Rather than risk being lost in the flurry of CES, Panasonic waited until today to unveil its latest sub-$300 cameras. Two of the new cameras are part of Panasonic’s FS-Series line, and feature a slim and compact build at a lower price than the company's higher-end FX-Series. The third camera is part of Panasonic’s LS-Series line. This line isn’t quite as compact as some of the other lines, but it is more affordable.
As a successor to the FS5, the Lumix DMC-FS15 will offer 12.1MP with a 5x optical zoom and a 29mm wide-angle lens. This camera will have a 2.7-inch LCD with 230,000 pixels. Panasonic improved the Intelligent Auto Mode in this camera from previous models to add Intelligent Exposure functions, Mega O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer), Intelligent ISO Control, Face Detection, and other features.
The Lumix DMC-FS7 will succeed the FS3 and will have a 10.1MP sensor with a 4x optical zoom, 33mm lens, and a 2.7-inch LCD with 230,000 pixels. This camera will also feature Intelligent Auto Mode with Mega O.I.S., Intelligent ISO Control, Intelligent Scene Selector, and Face Detection.
The new FS cameras will be the first in the series to feature the Auto Focus Tracking feature, which is currently available on other Panasonic cameras and camcorders. The Auto Focus Tracking feature can target and focus on a subject and stay locked to that subject even if it is moving. These cameras will also feature the Venus Engine IV processor and an intelligent LCD that adjusts to surrounding lighting conditions.
The new Lumix DMC-LS85 succeeds the LS80 and will offer an 8.1MP sensor. This camera has a 4x optical zoom, a 33mm lens, and a 2.5-inch LCD with 230,000 pixels. Unlike other cameras that use proprietary rechargeable batteries, the DMC-LS85 can be powered using two AA batteries. The LS85 has 50MB of internal memory for storing pictures when an SD card isn’t available.
All three of the new cameras can record video in standard definition with a 4:3 aspect ratio and a resolution of 640 x 480. In addition, these cameras will support widescreen, 16:9 recording in standard definition with a resolution of 848 x 480 at 30 frames per second.
The FS15 and FS3 will be available in March with suggested prices of $199.95 and $159.95, respectively. Look for the LS85 in April for a suggested retail price of $119.95.