Panasonic Lumix FT5 Review – The FT5 is the latest model in Panasonic's FT range of tough cameras and promises good performance both in and out of testing shooting condition
Panasonic Lumix FT5 Review – Features
The Panasonic FT5 shares similarities in terms of its design with previous FT-series cameras in the Lumix range, such as the FT4 that it replaces. It features Wi-fi and uses a 16MP sensor rather than the 12.1MP chip as found within its predecessor. The FT5’s high-sensitivity MOS chip produces a wide ISO range of 100-6400, while its 4.6x optical zoom is equivalent to 28-128mm in 35mm terms.
At the time of writing, the FT5 is the first tough compact to integrate Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. This enables users to transmit images to an NFC-enabled device simply by touching two devices together. Panasonic’s Image app (available for iOS and Android) can be downloaded to take control of the camera remotely and GPS is also available for those who’d like to record the co-ordinates of the locations where images are taken for future reference.
Optical image stabilisation (O.I.S) is provided to keep handheld shots free of blur and the FT5’s underwater mode is designed to compensate for red tones that have a tendency to be lost underwater. HD video is recorded at 50i in the AVCHD progressive format, or 25p in MP4. Waterproof to a depth of 13m, the FT5 is also shockproof droppable from a height of 2m and freezeproof to endure temperatures as low as -10˚C.
Panasonic Lumix FT5 Review – Build & Performance
The FT5 is a very comfortable compact to hold and operate. The grip at the front is well profiled so you can wrap your fingers around and get good, strong grasp in the hand. The metal front and back covers give the camera added protection from shock or accidental knocks or drops and contribute to a high-end feel. Operationally, the camera springs to life, but the 3in, 460k-dot screen is starting to lag behind the higher resolution screens as being offered in other tough compacts such as the Nikon AW110 and Olympus TG-2.
Panasonic Lumix FT5 Review – Underwater Performance
To ensure we shot a good selection of images below the surface of the water, we first set the FT5 to its underwater mode and selected continuous shooting. The FT5’s images were bright and clear, but we did notice the colour saturation was slightly muted and didn’t resolve the same vibrancy of the colours in our scene. The autofocus system locks on fairly quickly with only a brief stutter at the wide end of the focal length. Focusing at full telephoto is slightly slower so you’ll have to be prepared to wait for a second before the FT5 acquires focus at full telephoto.
Panasonic Lumix FT5 Review – Freeze Test
Cold conditions didn’t prove to be an issue for the FT5 and it fired into life a few seconds after being removed from the freezer. All of the buttons operated as they should and after releasing the battery compartment lock at the side, the SD card and battery could be accessed without any difficulty.
Panasonic Lumix FT5 Review – Shock Test
Droppable from a height of 2m, the FT5 showed no signs of damage or resistance to being switched on after a heavy impact on a hard floor. With the camera switched off, we did identify some scratching on the screen surface – something we presume occurred when shooting with the camera underwater or by the pool when it was left screen face down.
Panasonic Lumix FT5 Review – Image Quality
You can expect rich colour and sharp images to be resolved by the FT5. Photographing our resolution test chart revealed the sensor resolves 22 lines per millimeter at ISO 100. This is a very respectable performance and detail only starts to soften slightly beyond ISO 800. Inspection of our colour chart showed that tones remain vibrant throughout the ISO range, even at the highest 6400 setting.
Panasonic Lumix FT5 Review – Verdict
The FT5 improves where the Panasonic Lumix FT4 left off. It offers better connectivity options to those who’d like to share their images on social media and the NFC functionality will appeal to those who already own an NFC enabled device and fancy transmitting images by the power of touch.
The autofocus performance isn’t quite as fast as one of its key rivals – the Olympus TG-2 – however it offers a good selection of AF modes that include AF tracking to follow the movement of a subject. The buttons at the rear are laid out in a clear formation, while the menu is fast to navigate for those who may not have used a Panasonic camera before.
There are separate icons to access the GPS and Wi-fi connection options and a tiny blue LED indicates when a Wi-fi connection is made. It’s a tough camera in every sense of the word and was virtually indestructible in our tests.
To sum up, those who choose the Panasonic FT5 won’t be disappointed by the build quality or images that it produces.