Saturday, April 03, 2010

Panasonic DMC-TS2 Review

Ever since Olympus Mju came out with their Tough series point and shoot (PnS) camera which claims to withstand shock and (wow!) waterproof, i've wanted to get one. Only biggest hindrance is that the mju 6000/8000 were pretty expensive and i have never associated Olympus with camera.
Yeah, i know, i am shallow.
After almost 3 years of waiting and even gotten myself a Nikon D90 last year, the urge to get a "tough" PnS were very strong.
The family has one unit of Canon Powershot A770. It has it's limitation though it was amongst the better PnS back about 4 years ago. Only complains were really the lag the Canon has. If wifey were to capture a photo of me running past, the shutter will trigger ONLY after i ran past.
From then onwards, the camera has been taking a back seat and has been used less than 10 times over the past 4 years.
When i saw my buddies at Snap-Attack.com whipped out a nifty orangy looking PnS, i was curious. Then Jason mentioned to me it is Panasonic's "tough" model.
Panasonic produces a "tough" PnS? Really?!
A week later, i started to google for this and chance upon a comparison done by DPreview.com that pitted the Canon, Panasonic, Olympus(both 6000 and 8000) and Pentax. The verdict was a tie between the Canon and Panasonic. Enough said. I know which one i wanted.
Canon's camera doesn't look as serious with it's perculiar rounded-oval-is-this-a-defect-ostrich-egg look.
Canon D10
Doc Hisyam has one and i believe he sang song about it. But the shape is just not...right. I prefer something mju like.
Olympus Mju Tough 8000
IronKam has this and i just love the fact he race and swam with this in the sea. I know i want one.
So, when i saw Shazly and Jason has one, it was almost like some calling. I think and thought and weighed the option and let the mind fight over need and wants...i told Jason i wanted one.
Panasonic DMC-TS1
The review in Dpreview.com were of the older model TS1 where the buddies at Snap-Attack.com asked me and confirm with me again if this was what i wanted and not TS2.
Wait.
There's a NEW model?
Panasonic TS2 were launched earlier this year, infact,on 26th January 2010!
This model is spanking new!

