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Panasonic's DMC-FZ1 digital camera. Used by permission of LetsGoDigital.nl, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Panasonic unveils super-zoom digicam
By Michael R. Tomkins, The Imaging Resource
(Tuesday, September 24, 2002 - 16:40 EDT)

Our friends at Dutch website LetsGoDigital.nl have uncovered news of an impressive-looking new digital camera for Panasonic's Lumix-line.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1, which LetGoDigital have 6 photos of from various angles, features an impressive-looking DC-Vario-Elmarit 12x optical zoom lens which is a fairly bright f/2.8 throughout the entire zoom range. The lens, which is equivalent to an whopping 35 - 420mm on a 35mm camera, incorporates thirteen elements in eight groups, two of which feature single aspheric surfaces and one of which is aspheric on both sides. There is also what Panasonic is calling a "mega optical image stabiliser" function - which you're certainly going to need on a lens that strong!

Sadly, the lens is coupled with only a 1/3.2" 2.0 megapixel imager - far behind the par for current digital cameras, although obviously with such a strong zoom lens, you'll be able to put far more of those pixels to work on a distant subject. According to LetsGoDigital, Panasonic says that their proprietary image processing technologies used in the camera "enhance image quality and boost processing speed", as well as "improving the diagonal resolution by about 50% and producing smoother edges" - but at the end of the day, you can't make up detail that isn't in your picture after the fact, and it is a shame not see a 3 megapixel imager used, at the very least.

Other hardware features of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1 detailed by LetsGoDigital.nl include a 1.5" 114,000 pixel LCD monitor, Electronic Viewfinder, Secure Digital or MultiMediaCard storage, video and USB connectivity, and power from a LiIon battery pack or an AC adapter. Images captured by the camera are at resolutions of 1600 x 1200, 1280 x 960 or 640 x 480 pixels. There's also a movie-recording mode, with a resolution of 320 x 240 pixels at 10 frames per second, with sound. Software features include ISO ratings from 50 to 400, exposure compensation of +/- 2.0EV in 1/3EV steps, shutter speeds from 8 - 1/2000 second, reduced shutter lag and start-up time (although figures are not quoted), along with a ''Mega Burst Consecutive Shooting' mode (seven frames at four frames per second) and a selection of six scene modes to simplify taking photos in different environments.

Panasonic's DMC-FZ1 digital camera. Used by permission of LetsGoDigital.nl, with modifications by Michael R. Tomkins. Click for a bigger picture!

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