Thinking of going on a bike tour, and wondering what camera to take along? The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5 Wi-Fi Enabled Adventure Tough Camera (known as the Lumix FT5 outside of North America) is my choice for the best camera for cyclists. It’s an Adventure Tough underwater camera that also takes great photos and videos, whether above water or very deep underwater.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5 is the perfect point and shoot underwater camera for active lifestyles and adventurous vacations (and for clumsy people like me). That’s why I find it’s the ideal compact camera to carry with me on a bike – whether on my everyday commute, or on bike tours.
You could cycle up a mountain with this camera, drop it from your bike a few times, take it scuba diving, and it would still be fine.
This short video emphasizes how versatile, tough and useful the camera is, giving you a good look at it from all angles:
All of the technical features of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5 are listed at the bottom of this post.
Cycling with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5
I have a bad record of breaking things. I had a Garmin Edge that I accidentally took scuba diving, and an iPhone 4 that I dropped while cycling across a busy street, which ended up being smashed into four pieces by three cars.
However, I can’t seem to break my Lumix underwater camera. This tough little camera has accompanied me on innumerable bike rides in every kind of weather. I have dropped it in the snow and I have dropped it from my bike. I have dropped it in puddles. It still does not have a scratch on it, and it just keeps on working. The only thing that can hurt this camera is a child opening it up while in the water (see below).
All in all, it’s a perfect camera for a cyclist. Wherever I go on my bike, I have it in a pocket or hanging around my neck. At the moment, I am using a shoelace to hang it around my neck, as I lost the strap somewhere on my travels. The shoelace works just fine. The camera is light enough that it does not bother me to have it hanging around my neck, so that it is ready whenever I want it. And it is so small that it does not get in my way as I cycle.
Scuba Diving with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5
I have taken my Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5 scuba diving many times, and it is still in perfect condition. I have exceeded the depth requirements as well, taking it to 60 feet (I didn’t plan this – the dive was advertised as a “shallow” dive). We were down at 60 feet for about 30 minutes, and I did not expect the camera to survive – but it was completely undamaged!
After using it in the sea, you are advised to soak it in tap water for a while to get the salt off. Sometimes I do this, and sometimes I forget – but the camera is still fine.
I got myself this Panasonic floating wrist strap, which I attach to my wrist when diving or snorkeling. If the camera came loose, it would end up floating on the top of the water, and the bright orange would help me to find it. For less than $10, it’s a great accessory.
The Lumix DMC-TS5 is Almost Childproof
The Lumix DMC-TS5 is also a good camera if you want to let your young children learn to use a camera, because it is very hard for them to break.
However, it’s not impossible. This is my second waterproof Lumix camera – the previous one died, after I let my daughter use it in a swimming pool. It would have been fine, but she thought the battery was running down, and decided to open the battery/HD card compartment while in the water.
This is exactly what you are not supposed to do, and the reason the compartment has a red warning strip on it. Of course, water poured in and the underwater camera was ruined. But I like the camera so much that I bought another one (which my daughter will not be using).
Taking Photographs and Video with the Lumix DMC-TS5
All of the photos on my blog are taken with my Lumix DMC-TS5. That probably does not give you a good idea of the capacity of the camera, because I have to reduce the quality vastly in order to publish the photos without slowing down the page load to a snail’s crawl.
I have also taken hundreds of photos in water with this camera – fresh water pools and also sea water (snorkeling and scuba diving). Here I am snorkeling with my Lumix (the little blue spot on my chest is the Lumix). On this occasion I had lost my floating strap and was using a shoelace around my neck to carry the camera.
You can see some underwater and above water photos I took with my Lumix DMC-TS5 in this video. All of these photos were taken in a lagoon at Akumel (that’s the green water), at Akumel Beach, at Grand Sirenis resort, and off the Island of Cozumel.
In this next video you can see stills and video from above water, down to about 40 feet underwater. All of this footage was taken on the Great Barrier Reef.
All of this is amateur vacation photography. All footage is taken on the default settings. The idea is to show that this is a great point-and-shoot underwater camera for active lives and vacations.
As you can see, the image quality is good, with accurate color reproduction. Obviously, the color is better in shallow water – as you go deeper, you begin to lose color quality.
I have a beautiful and more expensive Canon SLR camera, but that is not a camera I want to carry around my neck on a bike, and I certainly could not take it scuba diving. But this Lumix underwater camera has gone sailing with me on the Great Barrier Reef, and it has gone with me many times scuba diving for up to 40 minutes and as deep as 60 feet.
That’s what is so great about this Lumix – it suits any very active lifestyle.
