Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 Review

Quicky review on the DMC-TS3.

I’ve lived with mine for about a year now.

Pro:

  • Totally waterproof.  I’ve had mine completely in the water, on numerous occasions…along with countless hours in sweaty jersey pockets.  No problems of any kind.
  • Pretty bombproof.  I’ve dropped mine (in the garage, onto a concrete floor), endo’d with it in my back pocket (and landed on it), and otherwise abused it pretty heavily.  It’s held up well, and no performance issues.  You can see a few scars on it in the pics above.
  • Works fine in all temperatures, cold or hot.
  • Great battery life.  I usually have it for a ride or event, and take 20-40 pics on it.  I’ll go months without charging, and it’s ready for use.  The battery display is also pretty darn accurate…meaning that it doesn’t drop quickly.
  • Good picture quality.  The ‘beauty shots’ on this blog are typically from my 4 year old D300 (mmmmm.  Nikon).  The vast majority of other shots are from the Lumix.  (Some are from my iPhone).  It does a good job, in most conditions.
  • It takes SD cards, of any size.  I run a 32GB card, and that’s room for THOUSANDS of pictures (6,347 to be exact).
  • Pretty smart, overall.  Good at face recognition, selection of ISO and aperture, etc.  For a point and shoot, I’m impressed with the functionality.

Bad:

  • Shutter delay.  This is my biggest single complaint.  The camera is just short of useless for action photography.  It isn’t consistent, either.  If the lag was consistent, you could plan on it, and trigger the shutter accordingly.  Because the lag is inconsistent, you shoot and pray.  And once you take a shot, it’ll take you a few seconds before you can shoot again.  God help you if you’re shooting with the flash.
  • Lowlight performance blows.  Srsly.
  • If you’re in it for the video, know that the built-in mic is not very good, and is susceptible to wind noise.

Up to You:

  • There is a LCD screen only, no viewfinder.  I don’t mind this at all…the LCD works good and isn’t too big of a drain on battery life.  Fitting a viewfinder into this camera would make it much larger.
  • Zoom is acceptable to me–very versatile zoom range.
  • Like nearly all cameras, it is set up for right handed shooting.  That makes shooting in a paceline difficult, unless you’re willing to endo in order to get the perfect shot.   (Insert criticism of taking photographs while in a paceline here).

There are a lot of rides where I like to have a camera with.  Until Apple comes out with a waterproof iPhone, my phone lives in a bag, and is inconvenient to whip out, unwrap, and shoot a photo with.  So on rides where I’ll be rolling and shooting, I bring the Lumix.  See examples here or here.

If you’re looking for a camera to do light video and a lot of trail shots, this is a good option.  If you’re looking to capture your friends hucking the gnar, I’d keep looking, and find something with faster reaction times.  If I had known how much (variable) delay it has when I got it, I would have kept looking.  In the end, I’ve come to appreciate that on many rides, the best riding is had when not worrying about taking pictures…but that’s a pretty lame comment for a camera review.  It just simply doesn’t function as an action photography camera–be advised.  But it works good for many other things.  And it’s very, very durable.  Most of my mechanical blog posts on here (rebuilding drivetrain, etc.) use the Lumix…and when it gets greasy, I just wipe it off.  It’s very good in that regard.

Ultimately, unless you’re not worried about capturing action photos, I cannot recommend the Panasonic Lumix DMC TS3.

What’s Next for RATG?

This is going to be an exciting winter.

In the next couple weeks, there will be a few surprises rolling out.  I’ll be trying out some of the new Stan’s Iron Cross rims, set up tubeless, with Sapim CX-Ray spokes, built up by Hand of Midas, with Cyclocross Speeds on the Vaya.  The Vaya is my go-to winter training bike, for nasty weather, gravel roads and general abuse.

I have a boatload of winter gear to test and review, the details of which will be forthcoming.  In particular, given my cold hands, I’m going to focus a great deal on the bike glove offerings this year.  I’m also looking forward to rocking a set of the Wölvhammer snow boots.

I’m going to keep pushing the evolution of the Mukluk, including a recent change that, by itself, dropped nearly a pound of weight from the already surprisingly light fatty.  I’m going to keep riding the Superfish, and exploring how changes in setup affect its handling.

But even with all of those changes going on, I feel like I need something bigger.  Something dramatic.  I’m not sure quite where to go with it–my bike kit is pretty well sorted out.  I mean, you’d have to be MAD to think about replacing a single ONE of my bikes.  And adding to the fleet seems a bit preposterous.  Between the Mrs. and I, would we really need SEVEN bikes?  We’ll see.  I’ll work on a few surprises to keep readers on their toes.

Next Product Wishlist: Car with Integrated Toy Lockup.

I engage in a lot of outdoor activities.  Biking (obviously), canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding, etc.

Many of these activities require equipment.

Much of this equipment requires transport.

Transport often requires a car.

I’ve spent many fond hours in car dealerships, looking at vehicles and picking out the one that I’m going to spend the next ___ year(s) with.  Seriously.  Perhaps too many hours.  And car manufacturers always have nifty pictures of their vehicles being used to transport sporting equipment.  Roof racks, hitch racks, etc.

