Panasonic launches new LUMIX hybrid cameras

Panasonic's new compact digital still cameras also take great-looking 720p high-definition videos.

  • The LUMIX DMC-TZ7 blew out the highlights in this scene, but it did a good job overall of capturing the bright and dark areas in the frame, along with the fine detail in the smoke.

  • Here's yet another example of close-up shots taken with the LUMIX DMC-TZ7 digital camera.

  • In a seminar in Singapore this week, Panasonic launched its new FT-rugged, TZ and FS series of LUMIX digital cameras. Among the models released were two hybrid models -- the LUMIX DMC-FT1 and the LUMIX DMC-TZ7 -- which, in addition to being able to capture high-quality still images, can also capture vibrant and clear 720p-resolution videos. We were given the opportunity to road test pre-production models of these two cameras, and test shots are presented over the next few slides. Keep in mind that the firmware in these cameras is yet to be finalised, so the quality of shots taken by the production models will probably end up being better than what you see here (photography skills notwithstanding). None of the photos have been altered, apart from some cropping and re-sizing to fit these pages.

  • Panasonic LUMIX DMC-TZ7

    The LUMIX DMC-TZ7 is a marvel of a digital camera, and it is set for release in April. They don't call it the 'travel zoom' series for nothing, as its 25mm lens can reach up to 300mm with its 12x optical zoom. It's a digital camera that can easily fit into your pocket and take great all around shots. Like the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FT1, the LUMIX DMC-TZ7 is a hybrid camera that's capable of taking vibrant videos in addition to still shots. Here are a few examples of its still shot capabilities.
  • Just remember to clean the lens area once you are out of the surf, as the pictures will tend to look foggy or soft if you don't, as you can see from the example.

  • While underwater, the amount of light that's available will determine how clear your still photos will turn out. This slide is an example of a shot taken in an indoor pool without a flash. There are no manual settings, so you will have to rely on the camera's intelligent auto mode to handle the exposure. Videos taken underwater look vibrant and clear, but many still shots will come out a little too blurry.

  • Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FT1

    In the FT-Rugged series, the LUMIX DMC-FT1 is a ruggedised compact digital camera that is waterproof to 3 metres, dustproof and also shock-proof from a height of 1.5 metres. It has a 12.1-megaipxel sensor and a 28mm, 4.6x zoom lens. The case is hard enough to withstand accidental knocks and drops, and you can drop it in the ocean or a pool, and even take it underwater with you, without damaging it. It's ideal for outdoor adventures where you don't want to be carrying anything bulky. Look out for it in stores in April 2009.
  • Here is a rear view of the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-TZ7 digital camera.

  • The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FT1's image stabilisation did a reasonable job in low-light conditions, when it was handheld. This was taken in an aquarium, with a shutter speed of 1/8th of a second, an ISO speed of 400 and an aperture value of f/3.3.

  • You can take the LUMIX DMC-FT1 ruggedised digital camera to the beach with you and take still shots or videos closer to the water than ever before — or even in the water.

  • Here's the rear view of the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FT1, showing the position of the dial and 5-way controller.

  • At its widest point, the LUMIX DMC-TZ7 lens distortion was minimal, and slightly trapezoidal.

  • This macro shot shows the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-TZ7's ability to capture close-up detail, and also shows off the LEICA DC Vario-Elmar lens' style of bokeh (or blur as it is also known!). You can see that the background shapes are still clearly recognisable. The bell’s colours are vibrant as the sun is shining down on the scene.

  • Close-up photos and videos of fountains and other water features can be taken without risk of damaging your camera.

  • Panning shots were reasonable, too, in low light, although some of the fish made it very difficult for us to capture them.

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