Waterproof Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1 is the Toughbook of Digital Cameras

Built by a company with some experience at making things that aren't flimsy, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1 is a waterproof, dustproof and shockproof point-and-shoot camera for the outdoorsy and/or clumsy type.

Nearly every aspect of the TS1 was designed with rugged use in mind: the airtight shell, reinforced with rubber padding, glass and carbon resin is purported to protect the camera during underwater use at depths of up to ten feet and falls onto a hard surface from five.

Now for the spec pile: the TS1 shoots stills at 12.1 megapixels and video at 720p. effective lens length is an ample 28mm-128mm, the aperture opens to a 3.3-5.9 maximum size, ISO notches all the way up to 6400 and the maximum shutter speed is 1/1300. A 2.7-inch, 230,000-dot LCD adorns the back of the slim(ish) 3.87 x 2.49 x 0.91 body, and the standard facial recognition, image stabilization and creative mode features are all present.

The TS1 will ship in April for $400, which doesn't sound so bad considering what a solid travel camera this could make. See the whole presser below. Note: Panasonic hasn't yet released press images for this product, but the FT1, pictured above, is the European equivalent to the TS1 and is, for all intents and purposes, identical. Picture from LetsGoDigital. [Panasonic]

PANASONIC INTRODUCES WORLD'S FIRST*1 WATERPROOF, SHOCKPROOF AND DUSTPROOF DIGITAL CAMERA
WITH AVCHD LITE HD VIDEO RECORDING CAPABILITIES*2

New LUMIX DMC-TS1 Digital Camera Features Tough and Rugged Design for Capturing Still and Motion Images In Outdoor Activities

MIAMI, FL (January 27, 2009) – Panasonic today introduced the LUMIX DMC-TS1, the world's first*1 waterproof, shockproof and dustproof digital camera*2 to also feature AVCHD Lite High Definition (HD) video recording capabilities*3. The TS1's tough and rugged design makes it the ideal choice for active users needing the ultimate hybrid for capturing both still and motion images during outdoor activities. The LUMIX TS1, with a 12.1 megapixel resolution, features a 28mm wide-angle LEICA DC VARIO-ELMAR lens, a 4.6x optical zoom and Panasonic's proprietary iA (Intelligent Auto) mode, making this an easy-to-use, yet powerful camera that packs advanced imaging features.

"Many consumers are hesitant to take their digital cameras on outdoor activities like skiing, hiking, boating or even a day at the beach, for fear it will be damaged. With the introduction of the LUMIX TS1, we offer a digital camera with a rugged design that consumers can feel confident using in these tough environments," said David Briganti, National Marketing Manager, Imaging, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company. "Even more, with the ability to take both beautiful high-quality still images and High Definition video, with AVCHD Lite, the TS1 offers a powerful one-two punch to capture memories that can later be shared with friends and family."

The TS1 is waterproof to a depth of 10 feet, shockproof from falls up to 5 feet, and dustproof. With its rubber padding, reinforced glass and carbon resins inside the camera, the TS1 features an airtight body protected against water immersion, dust and sand.

Starting at the 28mm wide angle, and zooming up to a useful 128mm in telephoto, the TS1 gives users the flexibility for a variety of shooting environments – especially underwater, where movement is often restricted and the angle of view becomes important for composing shots. The TS1 also features a 2.7-inch, 230,000-dot Intelligent LCD with a wide viewing angle, enhancing visibility during recording and playback by automatic brightness control according to the environment's lighting conditions. Plus, the TS1's LCD panel is deliberately thickened for protection against pressure, allowing the display to operate with clear visibility even underwater.

The TS1 records AVCHD Lite HD video, allowing almost double the recording time in HD quality compared with the conventional Motion JPEG format. The TS1 also features Dolby Digital Creator to record high quality audio to match the high-quality motion images.

