Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 (Lumix FT7) Review
Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 (Panasonic Lumix FT7 outside the US) is the camera I review here. I have not reviewed a camera like this in a long time.
Finally, something is really happening with outdoor cameras, i.e. cameras that are robust and waterproof as standard. With the Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 (Lumix FT7), Panasonic brings a real novelty (no model upgrading of an older model) to the market. The TS7 is technically up to date and is also currently the only outdoor camera that not only has a monitor but also a viewfinder.
- Waterproof to 31 meters
- Easy to grip housing
- Electronic viewfinder
- Acceptable image quality up to ISO 800
- Very tight shutter release
- High shutter release delay
- ISO 6.400 virtually unusable
- Low-light lens
Panasonic released the robust Lumix DC-TS7 underwater camera. In addition to a 28-128 mm lens and a 20.4 megapixel image sensor, the TS7 offers a 4K video function and is currently the only underwater camera with an electronic viewfinder. All this packed into a case, which is shockproof and waterproof to 31 meters, should actually be a guarantee for success. Whether Panasonic has succeeded in getting the maximum performance out of the sensor is clarified in this detailed test report.
The fact that outdoor cameras recently only had monitors and no viewfinder can hardly be explained by technical difficulties, because we already had much more sophisticated things in the class, such as swivel-mounted monitors, which certainly cause more headaches than a viewfinder in terms of robustness and waterproofness. Outdoor cameras in particular, a viewfinder (optical viewfinder, video viewfinder, whatever) is actually a good place to look, because such cameras are used particularly often in bright surroundings, are considered to be “fair weather cameras” due to their small sensors and low-light zoom lenses. They are optimized for “outdoors” and for “action”, not e.g. for indoor use. And in bright ambient light, a viewfinder is still the best choice and beats any monitor, however good (which of course is still important). In this respect, we are pleased that we will be able to enter a Yes instead of a dash (“no”) in the “viewfinder” column in the equipment and features overview of our datasheet.
Panasonic points out in its press release that the Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 is the successor to the DMC-FT5, which was launched as early as 2013. This is true insofar as the latter is now sold out and was in the same price range (around 400 €). The lens data is also identical: 28 to 128 mm 35 mm equivalent focal length (4.6x zoom) with F3.3 (wide angle) to F5.9 speed and optical image stabiliser. But beyond that, practically everything is different. This starts with the design and continues in all technical specifications. In my opinion the hunchbacked TS7 has unfortunately not become a beauty. The camera is also extremely large (and heavy) compared to most other outdoor cameras. On the one hand, this is due to the viewfinder technology, which is obviously “on top” of the TS7. But the camera is also much thicker and wider than its predecessor. This can again be explained by the drastically increased allowed diving depth. Panasonic simply swapped the numbers. Instead of the 13 meters achieved by the previous model, the TS7 can dive up to 31 meters. Couldn’t you have just said “30 metres”? Well, at least this breaks the 100 limit when converting to feet: 102 feet stands proudly on the camera front. In addition, the TS7 can also claim to outdo the previous dive depth leader, the Nikon Coolpix W300, by exactly this one metre. The TS7 should also be able to withstand falls from up to 2 meters (not on every surface, but at least on a 3 cm thick plywood board).
Also electronically everything is new, really up to date and certainly sufficient for the next years. 4K video resolution is an important benchmark, of course, with up to 30 fps. The image sensor has an effective resolution of 20.4 megapixels, which is also a new record for outdoor cameras, but with such small sensors, many pixels do not automatically mean a lot of quality in the photos as the individual pixels get smaller and smaller. However, Panasonic speaks of a high-sensitivity sensor, which is also read out very quickly. With a mechanical shutter, the Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 achieves up to 10 frames per second in full resolution, like its 16 megapixel predecessor. The 3-inch LCD monitor also offers more resolution than the competition: 1.04 million pixels in 3:2 format. It is not designed as a touch screen, as with all other outdoor cameras. The video viewfinder offers a little more pixels (1.1 million) and, like the image sensor, it has a 4:3 format, so that the resolution is also fully used by the image.
