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Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS4 Digital Camera Review$399.99
Lens & Sensor
The small, rectangular lens opening is located off to the top right side of the front panel, directly in the way of carelessly placed fingers when shooting with two hands. The TS4 is not equipped with an automatic lens cap, like many standard compact cameras, but the lens is covered by a layer of hard plastic. This will protect from foreign objects, but definitely won't protect from smudging, so keep your fingertips well away.
Panasonic has retained the same CCD sensor for use in the TS4, and while sensors of this type aren't as strong in low light, we imagine most of this camera's use will take place in the bright outdoors. We think this is a good move, the TS3's CCD offered decent performance and this recycling probably helped keep the TS4's price down.
Underneath a sturdy plastic sheet on the rear panel is the camera's LCD monitor. It measures only 2.7 inches diagonally, offers only 230,000-dot resolution, and doesn't render previews very accurately to the final shot. However the monitor is very well suited to outdoor use, with brightness that's more than sufficient and a nice wide viewing angle. Brightness can even be set to change automatically based on outside lighting conditions.
The TS4's flash emitter is a rather standard bulb with good recycle speed. But right next door are three small, very bright LEDs which are used for autofocus assistance in low light, or illumination for video shooting. The feature seems inspired by the excellent Pentax Optio WG-1, which used an array of LEDs around the lens for improved macro illumination.
All ports are housed underneath a gasket-sealed compartment on the right side of the body. You'll find a microHDMI port here, as well as a microUSB terminal that can be used for both A/V and PC connectivity. It is not possible to charge the battery within the camera using one of these ports.