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Cameras

TZ3 Compact Ultra-Zoom Revealed

Brand new digital camera from Panasonic is tiny but has lots of zoom

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*January 31, 2007 –*A year after releasing its first ultra-compact, ultra zoom TZ1, Panasonic announced the Lumix DMC-TZ3 today. Many of the modes and settings are the same, and the total zoom on the lens is still 10x. The new 7.2-megapixel TZ3 has a wider lens, larger LCD screen, and will retail for $349 when it becomes available in March. Panasonic also launched a similar 6.2 megapixel TZ2 model for select markets, although not in the U.S.  The new TZ3 is very similar to its predecessor, the 5-megapixel TZ1, but has a few upgrades. Both have similar automatic modes, although the TZ3 adds a few more scene modes including Pet and Sunset. Both have similar controls, but the TZ3’s ISO range now extends to 1250 thanks to the updated Venus Engine III processor. Both models have two modes of optical image stabilization, but the new camera adds Intelligent ISO Control to reduce blur.  The TZ1 has a 2.5-inch LCD screen with 207,000 pixels, while the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3 has a 3-inch display with 230,000 pixels on a body that is more compact. The TZ3 includes features to improve viewing that were first introduced on the TZ1 such as High Angle and Power LCD functions.  The biggest change between the two digital cameras is the 10x optical zoom lens. The amount of zoom may be the same, but the specs are quite different. The new Panasonic TZ3’s lens measures 28-280mm and has apertures of f/3.3 and f/8.0 in wide and f/4.9 and f/11 in telephoto. The two-step aperture is present on the older TZ1, but the size is different: f/2.8 and f/5.0 in wide and f/4.2 and f/7.1 in telephoto. The lenses are both Leica branded, but the older TZ1’s lens measures 35-350mm. Panasonic is relying on the TZ3’s lens to make the camera successful.  "With 10x optical zoom, a powerful 28mm wide-angle Leica lens and intelligent image stabilization, the DMC-TZ3 is destined to be a leader and innovator in the compact zoom space," said Alex Fried, National Marketing Manager of Imaging from Panasonic Corporation of North America, in today’s press release.  The TZ3 can shoot video in widescreen 848 x 480-pixel format at 30 fps, and the image stabilization will be especially helpful when recording videos. It has the standard VGA and QVGA options that were available on the TZ1 too. As for still image shooting, there are 21 scene modes that can be picked from a helpful menu which explains what each mode is for.  The Lumix TZ3 adds a few interesting elements that the earlier model didn’t have. A "clipboard" function acts like a favorites mode and saves photos for easy access, "Perfect for quick and easy shots of a map or train schedule," according to  today’s press release. The camera can display two pictures on the LCD screen at once in playback mode, so users can compare them with each other. Panasonic also added transitions in its slide shows.  The Panasonic TZ3 has a stainless steel body and fits in an optional underwater case, something that the TZ1 doesn’t have. The TZ3 retails for $349, which is the same original retail price of the TZ1.

Panasonic also announced a new Lumix DMC-TZ2 for select markets, including Europe, but not the U.S. The 6.2-megapixel DMC-TZ2 has a 1/ 2.33-inch CCD sensor, capable of 4:3, 3:2, and wide 16:9 images. The camera comes with a 10x optical zoom 28mm-280mm wide angle Leica lens, capable of wide shooting like the TZ3. With the extra optical zoom, users can zoom up to 13.8x at a lower 3-megapixel resolution, according to a Panasonic Global website.

The camera features a smaller display than the TZ3 with a 2.5-inch, 207,000 pixel resolution LCD monitor. The TZ2 camera is equipped with the Venus Engine III images processor and Panasonic’s Intelligent Image Stabilization system that includes MEGA O.I.S. and Intelligent ISO Control, which was seen on all the Panasonic cameras announced today. Panasonic has not yet announced pricing for the Lumix DMC-TZ2.

The TZ2 has a new Clipboard function, called the Tour Guide on the U.S. models, to store travel information. The camera will be available in silver and black. 

 

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