The year's big photography expo, better known as PMA, has yet to kick
off in Las Vegas, but Panasonic's not waiting for March. Instead, it's
delivering an all new family of LUMIX point-and-shoots, and we'll be
breaking the whole crew down right here.
The party gets started with the creation of the ZS-Series, which is
being introduced with two members. First is the LUMIX DMC-ZS3 (shown
above), which offers a 10.1 megapixel sensor, 25mm ultra-wide-angle
LEICA DC VARIO-ELMAR lens and a 12x optical zoom. It also includes
Panasonic's Intelligent Auto (iA) mode with the addition of Face
Recognition, and new for this year is iA in Movie Mode. Speaking of
which, the ZS3 is the company's first camera to include video recording
in AVCHD Lite, which is described as a subset of the AVCHD format for
HD digital video cameras with HD video recording restricted to 720p.
Unfortunately, we're also told that AVCHD Lite motion images recorded
onto an SD Memory Card or a DVD disc "cannot be played from a device
that does not support the AVCHD standard," so you should probably
double-check your compatibility list before coughing up $399.95 for one
of these (in silver, black, blue or red) this April.
The lower-end DMC-ZS1 will arrive in silver or black, and for the most
part, it mimics the feature list of its ZS3 sibling. Distinguishing it
is the 10.1 megapixel CCD, standard iA mode (no Face Recognition) for
still image recording and a 2.7-inch LCD monitor (compared to the ZS3's
3-inch screen). It will also ship this April, but it will do so with a
price tag that's $100 lighter.
Next up is the slim and stylish DMC-FX580, which is hailed as the
natural successor to last year's DMC-FX500. The selling point here is
the 3.0-inch touchscreen around back, which lets users navigate
through menus via their fingertips rather than relying on a series of
buttons. Other specifications include a 25mm ultra-wide-angle LEICA DC
lens with F2.8 brightness, a 5x optical zoom, 720p movie mode and a
12.1 megapixel sensor. It also includes iA (Intelligent Auto), optical
image stabilization, Intelligent ISO Control, Face Detection, AF
Tracking, Intelligent Exposure and Intelligent Scene Selection, all of
which act to remove the burden of perfecting your own images from, well, you! The camera also includes the newly developed Venus Engine V,
which utilizes two CPUs to boost processing capability and support a
High Sensitivity mode that enables the FX580 to record at a setting of
up to ISO 6400. It's expected to ship this April for $399.95.
Finally, Panasonic is tooting its own horn with the "world's
first" digital camera that's waterproof, shockproof, dustproof and able
to record video in the aforesaid AVCHD Lite format. The LUMIX DMC-TS1
has a 12.1 megapixel sensor, a 28mm wide-angle LEICA DC VARIO-ELMAR
lens, a 4.6x optical zoom and the firm's proprietary iA (Intelligent
Auto) mode. Built specifically for the outdoorsy type who need to carry
a shooter while skiing, hiking or enjoying a day at the beach, the TS1
is able to resist water to a depth of ten feet, shake off drops from up
to five feet and withstand mild dust storms. Even the 2.7-inch LCD
monitor is "deliberately thickened for protection against pressure,
allowing the display to operate with clear visibility even underwater."
It'll be ready for consumption this April in silver, orange and green