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Panasonic's tale of two ultracompacts: The upsell chronicles

Despite appearances, one of these bright-lens cameras--the Lumix F8 and F6--is really not like the other.


LAS VEGAS--Panasonic has this thing going where it releases two versions of the same camera, in which one seemingly exists solely to upsell to the other. Case in point, the new Lumix FH8 and FH6.

The 16-megapixel FH8 features a bright (at least at the wide end) f2.5-6.4 24-120mm Leica lens with a 5x zoom; a 3-inch LCD; 720p HD MP4 movie capture with a one-touch record button; USB battery charging; a tilt-shift-like Miniature Effect for photos and movies; and its Intelligent Auto mode has AF tracking helping you keep moving subjects in focus till you shoot. It'll be available in silver, black, red, and violet.

The FH6 gets the same lens and, ummm, ummm, that's it. Everything else has been downgraded. It gets a 14-megapixel sensor, records its HD movies in the inefficient Motion JPEG format (without the assistance of a record button), a 2.7-inch LCD, uses an external battery charger, and doesn't have the AF tracking or the Miniature Effect mode (though the latter is just a nice extra). It's available in black only.

No pricing was announced so I can't tell you the exact cost difference, but my guess would be $30 to $40. Panasonic probably has good reasons for doing this with its lines, but for consumers it only leads to confusion.