Panasonic Lumix FZ200, FZ60, and LZ20 cameras (pictures)
Panasonic offers up a 24x zoom camera that has an f2.8 aperture for the whole range as well as a couple other megazooms that aren't too bad, either.
Bright f2.8 from 25-600mm
While Panasonic's past FZ-series models have had an f2.8 maximum aperture at the wide end, the apertures get increasingly smaller as the lens is zoomed in, which lets in less and less light. Not a good thing when you're trying to use the telephoto end in less than bright lighting.
That's not the case with the FZ200, which can stay at f2.8 right out to 600mm, so there's less of a need to use high ISO settings to keep shutter speeds fast.
Aside from the lens, many of the camera's physical and shooting features carry over from its predecessor, the excellent FZ150. This includes the hot shoe on top that can be used with an add-on flash or an external mic that gets plugged into the camera's audio input jack on the left side, and shooting options go from full automatic to full manual for both photos and video.
Backed by a new 12-megapixel high-sensitivity MOS sensor and image processor as well as Panasonic's Light Speed AF autofocus system, the camera is capable of shooting at up to 5.5 frames per second with AF or 12fps with focus and exposure set with the first shot at full resolution. Panasonic is also promising a startup time of less than a second. The FZ200 can also capture high-speed movies at 120fps and 240fps for slow-motion clips.
Also worth noting is the option to program up to three buttons for direct control over settings as well as immediate access to ISO and white balance.
The FZ60 replaces last year's FZ47. It's essentially the same camera, but with a new 16-megapixel high-sensitivity CMOS sensor instead of a 12-megapixel high-speed CCD. It gets a new processor, too. Combined, the two should give the camera better image quality and shooting performance than its predecessor.
Two of the features cut from the FZ200 to the FZ60 are the hot shoe and the mic input. You also lose a couple of the programmable buttons and burst shooting isn't as robust. Shooting modes between the two are fairly similar, with options for HDR photos and panoramas.
Compared with the features of the FZ60, the LZ20 is extremely pared down with no EVF and a 16-megapixel CCD sensor. It does have a 3-inch 460K-dot LCD, though, and despite being loaded with mostly auto shooting options, it has a full manual mode for control over shutter speed and aperture. It will also capture 720/30p HD video in Motion JPEG format. And like the competing models I mentioned, it takes AA batteries making it more travel friendly.
No pricing or availability was announced, but I would expect it to be around the range of $250 to $300.