While this point-and-shoot underwater camera does offer some manual options, I almost always use it in automatic mode. Underwater it would be almost impossible to fiddle with the controls. And when I suddenly see a cyclist I want to photograph, I don’t have time to put up a tripod and fine-tune the controls. I need to be able to set it on automatic and just point and shoot, hoping for the best – and very often, with this camera, getting a great result.
Apart from withstanding freezing, dropping and being underwater, it also withstands heat. I have had it in a climate that almost killed me. My phone told me it was “104, feels like 136” (in Centigrade, “40, feels like 58”). The lens did fog up a couple of times, which worried me, but then it resolved itself almost immediately without any issues.
It also has a nice big bright face so you can see what you are photographing, even in very bright light.
Wi-Fi Capability of the Lumix Underwater Camera
This part blows my mind; it’s so cool.
My Lumix underwater camera has built-in Wi-Fi with NFC capability. NFC stands for near field communication. It’s a technology that enables devices to establish radio communication with each other by touching them together or bringing them close together. Basically you can wirelessly transfer your photos from you camera to your smartphone, tablet, Mac or PC, without having to plug in cables. This is the kind of technology that makes me think that someone, somewhere, has been talking to aliens. Mind blowing.
This short video tells you more about the Wi-Fi capabilities of the Lumix underwater camera:
The Lumix DMC-TS5 is Completely Protected from Water
The Leica-branded lens is protected by reinforced glass, but still manages to offer an adequate focal range of 28-128 mm in 35 mm terms. It also utilizes folded lens technology so that you have a 4.6x zoom, even though the lens remains tucked behind the non-moving glass.
The battery and SD card compartment lock in place to prevent water getting in. Every single time you close the compartment door, the camera will remind you to lock it. I really like this feature, because it is just too easy to forget. I don’t mind being reminded every time I close the compartment door – it’s better than ruining the camera. There is a red indicator to show if you have not locked it.
There are no moving parts outside of the airtight case. The lens is behind a window. Every opening is sealed to keep it waterproof to 43 ft (13 m).
Bottom Line on the Lumix DMC-TS5
In my opinion, the Lumix DMC-TS5 is the perfect point and shoot pocket camera for a cyclist. I couldn’t think of a better camera for bike tours. At 7.5 oz, you are not even going to notice it in your baggage. If your tour includes beaches, snorkeling or scuba diving, just grab the Lumix DMC-TS5 out of your pannier and take it into the water with you. No need to fiddle around with a case!
It is also a great camera if you are the kind of cyclist (like me) who likes to have a camera with you at all times in case there is something you suddenly want to photograph. Such as this awesome view I saw while on my bike just yesterday – the Burrard Inlet in Vancouver, as seen from the bike lane on the Burrard Bridge. This is basically an aerial view of the Seaside Bike Route to Jericho Beach.
The Lumix DMC-TS5 is a tank-like, rugged, reliable, good-looking camera built for the more adventurous traveler/cyclist who doesn’t want or need extensive manual controls – who just wants to be able to take good photos, easily, above or below water.
Features of the Lumix DMC-TS5
- Very rugged
- Waterproof to 13 m (43 ft.)
- Droppable from a height of 2 m (6 ft.)
- Crushproof to 100 kg (220 lbs.)
- Freeze proof to -10 degrees C (14 degrees F)
- Built-in Wi-Fi with NFC capability (Near field communication (NFC) is technology that enables devices to establish radio communication with each other by touching them together or bringing them into proximity, typically a distance of 10 cm (3.9 in) or less – so you can wirelessly transfer your photos from you camera to your smartphone/tablet/Mac/PC)
- Built-in GPS with compass, altimeter (how high or deep you are), barometer, landmarks (Panasonic claims up to a million landmarks stored), and tracking. The GPS is very accurate, and even works indoors
- Good image quality – 16 MP (megapixels)
- True 1080/60p video recording with stereo sound
- 28 mm wide-angle 4.6x optical zoom lens
- F3.3 – F5.9, 28 – 128 mm equivalent zoom lens (4.6x) – using folded lens technology, so that the lens can stay protected behind a window
- 1920 x 1080 full-HD movie recording with stereo sound
- “Power OIS” optical image stabilization
- 3-inch LCD with 460,000 dots
- Dimensions: 4.3 in (109.2) x 2.6 in (67.4) x 1.1 in (28.9) mm (1.1 inches is only just slightly wider than a regular compact)
- Weight: 7.5 oz (214 g) with battery
- Manual exposure control
- “Torch Light” illuminates your subjects while recording movies (although this has the drawback of tipping off your dogs or your kids that you are filming them, causing them to immediately stop doing whatever cute thing they were doing)
- Optional marine case lets you take camera 148 ft. (45 m) underwater
- Available in black, blue, white or orange
Get this camera and have some fun! Available right now at Amazon!
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