Panasonic Debuts New Megazoom, Wi-Fi Cam, G Lenses, and LX5 Firmware
Panasonic is the latest big company to announce new camera offerings for the fall, as it unveiled two new fixed-lens cameras, a firmware update to last year's excellent Lumix LX5, and two new lenses for its G series of compact interchangeable-lens cameras.
The new Lumix series of point-and-shoots consists of the 24X optical-zoom Lumix FZ150, a full-featured megazoom camera with manual controls and high-speed modes for stills and video, and the Lumix FX90, a touchscreen-controlled Wi-Fi camera that lets you offload images to a smartphone and share directly from the camera. And the new "X" series of lenses for the Lumix G line of compact interchangeable-lens cameras features a powered zoom toggle on the cameras' side, which allows you to zoom and focus electronically instead of adjusting those controls by hand.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ150: 24X Megazoom Built for Stills and Video
The 12-megapixel, 24X optical-zoom (25mm to 600mm) Lumix FZ150 is one of the first cameras we've seen to support AVCHD Progressive video recording, shooting 1080p high-definition video at a smooth 60 frames per second.
The FZ150 boasts full manual, aperture-priority, and shutter-priority controls, as well as a range of automated in-camera features that include 3D still-image capture, creative filters for both images and video (miniature, HDR, film-grain, and the like), and improved autofocus and tracking focus functions, according to Panasonic. The FZ150's optics look identical to the zoom lens found in the Lumix FZ47 announced earlier this year, but the FZ150 offers a new imaging engine and a CMOS sensor rather than the FZ47's CCD sensor.
According to Panasonic, the new sensor and processor translate to such capabilities as a very fast burst speed (12 fps at full 12-megapixel resolution), 220-fps high-speed video at 320 by 240 resolution, improved HD video frame-rate capabilities, and better low-light performance. The Lumix FZ150 also has an adjustable, flip-and-swivel 3-inch LCD and lens-mounted secondary controls for the camera's optical-zoom and focus settings, as well as a hot shoe for external microphones and flashes--three features missing from the similar FZ47.
The camera's optical stabilization system is also new, offering an "Active Mode" that's designed to correct a greater range of motion associated with handheld shooting while walking.
Available in late September, the Lumix DMC-FZ150 will be priced at $500.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX90: Touchscreen Wi-Fi Camera
The touchscreen-operated, 12-megapixel CCD-based Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX90 is just 0.85 inches deep, and it also packs a few wireless sharing abilities. The Lumix FX90 has in-camera Wi-Fi to let users upload images and video to Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, and Picasa from its menus.
The camera can also back up images and video wirelessly to smartphones and computers. The camera can upload directly to certain sites via any Wi-Fi access point; using it to offload content to a smartphone will require a free iOS or Android app to be installed on the phone. According to Panasonic, once the app is installed, the smartphone will see the camera as a Wi-Fi access point and allow you to create a peer-to-peer connection. Panasonic also has a new Web photo-sharing service called Lumix Club that can be used for online storage and media sharing, among other services.
The camera's core specs include an optically stabilized, 5X optical-zoom lens (24mm to 120mm) with a maximum aperture of F2.5 and a 3-inch touchscreen on the back to handle most of the camera's menu navigation. Touchscreen controls include touch focus, zoom, and shutter controls, as well as post-shot editing tools. The FX90's video mode captures 1080i video at 60fps.
Pricing and release-date information has yet to be announced for the Lumix DMC-FX90, but the Lumix Club sharing service launches on September 5, so it will probably be available around that time.
Two New G-Series Lenses With "Power Zoom" Capabilities
Although no new Lumix G compact interchangeable-lens cameras were unveiled today, some exciting new products were announced for the G-series cameras. The new "X" series lenses offer powered zoom and focus controls on the side of the lens. You can use a toggle switch on the side of the lens to zoom and focus electronically rather than twisting a ring around the lens, further blurring the line between the smaller Lumix G cameras and point-and-shoots in terms of operation.
Two new lenses offer the "Power Zoom" controls. The first is a very compact, optically stabilized 14-42mm/F3.5-F5.6 zoom lens that will become the new kit lens for some future Lumix G cameras. The zoom lens is so small that it actually looks like a pancake lens, as it features retractable optics that tuck inside a 1-inch-deep lens body.
Panasonic announced that the Panasonic Lumix GF3 will be sold as a Lumix GF3X kit option featuring the new 14-42mm GX lens for $750 starting in October. The lens will also be sold separately for $400.
The other new X lens is a larger 45-175mm/F4.0-F5.6 telephoto lens with optical stabilization. In addition to the powered zoom and focus controls, you can also operate those features in the traditional way, as well.
No pricing or availability information has been announced for the longer-zoom lens just yet.
Panasonic Lumix LX5 Gets a Firmware Update
One of the best point-and-shoot cameras of the past year, the manual-minded Panasonic Lumix LX5, is also getting a free firmware update as part of today's announcements.
Scheduled for September 13, the firmware upgrade includes faster autofocus performance, the enhanced "Active Mode" image stabilization feature, a miniature scene mode that mimics a tilt-shift lens, improved auto white balance, and new noise-reduction features for high-ISO shots.
Panasonic also says the firmware update will improve color fidelity on the LX5's LCD screen, and it will extend the LX5's long-shutter speed cap to 250 seconds.