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Lens design gives Panasonic ZR1 more zoom in less space

The 12-megapixel DMC-ZR1 has a wide-angle 8x zoom lens in an ultracompact body.


Every round of releases from Panasonic's digital camera division gets more interesting. Case in point, the very compact 12-megapixel Lumix ZR1 features a 25-200mm-equivalent lens with an 8x zoom. The extended zoom is courtesy of a new aspherical lens design for digital cameras that makes the elements just 0.3-millimeter thick. This allows for a 1-inch body depth and a weight of 5.6 ounces with battery and SD/SDHC card.

According to Panasonic, the camera is very fast because of a revamped high-speed auto focus system and a start-up time of only 1.1 seconds (very good for a longzoom camera).

The ZR1 also features a 2.7-inch LCD, a battery life lasting up to 330 pictures on a single charge, and Panasonic's latest Power Optical Image Stabilizer (O.I.S.) that doubles the repression power of its MEGA O.I.S. system.

A couple of newer shooting options are thrown in as well, including its face recognition system, High Dynamic mode for evening exposure of scenes that are bright and dark, and a Travel mode that lets you organize photos with destination, time, and date. This seems like a good snapshot camera for traveling, so that last feature makes a lot of sense.

The Lumix DMC-ZR1 has a suggested retail price of $279.95 and will be available in September 2009 in black, red, blue, and silver.