Unfortunately, there are also losses in the equipment compared to the previous model to complain about. The most striking: GPS or direct geotagging is no longer built in. The alternative, logging via smartphone using a Panasonic app and the data reconciliation then required, is of little consolation. Barometer and altimeter are also no longer included, this is something that one might get over. By the way, Bluetooth is still unfortunately not on board for the constant power-saving data connection to the smartphone, but WLAN is of course built in. The number of shots that can be taken with one battery charge has dropped considerably to 300 compared to 370 in the previous model, even though there is no power-sapping GPS on board. Apparently the more powerful processor takes its toll.
Especially because of the built-in viewfinder the Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 is one of the most interesting action/outdoorcams at the moment. It’s a pity that Panasonic has dropped GPS for this and doesn’t use a larger battery in the already much larger case. A digitalkamera.de test will show whether the increased sensor resolution is fully reflected in the photos. The recommended retail price of 429 euros is just above comparable models of the competition. For the video viewer, however, the small surcharge is very reasonable and certainly well invested.
Ergonomics and Workmanship
The Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 is a real monster, only the Leica X-U is even bigger. The TS7 measures 117 x 76 x 37 mm and weighs only 319 grams when ready for use. The reason for the high weight is on the one hand the robust housing, which is shock-resistant and waterproof to a depth of 31 metres. That is about three kilograms per square centimeter, which act on the housing from all sides and on the seals. Speaking of seals: The camera also draws the photographer’s attention to the safety instructions for underwater use every time the camera is switched on, until these have been completely scrolled through and deactivated in the menu.
The camera lies amazingly well in the hand. This is due to the successful combination of a handy handle on the front and the screwed-on, slightly rounded shape of the strap eyelet on the back. On the latter the thumb finds a secure hold and sufficient space. Even when wearing thin gloves, the grip is sufficient if the photographer wears thick gloves, but rather not. In addition to this grip, the shutter release has a strong profile, which is also found on the left side of the camera at a 45 degree angle. This allows the camera to be held comfortably and securely – even when wearing gloves. The built-in flash is located quite close to the handle and there is a risk of accidentally covering it. Although the flash guide number of 5.4 is not lavish, it is within the usual range of cameras of this type.
The operating elements of the Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 are located on the top and rear side. With the exception of the bulky trigger, all buttons have normal dimensions. This is astonishing in so far as menus should also be navigated with gloves. The pressure point of the keys is a little harder, but this is common for this type of camera because of the seals. Even the tight trigger is no exception. This is also partly responsible for the failure of the shutter release delay measurement with autofocus. But more about that later.
The really small zoom buttons are the only ones that feel spongy, even though they work perfectly. Because the camera has no rotary wheel for the operating mode, the Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 designers simply missed two menus. One can be called up by pressing the confirmation key in the directional pad. This contains all relevant camera settings and the two function keys can also be assigned here. The menu for the operating mode can be found under the button labeled “Mode”. The menus of the TS7 are sensibly designed and easy to understand. Despite the lack of a touchscreen function, the menus can be conveniently navigated using the control pad. The directional pad is, like the shutter release, quite taut, so that you have to push the directional pads in really hard. This can be a problem when wearing gloves because of the small buttons on the camera, as it is easy to accidentally press another button. On the underside is a 3/4-inch plastic tripod thread outside the optical axis.
The 7.5-centimeter monitor takes up the largest part of the back. The resolution is 1,040,000 pixels and the maximum brightness is only about 423 cd/m². This is quite little for a camera that is also intended to be used when skiing on the mountains in the glistening sunlight reflected by the white snow. There is no touchscreen function. The cover of the monitor is made of real glass.
The electronic viewfinder is located above the monitor. This is unique for an underwater camera, none of the competing models have a viewfinder. Unfortunately, it can’t be used under water, but given the dim screen, it’s worth its weight in gold in bright environments above the water. The viewfinder has a dioptre compensation and right next to it there is the button to switch between viewfinder and monitor, as there is no proximity sensor for an automatic switch. However, the viewfinder is quite small, which is a problem especially for people wearing glasses. A color and brightness correction for the viewfinder is unfortunately missing.
