How Good Is The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5 can produce fantastic images if you apply good photographic techniques when out and about. This is the Amalia fishing boat, moored in James Bay, St Helena, photographed in beautiful, late afternoon light conditions.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5 can produce fantastic images if you apply good photographic techniques when out and about. This is the Amalia fishing boat, moored in James Bay, St Helena, photographed in beautiful, late afternoon light conditions.

WHEN PHOTOGRAPHY GETS ROUGH | Darrin Henry

Our fun camera when it comes to photography is the small, blue, boxy Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5 compact which tags along wherever the ‘big camera’ goes.

We’ve owned a few compacts over the years, but for a while now our ‘little’ camera has been this gleaming point and shoot.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5, built tough to handle every type of photography adventure. Rated waterproof to 13m/43ft, shockproof from 2m and freezeproof down to -10C. This is our one, nearly 1 and half years old, has been everywhere and still looking good and well used.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5, built tough to handle every type of photography adventure. Rated waterproof to 13m/43ft, shockproof from 2m and freezeproof down to -10C. This is our one, nearly 1 and half years old, has been everywhere and still looking good and well used.

The reason we chose this model was simple, we wanted a camera to take underwater and this one rated well with a 13m/43ft capability and good reviews.

That first time we submerged it completely we held our breath in more ways than one! But over a year on it’s still performing flawlessly after multiple dips in the sea, outings in the rain and many other very wet excursions. Top of the list has to be our visit to Niagara Falls in Canada.

One thing we did do right at the beginning was read the instructions carefully on how to keep water out of the camera, and that has probably been why this little chunky clicker continues to get used nearly every day.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5 does well photographing wildlife at Riverside Park, in Lechlade, Gloucestershire, in UK.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5 does well photographing wildlife at Riverside Park, in Lechlade, Gloucestershire, in UK.

Here’s a quick run-down of what impressed us and what didn’t with our adventure compact.

A Review of the Lumix DMC-FT5

Pros & Cons – Good points first.

Ultimate survivor – this camera was built to go where the action is. Panasonic boasts it is waterproof, shockproof (from 2m high) and freezeproof (down to -10 C). We’ve tested and can vouch for the underwater capability. Not brave enough to try a drop test yet and a lifetime habit of looking after cameras means it hasn’t happened accidentally, either! But it’s a reassuring comfort to know these things when out and about.

Swimming with whale sharks in St Helena. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5 has an underwater mode to compensate for the colour shifts.

Swimming with whale sharks in St Helena. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5 has an underwater mode to compensate for the colour shifts.

Sharon putting Lumix DMC-FT5 through its paces in Bangkok, Thailand.

Sharon putting Lumix DMC-FT5 through its paces in Bangkok, Thailand.

Movie maker – The Lumix DMC-FT5 shoots 1920×1080 full-HD video! It’s pretty fantastic at this; a capability which surprised us. We sometimes use a monopod or tripod for extra stability in video mode. Check out these two videos shot with our Lumix; the first of a train that runs through Hanoi, Vietnam, squeezing between the houses. The second video shows rough sea at the wharf on St Helena, here you will see we took advantage of the waterproof capability to dramatic effect.

Photo Quality – ultimately the Lumix DMC-FT5 produces great results under the right lighting conditions – as is the case in all photography. We have some samples here in this post. The 16MP quality is quite impressive providing, once again, you pay attention to light and stability, something that applies to all compacts.

Sunset over Halong Bay, Vietnam, taken with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5.

Sunset over Halong Bay, Vietnam, taken with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5.

Another stunning example of what's possible with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5. This is Longwood House on St Helena, with the last light of the day illuminating the red hot poker flowers.

Another stunning example of what’s possible with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5. This is Longwood House on St Helena, with the last light of the day illuminating the red hot poker flowers.

Street view in Oxford, UK, taken with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5.

Street view in Oxford, UK, taken with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5.

We find the one SD card adequate but purchased two extra batteries to ensure enough power wherever we go. The Lumix DMC-FT5 lens doesn't have a protective cover but compensates with reinforced glass.

We find the one SD card adequate but purchased two extra batteries to ensure enough power wherever we go. The Lumix DMC-FT5 lens doesn’t have a protective cover but compensates with reinforced glass.

