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Panasonic intros Wi-Fi camera

Panasonic has introduced its first Wi-Fi camera called the Lumix DMC-TZ50.

Panasonic's first Wi-Fi camera, the Lumix DMC-TZ50.
Panasonic's first Wi-Fi camera, the Lumix DMC-TZ50 Panasonic

Panasonic has announced its first camera to include built-in Wi-Fi, called the Lumix DMC-TZ50. As the model name hints, the TZ50 is basically the DMC-TZ5 with Wi-Fi. Both are 9-megapixel cameras with optically stabilized 10x optical, 28-280mm equivalent lenses, and can record video at up to 1,280x720 pixel resolution at 30 frames per second. They both also include Panasonic's Advanced Intelligent Auto features, which include Intelligent Exposure, which adjusts brightness after a picture is taken; Digital Red-eye Correction to remove red eye after the image is captured; Intelligent ISO, which determines if a subject is moving and, if so, boosts the camera's sensitivity to allow a faster shutter speed so you can freeze the action; Intelligent Scene Selector, which analyzes what's in frame and tries to choose the best scene mode for the given subject; Face Detection, so the camera can see up to 15 faces and use them to set focus and exposure; and Continuous AF, which can lock on your subject and follow it as it moves through the frame.

Like Nikon's S52c, Panasonic says that the DMC-TZ50 will work with wireless home routers and T-Mobile's HotSpot service. They also say that it'll come with 12 months of free T-Mobile service-- that's six months more than Nikon includes with its Wi-Fi cam. Unlike Nikon, Panasonic hasn't set up its own image hosting. Instead, they say the camera will send images directly to Picasa's Web Albums. The info we received from Panasonic says that you can register only one e-mail account with the TZ50, so that the URL of the Picasa album created when you upload will be sent to that address. They then suggest that you can set up that e-mail account to forward on to friends and family, but that all sounds a bit complicated to me. The Nikon lets you e-mail images straight from the camera and can store more than just one e-mail address. Once we get a TZ50 in for review, we'll get a better sense of what the wireless experience will be like.

Panasonic says that the Lumix DMC-TZ50 will be available in May for about $450. That's about $100 more than the TZ5 and about $200 more than Nikon's S52c, though the Nikon is an ultracompact with a 3x optical zoom, while the Panasonic has a longer zoom and is a more advanced camera overall than the Nikon. It's somewhat unfair to compare them, but it's bound to happen since they're the only two Wi-Fi cameras so far from the major camera manufacturers.