Panasonic has updated a number of its compact cameras for 2012. There are plenty of new models, and include the Panasonic FX80, LS6, FT20 and the company's tough camera - the DMC-FT4.
Leading the pack, however, are the Lumix TZ30 and Lumix TZ25...
The Panasonic TZ30
The TZ30 will come with a 24mm ultra wide angle 20x optical zoom lens and 14.1-megapixel sensor.
The new model will have a 0.1 second Light Speed auto focus utilizing DSLR AF technology and a number of features to help improve your photography on the fly.
They include iHDR Scene Mode, which is an auto HDR mode, creative control and creative retouch, with the latter basically being an image filter function similar to smartphone apps like Instagram and Toy Effect. It tries its best to undo all that hard work done by the engineers at Panasonic in order to make your pictures look like you've taken them with a toy camera. There are also Soft Focus, Dynamic Monochrome, High Key, Retro, Expressive and Miniature Effect modes that can be applied to still or video footage. Video users also get the option to enhance effects further by increasing recording speed by up to 10x.
If that wasn't enough, you'll also get a Panorama mode that works in a similar way to the Sony Panoramic Sweep feature, while the TZ30 will also feature mapping software that lets you see where you have taken your shot. 1920 x 1080 50p Full HD AVCHD video recording and a stereo microphone complete the package.
In a second nod to the humble smartphone, Panasonic will allow you charge the camera via a USB cable and your computer, rather than having to plug it via a charger into the wall.
Other notes of interest include a 10 frames-per-second burst mode, 3-inch touchscreen display, and Panasonic's new Venus Engine.
The Panasonic Lumix TZ25
The Panasonic TZ25 offers similar specs to the TZ30, but comes with a 16x rather than 20x optical zoom 24mm ultra wide lens.
It also reduces the megapixel count from 14.1-megapixels to 12.1 and drops some of the "effects" available. You will, however, still be able to create 1920 x 1080 video (albeit at 50i).
The FX80 will come with a f2.8 24mm ultra wide angle 5x optical lens, 12.1-megapixel sensor and 3-inch touchscreen display.
According to Panasonic, the "DMC-FX80 is a great choice for anyone looking for an upgrade to a camera phone's image taking, but with the same intuitive controls."
It too will offer "Creative Control mode" - a selection of artistic filter effects when recording images; Expressive, Retro, High Dynamic, Sepia, Dynamic Monochrome, High Key, Low Key, Miniature Effect, Toy Effect and Soft Focus. These filters can be applied even after images were shot with the Creative Retouch function.
Panasonic’s new 14.1-megapixel Lumix DMC-LS6 will come with a 26mm wide angle, 5x optical zoom lens with f2.8 brightness and O.I.S.(Optical Image Stabilizer). It will run on AA batteries.
If you want tough then you have to look at the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT20 and the FT4.
The FT20 isn't as feature packed as the FT4 but still manages to pack a punch. Coming in an all metal casing, the camera is waterproof to 5m and freezeproof to -10 degrees C. It's also shockproof to 1.5m and with dustproof reliability.
On the camera side of things, it has a 16.1-megapixel sensor and 25mm ultra wide 4x optical zoom.
The DMC-FT20 records HD video in 1280 x 720 at 30p (NTSC), 25p (PAL) in MP4 format. It comes with a 2.7-inch Intelligent LCD screen.
But if you really want to go tough you'll have to opt for the DMC-FT4, the follow up to the FT3. The new camera, which will be available in a range of colours, will be Panasonic's toughest camera yet as it's waterproof to 12m, shockproof to 2m, freezeproof to -10 degrees C and, oh, dustproof too.
If it's not enough that it can withstand a jolly good beating, the DMC-FT4 also comes with a built-in GPS geotragging option with over a million place names pre-installed, a compass, altimeter and barometer so you can see exactly where you were when you took the picture. Camera wise, you get a 12.1-megapixel Hi-Speed CCD sensor and LSI Venus Engine, as well as a LEICA DC VARIO-ELMAR 4.6x optical zoom and Time Lapse feature (that looks pretty cool, as we found out with our hands-on).
All the new cameras will be out in the coming months. Panasonic has yet to detail pricing in the UK.
We will keep you posted.