updated 11:45 am EDT, Mon July 27, 2009
Panasonic FZ35 FP8 ZR1
Panasonic this morning swelled the ranks of its Lumix cameras with three new models that all have new features. The FZ35 replaces the FZ28 as the company's ultrazoom and adds a new High Dynamic mode that improves the high dynamic range (HDR) of a scene, bringing detail back to overly bright highlights and darker shadows. A pseudo-manual mode known as My Color gives control over brightness, contrast and saturation with live previews of each, and a faster autofocus system that helps both for action scenes as well as capturing 720p video.
The "prosumer" camera snaps 12-megapixel shots through an 18X, optical-stabilized lens. For beginners, the new entry has a new Baby Mode that detects the faces of children under 3 years old. FZ35 shipments start in September, when the camera goes on sale for $400.
Creating a balance between this and regular compacts is the ZR1. The compact is genuinely thin but has a long 8X, 25-200mm zoom courtesy of a brand new lens measuring just 0.3mm (0.01in) thick, reducing the need for a thick body. It inherits the FZ35's HDR shooting and fast autofocus, but drops HD video. The ZR1 comes in September for $280.
The FP8 is a more conventional camera, again at 12 megapixels, but steps its zoom factor down to 4.6X while slimming its profile further still and adding back 720p video recording. High Dynamic mode is absent, but it does retain the high-speed autofocusing system. Panasonic has the camera arriving in September for $300.