First let me quantify that statement. There are a plethora of cameras that take wonderful photos but in the category of Outdoor and Underwater Shooting, the Panasonic DMCTS4 is the King of the Point and Shoots! Anyone following these rugged outdoor-oriented machines should know this by now. Panasonic has been a leader in this category for a few years running. As the Summer closes in on us and we start moving outside, this is the camera you want to have with you.
The DMCTS4 is a 12.1 megapixel camera. I’m not a fan of high megapixel cameras in a point and shoot. Usually anything beyond 10 megapixels is a 10 megapixel camera with, in this case, 2.1 megapixels worth of noise. That being said, this camera produced some of the best outdoor shots I have ever seen in this category with little to no noise or artifacts. The underwater photos were beautiful. Colors were vivid and had real punch. If I had any critique about the image it would be that it tended to shift to the blue end of the spectrum but it wasn’t something that dissuaded me from liking this camera. The focus was the fastest I had encountered and the Panoramic Shot was amazing at a full 360 degrees. Low-light shooting was a little disappointing, but it did focus well despite the dark pictures. With the flash active it produces clean nighttime images.
With an Optically Image Stabilized 4.6x zoom with a LEICA lens, the DMCTS4 has no issues with taking sharp, solid images at maximum zoom. The video is Full HD 1080p at 30 fps in AVHCD and MP4 formats. Pretty standard in today’s cameras. This year Panasonic added GPS with compass, barometer, and altimeter, which on the surface may seem excessive. However of the cameras in this category that I shot with, the GPS in this unit was the most helpful. It has Place, Name, and Landmark functions and can also record your path as you travel. It was funny to watch the GPS track and see that I wasn’t quite walking as straight a line as I had thought.
Now to the nuts and bolts as they say. What makes this so tough? This camera has a hard, lightweight aluminum body, is waterproof to 40 feet (12 meters), and shockproof to 6.6 feet (2 meters). It has a 2.7 inch OLED screen which was great in direct sunlight. The physical controls felt solid and were reactive. This camera feels good in your hands. It gives you confidence in a solid build and my drop test left almost no external damage and the camera worked perfectly afterward. It does eat batteries pretty quickly. You’ll definitely need a spare which isn’t out of the ordinary. A spare battery is a necessity and not a luxury.
In closing I have to say that the DMCTS4 is another great addition to the Panasonic line of Tough Cameras. Available in an awesome array of colors I found myself strangely drawn to the orange one. Easy to spot if dropped and it happens to be a great shade of orange to boot. If you’re looking for a camera to survive your outdoor lifestyle or just one to survive everyday life, the Panasonic DMCTS4 should be at the top of your list.