For most of us, holidaying in the sun means dusting off the trusty old camera and snapping some memorable moments around the pool or bar. But if your ancient photographic box is starting to become an embarrassment then a flurry of Lumix releases from Panasonic might be just what you need. There's a rugged model, a couple with touchscreen displays, a couple ultra-wide angle lenses and some capable of full high definition video too. All are storage-friendly SDXC card compatible and include a host of automated settings to help get the best from any situation.
The Lumix DMC-LX5
The LX5 has received an external sprucing up that includes a thicker grip and an incorporated turn-and-push jog dial. It features a newly designed, ultra-bright, F2.0 ultra-wide-angle 24mm LEICA DC VARIO-SUMMICRON lens with 3.8x optical and 4x digital zoom. Due to the shallow depth of field provided by the extra light through the lens, Panasonic says it's able to produce beautiful photos with a soft-focused background with relative ease.
Like the LX3 before it, the new camera features a 10.1 megapixel CCD but Panasonic has taken the opportunity to improve the sensitivity and saturation. As well as power optical image stabilization to help reduce image blur, the threesome of CPUs in the new Venus Engine FHD image processor offer improved processing speed and noise reduction. Naturally, you'll also find the company's Intelligent Resolution technology too.
Its 3-inch, 460,000 dot wide-angle LCD now has LED backlighting and there's the option of attaching a Live View Finder via the hot-shoe on top. The LX5 has a new 1:1 aspect setting and a battery which has been boosted to provide some 400 photos per charge. And finishing off the summary of specs, it also records AVCHD Lite high definition video in Motion JPEG format for double the recording time.
Black and white models will be available from August at a suggested retail price of US$499.95.
The Lumix DMC-TS10
For outdoorsy types, the company brings the TS10 to the picnic table. It's waterproof to about 10 feet, should withstand a drop from five feet and is dustproof and freezeproof, continuing to operate in temperatures as low as -10ºC/14ºF. And if that's not enough, further protection is afforded by a special silicone jacket.
The TS10 sports a 14.1 megapixel CCD sensor with sensitivity from ISO80 right up to ISO6400 in the high sensitivity setting, a LUMIX DC VARIO lens with 4x optical and 4x digital zoom, and benefits from a dedicated Intelligent Auto button that makes it easy to engage this useful setting. Hand shake and motion blur is offered in the slightly less powerful form of mega optical image stabilization and 720p high definition video in Motion JPEG format is featured at 30 frames per second.
The 2.7-inch 230,000-dot LCD display has auto-light boosting technology to help users see clear images whatever the external light conditions and, rather than jeopardize the water-tight sealed frame by including a swivel display, Panasonic has included a High-Angle mode which is said to make crowd-topping snapshots a little easier to frame. Its battery should offer around 300 snaps per charge and it will be available in blue, red, black and silver from mid-September for a suggested US$249.95.
The Lumix DMC-FZ40
The FZ40 hybrid digital camera has a 25mm ultra-wide angle LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT lens with 24x optical zoom and a 14.1 megapixel CCD sensor with sensitivity ranging from ISO80 to ISO6400 in the high sensitivity setting. Having such a powerful zoom, it's important to keep the effects of hand shake to a minimum so Panasonic has included enhanced optical image stabilization technology to help eliminate blur.
The FZ40 benefits from both Intelligent Resolution and Intelligent Auto technology and is claimed to have the industry's fastest high speed startup and auto-focus, the latter supplied by the company's Sonic Speed Auto Focus. Like the LX5, it benefits from a range of creative controls including My Color, which may be familiar to users of the Lumix G Micro System and gives users access to such things as Pin Hole, Film Grain, High Dynamic and High Dynamic B&W.;
It records video in AVCHD Lite high definition format and sports a dedicated instant record button atop the camera's body. The useful in-camera Video Divide is featured, where users can perform limited edits using a split screen, and noise-reducing Wind Cut functionality. The 3-inch, 230,000-dot touchscreen LCD display provides users with a 100 percent field of view and the battery should be good for 580 shots between charges.
The FZ40 will be available towards the end of August for a suggested US$399.95.
The Lumix DMC-FX700
Full 1080p high definition movie recording in the storage-friendly AVCHD format is offered by the FX700, which also features a new Venus Engine FHD image processor, Intelligent Resolution's pixel-by-pixel image enhancement and Intelligent Auto with Motion Deblur functionality, to help capture sharp focus moving images.
Enhanced optical image stabilization should help capture clear images through the 24mm ultra wide-angle F2.2 super bright LEICA DC VARIO-SUMMICRON lens with a 5x optical and 4x digital zoom and in addition to 4:3, 3:2 and 16:9 aspect images, the FX700 also offers 1:1. There's a 14.1 megapixel high resolution MOS sensor with sensitivity from ISO100 to ISO6400 in the high sensitivity setting and a 3-inch, 230,000-dot touchscreen LCD display which allows users to lock focus and track a subject by touching the image on the screen.
Users should get 300 shots between charges and the camera will be available towards the end of August for a suggested retail price of US$399.95.
The Lumix DMC-FZ100
There's a free-angle, tilting, fold-out 3-inch, 460,000 dot LCD display and 0.2-inch viewfinder on the FZ100 and a newly developed LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT lens with 24x optical zoom. The hybrid compact camera also features a 14.1 megapixel MOS sensor with sensitivity ranging from ISO100 up to ISO6400 in the high sensitivity setting.
Intelligent Auto with Motion Deblur and power image stabilization should help users get sharp, clear images every time and the mechanical shutter offers a burst shooting speed of 11 frames per second at full resolution or up to 60 frames per second at 3.5 megapixels. And in case the very thought of having to choose burst frame rates gives you clammy hands then fear not, the camera features Intelligent Burst shooting to automatically choose for you. Like the FX700, this camera can record full 1080p high definition video in AVCHD format and as well as Dolby Digital Stereo Creator and Wind Cut, the FZ100 also features a newly-created port for an optional stereo microphone.
The battery should be good for 410 images on a single charge and the FZ100 should be available towards the end of August for about US$499.95.
More information on Panasonic's Lumix range is available on the Pansonic website.