Memory – In HD movie mode you need an SD memory card that can process video data at high speed. We use a single 32GB Ultra Fast SD/HC card with a write speed of 80MB/s which works perfectly and has proved to be more than enough space for what we get up to. We’ve never felt the need to get a second card.

The Big Screen – the back of the Lumix is virtually all LCD screen which is great for composing and reviewing shots especially as there is no traditional viewfinder. The 3 inch display itself is brilliant; bright and sharp.

Children swimming off the wharf steps in Jamestown, St Helena. I got in the water to take this, taking advantage of the waterproof features of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5.

Children swimming off the wharf steps in Jamestown, St Helena. I got in the water to take this, taking advantage of the waterproof features of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5.

Zoom and 28mm wide-angle – Generally we avoid using the zoom facility on compacts; the strength of these cameras is keeping it wide-angle and moving your own position closer. That said the 4.6X optical zoom on the Lumix is pretty good and delivers crisp shots (if you keep it steady). But the 28mm wide-angle is superb, perfect in tight corners or shooting street photography on the go.

Panoramic & Macro – These two features on the Lumix DMC-FT5 are easy to access from the simple button layout and deliver good quality results. The panoramic are ideal for Facebook cover images.

The panoramic feature on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5 is used to capture this dramatic rainbow in James Bay over the anchorage with the RMS St Helena almost ready to sail away.

The panoramic feature on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5 is used to capture this dramatic rainbow in James Bay over the anchorage with the RMS St Helena almost ready to sail away.

Making use of the 'macro' facility on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5 to capture this insect resting on a flower.

Making use of the ‘macro’ facility on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5 to capture this insect resting on a flower.

Special effects – While I’m not a fan of colour processing special effects, a lot of people are and will be pleased to know this camera has a repertoire of post production tricks. These include: Dynamic Monochrome, Impressive Art, Toy, Miniature, Sepia, One Point Colour, Low Key, High Key, Star and Retro.

The special effects are applied after a picture has been captured. You get a chance to review the effect before saving, and best of all the original image is also retained.

Example of the 'Impressive Art Effect' applied on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5. This is the Gulden Leeuw or Golden Lion, tall ship, departing St Helena, photographed with the Lumix and then having the Impressive Art effect selected.

Example of the ‘Impressive Art Effect’ applied on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5. This is the Gulden Leeuw or Golden Lion, tall ship, departing St Helena, photographed with the Lumix and then having the Impressive Art effect selected.

Example of the 'One Point Colour Effect' applied on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5. This effect lets you take a picture, then choose a colour in that image to remain while everything else is changed to black and white. Very easy to apply.

Example of the ‘One Point Colour Effect’ applied on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5. This effect lets you take a picture, then choose a colour in that image to remain while everything else is changed to black and white. Very easy to apply.

Example of the 'miniature effect' applied on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5.

Example of the ‘miniature effect’ applied on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5.

Here the 'Dynamic Monochrome Effect' is applied to a photo taken on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5 of Rosie after her walk.

Here the ‘Dynamic Monochrome Effect’ is applied to a photo taken on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5 of Rosie after her walk.

Simple and easy to use – The main features are accessible from an easy to understand set of buttons. If you have big fingers these buttons may be a little fiddly, but we have no complaints. If you want to shoot video, there’s just one button to press right there on the top; a second press will stop it. Simples.

Not so good points.

Chunky – This camera is not your streamlined, aerodynamic street racer. It’s more Land Rover than Porsche. But it’s one of those modern, stylish, sport Land Rovers, so not a problem if you like that sort of thing!

No Lens Cover – The lack of lens cover worried me at first but it hasn’t caused any problems, it’s just a little strange to get used to after being so paranoid about protecting the DSLR lenses. It helps to know reinforced glass is used in the lens for extra protection.

Rear view with the 3 inch display on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5.

Rear view with the 3 inch display on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5.

Top: the top of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5 has the large shutter button flanked by the 'power' and 'video record' buttons. Bottom: the side door which when open reveals battery and SD card, USB and HDMI sockets and the thin rubber seal on the inside that locks out the water.

Top: the top of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5 has the large shutter button flanked by the ‘power’ and ‘video record’ buttons.
Bottom: the side door which when open reveals battery and SD card, USB and HDMI sockets and the thin rubber seal on the inside that locks out the water.

