Panasonic skinny megazoom is more than just a pretty Leica lens

The SZ7 packs a 10x zoom in a slim body, but that's not where the story ends.

LAS VEGAS--The slim Panasonic Lumix SZ7 is intended to grab snapshooters back from the convenience of their smartphones. The main lure: an ultrawide-angle Leica lens.

The long-zoom-in-the-skinny-body thing is nice and all, but I'm more interested in the new AF system. Dubbed Light Speed AF, it promises a "superfast focus response time of approximately 0.1 second." I was able to briefly get my hands on the SZ7 and it really is impressively fast to focus and shoot. Hopefully, it won't slow down much in low light.

Other highlights include a fast, 14-megapixel MOS sensor that supports full HD movie capture at 60i in AVCHD (it'll shoot MP4, too), as well as some multishot modes for high dynamic range and handheld night shots.

Its linemate, the SZ1, is significantly less impressive than the SZ7, though. It has the same body, screen, and lens, but switches to a slower, higher-resolution 16-megapixel CCD, captures video at a maximum resolution of 720p at 30 frames per second, and lacks the shooting options made possible by the SZ7's MOS sensor. It's basically made for people who just want the lens in the small body and don't need fast performance.

No pricing or availability was announced, but if you're in the market for an ultracompact megazoom, I'd keep tabs on the SZ7.

 

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