Extreme hands-on with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT1!
Panasonic claims the Lumix DMC-FT1 is tough. Well, here at Crave we're pretty tough too. When we get handed a camera that's shockproof from a height of 1.5m, waterproof to a depth of 3m, and dustproof, we see that as fighting talk.
So we're going to drop it, raghrr! We're going to submerge it, gruargh! We're going to dust it... hmm. Forget the dust bit. We're going to do what any self-respecting, red-blooded man's man would do. We're going to climb up a cliff with it and then we're going to jump into the sea.
Up until now, the Olympus mju range has had things all its own way in the rough and tough stakes. But Panasonic's Lumix range has always boasted excellent build quality, so a ruggedised camera makes sense. Even Canon's getting in on the act with the PowerShot D10.
The FT1 certainly looks the part. It echoes the squared-off, tank-like styling of the Olympus mju 1030SW, complete with exposed screws. The mode wheel includes instant access to extreme settings such as sport, beach and snow modes, as well as the usual scene and intelligent auto modes.
The Lumix lens has a versatile 28mm wide angle and 4.6x optical zoom. It packs optical image stabilisation, face detection and intelligent auto mode. As well as the usual flash, there's a camcorder-style LED light that you can turn on manually to illuminate what you're looking at when you're trying to line up a shot. Hopefully it won't scare off the fish.
Click through our gallery for more of the FT1 and to see it in rough 'n' tumble, manly action. Go extreme!
The 76mm (3-inch) screen is protected against scratches.
There are two sturdy hatches sealed against the elements. One covers the battery and SD card...
...the other USB and HDMI sockets.
Everything is designed to be grippy, with the shutter button, mode wheel and zoom control bristling with ridges. To us, however, the zoom slider is rather stiff and doesn't have a great deal of travel, which we can't decide if we like or not.
The square buttons at the back are also a touch flat to each other. Still, at least there's a dedicated record button and the mode wheel goes all the way round in both directions.
The lens may be a satisfying wide angle, but as with any lens placed in the corner, it's easy to poke your finger into the frame.
Extreme Crave tip: to keep drying water droplets from smearing your image, rub a potato on the lens before gettng wet. The starch causes water to slide straight off.*
*This may be utter tosh. But it will help you meet people on the beach. They will all say to you, "Why are you rubbing a potato on your camera, you nutcase?"
Known in the US as the Lumix TS1, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT1 is available now for £300.