Panasonic TS2
Noticed the differences? The TS2 upped the megapixel game and comes in 14MP neatly packed under those metal body with carbonfiber inside.
I went for the BLUE no less!
The box came to me unopened. I recieved a synthetic leather original Lumix camera casing and a Panasonic (made in Japan) 8GB SDHC card eventhough these are actually optional. I bet my bottom dollar that if you purchase it somewhere else, you will get those generic cheap SD card which will not let your camera perform as it should.
I opened the box and everything was so neatly packed but i did not have the patience to unravel each one by one. I literally tore the content out.
Once the dust settled and the spanking new camera was in my hand, i saw that the box comes with 2 power cable - one 2-pin and one 3-pin. Cool. That would meant you can choose which one you want to use. The battery comes with a battery casing/protector, a handstrap with a stopper, the charger of course, a silicon casing (Double WOW!), manual, CD and a quickguide.
I got the battery to charge overnight the first day (though the charger cut off after 2 hours indicating a fully charged battery). So, there wasn't anything else to do but to take photo of the camera - with a samsung PnS i borrow from the office.
 The orange part is what keeps water and dust out and away from the battery and adapter compartment (not shown). It has a double lock mechanism to prevent incidental opening of these compartment when under extreme (read : WATER and DUST/SAND/ICE condition) condition. Precaution were everywhere to ensure that no hair, sand, water on this part prior to closing.
It fits nicely into my palm and felt solid. Jason commented that this is tough enough to drop from 2m (Accidentally, not on purpose) and dive down to 10m into the water. It is unlikely i will dive down to 2 meters, let alone 10m, but it felt good to know that this fler can withstand that type of pressure.
As if the camera is not tough enough, Panasonic lumped in a silicon casing with the camera.
The silicon skin fits like a glove into the camera body and really did gives an extra layer of protection (not that it needed it anyway) from perhaps, scratches and keys inside your pocket.
Silicon Skin at work
The camera claims of good ISO performance and i know how important this is in a camera. My D90 has ISO up to 6400 and with 3200 to be standard. The TS2 has ISO capability up to 2500 (in Scn - High Res Mode) and with the ability to cap the ISO to 800, 1200 or 1600. This is particularly important so that the photo taken does not come out grainy/noisy.
Which brings me to the camera's first test.
ISO Performance
I am not pro enough to actually judge this but i base my review on this on how the photo look. My basis for this will be "if the photo looked noisy, they are".
Here is a shot taken under the sun, outside Curve (between Tesco and Curve) of the red fire engine.
Crisp and sharp as it were predicted to be. If it doesn't perform well under bright sun light, i think this camera would had been returned to Snap-Attack for a full refund.
I then move towards the parking area in Tesco, which are typically not very brightly lit and with numbers of florocent lights 
I cap the ISO to 1600 as i want it to go that high if needed. Flash were supressed as i just want to see how noisy it was at 1600.
Looked perfectly fine eh? Here is 100% crop (meaning i crop it and no resize)
There are noticeable noise as you can see from the image above. Well, unless you are trying to snap a photo of a couple making out at the rear of this Kembara, the noise would not be of any issue as far as the "photo subject" is concerned (afterall, i really just literally whip out the camera and snap).
I have tried the ISO reaction at various speed and also sensitivity and the best results shows that you cap the ISO to 800. There were no noticeable noise at all! Sorry, no sample photos as i did not/could not find any place dark enough without looking silly trying to capture a photo in pitch darkness.
Other features worth mentioning
Each camera manufacturer will have their own line/collection of features specific to their make. Panasonic is no different. It comes with a "Power OIS" replacing the older "Mega OIS". OIS is Panasonic's answer to Nikon VR (or Vibration Reduction). OIS stands for Optical Image Stabilisation. There were 3 mode selectable - Auto, Mode 1 and Mode 2. I've not tried what the Mode 1 and 2 were for, but my guess is that Mode 2 would be more "aggressive" OIS.
The camera comes with iA or Intelligent Auto. What this meant is that in this mode, the camera will decide, (based on how/what i would not know), a selection of "i" mode. I've so far had auto i-Potrait chosen with face recognition and tracking purposes!
This camera too comes with HD recording and while it could not replace a dedicated video-cam, it did it's work pretty decently. It also has a set of three mini LED light that lights up automatically when ambience light falls too low for the camera to successfully take a video.
There is an option to set your own white balance (WB) and as all of you had read, i've shown the importance of getting the right WB before snapping the photo so that what need to stay blue, remains blue and not green.
Conclusion
I have the camera for 3 days so far and i am still learning it's capabilities. One thing for sure, It will go into the water and will find it's match with grit and sand when time comes. I am pretty happy so far as the camera is easy to use and all control were easy to understand. 
The camera retail for RM1499 but you will be silly to pay full retail price. If you are looking for your first camera and wants it to be waterproof, drop proof, idiot proof, future-proof, contact Snap-Attack.com and enquire about the best price they could give you for this Panasonic TS2. I was happy with the purchase and this review is unbiased and as subjective as i could get.
Do come back from time to time to read more of the camera and it's review as and when i start unravel more features that will make photography a happy hobby, even for kids.
Photo taken using TS2 and with simple viginetting done using GIMP. No other PP applied and the photo before PP were good enough for viewing. At full resolution, the photo above could be develop to a A2 sized photo (Aspect ration 4:3, 14MP full resolution)



6 comments:

  1. are u coming to tomorrow's hash bro?

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  2. Hey bro...don't think so. Have to babysit while wifey goes for an appointment. :(

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm using the olympus miu tough and takes it with me everywhere. The underwater shots turned out wonderfully well as well ....

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  4. Ian- tough was what i was eyeing for a few years. I was still looking at it until this ts2 comes along. My decision was skewed based on the review i read in DPreview.com

    u love your Mju...and imagine how much i would love this one!

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  5. thanks for dropping by Richard. I have no complains so far, except the flash is too strong...

    ReplyDelete

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