Also new in 2009, the TS1 features iA mode for both still images and in Movie Mode. For iA in Movie Mode, the TS1 features Optical Image Stabilization (O.I.S.), which helps prevent handshake when using high-powered zoom. Face Detection automatically detects a face in a frame and adjusts focus, exposure, contrast, and skin complexion on the face. Intelligent Exposure continually checks the ambient light level and adjusts the exposure setting as conditions change to prevent blown highlights and blocked shadows. And Intelligent Scene Selector automatically switches between Normal, Portrait, Macro, Scenery, and Low Light modes according to the situation to optimize visual quality. A Wind Cut function is also available to block out most of the noise from background wind. Optical zoom can be used in motion image recording. Users can start video recording by simply pressing a dedicated button on the camera's back panel.

The TS1's iA for still image adds Face Recognition*4 – a feature that "remembers" faces from previous shots. When a registered face appears in the frame, the camera will prioritize focus and exposure to capture it beautifully. With Face Recognition, when a familiar face is recorded several times, the camera will prompt you to register the face. Once registered, if the face appears into the frame again, the camera will display the name specified for that person and prioritize focus and exposure so that the registered face is bright and sharply focused.

The imaging power of LUMIX has further evolved with the Venus Engine HD, which boasts two CPUs to provide approx. 2.4x processing capability and support for Face Recognition, AVCHD Lite and HDMI output. It integrates the numerous advanced functions with high performance, and low-power consumption. Thanks to the Venus Engine HD, it's easy to view photos or movies recorded in AVCHD Lite. Simply insert the SD Memory Card from the camera in the Panasonic VIERA® HDTV's Image Viewer SD Memory Card slot to start playback, or connect the camera via an optional HDMI mini cable to a VIERA Link™-equipped Panasonic VIERA HDTV and use the TV's remote control to run slideshows*5.

This multi-task image-processing engine also enables a fast response time. The TS1 starts up quickly in 1.3 seconds and shutter release time lag is approximately 0.005 seconds, making it easy to capture sudden, spur-of-the-moment photo opportunities. The Flash Burst mode makes it possible to take consecutive shots with continuous emissions of the flash*6. The Venus Engine HD also supports a High Sensitivity mode that lets the TS1 record up to ISO 6400*7, sensitive enough to capture subjects in near-total darkness without using a flash. Despite its outstanding performance, the high performance engine is also more energy efficient, extending the battery life up to 340 shots (CIPA) per a single charge.

Other features of the LUMIX DMC-TS1 include:
New Scene Modes for Still Images: Beach & Surf mode gives users a single mode with optimized auto white balance for optical shooting on the beach and in shallow water.
New Panorama Assist scene mode allows users to shoot a number of consistent photos, either vertically or horizontally, by aligning them according to a guide that overlaps the screen. Then using those photos and the bundled PanoramaMaker software, users can create dramatic panoramic images.
Increased Scene modes for both still and motion image shooting – optimized for a variety of situations. There are 26 scene modes for still image and 17 for motion image (Portrait, Soft Skin, Transform, Self portrait, Scenery, Low light, Food, Party, Candle light, Sunset, High sensitivity, Beach & Surf, Snow, Aerial, Pin hole, Film grain and Underwater)
LED Illumination is available in motion image recording.
High-Speed Burst (Speed Priority) that fires off approximately10 shots per second*8.
Menus are clearer and easier to navigate with the Display Size option.
Macro Zoom function lets users pull subjects even closer to capture dramatic close-up shots by using the 3x digital zoom in the wide-angle.
Bundled Software: The latest version of PHOTOfunSTUDIO 3.0 HD Edition allows users to view, edit and archive captured content with greater ease and fun. Still and motion images can be transferred to the computer via a USB cable for viewing and archiving. Using PHOTOfunSTUDIO 3.0 HD Edition, users can edit and remove unwanted portions of video clips recorded in AVCHD Lite. Contents recorded in AVCHD Lite can be burned directly onto a DVD disc or converted to MPEG2 format. The software also incorporates the Face Recognition function, which recognizes registered faces in photos stored on the computer, making organizing and archiving photos with a specific person much easier. Additionally, motion pictures can be uploaded directly to YouTube.

The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-TS1 will be available in silver, green or orange models in April 2009 for a suggested retail price of $399.95. For more information, please visit www.panasonic.com/lumix.