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Panasonic Announces Five Digital Cameras; Concentrates on Zooms and Stabilzation

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Panasonic has announced five additions to their Lumix digital camera line. The new cameras are the 3 megapixel DMC-FZ3 (spec sheet), 4 megapixel DMC-FZ15 (spec sheet), 5 megapixel DMC-FZ20 (spec sheet), 5 megapixel DMC-FX7 (spec sheet), and 5 megapixel DMC-LC80 (spec sheet). The new cameras follow Panasonic's trend of putting large optical zooms on all their digital camera models, and all feature optical image stabilization.

The DMC-FZ3, DMC-FZ15 and DMC-FZ20 each feature a 12x optical zoom lens (35 - 420 mm equivalent) and Panasonic's MEGA optical image stabilizer. 'Photographers, especially those who shoot sports, wildlife, or live performances, know that it’s difficult to get sharp images if they are using a long lens on a handheld camera. The zoom accentuates every little movement of the hand. We’ve incorporated the technology we developed for our camcorders to create Panasonic’s MEGA Optical Image Stabilizer, a true optical image stabilizer that uses the full capacity of the camera’s CCD to compensate for hand jitter,' said Monica Helmer, Panasonic Spokesperson.

The ultra-compact DMC-FX7 comes in both black and silver, featuring a 5 megapixel CCD. The camera also includes a 2.5-in. LCD and a 3x optical zoom (35 - 105 mm equivalent). The DMC-FX7 also includes an optical image stabilizer. The compact DMC-L80 features a 5 megapixel CCD and a 3x optical zoom (35 - 105 mm equivalent) and a 1.5-inch LCD screen.

All the cameras include a new version of Panasonic's Venus Engine LSI image processor. According to Panasonic's press release, 'The new Venus 2 Engine LSI handles all image processing functions simultaneously — from displaying the image on the LCD to writing data to the memory card — as soon as the CCD captures the image signal. This simultaneous, parallel processing results in a quick start-up, increased shutter speed and reduced lag time. The improved LSI also allows faster consecutive shooting than its predecessor. If desired, the camera will keep shooting until the memory card is full.'

Each of the five new cameras records still images to an SD card. The DMC-FZ3, DMC-FZ15 and DMC-FZ20 will be available late this summer for $399.95, $499.95, and $599.95 respectively. The DMC-LC80 will be available in August for $349.95 and the DMC-FX7 will also be available in August for $499.95.

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