Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 Is Tougher than Ever

With a rugged body and built-in GPS, Panasonic's new compact is built for abuse.

By now, you're probably a little sick of the terms, "waterproof, shockproof, freezeproof, and dustproof." They appear — almost always in that order — in the description of just about every rugged camera available. But, Panasonic has upped the tough ante a little with their new TS3.

In the shock department, the TS3 can survive a fall from up to about 6.6-feet. It's waterproof to a depth of 40-feet and wont' freeze up in temperatures as low as 14-degrees F (which seems particularly appropriate on this frigid January day). It even comes equipped with useful outdoor tools like a compass, an altimiter, a barometer and GPS for geotagging. Plus, like some of its rugged competitors, it has an LED light for underwater illumination.

On the photographic front, image capture is handled by a 12.1-megapixel Hi-Speed CCD and the Venus Engine FHD processor, which has enough horsepower to allow 1080p video capture (in AVCHD, of course). The 4.6x Leica DS Vario-Elmar lens starts at 28mm and zooms 4.6x from there.

Since Panasonic is very serious about 3D, they have also come up with a new system for 3D still images using a single lens. The TS3 captures 20 different frames and then compares them to find the best two it can transform into a single 3D picture.

If you're still not sold on 3D, you might still appreciate the Power OIS mode, which jackes up the image stabilization to compensate for more vigorous movements like walking. Sounds like, with the right mount, it might make a solid make-shift helmet cam.

There's no word on pricing yet, but the press material claims it will be available starting in March in red, orange, silver, and blue.

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