Here’s what I want: a car that accomodates sporting equipment, with integrated locks.  Here’s what I’m picturing:

  1. Car comes pre-wired with a connector at the rear end (by the hitch/trunk/hatch, whatever), and with a hidden connector on the roof, by the roof rack.
  2. Car is available with matching accessory racks that have built-in, electronic locks.
  3. Locks on the accessory racks are spring-loaded, normally locked…like a padlock.
  4. You put rack on car, and plug a cord from the rack into the car.
  5. When you unlock the car, it unlocks the rack.  When you lock the car, or if you unplug the rack, the rack automatically locks.

That’s it.  Pretty simple concept.  It doesn’t have to be tricky.  Have a uniform wiring connector (like trailer hitch connectors) that all manufacturers use.

Is that too complicated?  Alright.  How about if the rack manufacturers build racks that have integrated electronic locking (as outlined above), and they leave it up to the consumer to wire them in?  I had a Dodge Pickup at one time that I installed an electronic tailgate lock on, that locked and unlocked with the power door locks.  It worked like a charm.  The wiring isn’t hard…and if it is too hard for you, go to an auto accessory shop and have them wire it for you.

Still too complicated?  Ok.  How about racks and accessories that lock off of the vehicle’s key?  Something that you can have re-keyed to match the door/ignition key for your vehicle.  It doesn’t have to be electronic–it can just be a lock that takes an automotive key, and you get it keyed to match your car.

Combination locks aren’t terribly secure.  Having to carry 5 different keys to be able to lock the various toys that you may bring on a given trip is a PITA.  VW, Subaru and other automakers cater to a marketplace of people like me who are active and who use their cars to transport sports equipment All The Time. (TM)  Why can’t they make our lives just a little bit easier?

What the World Needs Now…is an XC Dropper Post.

There are a lot of positive first looks in the marketplace right now, about Thomson’s new dropper seatpost.  For example, MTBR has some great pics and video of the seatpost...and it looks like a well-thougtht-out piece of kit:

Lord knows Thomson makes lusty parts, and I’ve been very happy with the blingy Thomson parts that I’ve used in the past…seatpost on the ‘Dummy…stem on the Mukluk:

Thomson’s new dropper seatpost weighs in at 450 grams…or about exactly a pound.  That’s a little more than double the weight of a host of non-dropper, carbon seatposts out there, like the one on my Superfish.  Pretty impressive.  Given Thomson’s history, I’m hoping for a quality build, as well.  My first experience with a dropper seatpost was a Gen 1 Crank Brothers Joplin…which spent more time being repaired than it did being ridden, and which soured me on droppers.

When the Thomson gets out on the market, I’ll probably give one a shot.  I waver back and forth on adjustable seat posts…but if someone could make a lightweight, durable one, I’d be interested.  There is no doubt that there are advantages to a high saddle for pedalling efforts, and a low saddle for technical terrain.  In all reality, though, I don’t need something terribly complicated.

  • I have no need for infinite adjustment…I just need 2 positions: 1) fully extended (set up the seatpost in the frame at the standard, full leg extension optimal pedaling height); and, 2) a dropped position, with some marginal amount of drop (figure 2-3″).
  • I don’t need infinite adjustment in between fully extended and dropped.  It will either be up or down.
  • I don’t need 5″ of adjustment…I cannot imagine ever having it extended or dropped that much.
  • I really don’t even need auto-raise or lower (or handlebar controls).  I’d be happy to reach down and pull the saddle up, or reach down and release it to go down.
  • I really don’t want hydraulic, air, or other pressurized systems with seals and such.  Make it simple.  Light.  Mechanical.  Reliable.
  • Make sure that it maintains saddle alignment, and doesn’t have fore/aft or lateral play when up or down.

Sure, there are Gravity Droppers out there, and other mechanical droppers (and a host of air/hydraulic droppers).  But I think the product could be improved.  And I suspect there are other riders who would give up infinite adjustment and automatic raising if they could cut the weight penalty in half (or more), and have a product that is dead reliable.  Call it an “XC” dropper seatpost.  I can positively guarantee that you’d sell at least 1.

Product Peek: Ergon SR3 Road Saddle

I’ve previously blogged about my great affinity for Ergon’s new line of SM3 saddles, for both mountain and gravel use (I like the SM3 Pro Carbon, myself).  That positive opinion remains consistent, after over a thousand miles between the Vaya and the Superfish.

Bike Rumor has posted up a few pics from Interbike showing the new SR3 saddle from Ergon, due out on the market in a few months.

Both photos from Bike Rumor.

I’m going to skip comment on the sketchy “innovative new seatpost design” for now, and focus on the saddle.  The SR3 looks much like the SM3 in profile:

But obviously lacks the rubber bumpers at the rear.  The SR3 appears to have a more grippy midsection, and a slipperier nose…but I haven’t fondled one yet.  The SR3 also appears to have a lower profile composite block at the front…possibly a bit harder/less compliant for road use?

In any event, I’m excited to see Ergon’s product lineup expand, and will be curious to see how this new saddle rides, once they’re on the market.  If the SM3 is any indication, Ergon has done their homework.