Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 Overview
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 is a rugged, shockproof, waterproof, and dustproof digital camera with an effective CCD sensor resolution of 12-megapixels, with a useful 28-128mm zoom range when shooting still images. For movies, there's a slightly greater focal length crop, for a 30 - 140mm equivalent range. The Panasonic TS3's lens offers apertures ranging from f/3.3 to f/10.0 at wide angle, and f/5.9 to f/18.0 at telephoto. The minimum focusing distance for the Panasonic DMC-TS3 is ordinarily 30 centimeters, but drops to just five centimeters at wide angle, or 30 centimeters at telephoto, when switched to Macro mode. Usefully, given the fair telephoto reach on offer, there's a Power O.I.S. optical image stabilization system included, and when shooting movies, an Active mode allows a greater degree of correction. The TS3's rugged body is one of the most important selling points, though, with the camera being able to handle quite the range of harsh environments and usage.
The Panasonic TS3 is rated as capable of passing MIL-STD 810F Method 516.5 shock testing, meaning that it can survive repeated drops from 122 centimeters, and a single drop test from two meters, onto 3cm-thick plywood. (The MIL-STD test allows up to five cameras to be used to pass the 122cm test, and requires them to be dropped onto all eight corners, 12 edges, and six faces, and neither test considers cosmetic damage -- only whether the camera continues to function properly.) 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 TS3, Panasonic states that the camera is waterproof down to a depth of twelve meters. The TS3 also includes a built-in GPS receiver, compass, altimeter, and barometer, taking things just a little beyond traditional geotagging by also allowing images to be tagged with with the direction, atmospheric pressure, and altitude at which they were shot.
There's no optical or electronic viewfinder, but for framing and reviewing images, the Panasonic TS3 has a 2.7-inch LCD with 230,000 dots of resolution, equating to an approximate 320 x 240 pixel array, with each pixel comprising separate red, green, and blue dots. The Panasonic TS3 has a 23-point multi-area autofocus system, which also includes a single-point focusing mode. As with almost all digital cameras these days, there's also a face detection function, with Panasonic's implementation using the information to adjust both focus and exposure to properly capture your subjects' faces. Going a step further than many cameras, though, the Lumix DMC-TS3 can also be programmed to recognize specific individuals' faces, and prioritize these over other detected photos when capturing photos, or search for photos containing a specific person's face in playback mode. The Panasonic Lumix TS3 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 100 to 1,600 equivalents, with the ability to extend this as far as ISO 6,400 equivalent in High Sensitivity mode. The Panasonic TS3 can shoot at shutter speeds ranging from 1/1,300 to 60 seconds. The Panasonic TS3 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 TS3 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 six scene modes -- portrait, scenery, night portrait, night scenery, sunset, or macro. In movie capture, there are four options for Intelligent Scene Selection -- Portrait, Scenery, Low Light, or Macro. A five-mode flash includes red-eye reduction capability, and when shooting with Auto ISO sensitivity, has a rated range of up to 5.6 meters at wide angle, or 3.1 meters at telephoto. There's also digital red-eye correction, and Panasonic's Intelligent Exposure, Intelligent ISO, and Intelligent Auto functions. Taking advantage of the waterproofing, there are dedicated snorkeling and under water positions on the Mode dial, too.
As well as JPEG still images, the Panasonic TS3 can capture movies with sound at up to 1,920 x 1,080 pixel resolution or below, using either AVCHD or QuickTime Motion JPEG compression for high-def movies, and Motion JPEG for standard-def movies. Full HD movies are captured at an interlaced 60 fields per second from 30 frames per second sensor data, while 720p movies can be captured at either 60 or 30 progressive-scan frames per second from 30 frames per second sensor data, and at lower resolutions, all movies are recorded at 30 frames per second. All movies include monaural sound. A 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 TS3 stores its images and movies on Secure Digital or MultiMediaCards, including the newer SDHC and SDXC types. There's also a not-so-generous 19MB of built-in memory. Connectivity options include a USB 2.0 High-Speed connection, plus standard definition NTSC video output. The Panasonic TS3 can also output high-definition video via a micro-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 310 shots on a charge to CIPA testing standards. The software bundle includes PHOTOfunSTUDIO 6.1 HD Lite Edition, and a trial version of the Super LoiLoScope video editing package.
Pricing for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 is set to be announced approximately 30 days before it ships this March. Four body colors will be available: silver, red, orange, and blue.