updated 07:45 am EDT, Wed July 21, 2010
Panasonic LX5 and FX700 top new compact cams
Panasonic on Wednesday launched a slew of new Lumix cameras, leading off with two new models friendly to low-light shooting. The previously leaked LX5 updates one of Panasonic's cult favorites with better image quality, starting with a new sensor: it still shoots at 10 megapixels but can reach a sensitivity of ISO 12,800, or enough to shoot in as little light as three lux. An upgraded lens shoots further, at an equivalent 24-90mm, but still has a wide f2.0 maximum aperture that lets in more light and produces a shallow depth of field.
An upgrade to a more recent imaging processor gives the camera a handful of other benefits. Video recording now moves up to AVCHD Lite (H.264) in 720p, roughly doubling the recording time and adding support for live video effects. Intelligent Resolution (sharpened digital zoom) and improved speed also come along.
The body of the LX5 has been redesigned for a better grip and a new jog dial. On the back, the three-inch LCD now uses an LED backlight with a high color rendering index that is both more visible in all conditions and more accurate. Hot-shoe support allows for an electronic viewfinder, external flash or other extras.
Panasonic plans to ship black and white versions of the LX5 in late August for $500.
The FX700 is a more conventional compact but goes to extra lengths to improve performance in the dark. It uses a 14.1-megapixel MOS sensor (versus the LX5's CCD) and still has an f2.2 aperture lens with a 24-120mm equivalent range. Motion sensitivity can automatically adjust the ISO, exposure, and burst shooting to reduce blurring. A touchscreen interface also plays a role: tapping to focus on a subject adjusts the image quality and invokes autofocus tracking, with more advanced controls still an option.
It captures more advanced video than the LX5, supporting full AVCHD and 1080p as a result.
The FX700 ships at roughly the same time as the LX5 but will cost $400.