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Panasonic's Lumix DMC-FZ50 digital camera. Courtesy of Panasonic, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Panasonic: Ten megapixel long-zoom digicam
(Wednesday, July 19, 2006 - 07:26 EDT)

Panasonic has today become the latest company to field its entry in the ongoing megapixel war, with the new Lumix DMC-FZ50 digital camera.

Control of image noise becomes an increasingly difficult prospect as the resolution of compact camera sensors increases, and so far the big-name traditional camera companies have stayed at resolutions of eight to nine megapixels. The ten megapixel arena is so far still the exclusive domain of the consumer electronics companies and the smaller camera companies - the likes of Casio, Praktica, Samsung Vivitar, and now Panasonic being the main names so far to have offered ten megapixel compact camera models. (It remains to be seen whether big names like Canon, Fujifilm, Nikon, Olympus, et al. are just late to the game, or whether they've decided to compete on other areas of camera design rather than continuing to push resolutions at the expense of image quality in other areas.)

A successor to the existing DMC-FZ30 model, the DMC-FZ50 couples its ten megapixel imager with the same Leica-branded 12x optical zoom lens with MEGA O.I.S. image stabilisation used in the original camera. The lens yields effective focal lengths from 35 - 420mm - a moderate wide angle to a useful telephoto. ISO sensitivity ranges from 100 to 1600, with the option to extend this to ISO 3200 in high sensitivity mode - surprisingly higher than the FZ30's ISO 400 sensitivity with a maximum push to 1600, given that the pixel size has come down to fit 25% more pixels into the same sensor dimensions. Images can be previewed or reviewed on a 2.0" LCD display with a better than average resolution of 207,000 pixels (although this is slightly lower than the 235,000 pixel display found in the FZ30). For those who prefer to hold the camera to their eye, there's still a 0.44" color electronic viewfinder with 235,000 pixels.

Focusing is catered for with a 1, 3, or 9-point autofocus function with AF assist lamp. Exposure modes include seventeen scene modes, such as Panasonic's unusual "Baby" modes that allow you to program a date of birth in each, and then have your images tagged with your children's current ages at the time a photo is taken. Exposure variables are determined using an intelligent multiple, center-weighted or spot metering system, and users can tweak the exposure with +/-2.0EV of exposure compensation, in 1/3EV steps. Shutter speeds range from 1/2000 to 60 seconds - quite a bit longer than is common on many digicams - and the DMC-FZ50 offers automatic or manual white balance control with five presets, and two custom white balance modes - letting you save white balance measurements for common situations for later recall. The FZ50 also includes a built-in five mode flash, with a range of up to seven meters at wide angle or 5.3 meters at telephoto, plus a hot shoe for external flash strobes.

The FZ50 offers a higher than average movie resolution of 848 x 480 pixels as seen on some of Panasonic's other recent cameras, as well as lower-resolution 640 x 480 and 320 x 240 pixel options - all of which use the QuickTime MotionJPEG format common on most digicams. The Panasonic DMX-FZ50 draws power from a proprietary Lithium Ion rechargeable battery pack, and records images on Secure Digital or MultiMedia cards, with a 32MB Secure Digital card in the product bundle - good for some photos fresh out of the package, but users will want to buy some much larger cards for day to day use. With such a high resolution still images and movies, plus a RAW file format, the FZ50 is likely to have you burning through your card space in the blink of an eye. In addition, the FZ50 supports the new SDHC (Secure Digital High Capacity) standard, which extends the maximum capacity to a theoretical 32GB (4GB cards being the largest at the time of this writing), with sustained transfer rates of up to six megabytes per second. There's also both USB computer connectivity, and an NTSC / PAL switcheable video output to show your images on a TV, with the necessary cables included. An Arcsoft software collection and SILKYPIX Developer Studio 2.0SE raw file utility rounds out the product bundle.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-Z50 will ship in September, priced at $650.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50
Panasonic's Lumix DMC-FZ50 digital camera. Courtesy of Panasonic, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!
Camera TypeEVF
Model NumberDMC-FZ50
Dimensions5.5 x 3.4 x 5.6"
140.8 x 85.5 x 142.0mm
Weight734.0 g
25.7 oz
Planned Price$649.95
Planned AvailabilitySep 2006
Image Capture
Sensor Type1/1.8" CCD
10.40 megapixels (total)
10.10 megapixels (effective)
Filter TypeRGBG
Aspect Ratio4:3, 16:9
Image Dimensions3648 x 2736 (10.0 megapixels)3600 x 2400 (8.6 megapixels)3264 x 2448 (8.0 megapixels)3584 x 2016 (7.2 megapixels)3248 x 2160 (7.0 megapixels)3072 x 1728 (5.3 megapixels)2560 x 1920 (4.9 megapixels)2560 x 1712 (4.4 megapixels)
Capture SpeedContinuous: 2.0 frames per second for 3 frames
Image Quality3 levels
Image Preview / Review
ViewfinderYes, 0.44" Color EVF (235K Pixels)
100% field of view
LCD2.0", 207,000 pixels
100% field of view
Playback Zoom16.0x max
12x optical zoom
Image StabilizationYes
Focal Length7.4 - 88.8mm (actual)
35 - 420mm (35mm equivalent)
Aperture RangeWide: F2.8 - F11; Tele:F3.7 - F11
Focusing System1-point, 1-point high speed, 3-point high speed, 9-point, Spot with AF assist lamp
Manual Focus possible (0) steps
Focusing RangeNormal: 12" - infinity (30 cm - infinity)
Macro: 2.0" - infinity (5.0 cm - infinity)
ISO SensitivityAuto, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200* (high sensitivity mode)
Shutter Speed60 - 1/2000 second
Exposure ModesAperture, Shutter, Manual
Metering ModesIntelligent Multiple, Center Weighted, Spot
Exposure Compensation+/- 2.0EV in 1/3EV increments
White BalanceImage Sensor - Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Halogen, Flash, White Set 1, White Set 2, Manual
Internal FlashModes: Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Forced Off
Range: Wide: 0.3 - 7.0m; Tele: 0.3 - 5.3m
Flash Exposure Compensation+/- 2.0EV in 1/3EV increments
Scene ModesPortrait, Soft Skin, Scenery, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Panning, Food, Party, Candle, Fireworks, Snow, Starry Sky, Baby1, Baby2, Snow, High sensitivity
Digital Zoom2x / 4x fixed
Self TimerYes, 2 or 10 seconds
Movie FormatQuickTime Motion JPEG with audio
848x480 and 640x480
Max. frame-rate: 30 frames per second
Recording MediumSD/MMC, SDHC
File SystemComplies with Design Rule for Camera File System (DCF)
File FormatCCD-RAW, Raw, JPEG (EXIF 2.2)
VideoYes, NTSC / PAL switchable
ComputerUSB 1.1
OtherDC In
Battery TypeLithium Ion rechargeable
Battery Form FactorProprietary
Product Bundle
SoftwareLUMIX Simple Viewer, PhotofunStudio viewer, SILKYPIX Developer Studio 2.0SE, ArcSoft Camera Suite (ArcSoft PhotoImpression, ArcSoft PanoramaMaker), Adobe Reader, Quick Time, USB Driver
Battery / Charger1 x Proprietary Lithium Ion rechargeable battery and charger
Flash Memory32.0MB Secure Digital Card
Digital Print Order Format (DPOF) compliantYes
PictBridge CompliantYes
Internal MicrophoneYes
Internal SpeakerYes

