photos walking through Manhattan, as there's always something good to shoot. Since I was near the Empire State Building, I grabbed many images using the camera's entire focal length. As a big fan of wide-angle lenses, the 28mm setting let me capture a cavern of buildings, then zoom to the building's antenna tower. It was with these images (and others) that I noticed some issues. The wide-angle end of the zoom was sharp at the center, and only slightly soft in the corners. What little corner softness there is doesn't extend very far into the frame. You'll be happy with these photos. At the telephoto end, however, the lens suffers from a loss of contrast and flare across the frame. This was rather surprising--and disappointing.

I love warm weather especially the colorful flowers that accompany the season. I shot many blooms closeup in iA and the camera automatically switched to macro. The results were very good as shown in my prints and in the lab. The camera captures a sharp image across much of the frame, although there was some moderate blurring in the corners. Colors were quite good as well but didn't have the pop of Canon point-and-shoots. I liked the realistic results, but you can move from the Standard color mode to Vivid, if that's more your taste.

Flowers. Though color was somewhat low in the saturation department, the Panasonic TS2 did a nice job on this flower.

Since the Panasonic TS2 uses a 14-megapixel CCD, noise at higher ISO settings is a given--it's just a matter of how bad and pervasive the effects. Given the initial handicap, the results were quite good--especially for prints (see below). On the monitor, my test subject showed noise appearing at ISO 200, increasing at the highest level (1,600). The lab showed similar results with fine detail almost completely obliterated by strong noise reduction at ISO 1600. Fortunately the camera has an Intelligent ISO option in Normal mode so you can limit it to 400, 800, or 1,600; make sure it's set to 400, if the subject matter permits. On a more positive note, the OIS system worked well as I was able to handhold the camera at low shutter speeds with a minimal amount of blur.

The camera is also very responsive. Full autofocus shutter lag is excellent, at 0.28 second at wide-angle and telephoto. Prefocus shutter lag is 0.010 second, which is actually a terrific number. Of course, you can't expect DSLR frames per second and the TS2 delivers 1.8fps according to Panasonic. It stops to take a breather after 3 frames when you're at maximum resolution/best compression. Kids or fish on the run you won't get with this one, unless you can live with the 3-megapixel images from the 10fps high-speed burst mode.

Water vid. Though the Panasonic TS2 is capable of AVCHD capture, the only usable video we captured was saved in the optional Motion JPEG mode. (Click to download 17.4MB MOV file.)

This camera may use AVCHD Lite but it in no way compares to a true AVCHD camcorder with 1,920 x 1,080 resolution versus 1,280 x 720 of the TS2. With my prejudices out of the way, the clips recorded are quite good for 720p with a minimal amount of digital blocking. Subjects above and underwater look fluid (no groans, please). As an added plus, optical zooming is available while recording.

I saved the worst tests for last--just in case the camera died. When you read the fine print, you'll discover the drop test is not onto cement but a 2 meter fall onto plywood. With that in mind, I held the camera at arm's length then first dropped it on a rug, a lawn, and finally just 3 feet onto asphalt. The TS2 took them all without a problem. It's not going to survive a fall into a crevasse but underwater, into sand/dirt or simply falling out of your pocket, you should be just fine.

To minimize damage from impact on hard surfaces like concrete, the Panasonic TS2 also includes a translucent silicone jacket that you can wrap around the camera between battery changes. The silicone jacket has to be removed to access the battery and port doors, though. Still, it's a nice addition that further ruggedizes the already tough Panasonic TS2.

 

Panasonic Lumix TS2 Lens Quality


Wide: Sharp at center
Wide: Slightly soft upper right
Tele: Sharp, but loss of contrast
Tele: Slightly soft lower right corner

Sharpness: The wide-angle end of the Panasonic TS2's zoom is sharp at the center, and only slightly soft in the corners. What little corner softness there is doesn't extend very far into the frame. At the telephoto end, the lens suffers from a loss of contrast and flare across the frame. The lens is actually resolving detail fairly well at the center, but results are slightly soft due to the flare and loss of contrast. The corners at telephoto are only slightly softer than the center.


