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Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 adds a dash of 3D sauce to your snaps

With a dash of 3D and a soupcon of 1080p video stirred in with a touchscreen, it's the new the Micro Four Thirds Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2.

Micro Four Thirds is about to get an extra dimension: the freshly minted Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF2 camera captures 3D photos and video. It's set to be the smallest and simplest of Panasonic's lens-swapping G series, packing a 12.1-megapixel CMOS sensor and wearing the 12.5mm F12 lens for 3D snaps and video.

The latest snapper is the smallest and simplest of Panasonic's Micro Four Thirds format. Panny reckons it's 20 per cent smaller than its predecessor, the excellent Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1. In the process, the controls have been simplified, stripping out the GF1's mode dial and several buttons. Instead, the GF2 relies on the touchscreen to make it go.

You can set a defocused background for pleasing bokeh effect by moving a slider on the 79mm (3-inch) touchscreen. An onscreen quick menu lets you set up your own shortcuts, and you can focus or snap a picture by tapping the screen. Tapping a face switches the camera to portrait mode, or touching the background scenery sees the camera automatically leap into scenery mode.

The GF2 shoots high-definition 1,080i or 720p video, recorded in AVCHD or Motion JPEG, and controlled by a dedicated video button. It adds a stereo microphone for quality sound, with a hotshoe to plug in an external mic.

3D shooting is available by bolting on the 3D lens introduced with the Panasonic HDC-SDT750 camcorder. For us, that edges Panasonic ahead of Sony in the 3D arms race, after the Sony NEX-5 began offering 3D panoramic shots. Your 3D films could share the screen with James Cameron's Avatar if you net yourself one of Panasonic's 3D Viera tellies like the fantastic VT20.

The GF2 will arrive in January, and will be draped in a veritable rainbow of colour options: choose from black, silver, white and red. You can also choose a 14-42mm zoom lens or a slimline 14mm F2.5 pancake lens, or go nuts and get both in a twin-lens kit. Pricing is yet to be announced.