New Panasonic Lumix Point-and-Shoot Cameras

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Panasonic announced a handsome assortment of slim and stylish 2012 Lumix point-and-shoot cameras today, and as you might expect, they all make it super easy to capture nice looking still images and create HD videos as well. Panasonic unveiled some welcome new features in these cameras, such as the ability to charge the batteries when connected via USB, and has added creative tools like Miniature Effect Mode, which gives images the illusion of a shrunken world. Read on to familiarize yourself with the latest offerings from Lumix, a brand that has rightfully earned legions of dedicated users and fans.

The 14.1-megapixel Lumix DMC-FH6 is an incredibly compact camera that features impressive optical performance with its fast Leica f/2.5 lens and 5x optical zoom. It’s got a bright 2.7 inch (68.6 mm) LCD screen with a backlight adjustment feature, which automatically helps you view images in challenging environments. Its iA mode can be activated easily, which automatically adjusts a full suite of parameters so you can instantly achieve a beautiful image (the powerful, yet simple-to-use iA mode is present on the entire Lumix line). The DMC-FH6 also shoots high definition 720p video (in Motion JPEG format). In addition, there are creative modes like Panorama Shot and Beauty Retouch.

The new 16.1-megapixel Lumix DMC-FH8 features a bright 24mm ultra-wide-angle Leica f/2.5 lens, and offers additional user-friendly functions and creative tools. It shoots 720p HD video utilizing the MP4 format, and features a dedicated video button making it easier for the user to make movies. The FH8 has a large, bright 3-inch (76.2 mm) LCD screen, and its battery conveniently charges when connected to a USB port. When in iA mode, the FH8 is capable of Auto Focus Tracking, which will lock focus on a subject and stay with them, even when they’re in motion. This model is available in black (DMC-FH8B), silver (DMC-FH8S), red (DMC-FH8R) and violet (DMC-FH8V).

The 14.1-megapixel Lumix DMC-S2 excels at providing excellent images in an easy to use and budget-friendly package. This camera features an impressively quick Sonic Speed Auto-Focus, making it capable of shooting sharp images of sports and other fast-moving subjects. Its 28mm wide-angle lens features 4x optical zoom and also has MEGA O.I.S., which helps it achieve steady-looking stills and video even when the camera is shaken. Speaking of video, the DMC-S2 shoots 1280 x 720p HD movies, which you can watch on its 2.7-inch (68.6 mm) LCD, or upload to a computer. This model is available in black (DMC-S2B), violet (DMC-S2V) and pink (DMC-S2P).

Today Panasonic announced the new SZ-Series of Lumix cameras, the foundation of which is the 14.1-megapixel DMC-SZ7, which features a powerful 10x optical zoom with a 25mm ultra-wide-angle Leica DC Vario-Elmar lens. This slim and compact camera is capable of shooting 1920 x 1080i 60i HD video, and has an unworldly fast focusing time of 0.1 second for capturing spur-of-the-moment stills. It has creative shooting modes like Miniature Effect, which defocuses to the sides and applies additional saturation and contrast, the end result being an image or video that gives the illusion of miniaturized subject matter. Above all, the SZ7 is easy to use and will give you great-looking images.

The 16.1-megapixel Lumix DMC-SZ1 features the same 25mm 10x optical zoom Leica lens, and also has a very compact and sleek body. It’s capable of shooting 720p HD video with its CCD sensor, and like all Lumix cameras, it is incredibly user friendly. It, too, features the creative Miniature Effect and Panorama Shot shooting modes, plus Creative Retouch and six other filters. It can charge when connected to a USB port, or through an AC adapter. This model is available in black (DMC-SZ1B), silver (DMC-SZ1S), blue (DMC-SZ1BL) and red (DMC-SZ1R).

Pricing and availability will be announced a month before these new cameras ship.

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I purchased a Panasonic Lumix FH20 in January, 2011. Eleven months and about 1500 photos and 8 or 9 minutes of video later, the auto focus failed (systme error), and the living (*******) hinge on the battery/SD compartment door ****. A visit to the Panasonic web site only produced an address in Texas to which I could send the camera for assessment and estimate for repairs, shipping both ways would be on me. I paid $130 for the camera, a bit much for a throwaway, but I figure by the time I pay the shipping and repairs, the hassle isn't worth it. Easier to buy a new camera.

I have been using Panasonic electronics since I purchase my first video tape camera in about 1980. I now have 4 cameras, including a DV camera. All still work well. Needless to say, I am very disappointed in the durability of the Lumix camera.