Available in silver, orange, red, and blue, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 comes in a metal body with an industrialized design. There are lots of bumpers and large bolts on the front and back side of the TS3’s body that give it a tough look. At first glance, the TS3 looks nearly identical to its predecessor, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2, but you will find some differences if you take a closer look. First of all, the TS3 now has a small hand grip, which we appreciate. Moreover, the dedicated video recording button has been moved to the top side of the TS3, which is also a welcome improvement.
However, we missed the zoom lever on the top side of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 which is now replaced with two separate buttons on the back side of the camera, making it harder to adjust the zoom. On the front side of the TS3 sits the 4.6x 28-128mm equivalent f/3.3-5.9 Leica DC Vario-Elmar ASPH lens, which is the same lens as the one used by the previous Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS2. To the left of the lens you will find a built-in flash and an AF assist lamp. Like most other waterproof compact cameras, the TS3 implements a folded optics mechanism, which means that the lens will never extend past the body during zooming or startup.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3’s lens is only protected by a reinforced glass and doesn’t have any sliding shield or lens cover. This means that the lens is open all the time and you might have to regularly wipe it clean from fingerprints or dirt. On the top side of the TS3, you will find a shutter-release button, a power button and the dedicated video recording button. On the back side of the TS3, you will find the zoom buttons, a playback button, a menu button, a delete button, a display button, a five-way controller, and a 2.7-inch 230,000-dot resolution TFT LCD screen.
The buttons on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 are surprisingly no larger than those of an ordinary point-and-shoot digital camera. Due to this reason, it is not easy to operate the TS3, especially when you are wearing hand gloves. Panasonic also didn’t equip the TS3 with any button-free controlling feature like the Action Control found on the Nikon Coolpix AW100 or the Tap Control that is used by some Olympus waterproof compact cameras. When it comes to handling, the TS3 is definitely not among the best waterproof compact cameras on the market today.