Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., best known for its Panasonic brand products, today unveiled four new models in its LUMIX digital still camera series, DMC-FX7, DMC-FX2, DMC-FZ3 and DMC-FZ20. All of them feature the advanced Venus Engine II image-processing LSI, improved MEGA O.I.S. (optical image stabilizer), Unlimited Consecutive Shooting function and Leica DC Vario-Elmarit lens. Panasonic will release the new models in Japan and globally from August 27.
The 5.0-megapixel DMC-FX7 and 4.0-megapixel DMC-FX2, heirs to DMC-FX5 and DMC-FX1, the world's first compact cameras with MEGA O.I.S., incorporate 3x optical zoom (equivalent to 35 mm to 105 mm on a 35 mm film camera) and a large LCD monitor (2.5-inch for FX7 and 2.0-inch for FX2). The LCD is equipped with Power LCD Mode, which increases brightness by 40 percent to make it easier to see even outdoors in bright sunlight. All these features and technical improvements are contained in the compact 94.1 mm Χ 50 mm Χ 24.2 mm-thin casing, almost 33 percent smaller than its predecessors.
As digital cameras become smaller and lighter, user hand-shake can occur more frequently, resulting in blurry images. MEGA O.I.S. offsets jitters every time, using a gyrosensor that detects even the slightest shaking of the camera and sends a signal to a linear motor, which adjusts the lens elements. In the new models, this compensation system is integrated with the Venus Engine II, so handshaking is detected and adjusted faster to produce clearer and sharper images. The improved MEGA O.I.S. allows perfect telephoto shots and night photography without using a tripod.
Panasonic has enhanced the performance of its Venus Engine high-speed image-processing system, which delivers superb image rendering and unmatched processing speed. The Venus Engine II has improved horizontal and vertical resolution by more than 10 percent, reduced the noise in dark areas and achieved more precise color reproduction with an advanced 12-axis independent color adjustment. The multi-task image-processing LSI has also accelerated response time, resulting in the industry-leading release time lag of approximately 0.008 (FX7)/0.006 (FX2) second and a shutter interval* of approximately 0.4 (FX7)/0.3 (FX2) second. The new Unlimited Consecutive Shooting function addition to this camera allows continuous shooting up to the capacity of the SD Memory Card.
The LUMIX DMC-FZ3 features 12x optical zoom (equivalent to 35 mm to 420 mm on a 35 mm film camera) with F2.8 brightness throughout the entire zoom range. The camera captures every detail of distant subjects with superb clarity. Leica DC Vario-Elmarit lens, a top-class compact lens in the world-renowned Leica family, enables the LUMIX digital cameras to render the same warmth and subtlety as film cameras. The 3.1-megapixel DMX-FZ3 weighs only 290g, 10 percent smaller in size than its preceding model.
Panasonic has also upgraded its model for the serious photographer. The 5.0-megapixel LUMIX DMC-FZ20 features 12x optical zoom with F2.8 brightness and manual controls including ring-operated focus and exposure. The manual exposure capability gives ultimate control of exposure to capture images according to the user preferences such as intentional over or underexposure just like using a film camera.
Featuring built-in USB ports and SD memory card slots, all the new models offer connectivity with a variety of SD-enabled devices including PCs, TVs, DVD recorders, etc.
Commenting on the new products, Mr. Mamoru Yoshida, Director of DSC Business & Development Center of Panasonic AVC Networks Company, said: "The new products incorporate our own cutting-edge digital imaging technologies such as the improved MEGA O.I.S. and Venus Engine II as well as the advanced optical technology of Leica Camera. We are excited about the introduction of such superb quality throughout the LUMIX range, from our compact, easy-to-use and stylish models to our higher-end models. By responding to a wide range of consumer needs, we believe we can contribute to sustaining or even expanding the demand for digital still cameras."
The company estimates digital still camera demand in Japan will increase 1 million to 9.5 million units in 2004 and top 10 million in 2005.
*Not including auto-focusing time allowances.