With a specification laden with lifeproof capabilities and high-end Panasonic imaging tools, the FT4 promises to be one of the best tough cameras on the market: but how does it fare when put through its paces?
Performance, Image Quality and Verdict
Panasonic Lumix FT4 review – Performance and Image Quality
As has been the case with previous models in the FT range, the FT4 performs capably in use, with no real issues or flaws in performance to report. The compact benefits from the presence of two of Panasonic’s headline high-end performance tools – its Venus Engine and Sonic Speed AF. The latter of those technologies accommodates excellent focus speeds that also exhibit reliable level of accuracy.
As mentioned previously, cameras which feature rugged credentials often have to make compromises in other areas, which can in turn lead to issues in image quality. With the FT4, however, most of these issues are largely avoided, and the camera is capable of capturing some good images. The first thing that strikes you is the general tonal range – images feature a great balance between shadows and highlights, with exposures generally even. Whilst exposures are even, the camera’s dynamic range does struggle a touch in managing highlight detail, and a tendency of highlights to blow out is evident.
Another issues with image quality is lens flare, which can result in a softening of image detail in difficult lighting conditions. Outside of the problems with lens flare, the Leica optics perform well, with general distortion absent in most shots and sharpness maintained even towards the edges of the frame. Colours, although generally displaying a pleasing neutral palette, can appear over-saturated bright lighting.
Image quality at high ISO settings is also pleasing – noise is dealt with fairly aggressively by in-camera noise reduction, although not to the detriment of fine detail, with images usable right up to ISO 800 without too much degradation of quality.
Panasonic Lumix FT4 review – Verdict
The world of rugged compact cameras is transformed from where it once was, and as such the consumer is within their right to demand far greater performance, both in rugged conditions and in general use. The FT series from Panasonic was one of the first to really pull off the trick of combining usability with a rugged specification, and this is also true with the FT4.
This isn’t, however, to say that the FT4 is without fault – improvements on the previous model in the series, the FT3, are noticeable by their absence. As a result, you’ll really have to want the changes to warrant paying the extra for the new FT4 as opposed to the FT3. All told though, it remains a worthy figurehead for Panasonic’s impressive FT series and one of the best lifeproof cameras on the market.