updated 09:50 am EST, Wed January 31, 2007
Panasonic debuts cameras
Panasonic today overhauled its Lumix cameras with eight new models spanning its entire U.S. range. Leading the announcements is the DMC-FZ8, an update to the FZ7 that increases the sensor of the 12X zoom camera to 7.2 megapixels alongside a new ability to shoot directly in RAW rather than TIFF or JPEG formats. An enhanced version of the Venus III engine enables users to shoot at ISO 1250 sensitivity without adding excessive noise, according to Panasonic, while an optical image stabilization alongside an 848x480, full speed widescreen movie mode carry over from its predecessor. The FZ8 is slated for shipment in February for $350.
The company also introduced the DMC-TZ3, a compact model with a 28mm wide-angle lens and 10X optical zoom. Panasonic's DMC-TZ3 shares the new Venus III engine and has a special ultra-high ISO 3200 shooting mode as well as optical image stabilization. A 7.2-megapixel sensor is built-in that enables users to force different aspect ratios, and SDHC support adds storage beyond the 2GB mark for frequent shooters. The DMC-TZ3 will ship in March for $350.
Complementing the TZ3 is another wide-angle camera dubbed the FX30, which Panasonic says is the world's thinnest camera with a 28mm lens of its kind. The FX30 is 22mm thick but boasts the ability to shoot in the wider aspect for closer shots or large portraits. Although set to 3.6X optical zoom at full resolution, the camera's unique system can boost zoom to 5.3X by dropping to 3 megapixels, using the middle of the CCD in tandem with the lens to extend its overall range. While many cameras will auto-adjust ISO based on light, the FX30 can detect fast movement and increase ISO to compensate for possible blurring via intelligent ISO control. The FX30 will ship in black, blue, light brown, and silver beginning in February for $350.
The newly announced DMC-LZ6 and DMC-LZ7 trade a slight increase in thickness for strong zoom capability. The pair of 7.2-megapixel cameras use standard-angle lenses but gain a 6X optical zoom useful for longer-distance shots. The Venus III-driven cameras are divided primarily by LCD size: the LZ6 displays its output on a 2-inch LCD, while the LZ7 offers a 2.5-inch screen. Both are powered by AA batteries (including Panasonic's longer-lasting Oxyride models) and should ship in February at prices of $180 for the LZ6 and $200 for the LZ7.
The DMC-FX10 and DMC-FX12 are upgrades to Panasonic's stylized FX series, using lithium-ion batteries to slim down their size. Both models feature a 2.5-inch LCD, 3X true optical zoom, and optical image stabilization. The 6-megapixel FX10 will ship in blue, pink, and silver trims in February for $200; its 7.2-megapixel counterpart the FX12 will also ship around the same time in black or silver for $230.
The basic DMC-LS70 is designed to bring higher-end features into the mainstream using the same Venus III technology and optical image stabilization as the other new models. Boasting a 7.2-megapixel camera with 3X zoom similar to the FX line, the LS70 will ship in February for $150 and uses AA batteries instead of lithium-ion with a more compact 2-inch LCD.