Panasonic announces Lumix TS4 and TS20 waterproof compact cameras

Panasonic announces a pair of waterproof point-and-shoot cameras--one on the high end with features like GPS, compass, altimeter, and barometer, and one aggressively priced entry-level model.

Yesterday Panasonic revealed two updates to its T series of rugged, waterproof cameras: the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS4 and DMC-TS20. The cameras are replacements for last year's top-of-the-line Lumix DMC-TS3 and2010's lower-end DMC-TS10, respectively.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS4 I'm a fan of Panasonic's high-end rugged cameras -- I've chosen two of the TS4's predecessors (the TS3 and TS2) on top 10 compact camera lists for two years running now. For the TS4, Panasonic wisely maintains the 12.1-megapixel resolution of the TS3's CCD sensor (after dropping down from the TS2's 14.1 megapixels). In fact, rather than fixing what isn't broken, the TS4 has maintained most of the TS3's features -- including the 40-foot waterproof depth rating, 6.6-foot shockproof rating, and 14° F freezeproof rating, as well as the wide-angle, 28-128mm 4.6x optical zoom lens; 2.7-inch, 230,000-dot LCD; and built in GPS, compass, altimeter, and barometer. In fact, among the only major feature changes are the addition of manual shooting modes, newly integrated special effects in Creative Control mode (including Miniature Effect, Panorama Shot, Creative Retouch, and Auto Retouch), and a Time Lapse mode. As with the TS3, the TS4 can shoot 1,920x1,080 full-HD video, but in AVCHD and MP4 formats (rather than AVCHD and Motion JPEG as with the TS3). Additionally, the TS4 has updated the "Intelligent" enhanced zoom to 9.3x (vs. 6x in the TS3).

The Panasonic LUMIX TS4 will be available in orange, blue, black, and silver body color options and begin shipping in mid-March for $399.99.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS20 The TS20 is Panasonic's lower-end rugged model, a replacement for the TS10, which came out in 2010. Panasonic has priced this iteration at a more aggressively entry-level $179.99 (vs. the TS10's $249.99 price tag when it first launched), but the new model is no slouch.  Although the 5-foot shockproof rating and 14ºF freezeproof rating remain the same, the TS20 is now waterproof to a depth of 16 feet (compared to 10 feet for the TS10). Unfortunately, the TS20 has also bumped resolution up to 16.1 megapixels (vs. 14.1 megapixels in the TS10), which may negatively effect low-light image quality since the camera's sensor is a typically tiny point-and-shoot size (so cramming an extra 2 megapixels onto it isn't going to do any favors). No doubt the bump in resolution is to satisfy the uneducated entry-level masses who blindly believe bigger numbers are better. I do like the significantly wider 4x zoom lens (25 - 100 mm, f/3.9-5.7) of the TS20 (vs. the TS10's 35-140mm, f/3.5-5.9 lens).

Other key features include:

  • 8x equivalent Intelligent Zoom function
  • 1280x720p HD video recording to MP4
  • 2.7-inch, 230,000-dot LCD
  • Optical image stabilization
  • AF Tracking
  • Intelligent ISO Control,
  • Face Recognition
  • Intelligent Scene Selector
  • Intelligent Exposure.
  • Miniature Effect mode
  • Panorama Shot
  • Orange, blue, black, and red color options

The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-TS20 will ship in late February for $179.99.

Related stories on ZDNet:

Related links: