Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 Review

3.5
January 30, 2013 | Gavin Stoker |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this review were taken using the 12 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 5.5Mb.

Since this is basically the same camera as the year-old FT3 with only subtle refinements, inevitably much of our findings and conclusion will be similar. As we’ve said, at the end of the day the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 is a camera for taking snapshots, and though it is possible to come back with sharp and colourful results, it’s equally possible to end up with dull and slightly soft images when the weather and lighting conditions are not at their optimum.

With blue skies overhead there’s little about the FT4’s output that necessitates adjustment in Photoshop, though contrast and brightness levels can often be improved on if we’re being picky. Lens flare is likewise an occasional problem if shooting in bright sunlight, and especially in, on or above water, as is pixel fringing between areas of high contrast. But this isn’t anything we hadn’t expected in its compact class – or are surprised to find as these grumbles were also directed at the FT3.

On Standard default picture setting, the FT4’s colours are natural, veering towards the warm on occasion – an assessment which is true of Panasonic’s Lumix range as a whole, and, should the weather or conditions at the time of shooting be a little dull, the built-in Vivid colour mode can add some visual punch.

In terms of the FT4’s low light performance, grain is only really starting to intrude into shadow areas at ISO800, which pretty much as expected, and overall detail doesn’t begin to noticeably soften until ISO1600. So, while it’s best stick below ISO800 if at all possible for a ‘clean’ image, we’d be happy shooting up to and including ISO1600 if pushed; incidentally as with the FT3 it’s the top manually selectable setting here anyway.

So not a performance that is on a par with an entry level DSLR that you could almost stretch to at the FT4’s £350 asking price. But then again would you be happy/confident taking a regular DSLR into the water or shooting in the rain and snow? Part of the appeal here is that you end up taking images that you otherwise wouldn’t have risked.

Noise

There are 5 ISO settings available on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting.

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

 
 

Focal Range

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4's 4.6x lens has a fairly versatile focal range of 28 - 128mm, as demonstrated by the examples below.

28mm

128mm

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting and benefit from some further sharpening in a program like Adobe Photoshop. Unfortunately you can't change the in-camera sharpening level.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

Chromatic Aberrations

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 handled chromatic aberrations well during the review, with limited purple and green fringing present around the edges of objects in certain high-contrast situations, as shown in the examples below.

Chromatic Aberrations 1 (100% Crop)

Chromatic Aberrations 2 (100% Crop)

Macro

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 offers a Macro setting that allows you to focus on a subject that is 5cms away from the camera when the lens is set to wide-angle. The first image shows how close you can get to the subject (in this case a compact flash card). The second image is a 100% crop.

Macro

Macro (100% Crop)

Flash

The flash settings on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 are Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction, Forced Off. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Forced Off - Wide Angle (28mm)

Forced On - Wide Angle (28mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Forced Off - Telephoto (128mm)

Forced On - Telephoto (128mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are some portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Flash On or the Auto/Red-eye Reduction settings caused any red-eye.

Forced On

Forced On (100% Crop)
   

Auto/Red-eye Reduction

Auto/Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Night

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4's maximum shutter speed is 60 seconds in the Starry Sky Mode scene mode (there are also 15 and 30 second options) and 8 seconds in the Night Scene mode, which is great news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 8 seconds at ISO 100. The camera takes the same amount of time again to apply noise reduction, so for example at the 15 second setting the actual exposure takes 30 seconds.

Night

Night (100% Crop)

Entry Tags

hd video, hd, 1080p, 12 megapixel, 2.7 inch LCD, lumix, panasonic, waterproof, dustproof, shockproof, freezeproof, 4.6x zoom, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT4 Review, dmc ft4, ft4, dmc-ft4

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