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Two megazooms, no waiting: Panasonic's FZ100, FZ40

What do you do when you have a popular camera? Split it into two, of course. Panasonic updates its DMC-FZ35 with the DMC-FZ100 and its less talented linemate, the DMC-FZ40.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ100 Panasonic

Panasonic's FZ35 with its measly 18x zoom was due for a refresh and, well, it looks like Panny thought breaking it into two models would be best.

The FZ100 is the top-of-the-line model:

  • 24x f2.8-5.2 25-600mm-equivalent lens

  • 14-megapixel high-speed MOS sensor

  • 3-inch 460K-pixel rotating LCD and an electronic viewfinder

  • Built-in stereo mic

  • Port for an optional stereo microphone

  • Accessory shoe for an external flash

  • Mini-HDMI output

  • Burst shooting at 11 frames per second at full resolution for up to 15 shots

  • Full HD 1080p movie mode recording in AVCHD at 30 frames per second at up to 17Mbps

  • Raw/Raw+JPEG

  • $499.95 available in late August

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ40 Panasonic

If that's more camera than you need, but you still really want that lens, there's the less capable FZ40. For $399.95 (also coming in late August) you get the lens; a 14-megapixel CCD sensor; a fixed 3-inch 230K-pixel LCD and an EVF; a 720p HD movie mode recording in AVCHD Lite; built-in stereo mic; and Mini-HDMI output.

Because of the sensor change, you lose all of the high-speed shooting features, and there's no external flash or mic support. On the upside, you gain a CIPA-rated battery life of 580 shots compared to the 410 shot-rating for the FZ100. There are other differences as well, but that's the gist.

I generally don't get excited about megazoom cameras, but as bridge cameras go, these look pretty good. Can't say I see the need for two fairly pricey models with the same lens, though. I would've rather seen Panasonic rework the FZ35's lens into a budget megazoom.