Small Cameras


I bought a small water resistant camera for taking on holidays. It is great because it fits in the pocket and has reasonable capabilities compared to the limitations of the other usual alternative, the smartphone. Whilst the camera I bought, a Panasonic FT-3, is not a sophisticated device, some time spent deep inside the camera manual can pay big benefits.

I first used this camera on a job when everything went wrong with my other cameras. It did not really give me the best results, but it allowed me to at least get some footage from a second vantage point. Since then, I have learned more about the camera and of what it is capable.

This camera is a bit of a Frankenstein's monster, combining as it does frame rates from NTSC and PAL standards. It also has the thirty minute time limit so familiar to NTSC users. On its lower resolution video settings however this "feature" is absent. So I was able to use it for unlimited recording unattended. Further investigation of the manual lead me to find some settings with which I was able to obtain a fairly unprocessed image in the video without too much added contrast, saturation or sharpening, making it much easier to intercut with footage from my other cameras. It also has an optical zoom which allows getting somewhat closer to the action than a smartphone.

The video above is from a relatively recent trip to meet some friends on the U.S. border at Niagara Falls. Even entirely handheld, quite a good result was achievable with a relatively inexpensive camera.