New Panasonic Lumix Cameras: Tiny and Touchscreen-Controlled

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 compact interchangeable-lens camera
Panasonic today announced two pint-sized additions to its 2011 camera lineup. Both models follow the company's trend of incorporating touchscreen controls into as many Lumix cameras as possible.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 is the newest of the company's Micro Four-Thirds compact interchangeable-lens cameras; it resembles a pared-down, entry-level version of the high-end Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2. It offers touchscreen controls for focusing and menu navigation, in addition to physical buttons for those settings and others.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH7 point-and-shoot camera
The second new camera is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH7, a 16-megapixel point-and-shoot camera with touchscreen controls for focus and shutter, as well as the touch-controlled face-editing functions introduced earlier this year in the Lumix FX78, Lumix FP7, and Lumix FP5.

Although Panasonic has not yet announced a release date for the Lumix DMC-G3, it is expected to be priced at $700 for a kit configuration with a 14-42mm/F3.5-F5.6 lens. The company has issued no release date or pricing information for the Lumix DMC-FH7.

Panasonic Lumix G3: A Touchscreen Mini-DSLR

Measuring only 1.84 inches deep without a lens attached, and weighing just over 19 ounces with its standard kit lens attached, the Lumix DMC-G3 is very compact for a camera with an eye-level viewfinder and a DSLR-like body. Although it isn't the smallest Panasonic Micro Four-Thirds camera overall (that distinction goes to the Lumix GF2), Panasonic is billing it as the smallest and lightest interchangeable-lens camera that offers an eye-level electronic viewfinder.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 compact interchangeable-lens camera
It carries a different 16-megapixel Live MOS sensor but the same Venus FHD image processor as the highly rated Lumix GH2, plus a similar tilt-and-swivel 3-inch LCD touchscreen. You can use the touchscreen for touch-to-focus controls, menu navigation, and exposure adjustments. And unlike the touchscreen-controlled Lumix GF2, the G3 also sports a physical mode dial to provide direct access to manual modes, scene selections, and user-defined custom modes.

Like many of Panasonic's recent cameras, the Lumix G3 is built for both still and video capture (though it lacks the manual exposure controls for video found in the GH2). The G3 records 1080p AVCHD video at 30 frames per second, offers scene modes available in movie mode, and provides motion-tracking touch focus while shooting video.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 compact interchangeable-lens camera
In both still and video modes, the Lumix G3 also offers Panasonic's extremely fast autofocus system, a 23-area focusing system, and a new system called Pinpoint AF that the company says improves touch-focus accuracy. More-traditional features include RAW shooting, ISO settings up to 6400, a 4-fps burst mode at full 16-megapixel resolution, a pop-up flash, and a hot shoe for external flashes.

The Lumix DMC-G3 is compatible with Panasonic's Micro-Four Thirds system 3D lens, which is sold separately for $250 and allows the camera to snap 3D .mpo images. The Lumix G3 will be available in black, brown, white, and red.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH7: Ultraslim Camera With Face-Retouch Features

The 16-megapixel Lumix DMC-FH7 is just 0.76 inch deep, and it has an optically stabilized 4X-optical-zoom lens (28mm to 112mm). The camera's physical control layout is practically nonexistent: Other than a power switch, a shutter button, and a zoom control, all the camera's functions are controlled via its 3-inch touchscreen.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH7 point-and-shoot camera

Also controlled by the touchscreen: your subject's face, to some extent. The Lumix FH7 lets you apply digital "makeup," whiten teeth, smooth out blemishes, and otherwise retouch faces by using the touchscreen after taking a shot.

In addition to those cosmetic retouch features, the Lumix FH7 boasts touch-to-focus controls, touch-based motion-tracking autofocus, a wide array of scene modes, and 720p .mov video recording at a filmlike 24 fps.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH7 will be available in black.

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