Original Source Press Release:


Successor To Critically Acclaimed DMC-FZ30 Delivers Performance Enhancing Upgrades Including World’s First Intelligent ISO Control

SECAUCUS, NJ (July 19, 2006) – Panasonic today introduced the LUMIX DMC-FZ50, the successor to the critically acclaimed DMC-FZ30, featuring 10.1 megapixels and Panasonic’s revolutionary Intelligent ISO Control technology which compensates for subject movement to decrease image blurriness – an industry first. The DMC-FZ50 will have an MSRP of $649.95.

The LUMIX DMC-FZ50 with MEGA O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) features a powerful 12x optical zoom (equivalent to 35 mm to 420 mm on a 35 mm film camera) f/2.8 LEICA DC lens. It also boasts a 10.1-megapixel high resolution CCD for its image sensor and Venus Engine III for the image processing LSI, making it possible to record an image at a maximum ISO 1600 high sensitivity setting at full resolution. Furthermore, by dramatically reducing noise levels, the DMC-FZ50 is able to capture 10.1-megapixel full resolution images even in high sensitivity recordings.

“Panasonic is staking a strong claim in the digital camera market and we’re doing it by constantly seeking to improve upon the proven winners in our FZ series of long-zoom cameras,” said Rich Campbell, Director, Digital Imaging, Panasonic Corporation of North America. “The debut of the FZ50 is an example of our commitment to pushing the envelope with technology like Intelligent ISO Control, advanced image processing with the Venus Engine III LSI, and manual focus, ISO and aperture controls. These advanced features make picture taking an enjoyable and successful effort for the most demanding photo hobbyist, or the newer photographer who is learning to get more out of advanced digital photography.”

Panasonic is synonymous with clear, stable picture taking, and incorporates MEGA Optical Image Stabilization into all of its digital cameras. The worldwide debut of the revolutionary new Intelligent ISO Control (IIC) feature on Panasonic’s LUMIX cameras signals the arrival of a new level of photographic excellence. IIC allows high sensitivity recording at full resolution (1250 ISO maximum) made possible by the advanced image processing LSI Venus Engine III. When set to the IIC, the Venus Engine III detects the subject’s movement and adjusts the ISO setting and shutter speed to best suit the movement and the light condition automatically. Panasonic’s intelligent image stabilizing system allows users to take clear, crisp images in just about any situation.

Among the enhancements from its predecessor, the DMC-FZ50 is equipped with a new Function Button which serves as a shortcut to quickly set frequently-used settings such as recording image size, light metering, AF area, white balance, and ISO sensitivity. A newly incorporated custom setting function memorizes the user’s frequent setting patterns so they can be instantly applied by simply selecting this function with the mode dial. The FZ50 also has a 2-inch LCD which flips out to 180 degrees, making it easier to view even when shooting from high or low angles.

The DMC-FZ50 is now compatible with TTL external flashes creating greater flexibility for shooting in a wider range of conditions. The long battery life will allow the user to shoot approximately 360 images on one charge* (CIPA), yet another way the FZ50 stakes its claim to a premium spot in the digital camera market.

The DMC-FZ50 will begin shipping in September.

About Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company
Based in Secaucus, N.J., Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company is a Division of Panasonic Corporation of North America, the principal North American subsidiary of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd. (NYSE: MC) and the hub of Panasonic's U.S. marketing, sales, service and R&D operations. Information about Panasonic products is available at www.panasonic.com. Additional company information for journalists is available at www.panasonic.com/pressroom.


* Based on the CIPA standard.

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