Panasonic announces TZ7 hybrid camera

Panasonic has launched its new DMC-TZ7 hybrid camera that brings together the functionality of a high-end compact and camcorder together in one body.

The camera offers similar functions to other cameras in the TZ range including a 10-megapixel resolution, 3-inch high-res LCD screen, 12x optical zoom (or up to 21.4x in 3mp resolution) and 25mm ultra-wide angle lens, but also adds in AVCHD Lite motion picture recording.

AVCHD Lite allows double the recording time in HD quality compared to motion JPEG. To support this, the camera also features a number of features traditionally seen on a camcorder such as a stereo mic, wind cut to minimise background wind noise and audio sampling 48kHz.

To swap between still images and movies there is a button on the back of the camera to make it as easy as possible.

Many of the camera's functions also work in video as well. This includes the popular Intelligent Auto (iA) function which features optical image stabilisation, face detection, Intelligent Exposure, Intelligent ISO Control, AF tracking and Intelligent Scene Selection.

The Intelligent Scene Selection will choose one of five scene modes that best suit current shooting conditions, however manually there are 27 different modes to choose from for still photos and 17 for video.

Face detection has also been upgraded on the TZ7 as well, meaning it will recognise faces it has snapped before and prompt you to register them on the camera.

From then on, whenever it spots a face it knows it will display their name next to them, and ensure their face is always bright and in focus. You will then be able to search through, or slideshow images based on the named faces.

The compact TZ7 will be available in a choice of silver, black or brown from April 2009, with pricing to be announced.