If you need a camera to survive all kinds of extreme conditions, check out Panasonic’s new Lumix DMC-TS3. It’s protected against water, dust, dropping and freezing. It also does HD video, allows you to create 3D still images without the need for a dual lens system, and is GPS enabled.
The TS3 is a 12.1 megapixel camera with a 4.6x optical zoom lens that goes to 28mm (equiv) at it widest focal length. Panasonic was one of the principal developers of AVCHD-format HD video, so as you might expect that’s the flavour the TS3 captures, at up to 1920×1080 resolution.
There are standardized tests to determine ruggedness and the TS3 claims the following: waterproof to a depth of 12 m (yes, it can be used under water), dustproof, freezeproof to -10ºC and able to withstand a drop of 2 m.
The TS3’s 3D Photo mode is a way to create 3D stills without the need for a double lens system. Panasonic says the camera takes 20 consecutive photos of a scene and overlays the best two to create a 3D effect. The 3D stills are saved in MPO image format, and will display properly on 3D TV sets or other devices that recognize MPO. (Sony has also implemented a one-lens solution called 3D Sweep Panorama in some of its cameras.)
Also built into the TS3 is a GPS module. This allows for geotagging images, and also has compass, altimeter and barometer functions. The camera comes with an internal database that ties location data to more than a million landmarks around the world so the location can be given by the name of a town or area, rather than just the co-ordinates.
You expect cameras to have automated “smart” settings, and Panasonic calls them iA modes. Among the functions enabled with iA Modes are variable settings (according to shooting settings) for image stabilization, ISO control, face aware functions, autofocus tracking, resolution and exposure settings.
The TS3 will be available in March. Pricing hasn’t been set yet.