Major Point-and-Shoot Releases for 2009

New Lumix Cams Offer Face Tagging, Ultrawide Lenses

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Bridging the gap between the Consumer Electronics Show and the upcoming PMA 09 with six new point-and-shoot camera announcements, Panasonic on Tuesday announced additions to its Lumix line of digital cameras. Ultrawide-angle lenses, an intriguing new facial detection feature, and HD video recording in the brand-new AVCHD Lite format are the major draws offered by the new members of the 2009 Lumix line.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 and Lumix DMC-ZS1

At the head of the new Lumix class is the 10-megapixel Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3, which is 1.3 inches deep and offers a 12X optical zoom Leica lens with a 25mm film equivalent on the wide end.

The Lumix DMC-ZS3 also records 1280-by-720 high-definition video in AVCHD Lite format at 17mbps and 60 frames per second (there's also a high-def motion JPEG mode that records at 30 fps).

The Lumix DMC-ZS3 adds a face recognition mode that identifies and tags familiar faces, as well as saving focus and exposure settings assigned to those faces. The face-recognition feature is part of the ZS3's Intelligent Auto mode, which also includes optical image stabilization, exposure optimization, and automatic scene selection.

Other features of the ZS3 are a 3-inch LCD screen; a high-speed burst mode that takes up to 10 pictures per second; and blue, black, red, and silver color options. It will be available beginning in April for $400.

In addition to the ZS3, Panasonic also announced the slightly cheaper Lumix DMC-ZS1 (below), which has the same specs but lacks a Face Recognition mode and movie-recording capabilities.

The ZS1 has a smaller, 2.7-inch LCD screen. It also debuts in April. In black or silver, it will cost $300.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX580

Another addition to the mix in 2009 will be a 3-inch touch-screen camera with 25mm wide-angle capabilities and a 5X optical zoom, the Lumix DMC-FX580.

The DMC-FX580 will offer the full deck of Panasonic's Intelligent Auto features, including face recognition, motion tracking (which locks into a moving subject in the frame and keeps it in focus), optical image stabilization, exposure and ISO optimization, and automatic scene selection. In addition to a high-speed burst mode that takes 10 shots per second, the FX580 shoots high-definition motion JPEG movies at 1280 by 720 and 30fps.

The touch-screen DMC-FX580 will hit stores in April for $400 in black or silver.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX48

Also boasting the new Face Recognition mode is the Lumix DMC-FX48, a super-slim (0.85 inch deep) 12- megapixel model.

It offers a 2.5-inch LCD, and the main draw here looks to be the 25mm wide-angle capabilities and a 5X optical zoom Leica lens in an ultracompact frame.

The DMC-FX48 also shoots high-def clips at a 1280-by-720 resolution at 30fps--but in motion JPEG format, not AVCHD Lite. It also features a 10-images-per-second high-speed burst mode. Available in April for $350, the Lumix DMC-FX48 comes in black or silver.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS25

Billed as Panasonic's new "top-of-the-line" ultracompact model, the 12-megapixel Lumix DMC-FS25 is just 0.86 inch deep and offers a 5X optical zoom Leica lens that reaches a none-too-shabby 29mm on the wide-angle end.

In addition to a large 3-inch LCD, the FS25 also offers new Intelligent Auto mode tricks, but they don't include the face-recognition feature. Instead, it offers motion tracking, optical image stabilization, exposure optimization, ISO optimization, automatic scene selection, and face detection (not recognition).

The FS25's movie mode also doesn't offer the ZS3's high-def chops: it maxes out at 848-by-420 wide-screen clips in WVGA format at 30fps. The FS25 will be available in April for $250 in black, gold, or silver.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS1

Rounding out Panasonic's latest camera announcements is the 12-megapixel DMC-TS1, a rugged model that is rated as waterproof down to 10 feet underwater, shockproof to drops up to 5 feet, and dustproof.

In addition to its weatherproof frame, the DMC-TS1 has a high-definition AVCHD Lite movie mode, as well as a high-speed burst mode that takes up to 10 photos per second. Also available in April, the DMC-TS1 comes in silver, orange, or green for $400.

This story, "New Lumix Cams Offer Face Tagging, Ultrawide Lenses" was originally published by PCWorld.

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