On the right side of the Lumix there is a double secured, large flap. Below this are the compartment for the battery, the memory card and the connections consisting of a micro-USB and a micro-HDMI interface. The battery is a DMW-BCM13E, which should provide enough power for 300 pictures. This was measured by the manufacturer according to the CIPA test procedure. The Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 uses cards with SD form factor as storage media. Technologies like SDHC, SDXC and UHS-1 are also supported. The USB interface is used for data transfer and as a power supply to charge the battery in the camera. The HDMI interface transmits picture and sound to a monitor or television. The WLAN interface of the Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 is invisible, we will talk about this later in the text.
Equipment And Features
The main feature of the Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 is clearly the housing, followed immediately by the small 1/2.3″ sensor with 20 megapixel resolution. Panasonic is thus leading the race for megapixels in waterproof cameras. Whether this is a good idea in combination with a 28-128 mm (KB-equivalent) can be seen in the image quality section a little further on in the text. Although the zoom is not fully continuous, the angle of view can be adjusted quite finely. The TS7 uses a lens design that resembles a periscope. The incident light is guided through an optical system and then deflected vertically by 90 degrees towards the camera floor. That’s where you’ll find the sensor. Between the mirror and the sensor there is another optical unit that houses the zoom and the optical image stabilizer. The advantage of such lenses is that the camera does not have a lens barrel that moves out. The disadvantage is that the optics are quite faint, as is the case with the Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 with F3.5 to 5.9. The deflection of light, which is normally achieved with a prism, is also not exactly conducive to image quality. A mirror would be even worse.
For creative modes, the Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 does not offer semi-automatic modes. Only a manual mode is available to the photographer for possible experiments. What’s not missing is the good iA automatic scene mode control from Panasonic. In this mode, the image processor analyzes the subject and automatically sets the optimal shooting and image processor settings. If this is too imprecise for you, you can choose exactly what suits the subject from 21 ready-made scene mode programs. Among these programs are portrait programs, a soft skin function, landscape, sunset, monochrome and much more. Some programs have been removed from this collection so that they can be found more quickly. This includes the modes Sport, Snow, Beach & Surf as well as Underwater and Panorama. The latter is a very easy to use panorama function. This creates quite passable panoramas when taking landscape shots, but the closer objects are to the camera when panning, the more mistakes are noticeable on the image.
If desired, the photographer can take photos and videos with a specific image style. To do this, he only has to dive into the settings menu and can select one of these styles there. From a standard style to vivid colors, portrait and monochrome, six different styles are available. In addition, the individual styles can be adjusted in contrast, sharpness, noise reduction and color saturation.
The Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 (Lumix FT7) uses a contrast autofocus system. Unfortunately, the autofocus speed could not be measured together with the shutter release delay. On the one hand, it constantly pumps the autofocus even without pressing the shutter release button, but above all, it releases the shutter without focusing when pressed quickly, as is required for measurement, so that the images sometimes become blurred. What could be measured, however, was the shutter release delay. This was a comfortable 0.2 seconds in wide angle and telephoto. For a 2018 camera this is quite slow, other cameras are three to ten times as fast.
With a total of 49 measuring fields, the Lumix can measure the focus. The number of fields can of course be reduced. In addition, a face detection autofocus and a user-definable AF tracking system are available. With the latter, the photographer can use a small crosshair to determine an object on which the focus should be placed. If the object (or the camera) moves, the crosshairs on the previously selected object will also move – provided it remains in the image field.
The continuous shooting speed on the other hand is quite high. Thus the camera achieves 16.6 frames per second up to a maximum of 10 frames in succession. After that the buffer is full and the camera reduces the frame rate to 3.7 frames per second. The camera will continue to run until the battery is empty or the memory card is full. When the series is finished, the camera will empty the buffer in the background, while the Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 (Lumix FT7) can continue to be used normally.
Since the camera has a 4K video function, it also has Panasonic’s 4K photo functions. These include continuous shooting with 3,840 x 2,160 pixels and the post-focus function. In this case, the camera takes several pictures in succession and changes the focus distance a little. When viewing the image on the monitor, the photographer can then determine where to focus.
