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Panasonic just introduced the Lumix DMC-TS3 which is now the toughest digital camera in the world, edging the previous champion by 2m underwater. The nearly indestructible TS3 can be submerged 12 meters under water, dropped from a height of 2 meters and frozen to -10C while remaining completely usable. This camera is fitted with a wide-angle folded-optics lens equivalent to 28-128mm in 35mm terms.

Besides being the toughest digital camera currently, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 includes the fastest CCD sensor seen to date on consumer digital cameras. ¬†This 12 megapixels sensor becomes the first camera CCD to output 1080p HD video. This is a real breakthrough since CCDs have inherent qualities which allow them to produce higher image quality than similarly sized CMOS sensors. Up to know, this compromise meant that CCD cameras could not shoot full HD video. What is extremely interesting is that it manages this using two parallel channel read-outs. This potentially opens the door to using an electronic shutter on one of the channels before the mechanical shutter comes in to provide extra dynamic-range the way Fuji’s SuperCCD EXR sensors work.

The TS3 also features a built-in GPS with a landmark database containing over one million entries. Each photo and video gets tagged with both GPS coordinates and landmark at that location. Additionally, this tough digital camera includes an altimeter, a barometer and a compass. The camera uses these to display a depth-indicator while submerged, perfect for knowing if the 12m underwater limit is about to be exceeded! This makes an awesome package for adventurous photographers. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 is scheduled to be available in March for an undetermined price.

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