updated 11:10 am EDT, Mon July 21, 2008
Panasonic FZ28 and LX3
Panasonic this morning got an early start to the run-up for the Photokina expo with a full range of new cameras. The Lumix FZ28 is close in capabilities to the earlier FZ18 with an 18X zoom factor but now shoots with a slightly wider-angled 27mm (previously 28mm) lens that lets it put more of a very long subject in the frame. It also adds a new autofocus tracking mode that keeps a subject in focus even in fast movement, ensuring that either basic focusing or face detection works properly without mastering shutter speeds and ISO settings.
The FZ28 continues to shoot at 10.1 megapixels and boasts optical image stabilization and auto-adjusting settings for exposure, ISO, and full scene modes; burst shooting is possible at 2.5 frames per second with full resolution or 13 frames per second in a low-resolution mode. Panasonic plans black and silver vesions for an August release at a $400 price.
Also catering to a crossover audience is the LX3, the direct upgrade to the LX2. In a rare move for the industry, Panasonic chooses to stay at 10.1 megapixels but increase the size of the sensor to 1/1.63 inches, spacing out the pixels and cutting back on the amount of visible noise. This also has the upside of boosting light sensitivity (up to ISO 6,400 in an ultra-sensitive mode) and color saturation by 40 percent and 35 percent respectively as well as letting the camera shoot in three different aspect ratios at once.
The camera also switches to a Leica-made 24mm, f2.0 wide-angle lens which is allegedly twice as bright and thus cuts down on blurring in dark or fast-moving scenes, with the f-stop also reducing the visual artifacts created by the glass. A new Venus Engine IV image processor with the same AF tracking and other features as other introductions today. The LX3 should be ready in August for $500.
Two more conventional cameras enter the range. The FX150 is set up as a high-end compact with a 14.7-megapixel sensor, a 28mm wide-angle Leica lens, and RAW shooting. It also arrives next month with a $400 price point. The 10.1-megapixel FX37 in turn replaces the FX35 and comes with a wider-still 25mm Leica lens, hardware stabilization, and the other sensor features of the previous cameras. It will be the least expensive of the upgrades with a $350 price when it appears in August.