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*January 31, 2007 *– Following last year’s LZ5, Panasonic announced the Lumix DMC-LZ7 and LZ6 today. Both cameras improve upon their predecessor’s resolution with 7.2-megapixel image sensors but keep the same 6x optical zoom. The new models will retail for much less than the LZ5’s original price. The Lumix DMC-LZ7 will sell for $199 and the LZ6 for $179.
The Panasonic LZ7 and LZ6 have the same 6x optical zoom and optical image stabilization as the LZ5 but pair it with the new Intelligent ISO Control to call it "Intelligent image stabilization." This helps to reduce blur and combat hand shake by freezing subjects with higher ISO sensitivities.
The new models are equipped with Venus Engine III image processors, while the LZ5 had the Venus Engine II processor. Another difference is seen in the manual ISO offerings that can be set up to 1250 while the LZ5 had manual ISO options only to 400. Despite the expanded ISO range, the Panasonic LZ7 and LZ6 still aim to be more automatically oriented. They don’t have manual or priority modes yet offer exposure compensation, white balance, and even white balance fine-tuning.
The new digital cameras add a few additional modes totaling 18 modes which is a few more compared to the LZ5’s original list of 15. The new modes are Aerial Photo, Pet, and Sunset. The movie mode on the new LZ7 and LZ6 has widescreen shooting capabilities in addition to the standard 640 x 480-pixel video. The new 848 x 480-pixel resolution will shoot at 30 fps.
There are some minor differences in the two new digital cameras. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ7 has a 2.5-inch LCD screen that has 115,000 pixels. The LZ6’s LCD screen measures 2 inches and has less resolution at 86,000 pixels. The battery power varies slightly too, with the LZ6 getting 10 shots more at 260 per charge. Both cameras are powered by AA batteries and come with a pair of Panasonic Oxyride AAs, that the press release claims will get up to 65 percent more life than standard alkaline batteries.
Besides getting more battery power and having a smaller LCD screen, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LZ6 does not have a microphone so it does not record or play audio like the LZ7 does. The LZ6 also weighs slightly less. According to the press release, both cameras weigh less than previous Lumix digital cameras. This doesn’t amount to much though since both cameras still weigh around a half-pound with the battery and SD memory card.
The new Panasonic digital cameras will have more ease of use features in addition to the old "Simple mode." Features include an Easy Zoom that will jump to the full 6x zoom at the touch of a button, a Quick Setting that provides a shortcut to frequently used options, and a Date Stamp that can record the photo date, day of trip, and even the age of the subject.
"Panasonic is committed to creating a new photographic culture by introducing innovative, high-performance cameras and other advanced digital imaging products," said Alex Fried, National Marketing Manager of Imaging at Panasonic Corporation of North America, in today’s press release. "As consumers demand more from their images, Panasonic is committed to bringing powerful advanced features to our entire camera line. From Intelligent Image Stabilization to new processing engines, and from a sleek new design to powerful zoom, the DMC-LZ7 and DMC-LZ6 offer top of the line features in a small compact package."