Panasonic Unveils New LUMIX Point-And-Shoot Line

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 for $399.95.