The 4K video function also has a maximum resolution of 3,840 x 2,160 pixels. The maximum frame rate is 30 frames per second. The videos are encoded as MP4. Somewhat hidden in the menus is the time lapse function. This can be programmed in recording interval and number of images. When all recordings are finished, the individual images are combined to form a video.
Possibilities for post-processing of pictures and videos are also available in the camera. You can split videos, add text to images, change sizes and more. The special features of an underwater camera include an altimeter function, an electronic compass and a world clock function. Panasonic has not forgotten these three functions in the Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 (Lumix FT7). It does not have a GPS function, but that is not a big problem, because the WLAN function can help out.
Like almost every modern camera, the Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 (Lumix FT7) cannot do without a wireless connection, which is made possible by a conventional WLAN connection. In order to use them, the smart device must first be equipped with the free Panasonic Image App. You can find the app in both the Google Play Store and Apple’s iTunes Store. The installation of the app is fast and easy and after only a few steps the connection between app and camera is established. The app is able to move images to the smart device immediately after taking them. In addition, a comprehensive remote control including a fast LiveView function can be used. Furthermore, the app can transfer saved geodata to the camera as a log, so that it can save this data in the images. In addition, the camera can be integrated into an existing WLAN, so that the images can be accessed by any network user.
In this section of the test report you will find a brief summary of the test performed with the photography testing software of the Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 (Lumix FT7).
The lens has only two aperture settings, open aperture and closed aperture, corresponding to F10 (wide angle), F16 (medium focal length) and F18 (telephoto focal length) depending on the focal length. In combination with the camera’s small sensor, such a high aperture number means above all the risk of blur due to diffraction. Even the TS7 can’t outsmart physics and while the drop in sharpness of the lens in short and medium focal length is quite low, the results at maximum focal length and F18 show visible blur. The vignetting remains inconspicuous, so that one can assume that the camera and/or its image processor is involved here.
Distortion correction in the camera is not as diligent, because the photos show a cushion-shaped distortion at long focal length and a barrel-shaped distortion at short to medium focal length. However, the values are by no means dramatic. In the area of chromatic aberrations, the Panasonic shows itself quite well, as these are only slightly visible at all with a long focal length.
When determining the resolution, the camera achieves about 51 line pairs per mm (lp/mm) in 35 mm equivalent at 50 percent contrast, but also only at wide angle in the center of the image and only with the aperture open. Towards the edge of the picture the resolution decreases by almost half. Curiously, the average focal length shows worse results at open aperture than at maximum focal length. In short, the open aperture is preferable in telephoto and wide-angle and the maximum aperture in medium focal length. The diagram of the sharpness artifacts shows extremely low values, indicating that the image processor does not do much sharpening. This is a very good idea for image editors, but if you want to use the images immediately, a little sharpening is rather counterproductive. Fortunately, the sharpening of the images can also be changed via the already mentioned image styles. Three levels are sufficient, depending on taste, to make the image “crispier” for immediate use.
The image noise of a digital camera is influenced by various factors. The two decisive factors are sensor size and resolution. The more pixels that share an area, the more susceptible the sensor is to image noise. The signal-to-noise ratio then also speaks a clear language. At just over ISO 100, the results settle at the acceptable limit, and at ISO 800 the camera falls below it. In other words: The image noise visibly overlays the image. Above ISO 400, the loss of detail due to noise reduction becomes obvious and at ISO 800, fine details are already erroneously “ironed out” as noise. After all, the anatomy of noise is fine-grained. The brightness noise is hardly visible up to ISO 1.600. Moreover, it is constantly increasing. The more disturbing color noise is, as with all modern cameras, no longer a problem.
The input dynamic range of the TS7 is high at ISO 100 and is over 12 f-stops. After that, it drops and at ISO 1.600, it only drops to an acceptable level of just under ten aperture stops. The transfer of the recorded tonal values is good, the bulbous tuning raises the mid tones a little, which is nothing unusual for a shoot-to-print camera. The output tonal range is good at ISO 80 with just over 160 tonal steps. From ISO 100 to about 3,200, however, this already drops to below 160 levels and is therefore only acceptable.
