Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2 Performance, Timings, and Image Quality

by Adam Crawford Reads (294)
Editor's Rating
7.25

TG Ratings Breakdown

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 6
    • Features
    • 8
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 8
    • Performance
    • 7
    • Total Score:
    • 7.25
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

PERFORMANCE
To test the rugged performance of the TS2, I repeatedly dunked it into a sink of water to see if there were issues. Before I used the TS2 in water I made sure that I followed the directions completely, checking the seals and making sure it was locked before I put it in the water. After testing the unit underwater, we didn’t find any problems and assume that it functions to the full 33 feet in Panasonic’s published specifications.

To check the durability of the weather seals I took the camera to the beach on a very windy day last week, with 10-knot winds. The camera was sealed up and did incur a lot of sand all over the camera body. I was able to shoot with ease and the sand stayed out of the camera, making sure no roadblocks were in the way.

As far as drop testing, I did test this feature out. I dropped the TS2 from a height of four feet onto some tile. I picked up the camera and found no scuffing or further damage when I turned on the camera. The TS2 is an all-around performer when it is pushed to the limits.

Shooting Performance
The TS2, according to published specifications, takes 1.1 seconds to start up, and according to my usage in the field, this is an accurate estimate. The TS2 fires on quickly, and once you’re ready to shoot it will find focus in 0.26-seconds, which is second among comparative models like the Casio G1 and the Olympus Tough 6000. Shutter lag didn’t hold up to the spec sheet in our lab testing, it is rated at 0.005-seconds, but our tests show 0.05-seconds, a few ticks of the clock slower than stated.

Editor’s Note: We tested shutter lag with a number of different camera settings and found that Panasonic’s claimed time of 0.005 was correct when we turned image stabilization off. However, it’s likely that users will keep stabilization enabled, so we’ve kept our original measured time of 0.05 seconds.

Shutter Lag (press-to-capture, pre-focused)

Camera Time (seconds)
Casio Exilim EX-G1 0.01
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2 0.05
Olympus Stylus Tough 6000 0.06
Canon PowerShot D10 0.08

AF Acquisition (press-to-capture, no pre-focus)

Camera Time (seconds)
Casio Exilim EX-G1 0.20
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2 0.26
Canon PowerShot D10 0.36
Olympus Stylus Tough 6000 0.83

Continuous Shooting

Camera Frames Framerate*
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2 3 1.6
Canon PowerShot D10 1.2
Olympus Stylus Tough 6000 2 1.1
Casio Exilim EX-G1 0.5

* Note: Continuous shooting framerates are based on the camera’s fastest full-resolution JPEG continuous shooting mode, using the fastest media type available (300x CF, SDHC, etc.). “Frames” notes the number of captures recorded per burst before the camera stops/slows to clear the buffer.

For burst shooting, Panasonic says that the TS2 is capable of 1.8 fps with a max of three images in its highest quality. Our studio tests show slightly slower performance, clocking in at 1.6 fps for three images at its highest quality. But there is also a high-speed burst mode that takes 3 megapixel images at a frame rate of 10 images per second, and this worked well.

The flash on the TS2 has a few options: Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Slow Sync/Red-eye Reduction and Forced Off. The Auto function works well for fill, but leaves an intense amount of lighting, almost making it look unnatural. However, the Slow Sync/Red-eye Reduction option is great, filling in a low-light scene to look more natural. The reach of the flash ranges from wide at 16.7 feet, and a telephoto range up to 9.2 feet.


Flash On Auto


Slow Sync

 

As far as image stabilization goes, the TS2 uses the new Power O.I.S. instead of the older Mega O.I.S., which uses a low-frequency vibration hand-shake component when you press the shutter. This helps get an even cleaner handheld shot in low light. In my experience with the TS2, shooting mainly in shaded areas, the Power O.I.S. worked just as expected.

Battery life on the TS2 is rated at 360 images per charge according to CIPA standards, and does hold its charge this long.

Lens Performance
The TS2 has a 4.6x Leica DC Vario-Elmar optical zoom lens with a maximum aperture range of f/3.3-5.9 (f/3.3 – 10 wide angle and f/5.9 – 18 telephoto). The TS2 showed a slight amount of barrel distortion with some pincushioning in the middle of the frame at the wide end, but at telephoto I found some of the edges a little soft.

As far as chromatic aberrations are concerned, when blown up to 400% in Photoshop, I noticed slight purple fringing in high contrast scenes, but nothing of much note. Levels of artifacts are acceptable, and they aren’t very noticable unless you enlarge the image.

Some images were soft at default settings, with not much in-camera sharpening taking place. Macro zoom was quite good, allowing you to get up to 0.16 feet away from your subject, which in my case was a small purple flower. The detail of the image was quite good.

