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Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS10
Wednesday, February 9, 2011  
The DMC-TS10 is Panasonic's newest 14.1-megapixel pocket digital camera that is waterproof to 3m (10'), shockproof to 1.5m (5'), freeze proof down to -10 C (14 F) and dustproof. The rugged build quality and resistance to water damage makes this model of particular interest to those who travel and are looking for a "go-anywhere, do-everything" digital camera. We took the TS10 along on a recent 7-night Caribbean cruise. The TS10 is a lower-cost alternative to Panasonic's TS2, their premium waterproof/shockproof model.

The TS10 is a very simple camera to operate and easily falls into the "point-and-shoot" category. If you are looking for a camera with a lot of manual settings, look elsewhere. This camera is for folks who want to spend time outdoors enjoying the surroundings rather than fiddling with shooting mode dials, aperture settings, ISO, etc. The TS10 has five operating "modes", four of which can be selected using the Mode button on the back of the camera and iA (Intelligent Auto) which can be selected using a dedicated button on the top of the camera.

  • iA (Intelligent Auto) - The TS10 will basically do everything for you. You just point and shoot.
  • Normal Picture - This mode will also default to automatic settings, but you can override some of the settings using the Q. Menu button.
  • MySCN (My Scene) - Allows you to preset any of the built-in SCN (Scene) shooting modes for quick access
  • SCN - Allows you to select from any of the following 25 scene modes: Portrait,Soft Skin,Transform,Self-Portrait,Scenery,Sports,Night Portrait,Night Scenery,Food,Party,Candle Light,Baby1/2,Pet,Sunset,High sensitivity,Hi-Speed Burst,Flash Burst,Starry Sky,Fireworks,Beach & Surf,Snow,Aerial photo,Film Grain,Photo Frame 
  • Movie - Allows you to shoot video footage



Novices will appreciate the iA shooting mode as it is a foolproof method for taking beautiful snapshots in most situations. When the camera is in iA mode, it automatically takes advantage of the MEGA O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilization) to reduce blurring due to hand-shake, Face-detection and Intelligent Scene selection and Intelligent ISO to compensate for any movement in the frame. The dedicated iA button on top of the camera will instantly put the camera into Intelligent Auto mode regardless of which mode is selected using the Mode button menu. It acts as a toggle on subsequent pressings between the selected Mode and iA. So, if for example you have selected Movie Mode for shooting video, but you want to quickly shoot a photo of something, simply press the iA button and the camera will be ready to shoot a photo. Press it again, the camera will return to Movie mode. This is a great feature.

When the camera is in Normal Picture mode you have more control over some of the cameras available settings. You can use the Flash menu to choose from Auto/Red-Eye Reduction/Force Flash On/Force Flash Off. This is very good for situations when you want to make sure the camera's flash does not fire (say, when you are in a museum or a cruise ship theater during a show). The ability to force the flash to fire is good when your subject is heavily back lit and you want to make sure you have enough light on your subject. In Normal mode you can also adjust exposure, set the self-timer, adjust ISO settings, etc.

There are two different SCN "modes" in the Mode menu. The first acts as a MySCN (My Scene) pre-selection that will retain whatever SCN mode you select from a menu of 25 different shooting modes (see above). This allows you to quickly jump to a pre-selected Scene mode (e.g. "Portrait"). The second SCN mode brings up the menu of 25 scene modes from which to select. However, when you select the second SCN mode, it does default to the previously selected SCN selection, so it sort of acts like a second MySCN mode.
The TS10 is also capable of shooting movie clips in Motion JPEG (.mov) format when Motion Picture mode is selected. In Motion Picture mode, the shutter release button is used to start recording. The camera will continue to shoot video until the shutter release button is pressed a second time. each time recording is stopped, a separate video (.mov) file is created and saved to the SD memory card. The camera's telephoto (zoom) function is disabled during video shooting, one feature in which we were a little disappointed. The quality of video is good enough for general purpose, YouTube posted clips. The quality is limited by the rather limited optics of the lens.

The TS10 offers four video shooting modes:

  • HD - 1280 X 720 (16:9)
  • WVGA - 848 X 480 (16:9)
  • VGA - 640 X 480
  • QVGA - 320 X 240

All video is shot at 30 frames per second and stored in Motion JPEG format.

Photos and video clips can be viewed on the 2.7 inch LCD on the back of the camera by pressing the Playback button. The LCD produces 230K dots of resolution and is adequate for most shooting environments. However, in bright sunlight, the screen can become difficult to see. There is a High-Angle mode that adjusts the LCD to be more visible when holding the camera above eye level.

The 11-element lens on the TS10 offers a 35mm equiv. focal range of 35mm-140mm with its 4X optical zoom. The Telephoto/Wide Angle buttons are located on the back of the camera which are a little awkward and take some getting used to. Perhaps I am just used to my DMC-ZS7 with the zoom functions located on top of the camera. The zoom motor is a little slow, but functions smoothly. As stated before, you cannot adjust the zoom when shooting video. You can, however, zoom in before pressing the record button (shutter release), then shoot video in up to 4X.

The TS10 features an airtight/watertight body to protect against water immersion, dust and sand. A handy silicone "jacket" is included with the camera to prevent exterior scratches.

The TS10 can be "safely" dropped from a height of 5 feet (in accordance with the "MIL-STD 810F Method516.5-Shock" test standard). However, we did not put this to the test. The TS10 uses folded optics to prevent its lens unit from taking damage when dropped. The lens unit is protected by a supplementary damper to absorb the force from shock impact. We learned how important shockproof can be when our DMC-ZS7 (which is NOT shockproof) spontaneously disengaged from the lanyard around Rickee's neck in Grand Cayman and came crashing down on the pavement. The camera fell about 4 feet and hit on the corner of the body. The battery/SD door flew open and parts went-a-flyin'. Miraculously, the camera still functions, but we will have to replace it just to be safe. Had that been the TS10, it should have survived the fall with no damage.

The TS10 records images to conventional SD/SDHC Memory Cards, and can also accept next-generation SDXC (SD eXtended Capacity), that features high potential in both capacity and data transfer speed. A Class 6 card is recommended if you plan to use the camera to shoot HD video.

Make sure to check out the sample photos and video clips below as well as out video review on Vimeo.com.


What We Like:

  • Waterproof, Shockproof, rugged build
  • Simple 4-mode operation
  • Easy to navigate menus
  • Intelligent Auto Toggle Button

What We Don't Like:

  • No zoom during video
  • Limited battery life

Summary

The Lumix DMC-TS10 is a lot of camera for a very modest suggested retail price of $225. We have seen it available at some online stores for under $200. When you consider that you are getting a 14-megapixel camera with HD video capabilities that you can take to the beach and even shoot underwater photos, that's quite a bargain. I would probably spend the extra $100 to get the wider angle lens (28mm vs. 35mm) and other features on the DMC-TS2, however, this camera should be on every travel photographers short list!

Sample Photos:
Click on the thumbnails below to view a larger image of the picture.


Taken underwater Taken underwater shooting up
 
 


Video Review

Sample Video
     
     
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