Unfortunately, Panasonic does not offer raw data recording. This prevents the photographer from carrying out a differentiated denoising. The colour fidelity of the Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 (Lumix FT7) is fine and shows the tuning of a camera whose images should be used without much image processing. The color deviations are small on average.
Arriving at the end of the test report, it’s time to draw a conclusion about the Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 (Lumix FT7)’s achievements and weaknesses. This is not as easy as it is with other cameras. The TS7 has an easy to use, incredibly robust housing. Although the shutter release and the control pad are quite tight, you can get used to it after a short time. The idea of integrating an electronic viewfinder is a good one, even if it has a small picture and only makes sense when operated above water. Nevertheless it is a good alternative to the monitor in bright environments. The Lumix also scores points for its equipment. The 4K video function, post-focus, fast continuous shooting and an easy-to-use WLAN function are already really fine, even if the shutter release delay could be faster. But if one comes to the results of the image quality, then one can only say that it was just not a good idea to use a 20 megapixel resolution sensor and combine it with a rather weak zoom. The expected dissolution boost does not occur. This is partly due to the very sparse sharpening of the images, which fortunately can be changed if necessary by means of the adjustable image styles, so that the photographer gets some crisp images out of the camera for immediate use. Despite the negative points, the camera is in the upper midfield of compact underwater cameras. The only reason for this, however, is that the models of other manufacturers do not deliver outstanding performance in this area either.
Profile Of The Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 (Lumix FT7)
|Model||Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 in US (Lumix FT7 in the rest of the world)|
|Sensor||CMOS 1/2.3″ 6.2 x 4.6 mm (crop factor 5.6
)21.1 Megapixel (physical)
20.4 Megapixel (effective)
|Resolution (max.)||5.184 x 3.888 (4:3)|
|Video (max.)||3.840 x 2,160 30p|
|Filter thread||No filter thread installed|
|Video finder||EVF, 100% field coverage, 1,170,000 pixels resolution, 2.53x magnification (sensor-related), 0.45x magnification (KB equivalent), diopter compensation|
|Monitor||3.0″ (7.5 cm)|
|AV connector||HDMI output Micro (Type D)|
|Scene mode programs||20|
|Automatic aperture control||–|
|Bulb Long Term Exposure||–|
|Exposure metering||Multi-field, centre-weighted Integral, Spot|
|fastest shutter speed||1/1.300 s|
|Synchronous time||1/1.300 s|
|GPS||external, Smartphone as GPS logger|
|Remote release||yes, remote control via smartphone/tablet|
SD (UHS I, SDXC, SDHC)
|Number of measuring fields||49 Contrast sensors|
|AF auxiliary light||LED|
|Dimensions (WxHxD)||117 x 76 x 37 mm|
|Weight (ready for operation)||319 g|
|Tripod thread||off optical axis|
|Zoom adjustment||Zoom rocker (motorized)|
|Battery life||300 recordings according to CIPA standard|
|– = “not applicable” or “not available|
This test of the Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 (Lumix FT7) was created with DXOMARK Analyzer.
