Our Score


User Score


  • Shock, dust and waterproof
  • Onboard GPS and compass
  • 3D shooting mode


  • Image quality only so so
  • Not the most glove friendly buttons
  • No cover for the lens
  • No manual mode

Review Price £299.99

Key Features: Shock, dust and waterproof; GPS, compass and 3D shooting mode; 12.1 megapixel sensor; 4.6x zoom lens, 28-128mm equivalent

Manufacturer: Panasonic

Generally speaking, electronic gadgets and systematic abuse don't mix all that well. Looking to change all that and keep on taking pictures even after it's been dropped, dunked or frozen is the 12.1 megapixel Lumix DMC-FT3 from Panasonic, new for 2011 and successor to the FT2. This ruggedised camera recalls the old Konica Minolta Dimage range from 2004 in terms of boxy design, internally folded zoom lens (here comprising 10 elements) and the fact that it's available in red or blue. It also mirrors its closest current rival in the Olympus Tough compacts via its 'armour-plated' outer surfaces and chunky catches to avoid unwanted ingress from the elements. There's even on-screen warnings and prompts each time you switch it on to make sure you've done the equivalent of battening down the hatches properly, thus preventing the camera coming a-cropper through carelessness if you take it for a swim.

While it looks outwardly tough the FT3 fortunately also has the under-the-bonnet credentials to match. Its airtight body is waterproofed to a depth of 12 metres though we didn't have the opportunity to test that out, is shock proofed against a drop from two metres in height (more on which later), freezeproof to -10°C and is furthermore dust proof. And, like the most recent Olympus model, the TG-810, this time round Panasonic has also shoehorned in a GPS antenna, as already found in its TZ high zoom series. This gives real-time information on the location at which the shot is being taken; the place name displayed ticker-tape fashion along the bottom of the backplate LCD screen should you forget where you are. Panasonic claims said info covers 203 countries for worldwide use, and more than a million landmarks. What's more it appears to work, and managed to pick out our local National Trust property at least. Useful perhaps if you're abroad and haven't bothered to buy a guidebook to otherwise discover what's what, or of course want to plot the route of your travels via Google maps or the social media of your choice later.

Like its Olympus competitor, the FT3 features a built-in compass, and adds an altimeter and barometer to respectively display and record orientation, altitude, and pressure, on land as well as underwater. The FT3's other headline features include Full HD video recording in AVCHD compression format with useful wind cancelation feature. Like most if not all of the Lumix range now, the capture of video clips is a one-touch process via a dedicated button. It also has an optically stabilised 4.6x zoom, Leica-branded lens with a focal range equivalent to 28-128mm. This makes it both plenty wide enough for landscape and group photos as well as suiting portrait snapshots and being suitable for picking out middle distance objects (truly far away subjects will still require a much longer zoom, which is generally available in a rugged form).

Light sensitivity can be manually adjusted from ISO100 to ISO1600, with up to ISO6400 achievable if selecting High Sensitivity scene mode, albeit with a corresponding resolution drop. So it's a case of weighing up whether the shot is worth the compromise of an overall softer image.

For those wanting to capture the action on the ski slopes or in the pool, up to 3.7 frames per second burst capture is offered at full resolution, which isn't bad for its class, with the option to up this to 10fps if dropping down to three megapixels. More exciting for some, the camera also features a 3D shooting option, mirroring the Sweep Panorama feature of the latest Sony Cyber-shot and NEX compacts by compositing the final image from a sequence of shots - though here up to 20 individual frames, which is far less than the 100 images utilised by the range topping Sony's. Like its rival manufacturer, with 3D mode selected, the user simply pans with the camera in the direction of the arrow provided on screen, accompanied by a machine-gun like sample of the shutter firing. The camera automatically generates the end result and saves it as an MPO file. As ever this isn't actually viewable unless you own a 3D TV, although, as when shooting with the specialist 3D lens for Panasonic's GF2 and GH2 models, a low resolution JPEG is saved alongside the MPO file for immediate reference.

With a street price of around £300 at the time of writing, whilst not cheap the FT3 feels like fair value if you really do need the added protection it affords .It also looks like decent value compared to its predecessors, given the extras of compass, 3D and GPS. So how does it handle in practice? Read on to find out...

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March 15, 2011, 3:34 pm

Did you take any photos of people with the flash on?

Since the flash and lens are at the same height and so close to each other I'd worry that red eye would be a BIG problem with this camera...


March 15, 2011, 3:36 pm


It would be useful to know the amount of shots you can expect from a full charge, with and without the GPS being switched on.

How long can it maintain 3.7fps for?

“3D shooting mode (useful only if you own a compatible TV)”

Does this mean with a 3D TV or just with a Panasonic 3D TV?

Impressive ISO results up to 800 with 1600 being good for emergency. Is it possible to set an ISO range limit with this camera?

Suggestions for improvements

Is it possible to add shot details to your photos? i.e. iso, aperture, shutter speed?

Different subject for iso tests


March 16, 2011, 5:27 pm

The ISO crop photos seems much better at demonstrating the noise. Nice move.


March 16, 2011, 7:03 pm

@CK - Those crops were available before. When you click to enlarge you can then choose any point in the photo to view closer as well as the overall shot. That feature is very good but the subject chosen isn't as there is no part which shows us how fine detail is affected by iso increases.


March 17, 2011, 6:43 pm

@joose - The car placement is different, and the cropped portion is also different. Now light and shadow on the crops (pardon my lack of specialist vocabulary) can easily be seen, for quick and direct comparison on one page. Previous crops also seem to be out-of-focus, but I can be wrong on this.

Yeah I know the enlarged photos were present in the past and you may prefer to opening the images one by one, but I'm not commenting on something that didn't change (much).


October 19, 2011, 7:51 pm

I have a TS3. The time to write the full size jpg is reduced to about 1 sec by the use of a high speed card like:

SanDisk SDSDXP1-008G-A75 8GB Extreme Pro SDHC Memory Card

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