Wide: Less than average barrel distortion; slightly noticeable
Tele: Slightly higher than average pincushion distortion; noticeable

Geometric Distortion: The Panasonic TS2's lens shows less than average barrel distortion at wide-angle (about 0.4%), and slightly higher-than-average pincushion distortion at telephoto (0.3%). In both cases, the distortion is only slightly noticeable. We suspect the camera's image processing is correcting for this type of distortion.


Wide: Low
Tele: Low

Chromatic Aberration: Chromatic aberration at wide-angle is low, and not very bright. Results at telephoto are also minimal. With such good results, we think the Panasonic TS2's image processing is reducing the effects of chromatic aberration.


Standard Macro
Macro with Flash

Macro: The Panasonic TS2's Macro mode captures a sharp image across much of the frame, though there is moderate blurring in the corners extending about a third of the way into the frame. (Corner softness is quite common at these distances.) Minimum coverage area is 2.27 x 1.70 inches (58 x 43mm). The camera focuses so closely that the flash casts long shadows and results in an uneven exposure, so be sure to use external lighting for extreme closeups.


 

Panasonic Lumix TS2 Viewfinder Accuracy


Wide: LCD Monitor
Tele: LCD Monitor

Viewfinder Accuracy: The Panasonic TS2's LCD monitor showed about 100% coverage accuracy at both wide-angle and telephoto. Excellent results here.


 

Panasonic Lumix TS2 Image Quality


Click for larger version

Color: Color is good overall, though somewhat muted in some respects, especially yellows, some of which have a slight green tint. Blues are pumped more than reds, but color looks mostly accurate, rather than the usual tendency toward significant oversaturation that many companies employ to appeal to consumers. Hue is also a little off for colors like yellow and cyan, but that's quite common. Caucasian skintones look fairly natural, with just a hint of pink.


Auto WB :
Slight magenta cast
Incandescent WB:
Too warm
Manual WB:
Very good

Incandescent: Auto white balance produced an image with a slight magenta cast, while Incandescent mode resulted in an image that was a bit too warm. Manual white balance performed well and was the most accurate.


Horizontal: 2,100 lines
Vertical: 2,000 lines

Resolution: Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 2,100 lines per picture height horizontally and 2,000 lines per picture height vertically. That's pretty good for a 14-megapixel compact camera. Extinction of the pattern occurred just a little past 2,400 lines per picture height.


Wide: Dim, ISO 400
Tele: Dim, ISO 640
AE, Auto Flash

Flash: Our manufacturer-specified testing (shown at right) shows dim results at the specified wide-angle distance of 16.7 feet or 5.1 meters, even though the camera increased ISO to 400. The image at full telephoto was slightly brighter, though still on the dim side at the rated distance of 9.2 feet or 2.8 meters, despite the use of ISO 640.

iAuto mode which selected Portrait scene mode with Auto flash produced a rather dim image of our indoor test scene, despite raising ISO to 200. Distance to subject here is about five feet. Shutter speed was 1/40 second, which should be sufficient to avoid most instances of camera and/or subject motion blur for typical portraits, though we would prefer to see a slightly faster shutter speed such as 1/60s. You can, however, select the Panasonic TS2's minimum shutter speed (from 1, 1/2, 1/4, 1/8, 1/15, 1/30, 1/60, or 1/125 second) using a Record menu option.

As you can see from our test results here, the Panasonic TS2's flash is quite weak even for a compact, so you may be forced to use closer distances or higher ISO sensitivity to produce bright flash images when ambient light is low.


80
100
200
400
800 1,600

ISO: Noise and Detail: Detail is somewhat soft, even at ISO 80. Despite having plenty of resolution, the Panasonic TS2 was not able to render the horizontal lines in the "Pure Brewed" text on the beer label, something a 14-megapixel digicam should have no trouble with at low ISOs. (Early 2010's crop of 14-megapixel sensors have all offered less detail than most 12-megapixel sensors, both this year and last.) Some of the softness is likely attributable to lens flare (see Lens Quality above), as these shots were taken at 19.2mm, which is almost full telephoto (22.8mm). Chroma (color) noise is quite low at ISO 80 and remains fairly low throughout the series, though it is visible in the shadows at ISO 400 and above. Luminance noise is visible but fine-grained at low ISOs, becoming more noticeable at ISO 200 and up. Fine detail almost completely obliterated by strong noise reduction at ISO 1,600. See Printed results below for more on how this affects printed image.


