No new DSLRs, but some impressive technical advances from Panasonic to bolster its Lumix point and shoot camera range
Panasonic has unveiled no less than eleven new Lumix digital camera models today at a large global event held here in Paris today. The company has also announced plans to introduce 4, 8 and 16MB high-speed (20MB/sec) SDHC memory cards by the autumn and, ultimately, a 32GB card. A couple of new compact dye-sub photo printers, with a claimed 100 year print life capability, were also unveiled.
There was no news on additional Four Thirds DSLRs to accompany the existing DMC-L1 model, launched almost a year ago at PMA 2006. And I was told that Panasonic is not planning to make any further camera announcements at this Yearís PMA in early March, though the 25mm f/1.4 Leica D Summilux will ship in March, coinciding with PMA.
Of todayís camera news, the two headline-grabbing models are undoubtedly the DMC-FZ8 super zoom and the TZ2 and TZ3 Ďtravelí zoom models that replace the innovative TZ1. Press attending the launch were given pre-production samples of these cameras to use today and weíll be posting some samples for you to download later. This page will be updated as soon as the samples are available on our server.
Unlike the original TZ1, the TZ2 and TZ3 (above) don't depend on a folded optics lens arrangement.
The entire new range of camera models announced today gets the Venus Engine III camera engine, previously only available on the top-end FZ50, LX2 and L1 DSLR. Interestingly, and showing that the company takes real notice of public feedback, Panasonic admitted that its configuration of the Venus Engine III in the FZ50 and LX2 had resulted in over-aggressive noise suppression. Although the Venus Engine III chip in the new cameras today is the same as that debuted last year, its configuration has been refined to retain more image detail. Curiously, newly manufactured FZ50 and LX2 models will not benefit from these Venus Engine III adjustments and there will be no firmware upgrade available.
So all of the models announced today, from the budget-priced LS and LZ models, through to the TZ1 and FZ8, now offer Mega OIS image stabilisation and Intelligent ISO boosting to tackle both camera shake and subject movement, both of which are dynamically sensed and managed by the camera in certain modes.
The DMC-FZ8 replaces the FZ7 and gets a seven magapixel sensor, 18x extended mode zoom (3MP resolution) and RAW recording mode.
Perhaps the most interesting of the new releases is the TZ2 and TZ3 duo. Panasonic has abandoned the innovative folded optics design of the original TZ1, so the camera has a conventional telescoping lens assembly in front of the sensor, so losing the 90 degree image path turn in the TZ1. The new lens has a complicated three element meniscus group with two aspherical surfaces. This, in combination with a super thin aspherical element has allowed Panasonic to produce a 10x (28-280mm equivalent) zoom lens that retracts into a body that is actually marginally more slim than the TZ1 it replaces. The new all-metal construction is impressively robust and an afternoon with the camera has left me with some very positive first impressions.
Editing time is limited here in Paris, but this article will be updated, so keep an eye on it for more pictures, sample images and other goodies to be added later.
Related Press Releases
Panasonicís DMC-LZ6 & DMC-LZ7
Panasonic's new FX30
Panasonicís new DMC-FX10 and DMC-FX12
Panasonic's new Lumix DMC-LS75 and DMC-LS60
Panasonic Lumix's new DMC-TZ2 and DMC-TZ3
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Panasonic Lumix spring 2007 launch report
DPNow Panasonic Lumix spring 2007 launch report
Panasonic has unveiled no less than eleven new Lumix digital camera models today at a large global e... (more)