Today Panasonic introduces the Lumix FP8, a whole new breed of Lumix camera with an ultra-slim profile, and the ZR1, boasting a slim 8x optical zoom lens. These cameras promise faster performance and better image stabilization.
Panasonic Lumix FP8
The FP line features a notably slimmer profile, measuring a slim 0.8 inches. It may be small, but it's equipped with some competitive features. A quick spec check of the Lumix FP8 reveals a 12.1 megapixel sensor, 2.7 inch LCD, and 4.6x optical zoom range. The Leica-standard lens covers an equivalent focal length of 28-128mm.
The FP8 will record 720p HD video at 30 fps, and shooting modes include Panasonic's iA Intelligent Auto mode for automatic scene selection. At the heart of the FP8 is a Venus Engine V processor, which promises more efficient processing and a boost in battery life. Panasonic will equip the Lumix FP8 with Power O.I.S optical image stabilization as well, which promises an improvement of 2x the blur-reduction of its predecessor, Mega O.I.S.
Picking up speed
Another tech improvement to this class of Lumix cameras is a faster 0.96 second claimed start-up time and quicker auto focus operation. Panasonic offered us a little hands-on time with the FP8 last week, and I can say that their claims of faster AF seem justified. Even in a dim conference room, the FP8 snapped into focus quickly. Though I don't yet have our own lab data to back it up, I'd say it could compete with the fast performance we saw from the similarly-styled Sony T series.
Panasonic has taken a slight design departure in the control layout of the FP8, eliminating a center button in the four-way direction pad. The iA shooting mode has also been given a dedicated button on the top side of the camera, and the buttons on the back panel emit a blue LED glow.
Panasonic Lumix ZR1
The Panasonic Lumix ZR1 will feature a 0.3mm aspherical lens, trimming down the size of the whole camera body. The Leica 8x optical zoom lens will reach an equivalent focal length of 25-200mm. Behind the glass is a 12.1 megapixel sensor and the latest optical image stabilization also on-board the FP8.
Other shared features include the 2.7 inch LCD, the Venus Engine V image processor, and 720p HD video recording at 30 fps.
Panasonic lists the start-up time of the ZR1 as 1.1 seconds, and they've incorporated faster auto focus technology on this model as well. With this fast operation, a 25mm wide angle lens and thin form-factor, the ZR1 has all the makings of an excellent travel camera. We'll be interested to see how it performs under a variety of conditions.
Pricing and availability
The Lumix FP8 and Lumix ZR1 are set for release in September 2009. Expect the FP8 to debut at $299.95 and the ZR1 at $279.91.
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