Panasonic has unveiled its Lumix TZ55 compact camera, complete with 3-inch LCD on a 180-degree flip bracket. Because the screen can face forward it's the ultimate selfie snapper. But it's not a brand new idea, as we've already seen Samsung and Sony release similar concepts in their products.
What this does tell us is that the Lumix TZ line is undergoing a change of direction; a splintering of product types found within the product line. We've already seen the 30x optical zoom Lumix TZ60, but the TZ55 goes down a slightly different path: it's got a 20x optical zoom lens - the same optically stabilised 24-480mm equivalent as found in the older TZ40 model - and isn't quite as heavily featured as its bigger brother top spec model.
Unlike the TZ60, the TZ55 does not feature a built-in electronic viewfinder, nor does it have a touchscreen like the TZ40. It's a shame to lose the power of hands-on touch control, particularly with a forward-facing device - but it seems to have been axed with a view to price. And given the TZ55 will carry a predicted £229 price tag, we can see why. It's not impulse-buy budget, but it's affordable while offering plenty more zoom than a smartphone can.
Under the hood the TZ55 houses a 16-megapixel sensor to deliver high-resolution, detailed images - and you can share them from the camera thanks to Wi-Fi compatibility.
But all those megapixels don't weigh the product down as its 250g, while slightly more than the earlier TZ40, ought to be ideal for carrying around in a bag wherever you go.
The Panasonic Lumix TZ55 will be available from March, in a choice of black, white or red colour options, priced at an estimated £229. With the lower spec end of the market bottoming out this is the new budget, and we like where it's going.
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