It's only a couple of months since I reviewed the impressive Lumix DMC-FX500, an innovative 10.1 megapixel compact featuring a combination of touch-screen and conventional controls. Inevitably it has now been superseded by the newly-announced DMC-FX550.
The new model naturally shares many of the features of its predecessor, including the 5x zoom Leica DC lens with 25mm wide-angle, the three-inch touch-screen monitor, and a full set of conventional controls, although it appears that it has done away with the joystick-type control in favour of a conventional D-pad, which is probably a good move.
The main changes are the increase in megapixel count from 10.1 to 12.1, and the upgraded image processor. The FX550 shares the same new high-speed Venus Engine V as the FX40, and has much the same performance claims.
It also features AF tracking, as well as Panasonic's new face recognition system, which will remember faces that appear regularly in your photos. It will then offer to register these faces with attached name and age, so that they can automatically be set as a priority subject by the AF and metering system, and the camera can automatically add captions to pictures in which named people appear. If a baby under three years old is registered, the camera automatically switches to Baby mode if it detects the child in the frame. I swear these things are getting too damn clever. It's only a matter of time before they've got all our names, and then they're taking over, mark my words.
The DMC-FX550 is available from March, in a choice of machine conspiracy black or metallic overlord silver. They'll have us all rounded up by the end of April.