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Cameras

Panasonic introduces 2006 camera, camcorder line-up

Year kicks off with six new Lumix digital still cameras and eight e.cam video cameras.

Panasonic gathered a large contingent of Asia Pacific consumer electronic journalists in Sydney yesterday to announce its 2006 first half line-up that includes six new Lumix digital still cameras and eight e.cam video cameras.

Digital still cameras | Video camcorders

The company is putting serious emphasis into its imaging product range as it aims to capture 10 percent market share globally. Panasonic execs base this goal on its success in the Japanese market, where they claim to hold the number two position behind Canon, and ahead of competitors such as Sony, Pentax, Nikon, Fuji and Casio.

On the technology front, Panasonic is heavily promoting its MEGA O.I.S. image stabilisation technology, which it first developed for video cameras 20 years ago, but now incorporates across its digital still camera range. MEGA O.I.S., which reduces the impact of hand shake, should allow you to reduce the shutter speed more than 3 steps compared to cameras without it. It is particularly handy for telephoto and low light images. This feature, along with a High Sensitivity shooting mode (the ISO automatically increases to 1600 to stop blurring on moving objects) gives Lumix cameras a one-two punch on image stabilisation and renders clearer images, according to Panasonic reps.

One of the more interesting features introduced across all new Lumix models is the High Angle mode, which repositions the LCD monitor for better views from below. This is very useful when you're trying to shoot while holding the camera above your head, such as when you're in a crowd.

New tech finding its way into the video camera line-up includes Anti Ground Shooting, which automatically stops the recording function when the camera is not held upright, and Quick Power On/Off, which starts and stops the device by simply opening and closing the LCD or electronic viewfinder.

Panasonic will also be entering the dSLR market this year, with a product announcement expected at the big PMA (Photo Marketing Association) convention coming up at the end of February in Orlando. In Sydney, Panasonic also showed off a compact home photo printer and a digital SD slide projector, but availability and pricing are yet to be confirmed for the Australian market.

Intro | Digital still cameras | Video camcorders

Panasonic's 2006 digital still camera lineup

Model Name
Basics
TZ1
Panasonic research showed that most people buy cameras for use while travelling, so they added what they call a 'Traveller Zoom', the new TZ1. It's a 5-megapixel, ultra compact with 10x optical zoom. It also sports travel-friendly features such as World Time setting, Travel Date setting, and a Calendar Display that allows you to browse images by the date you travelled. It has a 2.5-inch monitor and comes in silver, black or blue.

Pricing: AU$659
Availability: April
FZ7
Another mega-zoomer is the new FZ7, the successor to the FZ5. The FZ7 is a 6-megapixel camera with 12x optical zoom and a joystick control to manually adjust focus and exposure. You can also use the joystick as a short cut to set white balance, ISO, picture size and compression format when you're in shooting mode.

Pricing: AU$769
Availability: mid-March
FX01
On the compact camera front, the FX01 replaces the FX9. The petite 6-megapixel FX01 boasts a 3.6x optical zoom and a 28mm wide-angle Leica lens. Consider this the 'party girl' of the Lumix range, as its wide-angle capabilities are great for group portraits, and it's available in fashionable pink and white casings, as well as black and silver.

Pricing: AU$659
Availability: late March
DMC-LZ5
The DMC-LZ5 is a 6-megapixel camera with 6x optical zoom. Powered by two AA batteries, it has a 2.5-inch LCD screen and features MEGA O.I.S. image stabilisation and maximum ISO 1600 High Sensitivity recording.

Pricing: AU$549
Availability: Mid March
DMC-LZ3
The DMC-LZ3 is a 5-megapixel camera with 6x optical zoom. Powered by two AA batteries, it has a 2-inch LCD screen and features MEGA O.I.S. image stabilisation and maximum ISO 1600 High Sensitivity recording.

Pricing: AU$439
Availability: Mid March

DMC-LS2
The DMC-LS2 is a 5-megapixel offering with 3x optical zoom. It is powered by two AA batteries.

Pricing: AU$329
Availability: Late March

Intro | Digital still cameras | Video camcorders

In Australia, Panasonic will cater to the mix of camcorder media formats by offering three DVD camcorders, four miniDV video cameras and one SD model.

Panasonic's 2006 video camera lineup

Model Name Basics

VDR-D300
VDR-D300
This top of the range DVD camcorder boasts both 3CCD and O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) technology. It also has a Leica Dicomar lens, 10x optical zoom, auto lens cover, a 2.7-inch LCD with wide-mode, an on-screen Help mode, 3.1 megapixel still picture recording, DVD-RAM/-RW/-R compatibility and USB2.0 connectivity.

Pricing: AU$1979
Availability: late March

VDR-D250
VDR-D250
This slightly stepped down model still has a 3CCD camera system with a Panasonic lens, 10x optical zoom, a 2.7-inch LCD with wide-mode, an on-screen Help mode, 2.3 megapixel still picture recording, DVD-RAM/-RW/-R compatibility and USB2.0 connectivity.

Pricing: AU$1429
Availability: April

VDR-D150
VDR-D150
The VDR-D150 has a 1CCD camera system with 30x optical zoom. It has a 2.5-inch LCD monitor, DVD-RAM/-RW/-R compatibility, USB2.0 connectivity, and it can take VGA colour stills.

Pricing: AU$989
Availability: February

NV-GS500
NV-GS500
Sitting at the top of Panasonic's MiniDV range, the 3CCD NV-GS500 features MEGA O.I.S., a Leica Dicomar lens, 12x optical zoom, a 2.7-inch LCD monitor, a manual focus ring and 4-megapixel still image capture.

Pricing: AU$2199
Availability: February

NV-GS300
NV-GS300
The 3CCD NV-GS300 features MEGA O.I.S., a Leica Dicomar lens, 10x optical zoom, a 2.7-inch LCD monitor and 3.1-megapixel still image capture.

Pricing: AU$1539
Availability: February

NV-GS180
NV-GS180
The 3CCD NV-GS180 features 10x optical zoom, a 2.5-inch LCD monitor and 2.3-megapixel still image capture.

Pricing: AU$1099
Availability: February

NV-GS27
NV-GS27
The NV-GS27 is a single CCD with 30x optical zoom for wide angle shooting. It sports a 2.5-inch LCD monitor, an on-board Help mode, and a built-in LED light.

Pricing:AU$659
Availability: February

SDR-S100
SDR-S100
For those after something more compact and stylish, Panasonic has the SDR-S100 that records MPEG2 video in the 16:9 aspect ratio onto Secure Digital (SD) memory cards. It features a 3CCD camera system, 10x optical zoom, MEGA O.I.S, 3.1-megapixel still image capture; a Leica Dicomar lens, 2.8" LCD and a USB PC connection.

Pricing: AU$2199
Availability: Mid February