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Budget-friendly Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS85 announced
by David Rasnake -  1/15/2009

Panasonic has done some impressive work in bringing the price down on feature-rich compact cameras via its Lumix LS series, and today that lineup got a boost with the announcement of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS85.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS85

Designed to compete on both features and cost with the likes of Canon's highly successful PowerShot A models, the Lumix LS85 features a more solid specs sheet than you might expect: a 4x zoom lens with a bright f/2.8 maximum aperture, an 8.1 megapixel CCD image sensor, optical image stabilization, and wide-format 848x480 video capture.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS85

Stylistically, the LS85 closely resembles previous LS cameras, with a chunky but still pocketable plastic body. The LS85's display isn't a top-shelf unit, but at 2.5 inches and 230,000 dots, it still manages to best the screens on most competitive models in a specs comparison.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS85

Ease of use is a key ingredient in the LS85's recipe, and to that end, Panasonic's newest budget model features many of the usability and performance technologies on display in the company's (much) more expensive ultracompacts. It's especially noteworthy that a camera in this class would pack features like Panasonic's Intelligent Auto mode, Intelligent Scene Selector, and a current-generation Venus Engine IV image processor.

Like previous LS cameras, the LS85 uses AA power, making it convenient to find fresh power in a pinch when traveling. Even better, though, is the fact that the use of newer low-power technologies means a CIPA average of 270 shots on a pair of alkaline batteries. Assuming the LS85 hits this number, that should place it among the more power-efficient cameras to draw juice from a pair of AAs.

The LS85's most astounding spec may well be its price: the latest Lumix, which comes in three colors, carries a suggested retail price of just $119.95. Nothing about the LS85 is cutting-edge or particularly flashy, but combine a very solid list of features that includes optical image stabilization, plenty of resolution, and a 4x zoom lens from a noted manufacturer with a presumed street price hovering near the $100 mark and, assuming performance meets expectations, the FS85 might just be the entry-level deal of the year.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LS85 Specifications

Sensor 8.1 megapixel, 1/2.5" CCD
Lens/Zoom 4x (33-132mm) Leica DC Vario-Elmarit, f/2.8-5.9
LCD/Viewfinder 2.5", 230K-dot TFT LCD
Sensitivity ISO 80-1600 (High Sensitivity mode to ISO 6400)
Shutter Speed 8-1/2000 seconds
Shooting Modes Intelligent Auto, Normal Picture, Scene, Motion Picture
Scene Presets Portrait, Soft Skin, Self-Portrait, Scenery, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Food, Party, Candle Light, Baby1, Baby2, Pet, Sunset, High sensitivity, Hi-Speed Burst, Starry Sky, Fireworks, Beach, Snow, Aerial Photo
White Balance Settings Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Halogen, User Set
Metering Modes Intelligent Multi
Focus Modes Face, Multi, One Point
Drive Modes Normal, Burst, Self Timer
Flash Modes Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced On, Forced Off
Self Timer Settings
10 seconds, 2 seconds, Off
Memory Formats SD, SDHC
Internal Memory
50 MB
File Formats JPEG, Motion JPEG
Max. Image Size 3264x2448
Max. Video Size
848x480, 30 fps
Zoom During Video No
Battery Two AA batteries
Connections USB 2.0, AV output, DC input
Additional Features Mega O.I.S., iA Intelligent Auto mode, Intelligent ISO, Venus Engine IV processing, face detection