And the battle for the most zoom in the thinnest body continues.
This is the Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS20, and as of its announcement, Panasonic claims it is the world's slimmest camera with a 20x optical zoom. The Leica lens starts off at an ultrawide-angle 24mm and extends to 480mm and fits inside a body that's just 1.1 inches thick. Of course, since it starts so wide, this might not be the longest lens we see this year; it just has the most zoom for its depth.
Of course, the ZS20 is more than just a long lens in a skinny body. Its new 14-megapixel High Sensitivity MOS sensor and Venus Engine image processor give you burst shooting at up to 10 frames per second at full resolution as well as the capability to capture full HD video at 60p in AVCHD format. Those are joined by new modes for easy panorama capture (just shoot and pan and the camera handles everything else) and high-dynamic-range (HDR) photos for more-balanced exposures than you typically get with a point-and-shoot.
Other features include a 3-inch 460K-dot-resolution touch-screen LCD, USB charging, and an enhanced built-in GPS. Map data is included on a bundled DVD, which can be installed on the camera, giving you detailed worldwide maps of major regions on a scale of 1/25,000 or more precise.
Also announced was the Lumix ZS15, which appears to be the same as 2011's ZS8, but with a 12-megapixel MOS sensor, instead of a 14-megapixel CCD sensor, and a high-res 3-inch LCD. The new processor appears to be joined by a new processor, though, potentially allowing for better photo and video quality.
The Lumix ZS20 and ZS15 will be available in March for $349.99 and $279.99, respectively. The Lumix ZS20 will be available in black, red, white, and silver options; the Lumix ZS15 will be available in black and silver.
Every year I get excited to test out the latest compact megazooms from Panasonic, and every year their low-light photo quality disappoints. Fingers crossed these new sensors and image processors will turn that around.