The Good The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 is a fast-shooting, easy-to-use rugged compact camera with excellent features to justify its high price.
The Bad The TS3's photos and movies look soft.
The Bottom Line GPS and fast shooting performance make the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 a worthy rugged point-and-shoot even if its photos and videos aren't the sharpest.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 is the manufacturer's third shot at a high-end rugged camera. (It's the fourth if you include the more budget-friendly DMC-TS10.) The price continues to hover just south of the $400 mark, but Panasonic has again bulked up the feature set and durability claims.
The big add-in feature this time is GPS, which makes perfect sense for a rugged camera. After all, it's tough to mark down where you were when you took a picture when there are no street signs. The TS3 is just slightly more durable than its predecessor, the TS2, being waterproof to approximately 40 feet under water compared with the latter's 33 feet. It's also shockproof to approximately 6.6 feet, freezeproof to 14 degrees Fahrenheit, and dustproof. It's not crushproof, though, so you'll still have to be careful not to step on it or run it over.
Other key specs include a 28mm-equivalent wide-angle lens with a 4.6x internal zoom, a 2.7-inch LCD, and a 12-megapixel high-speed CCD sensor. The sensor is a new design, and it's paired with Panasonic's Venus Engine FHD processor. This combo allows for high-speed burst shooting--full resolution at 3.7 frames per second--and full HD movie capture in AVCHD format. There's also a bright built-in LED lamp to help when shooting in darker environments, which is good because low-light photos and movies aren't the greatest.
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