- Waterproof to 31 meters
- Easy to grip housing
- Electronic viewfinder
- Acceptable image quality up to ISO 800
- Very tight shutter release
- High shutter release delay
- ISO 6.400 virtually unusable
- Low-light lens
Panasonic Lumix DC-TS7 (Lumix FT7) Datasheet
|Sensor||CMOS sensor 1/2.3″ 6.2 x 4.6 mm (crop factor 5.6
)21.1 megapixels (physical), 20.4 megapixels (effective)
|Color depth||24 bits (8 bits per color channel)|
|Metadata||Exif (version 2.31), DCF standard|
|Focal length||28 to 128 mm (35mm equivalent
.9 to 22.8 mm (physical)
digital zoom 4x
|Sharpness range||30 cm to infinity (wide angle
)30 cm to infinity (telephoto)
|Macro area||5 cm (wide angle)|
|Aperture||F3.3 to F10 (wide angle
)F5.9 to F18 (telephoto)
|Autofocus mode||Contrast autofocus with 49 measuring fields|
|Autofocus functions||Single autofocus, continuous autofocus, tracking autofocus, AF auxiliary light (LED)|
|Filter thread||No filter thread|
Viewfinder and monitor
|Monitor||3.0″ (7.5 cm) TFT LCD monitor with 1,040,000 pixels, brightness adjustable|
|Video finder||Video viewfinder (100 % field coverage) with 1,170,000 pixels, magnification factor 2.53x (0.45x KB equivalent), dioptre compensation|
|Exposure metering||Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement, spot measurement|
|Exposure times||1/1,300 to 4 s (automatic
)1/1,300 to 4 s (manual)
1/16,000 to 4 s (electronic)
|Exposure control||Fully automatic, Program automatic, Manual, Motif automatic|
|Exposure bracketing function||Exposure bracketing function with a maximum of 7 shots, 1/3 to 1 EV increments, HDR function|
|Exposure Compensation||-5.0 to +5.0 EV with step size of 1/3 EV|
|Photosensitivity||ISO 100 to ISO 3,200 (automatic
)ISO 100 to ISO 6,400 (manual)
|Remote access||Remote control via smartphone/tablet
, remote control from computer: no
|Scene modes||HDR, landscape, food, night landscape, night portrait, sunset, sports/action, beach/snow, animals, underwater, 10 additional scene mode programs|
|Picture effects||Cross Process, High Key, Low Key, Miniature Effect, Monochrome, Retro, Toy Camera, Soft Focus, Cross Process, Dynamic Monochrome, Single Color, Expressive, High Dynamic, High Key, Impressive Art, Low Key, Retro, Sepia, Star Filter, 14 more image effects|
|White balance||Automatic, Clouds, Sun, Fine Tuning, Shadow, Underwater, Tungsten Light, Manual|
|Continuous shooting||Continuous shooting function max. 10 fps at highest resolution and max. 6 stored photos, 4K continuous shooting at 30 fps, 30 fps pre burst|
|Self-timer||Self-timer with interval of 2, special features: 10 seconds, 3-fold self-timer|
|Recording functions||Live histogram|
|Flash range||0.3 to 5.6 m at wide angle0
.3 to 3.1 m at tele flash range
at ISO autoflash sync speed
|Flash functions||Auto, fill-flash, flash on, flash off, slow sync, red-eye reduction by pre-flash|
Equipment And Features
|Image stabilizer||optical image stabilizer|
SD (SDHC, SDXC, UHS I)
|Internal memory||yes (10 MByte)|
|GPS function||GPS external (Smartphone as GPS logger)|
|Power supply unit||Power supply connectionUSB charging function|
|Power supply||1 x lithium-ion (Li-Ion) battery (3.6 V, 1,250 mAh
)300 images according to CIPA standard
|Playback functions||Red-eye retouching, video editing, cropping images, image protection, playback histogram, playback magnifier with 16.0x magnification, image index, slide show function with music and transition effects, zoom out|
|Face recognition||Face recognition|
|Image parameters||Sharpness, contrast, color saturation, noise reduction|
|Grille can be faded in during recording||yes|
|Special functions||Orientation sensor, Live View|
|Connections||Data interfaces: USBUSB type
: USB 2.0WLAN
: available (Type: B, G, N)
Audio output: noAudio input
: noVideo output
: yes (HDMI output Micro (Type D))
|Supported direct printing methods||PictBridge|
|Tripod thread||1/4″ not in optical axis|
|Housing||Splashproof, waterproof up to 31.0 m (class IPX8), dustproof (class IP6X), drop-resistant up to 2 m, loadable up to 100 kg, frost-proof up to -10 °C|
|Special features and miscellaneous||optical Image StabilizerContrast EnhancementPost Focus FunctionShutter Speed
Video 1/16,000 to 1/30 sHigh Speed Video
Size and weight
|Weight||319 g (ready for operation)|
|Dimensions W x H x D||117 x 76 x 37 mm|
|standard accessory||Lithium-ion batteryBattery chargerUSB connection cableStrap loopImage editing software
PHOTOfunSTUDIO 9.1 PE for Windows and for Macintosh