Around this time last year Panasonic announced the release of its foray into the rugged digital compact market and its first to feature AVCHD lite HD video recording. The LUMIX DMC-TS1 (FT1 in Europe) was dustproof, waterproof to three meters, shockproof and sported a 12.1 megapixel sensor. Now the company has announced its successor, the DMC-TS2 (FT2 in Europe) - so what's new?
The DMC-TS2 not only sports a newer look but is also ever-so-slightly chunkier than last year's model at 99 x 63 x 24 mm (3.91 x 2.48 x 0.96 in) and weighing 167g (minus the Li-ion battery). It's been significantly strengthened too, now being waterproof to 33 feet or ten meters (even in sea water) and able to withstand a drop from over six feet (two meters). Those who favor snapping in colder climes will no doubt positively salivate at the news that it can also withstand temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit (that's a chilly minus 10C).
The 1/2.33in Type CCD sensor has been increased to 14.1 megapixels and improvements in face recognition technology can register up to three different images for a person and detect up to 15 faces. The camera now benefits from Power OIS lens-shift image stabilization, which reduces hand shake by a factor of two over the previous model. As with the TS1, the new model retains the 4.6x optical zoom and 4x digital zoom but with the addition of Intelligent Zoom and Intelligent Auto technology, it enjoys an extended zoom ratio without loss of image quality.
Panasonic's image quality technology, the Venus Engine HD, has been updated and is now known as Intelligent Resolution. Using a pixel by pixel approach for outline enhancement and soft graduation area noise reduction and working with the Intelligent Zoom functionality, captured images should be "naturally clear and crisp in both photo and movie recording". Image color, brightness and saturation optimization further improves image quality when something called "Happy Mode" is activated.
The 28mm LEICA DC VARIO-ELMAR remains and extended 720p high definition video continues to be supplied by AVCHD lite HD technology but the 230,000 dot 2.7in LCD display has been thickened a little so users can set up shots in deeper water without any pressure-related problems. Memory expansion of up to 64Gb is supported courtesy of SDXC compatibility and it's claimed that around 360 images can be shot on a single battery charge.