Panasonic TS2 Test Image

Video Quality
The TS2 captures HD video in AVCHD Lite or Motion JPEG (which is best for email and Web purposes) at 1280 x 720 at 30 fps. The AVCHD Lite format, co-developed by Sony and Panasonic, is the best quality video without lossy compression that is capable with Motion JPEG.

The video I captured was HD underwater video that worked and looked great. I turned the TS2 to automatic mode and just pressed the red record button. The video looked great on my HDTV, which is beneficial if you want to take the camera underwater and still get great 720p video.

Image Quality
The real crux of the TS2 is its ability to go underwater and record video and stills. To test it, I chose a few scenarios. The first idea was to go surfing with the camera, but I was worried about dropping it or keeping it submerged too long. So instead I chose a controlled environment; I set up an object in a well-lit sink in hopes of capturing stills and video.

Panasonic TS2 Test Image

The results were above average, and once you look at the video you can see that the TS2 performed well. Upon closer inspection, with the camera at default settings in auto with the standard color mode, the still images looked great with no visible degradation, and the video was the same.

The camera seems to have produced some pretty drowned out images that were kind of soft in the standard color mode, but there are options to fix it. The one color mode that rendered the most accuracy and solid images in terms of dynamic range and saturation was the natural color mode. It seemed to outplay the standard mode, providing me with more natural color for my images. To make sure that images were consistent, I set the camera on a tripod, put it on auto and used a self-timer to ensure that exposure was consistent all the way through output.

Panasonic TS2 Test Image
Cool
Panasonic TS2 Test Image
Natural
Panasonic TS2 Test Image
Sepia
Panasonic TS2 Test Image
Standard
Panasonic TS2 Test Image
Vivid
Panasonic TS2 Test Image
Warm

The standard output with default settings, including automatic shooting with no water or sand produced a pretty respectable image. I ran into some trouble with metering, though, shooting on a day with intense light. The TS2 turned in some images that almost looked too soft and drowned out to work with. Overall, the images were a little soft out of the camera. Some sharpening in post needs to be done to see the true potential of images shot with the TS2.

There are a total of seven different color modes, which I like to see in point-and-shoot cameras, because you really never know what kind of situation or light you might find yourself in. The modes include Standard, Natural, Vivid, B/W, Sepia, Cool and Warm. Vivid wasn’t too overarching; it was actually pretty consistent output that didn’t oversaturate like some color modes. Warm gave a nice film feel, while B/W and Sepia gave a nice monotone color reproduction.

Also included in the scene modes are two cool new ones that I really enjoyed, the High Dynamic and the Pinhole options. The HDR images came out really nice, almost looking like a true HDR image. Pinhole is another nice effect that creates vignetting around the edges of the frame and is nice if you are going for this look.

Panasonic TS2 Test Image
High Dynamic Range
Panasonic TS2 Test Image
Pinhole

There is only one way to light meter for exposure, and the TS2 does this by using Intelligent Multiple area metering. For all intents and purposes, the metering does work well, but as you will notice in some of the samples, the light was very intense. More metering options would have been beneficial.

There are five different White Balance options to choose from, including auto white balance, daylight, cloudy, shade and incandescent. As you can see from the lab tests using AWB in incandescent lighting, the image turned out completely warm, performing quite poorly in a controlled setting.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2
Auto White Balance, 3200k incandescent light

When shooting in good light, white balance doesn’t suffer much, and can pretty much bring out the desired white for an image. I tested this by shooting a palm tree in my front yard at around noon and the images came out nicely.

For noise, we tested it in the studio to see how well it performed in a controlled environment. The TS2 is equipped with an ISO scale from 80-1600. ISO 80-200 gave us images with little or no noise, but once the TS2 was pushed to 400, we started to see more little grains entering the frame. Anything is usable up to 200, but if you hit 400, you start to see some noise.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2
ISO 80
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2
ISO 80, 100% crop
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2
ISO 100
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2
ISO 100, 100% crop
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2
ISO 200
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2
ISO 200, 100% crop
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2
ISO 400
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2
ISO 400, 100% crop
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2
ISO 800
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2
ISO 800, 100% crop
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2
ISO 1600
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2
ISO 1600, 100% crop

I wouldn’t recommend ISO 800-1600, as the images are riddled with grain. This is probably a result from the 1/2.33-inch image sensor with 14.1 megapixels, which has an increasingly large amount of pixel density on this tiny sensor. Sometimes there is such a thing as “too much.”

Additional Sample Images

Panasonic TS2 Test Image Panasonic TS2 Test Image
Panasonic TS2 Test Image Panasonic TS2 Test Image
Panasonic TS2 Test Image Panasonic TS2 Test Image


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