Though our lab tests don't necessarily exemplify speedy performance, the TS1 is, overall, the fastest rugged compact camera we've tested. It also felt fairly fast during real-world testing, particularly in bright lighting. Start-up to first shot is 1.2 seconds, while average shot-to-shot times were about 1.9 seconds. Turn on the flash and you'll wait a little longer: 2.3 seconds. Its shutter lag was a bigger issue at 0.5 second in bright conditions and 1.2 seconds in dim lighting. Fortunately, its burst speed--limited to three shots at the camera's finest quality--is quick 1.9 frames per second.
Its photos were very good for its class. Photos were never completely sharp, which I'm attributing to the extra glass protecting the lens. There is a slight grainy salt-and-pepper noise across all ISOs, but as usual, the higher the ISO and the larger you view the photos the more likely you are to see it. Between ISO 200 and 400, photos get a bit fuzzier and softer from noise reduction, but their detail is still fairly good. At ISO 800 and even ISO 1,600 there's some decent detail left to make them usable on the Web or for smaller prints as long as you're not terribly picky. One last note: the auto white balance, while tolerable outdoors turned everything indoors yellow. Use the presets and you'll be fine, though.
There is no barrel distortion at the lens' 28mm-equivalent widest, but there is very slight pincushion distortion at its longest position. Also, there was no discernible purple fringing in any of our test shots. Overall, color and exposure were very good. When not using the auto white balance, colors were reasonably accurate and natural looking across the board.
Unlike Canon's PowerShot D10, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1 is well suited for double duty as a rugged and everyday pocket camera. People concerned with appearance and size, but want the best image quality and better durability would be better off with the D10. If photo quality is less important, but you need something very durable, the Olympus Stylus Tough 8000 is the way to go. However, the TS1 gets my vote because you get a reasonably strong and waterproof package with very good photo quality and performance. If I'm going to drop $300 to $400 on a rugged point-and-shoot camera, it should not have a design that looks out of place away from the water.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
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