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Photos: Hands-on with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ38

The Lumix DMC-FZ38 sports an 18x optical zoom lens and assorted camcorder-style features, offering one of the most sophisticated combinations of video and photography prowess we've seen

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Richard Trenholm

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Panasonic has announced a camera bonanza on this fine Monday. We got our hands on the 18x zooming Lumix DMC-FZ38 for a quick test on the streets of Lisbon. Here are some of the key features.

Panasonic throws around the word 'hybrid' in the press release to highlight the souped-up video options. A dedicated video button and a number of camcorder-style features round out the 720p video experience. Footage is recorded in the AVCHD Lite format.

Like the Lumix DMC-ZX1, DMC-FX60 and DMC-FP8 compacts also launched today, the FZ38 boasts Panny's next-generation image-stabilisation system, Power OIS. This is extra important on a superzoom, as camera shake causes more obvious blur the more you zoom in.

The camera's face-detection software recognises up to six faces that you've saved in the camera's memory, and will also smooth out skin tones to clean up complexions. Where was that feature when we were 15, eh? In fact, you can record a person's age, and, if they're under three years old, the camera will switch to baby mode when it spots them.

Burst mode offers 2.3 shots per second at 12.1-megapixel full resolution, or 10 shots at 3 megapixels, all in 4:3. If you want 16:9 high-speed shooting, you'll have to settle for 2 megapixels.

Click through our gallery to see more of the FZ38, find out about its advanced features, and discover how much it'll cost.

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Stills and video can be viewed on the 69mm (2.7-inch) screen or through the electronic viewfinder.
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There's an intelligent auto mode to take care of everything for you, or you can opt for shutter or aperture priority or full manual control. You can also control the aperture and shutter for video recording.
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The 18x f2.8 lens has a focal length equivalent to 27-486mm on a 35mm film camera. The zoom can also be used while filming high-definition video, a feature usually only found on camcorders.
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When you zoom the camera, the stereo microphone reacts so that the sound continues to match the visuals. Another camcorder-style feature is a wind-cut function, which minimises wind noise.
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The FZ38 features a pop-up flash.
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There's an HDMI connection, and, when connected to a Panasonic Viera telly, you can control videos and stills slideshows with the remote control.
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The FZ38 will be available in September for around £330.

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