Open Door Policy – There is the one hatch door on the side which reveals the battery compartment, SD memory card and socketry for connecting a USB or HDMI cable. The door itself is lined with a thin rubber coating to seal the compartment to make it watertight. Although the door and rubber seal looks and feels a bit fragile, we open and close the camera about four to six times a week for more than a year and it’s fine. But the key word is, ‘careful.’

Battery life – The battery that’s included can run down suddenly if subjected to an all day shoot. Spare batteries are quite easy to purchase. We bought two spares and rotate their use. Power is therefore not a problem but it does mean opening the watertight compartment each time to access the battery.

Low light – in bright, well lit situations the Lumix DMC-FT5 produces some great pictures. In low light, as with any compact, it struggles a bit as the shutter speed drops. But, stabilising the camera helps immensely; our bean bag is useful here. The built in flash is basic, but as good as any other compact and gets the job done.

Extra Features

The Lumix DMC-FT5 can do some other cool stuff – allegedly! We haven’t actually tested these features, but for gadgety photographers it also boasts Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, an on-board GPS module, a compass, altimeter and even a barometer. Downloading the Lumix app allows the camera to be controlled from a smartphone.

When it comes time to replace this camera, it is very likely we will upgrade to a newer model.

When we want to get technical and produce professional grade images, we use our DSLR. Everything on that camera is set up in manual; ISO, shutter speed, aperture, white balance, etc. But, when we want point and shoot fun, the Panasonic Lumix is the perfect buddy!

The first time we tested the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5 underwater after hiking to Lot's Wife's Ponds on St Helena.

The first time we tested the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5 underwater after hiking to Lot’s Wife’s Ponds on St Helena.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5 Technical Details:

White Balance: Auto, 5 preset, White Balance Adjust

Memory Card: SD, SDHC, SDXC

LCD: 3in, 460k-dot

Metering System: Intelligent Multiple

Sensor: 16.1MP, 1/2.3in MOS

Video: 1920 x 1080 @ 50p, 50i, AVCHD / MP4

Exposure Modes: P, M, Scene, iAuto

Flash Modes: Auto, Red-eye, Forced On, Slow sync, Off

Connectivity: microHDMI, USB

Lens: 4.6x optical zoom, 28-128mm

ISO Range: 100 – 6400

Weight: 188g

Power: Li-ion rechargeable battery (LI-90B)

Shutter Speeds:30 – 1/1300 sec

File Formats: JPEG, AVCHD, MP4, MPO

Dimensions: 109.2 x 67.4 x 28.9 mm

8 thoughts on “How Good Is The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT5

  1. IMHO: this camera review is really helpful, but also, it’s PROOF that the key is not the camera but the photographer. Awesome shots! Thanks for sharing this. I’m in the middle of trying to find our next camera and it’s good food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Totem. You guys would probably be the ideal ones to take advantage of the waterproof capabilities. We’ve been using the video feature more and more as the quality is so good. Good luck with choosing 🙂 Cheers

      Like

  2. Great review, Darren. I’m a fan of the 20x optical zoom on my LUMIX DMC-TZ40 with a Leica lens, but I do worry about the lens, which seems delicate. It’s great for birds and other wildlife. But after a cruise of Wild Scotland, I can appreciate the value of a waterproof camera that is robust in rainy conditions. Thanks for writing it up – it looks tempting! Bronwyn

    Liked by 1 person

    • I wouldn’t recommend the DMC-FT5 for photographing wildlife, it certainly couldn’t compete with your 20x optical zoom. We do carry a pvc rain jacket, sleeve thingy in the bag for the DSLR, quite basic but covers the whole camera easily leaving only the end of the lens protruding from a drawstring opening. Works for all sizes of cameras and lenses. Jealous about Scotland, we’ve not been – yet 🙂 Thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely photos, more a testament to the photographer I would say, no matter the quality of the camera. I love your blog, keep up the great work!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Very kind of you to say, Rick, thanks. I’m the ‘in the water’ photographer it seems, the rest is Sharon. We mix the compact and the DSLR pictures on the blog all the time and like that it is often difficult to tell which is which. Cheers 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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