Printed: The Panasonic TS2's ISO 80 setting produces images that print well up to 13x19 inches.

ISO 100 shots also look good at 13x19 inches, with a slight softening of some detail.

ISO 200 shots are a little too soft in the low-contrast areas for 13x19, but look better at 11x14 inches.

ISO 400 shots are also usable at 11x14 inches.

ISO 800 shots look better at 8x10.

ISO 1,600 shots are pretty darn good at 5x7.

Overall a good performance from the Lumix TS2. Last year's TS1 did a little better with its 12-megapixel sensor at the lower ISOs, but from about ISO 400 on, the TS2's 14-megapixel sensor does about the same.


 

Panasonic Lumix TS2 Performance


Shutter Lag: Full autofocus shutter lag is excellent, at 0.28 second at both wide-angle and telephoto. High-speed AF mode resulted in very similar numbers. Prefocused shutter lag is 0.010 second, quite blazingly fast.


Cycle Time: Cycle time is about average, capturing a frame every 1.72 seconds in single-shot mode. Panasonic claims 1.8 frames-per-second for 3/5 Fine/Standard quality JPEGs in full resolution continuous mode, but we didn't test that. The Panasonic TS2 also has a High Speed Burst mode rated at up to 10 frames-per-second at 3-megapixels.


Flash Recycle: Panasonic TS2's flash recycles in a relatively quick 3.5 seconds after a full-power discharge.


Low Light AF: The camera's AF system was able to focus down to almost the 1/8 foot-candle light level without AF assist enabled, and in complete darkness with the AF lamp enabled. That's pretty good for its class.


USB Transfer Speed: Connected to a computer or printer with USB 2.0, the Panasonic TS2's download speeds are moderately fast. We measured 6,504 KBytes/sec.


 

In the Box

The Panasonic Lumix TS2 ships with the following items in the box:

 

Recommended Accessories

 

Panasonic Lumix TS2 Conclusion

Pro: Con:
  • Waterproof to 10 meters (33 feet!)
  • Shockproof from 2 meters (6.6 feet)
  • Dustproof
  • Freezeproof
  • 720p AVCHD Lite movie mode (as well as Motion JPEG modes)
  • Dedicated movie button
  • HDMI output
  • Wide-angle 4.6x zoom lens with effective optical image stabilization
  • Good corner sharpness for class of lens
  • Low levels of barrel distortion at wide-angle
  • Low chromatic aberration
  • Good battery life
  • Camera zooms optically while recording video
  • LED illuminator for movies
  • Intelligent Auto mode selects Scene modes for you
  • 10fps burst mode (at 3-megapixels)
  • Very fast autofocus and shutter lag
  • Fast flash recycling
  • Detail is somewhat soft, even at low ISOs
  • Lens has low contrast and flare at telephoto
  • Slightly higher than average pincushion distortion at telephoto
  • No optical viewfinder
  • Flash is easy to cover accidentally
  • Flash is very weak
  • Higher resolution LCD would have been nice
  • Awkward arrangement of zoom lever and shutter button

 

If you're heading to the wilds--even Disneyland or a State Fair--seriously consider the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2 as a traveling companion. It can take a beating, moves easily from the pool to the patio, and takes quality photographs and better-than-average videos. The camera is definitely more expensive than your basic digicam, but you're paying for its ability to go practically everywhere, even 33 feet underwater (just make sure the wrist strap is securely fastened). There are some drawbacks since the perfect digicam has yet to be invented. But if you're looking for a tough camera that takes quality photos and decent videos, the Panasonic TS2 is hard to beat, and a Dave's Pick.