Panasonic pumps out some Lumix LZ point-and-shoots

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The LZ10 and LZ8 — 30mm wide angle on the Z10 and 32mm on the Z8 — offer VARIO-ELMAR Leica lenses and 5x optical zoom. They also use AA batteries, which is tres nice. The Z10 ($249.95) has a 10-megapixel sensor and the Z8 ($179.95) has an 8-megapixel sensor. They’ll be available next month. More info after the jump.

PANASONIC INTRODUCES LUMIX LZ-SERIES DIGITAL CAMERAS, AFFORDABLE MODELS WITH PROFESSIONAL-QUALITY FEATURES

New Point-and-Shoot Models Feature Wide-Angle Shooting,

Leica DC Lenses, Manual Controls and Intelligent Auto Technologies

LAS VEGAS, NV (January 29, 2008) – Panasonic today announced new members to its growing family of full-featured and high-performing LUMIX digital cameras with the introduction of two more point-and-shoot models, the DMC-LZ10 and DMC-LZ8. Featuring two key enhancements from last year’s DMC-LZ7, the new LZ-Series models feature Leica DC VARIO-ELMAR lenses and wide-angle shooting – 30mm on the LZ10 and 32mm on the LZ8. Furthermore, each new LZ-Series model boasts manual controls, convenient AA-battery operation, a 5x optical zoom, Intelligent Auto Mode and the Venus Engine IV, the new high-speed, image-processing LSI.

“Not long ago it would have been hard to imagine a user-friendly and affordable digital camera packed with features professional photographers would envy, such as wide-angle Leica lenses, and manual controls,” said Alex Fried, National Marketing Manager, Imaging, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company. “However, Panasonic’s commitment to research and innovation, our partnership with Leica, and our dedication to providing our consumers with the technologies they need to take professional-quality images resulted in an extraordinary feat with the 2008 LUMIX LZ-Series.”

The LZ10 and LZ8 are perfect for consumers who expect a digital camera that blends power, performance and quality, helping them to maximize the digital photography experience. The LZ-Series’ lenses were developed by Panasonic, passing Leica’s stringent standards to deliver an exceptional optical performance for Panasonic LUMIX consumers. With the LZ10’s 30mm wide-angle lens and the LZ8’s 32mm wide-angle lens consumers can capture larger group photos or more expansive scenic shots.

To provide digital photographers with added creative elements and performance, both LZ models sport manual control over aperture and shutter speed, thanks to the camera’s newly-adopted iris. When shooting manually, users can choose from three modes: A-aperture priority, S-shutter speed priority and M-manual and enjoy added control and creativity normally reserved for higher end models. Also new to the LZ-Series is Advanced Scene Mode – a feature that gives consumers manual control using some of the frequently-used scene modes: Portrait, Sports, Landscape and Night portrait.

While in Advanced Scene Mode, when selecting the Portrait or Sports mode, the consumer is then presented with additional settings, with the option of choosing outdoor or indoor. When selecting Landscape mode, there are options to specify if the shot is nature or architecture. For budding photographers who desire even more artistic freedom, they can choose Creative mode, which adds more manual controls over an aperture or a shutter speed.

For consumers not quite ready for complete manual control, the LZ-Series also features Panasonic’s Intelligent Auto Mode, which is comprised of five distinct technologies designed to provide users with intuitive and automatic camera adjustments, regardless of the shooting condition and without the user having to do anything manually. The LZ10, with 10.1 megapixels, and the LZ8, with 8.1 megapixels, both feature Intelligent Auto Mode, consisting of the following features:

· MEGA O.I.S. – Gyrosensors detect hand-shake and the lens system shifts to compensate, helping to prevent hand-shake from creating a blurry image.

· Intelligent ISO – Can determine if the photo subject is moving and change the ISO setting and shutter speed accordingly, thus giving a blur-free photo.

· Intelligent Scene Selector – Senses the ambient conditions, recognizes the shooting environment and will automatically select the appropriate scene mode from: Scenery, Portrait, Macro, Night Portrait or Night Scenery mode.

· Face Detection – Panasonic’s Face Detection detects up to 15 faces anywhere in the frame, even if they are moving, and automatically chooses the optimal focus and exposure settings so portraits come out clear and crisp.

· Quick AF – The Quick AF (auto focus) system starts focus on the subject by just pointing the camera to the subject, thus minimizing the AF time.

Each camera also features new 230,000-dot high-resolution LCDs, complete with the new Intelligent LCD, meaning the 2.5-inch LCD screens detect the lighting condition and controls the brightness level to offer optimal clarity in any situation, whether dark or light; indoors or outdoors. The cameras also include the popular High Angle mode which makes the LCD screen easy to view when held high, to shoot over a crowd or a tall object.

Additional highlights of the Panasonic LUMIX LZ-Series include:

* Newly added speaker lets consumer enjoy a slide show with music, selecting from natural, slow, urban or swing tunes; or add voice to a motion video.
* Title Edit function which allows the consumer to input text to accompany a photo, for instance, the names of children or travel locations.
* Ability to record WVGA (848 x 480) motion images at 30 frames per second in a 16:9 aspect ratio, ideal for viewing on High Definition televisions, such as Panasonic VIERA Plasmas and LCDs.
* The ability to shoot 1920×1080 pixel High-Definition ready photos, ideal for wide-screen viewing on a 16:9 VIERA Plasma or LCD.
* The DMC-LZ10 can shoot up to 160 images and DMC-LZ8 shoots 180 images with the included Alkaline batteries and 460(LZ10) /470(LZ8) images with optional Ni-MH rechargeable batteries (2600mAh)*.
* A record/playback mode switch, which lets the photographer switch between recording and playback modes, while always knowing the current mode

The DMC-LZ10 and the DMC-LZ8 will be available in black and silver models in February for a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $249.95 and $179.95 respectively.

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