Panasonic has announced the launch of four new digital compact cameras, including the replacement for the enormously popular Lumix DMC-TZ7. The new camera, rather surprisingly called the Lumix DMC-TZ10, takes the class-leading TZ series to a new level. It incorporates the popular features of the previous model such as a high quality 12x zoom f/3.3-4.9 Leica lens equivalent to 25-300mm, a three-inch 460k monitor and HD video recording in the AVCHD Lite format with stereo audio, and adds a number of new features to help keep the TZ10 at the head of a competitive market. Chief among these is a maximum resolution of 12.1 megapixel from a new 14.5 megapixel multi-aspect ratio CCD sensor.
Other new additions are sure to appeal to fans and critics alike, including built-in GPS that automatically embeds latitude and longitude data in the EXIF data of recorded images, essential for the Geotagging applications that are growing in popularity. Now you can always tell where you were when that picture was taken.
Also sure to be a popular addition, the TZ10 now has optional manual exposure control, with aperture priority, shutter priority and full manual modes. Shutter speeds from 60 seconds to 1/2000th of a second and apertures from f/3.3 to f/8.0 are available. The optical image stabilisation has also been upgraded to Panasonic's new Power OIS system.
The TZ10 also includes something called Intelligent Resolution Technology, an upgrade to the image processing software which selectively sharpens and enhances outlines, detailed textures and soft gradation to make images look more finely detailed. It is also used in the Intelligent Zoom function and in video recording mode to upscale still images by up to 1.3x.
The Lumix DMC-TZ10 will be available from March, in red, blue black or silver. No price has yet been confirmed.
TZ-series cameras are usually launched in pairs, so it's no surprise that ones of Panasonic's other announcements is the Lumix DMC-TZ8. This new model is essentially a slightly lower spec version of the TZ10, with the same lens and resolution, and many of the same features.
It has a Leica 12x zoom 25-300mm-equivalent f/3.3-4.9 lens, 2.7-inch 230k monitor and 12.1MP resolution from the same 14.5MP multi-aspect CCD sensor as the TZ10. It can shoot HD video at 1280 x 720 resolution and 30fps but only with with mono audio.
Like the TZ10 it features Intelligent Resolution Technology, advanced face recognition, Power OIS image stabilisation and optional manual exposure modes. Both the TZ8 and TZ10 are compatible with the new next-generation SDXC memory cards.
The Lumix DMC-TZ8 will be available from mid March, in either black or silver colours. No pricing information has yet been confirmed.
The third new model is the Lumix DMC-FT2, successor to Panasonic's first underwater compact, the DMC-FT1. The new model further improves the camera's environmental protection, and it is now waterproof to an impressive 10m, shockproof against drops from 2m, freeze-proof down to -10C and dust-proof (surely if it's waterproof, this is a bit redundant...?)
It has sensor resolution of 14.1 megapixels, a 28mm-equivalent wide angle lens with 4.6x optical zoom, and is powered by the newly developed Venus Engine HD II integrating Intelligent Resolution Technology.
Like its predecessor the FT2 can shoot HD video in 1280 x 720 resolution in AVCHD Lite format with high quality audio. It also features the new Power OIS image stabilisation system, and advanced face recognition.
Like the other new announcements the FT2 will be in the shops from the middle of March, with orange, blue or yellow versions available in the UK. The price has not yet been announced.
The fourth camera announced by Panasonic is the new Lumix DMC-ZX3, a replacement for the Lumix ZX1 launched last July. The ZX series is pretty much skinnier version of the TZ series, extending the popular zoom-compact concept down the budget range. The new model features an 8x zoom f/3.3-5.9 Leica DC lens equivalent to 25-200mm, a 14.1 megapixel CCD sensor and a 2.7-inch 230k wide-view monitor
Like the other new models it features the Venus Engine HD II with Intelligent Resolution technology (I do so hope that's not just another name for digital zoom...) and has 1280 x 720 resolution HD movie recording with mono audio in AVCHD Lite format. The optical zoom can be used while recoding video.
The ZX3 will be available in red, blue, black and silver on the UK market, and hits the shops in the middle of March. As you've probably guessed by now, no price has yet been announced.