The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX580 offers a sensor resolution of 12.1 effective megapixels from a 1/2.33" RGB CCD image sensor, and Panasonic has coupled this to an image stabilized, Leica DC Vario-Elmar branded 5x optical zoom lens with a very generous 25mm-equivalent wide angle. There's sadly no optical viewfinder, with the Panasonic FX580 instead opting solely for a roomy 3.0" LCD display with 230,000 dot resolution on which images and videos are both framed and reviewed - and thanks to a touch panel over the display it serves as a point of control as well. The Panasonic FX580's lens has a maximum aperture that varies from f/2.8 to f/5.9 across the zoom range. The minimum focusing distance for the Panasonic DMC-FX580 is ordinarily half a meter, but drops to just five centimeters when switched to Macro mode.
The Panasonic DMC-FX580 has an 11-point multi-area autofocus system which also includes a single-point "high speed" focusing mode. As with many digital cameras these days, there's also a face detection function, with Panasonic's implementation using the information to adjust both focus and exposure to properly capture your subjects' faces. Interestingly, Panasonic has gone a step further by enabling the Lumix DMC-FX580 to recognize specific individuals' faces, and prioritize these over other detected photos when capturing photos, or search for photos containing a specific face in playback mode. The Panasonic Lumix FX580 also has an implementation of autofocus tracking, which can monitor a subject as it moves around the frame, continuing to update autofocus as required. Panasonic's AF tracking is linked to the face detection system, allowing the camera to continue tracking a face even if it briefly turns to a side profile - although it should be noted that the face detection system does require the subject be looking towards the camera to achieve its initial detection.
ISO sensitivity ordinarily ranges from 80 to 1600, with the ability to extend this as far as ISO 6400 equivalent in High Sensitivity Auto mode. Shutter speeds from 1/2000 to 60 seconds are possible. The Panasonic DMC-FX580 uses Intelligent Multiple metering by default, and also offers both Center-Weighted and Spot metering options. There are seven white balance settings including Auto, Manual, four fixed presets, and a color temperature option. A whopping selection of twenty six scene modes let users tailor the look of their images, and usefully the Panasonic FX580 also offers aperture-, shutter-priority, and fully manual modes. There's also an Intelligent Scene Selection function, which can automatically select from a subset of the available scene modes. A five mode flash strobe includes red-eye reduction capability, and has a rated range of up to 6.0 meters at wide angle, or 2.8 meters at telephoto. There's also digital red-eye correction, and Panasonic's Intelligent Exposure and Intelligent ISO functions as seen on past models. Also included is Intelligent Auto, which can now also enable the AF Tracking and Intelligent Exposure functions.
As well as JPEG still images, the Panasonic FX580 can capture movies with sound at up to 1280 x 720 pixel resolution or below, although the compression used is the older QuickTime Motion JPEG type so file sizes are likely to be hefty. Movies are captured at 30 frames per second with audio. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX580 stores its images and movies on Secure Digital or MultiMediaCards, including the newer SDHC types. There's also a generous 40MB of built-in memory. Connectivity options include a USB 2.0 High-Speed connection, plus standard definition NTSC / PAL video output. The Panasonic FX580 can also output high-definition video via an optional DMW-HDC2 component cable. Power comes from a proprietary Lithium Ion battery, rated as good for 350 shots on a charge to CIPA testing standards. The software bundle includes PHOTOfunSTUDIO Viewer v3.0, ArcSoft MediaImpression, and ArcSoft Panorama Maker.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX580 will ship from April 2009, with expected pricing of $400 or thereabouts.