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February 14, 2006 – With its 4.4 x 2.3 x 1.6-inch dimensions, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1 was announced today as the world’s smallest digital camera with a 10x optical zoom lens. The new Panasonic camera has 5 megapixels on its 1/2.5-inch CCD, which is paired with an improved Venus Engine III image processor. The camera offers increased battery life and faster focusing speeds with the new processor, beyond what previous Lumix cameras were able to attain with the second generation version. The Panasonic TZ1 will be available in March in silver and black colors for a retail price of $349.95.
"The multi-purpose DMC-TZ1 fills an unmet consumer need for a compact camera with long optical zoom," said Monica Helmer, national marketing manager for Panasonic’s Digital Imaging Group, in today’s press release. "With 10x optical zoom, and its combined optical image stabilization and high sensitivity system, this camera is a top performer."
The Panasonic TZ1 fills the gap in the market by using a Leica DC Vario-Elmarit lens that captures pictures at an equivalent focal range of 35-350 mm. The camera uses folded optics technology, but still extends from the camera body. The lens is made of 12 elements in 10 groups with 3 aspherical lenses and 3 aspherical surfaces. It can focus as close as 5 cm in the macro mode, but its 10x telephoto capability is what makes the TZ1 so unique. Like all Lumix models, the TZ1 has optical image stabilization – which is becoming an increasingly popular feature among manufacturers this year.
To reduce the amount of blur, the TZ1 has two modes of Mega optical image stabilization and pairs them with high ISO sensitivities. The camera’s ISO settings range from 80-800 when manually set. There is also a High Sensitivity scene mode that accesses ISO 800-1600 sensitivities, but this mode is only available at reduced resolution.
The TZ1 is the first Panasonic digital camera to incorporate a Linear auto focus system. This combines with the high-speed auto focus function and the new Venus Engine III image processor to produce faster speeds and reduced shutter lag. The TZ1 takes about a second to start up and hardly has any shutter lag. The newly improved processor is also credited for consuming 80 percent of the power that the second generation processor used – thus giving the camera 250 shots per charge - and reducing chromatic aberrations that sometimes occur while shooting with the higher ISO sensitivities.
The new auto focus system is also reportedly quieter than earlier Lumix models. Because the system makes less noise, the Panasonic TZ1’s 10x optical zoom lens can be used in the movie mode. The movie mode can record 30 frames per second at 640 x 480 or a widescreen-optimized 848 x 480 pixels. Still images can be shot in several formats as well – 4:3, 3:2, and 16:9.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ1 has 18 scene modes including a unique Aerial mode optimized for shooting out airplane windows. The digital camera has a 2.5-inch LCD screen on the back that has 207,000 pixels and a High Angle mode that allows users to take pictures overhead and retain screen visibility.