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Panasonic slims down with Lumix DMC-FP8 and DMC-ZR1
by Allison Johnson -  7/27/2009

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.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FP8

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 DMC-FP8

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.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZR1

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.