In its natural element

Panasonic's latest tough camera comes with features like near-field communication (NFC), Wi-Fi and a built-in GPS. We took it for a spin around Adelaide, and have shared some photos, as well as first impressions, below.

To find out a more detailed take on the features of the FT5, click through to our preview. All images have been taken on the camera, except where stated, and the only adjustments have been cropping or resizing.

Lexy Savvides travelled to Adelaide as a guest of Panasonic.

The FT5 is a little tougher than its predecessor, able to dive underwater up to 13 metres. It can withstand 100kgf thanks to a new internal structure, and got a redesigned grip with some more textured plastic. Overall, it feels easier to hold than the FT4 that came before, and looks a bit more stylish, too.

Note: this shot was taken on a smartphone. Turns out it's quite difficult to take a photo of a camera with the camera itself.

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Photo by: CBSi / Caption by:

Out back

Spin the camera around to find a pretty regular assortment of controls and buttons. They are a lot softer and easier to press than on the FT4, especially the zoom rocker, which requires a gentle touch, as opposed to a forceful push before. There's also a dedicated Wi-Fi button there, which brings up a menu to help connect the camera to a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device.

T he screen itself is reasonably high res, at 3 inches with 460,000 dots — much clearer than the FT4's — though in bright and contrasty situations, it can still be a stretch to see.

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Seaside adventures

The pier at Glenelg, Adelaide, is a picturesque sight at any time of the day, but sunrise brings out the natural beauty of the structure. This was shot in program mode, underexposed by a third of a stop to bring out more detail in the shadow area.

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Photo by: CBSi / Caption by:

Golden hour

The FT5 gets a new MOS sensor, an upgrade from the CCD version on the FT4. Particularly noticeable in shots like this, the new sensor boasts an expanded dynamic range and renders colours faithfully.

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Photo by: CBSi / Caption by:

Panning for gold

There are plenty of automatic modes to play with, including a panoramic mode that automatically stitches together a number of exposures across a set trajectory. This photo was taken by panning from left to right, but the camera also supports right to left, top to bottom and bottom to top panoramas for a vertical take.

Click here for the full-sized panorama straight from the camera.

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Photo by: CBSi / Caption by:

Close up

In macro mode, the FT5's minimum focusing distance is 5cm, pretty reasonable for a tough camera. While inspecting the image at 100 per cent magnification shows some crunchiness and over-processing, for web resolution, macro shots are perfectly acceptable, and look pretty good.

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Photo by: CBSi / Caption by:

HDR

The FT5 has a high dynamic range (HDR) mode that takes three exposures and automatically blends them together in-camera.

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HDR take two

OK, so this is totally cheating, but here's a five-exposure shot created with Nik HDR Efex Pro 2, just as a comparison to show you how results can differ if you process in post, rather than let the camera do all the work.

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Photo by: CBSi / Caption by:

Monochrome

Lots of filters are available, including monochrome (above), soft focus, toy camera and cross-process.

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Photo by: CBSi / Caption by:

In the water

Some dolphins at play off the Glenelg coastline. The FT5 comes with a special underwater boost to enhance the red hue, as this colour does not transmit as easily underwater.

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Photo by: CBSi / Caption by:

Under the umbrella

We found that when in program mode, slightly underexposing shots gave a better result than letting the metering do its own thing. Particularly if there are elements in the scene with strong shadow and highlight areas, as the FT5 tends to blow out the sky a little too much on automatic settings.

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