Panasonic has announced two new cameras to the digital Lumix range: the DMC-LC70 and DMC-LC50. Both feature Leica lenses and a host of easy to use features.

The Four Mega Pixel DMC-LC70 and Three Mega Pixel DMC-LC50 both offer a F2.8 Leica DC Vario-Elmarit Lens and a 3x optical zoom equivalent to 35mm to 105mm on a 35mm film camera.

Both cameras include the high-performance Venus Engine LSI for the fast processing of images and enhanced image quality. The Panasonic Venus system provides image rendering with improved diagonal resolution of around 50 per cent and unmatched processing speed, ensuring that users can take subsequent shots immediately. The MEGA Burst recording function means that up to eight consecutive shots can be captured at 3.5 frames per second on the DMC-LC50. The DMC-LC70 meanwhile can take up to five full size images at 3.3 frames per second.

The DMC-LC70 includes a real-time histogram which shows brightness distribution within an image to assist photographers with exposure levels for the shot. Both cameras offer in-finder guidelines for a handy horizontal and vertical reference to help with the perfect take. Each of these features can be turned on or off depending on whether you want a helping hand or prefer to go it alone.

The Motion image mode common to both cameras enables users to record moving footage at 30 frames per second in QVGA format (320 x 240 pixels) for as long as there is capacity on the memory card. The DMC-LC70 also boasts an animation function so that you can record up to 100 frames as a MOV file (320 x 240 pixels) either at five frames per second for 20 seconds or at 10 frames per second for 10 seconds.

The DMC-LC70 and DMC-LC50 are highly intuitive to use, allowing users to select a series of modes for certain types of shot. With Simple, Normal Picture, Economy, Macro, Portrait, Landscape, Night Portrait, Movie and Playback modes, they provide flexibility through settings designed to provide optimum results. In Simple mode the automatic settings make it easy to select your subject, zoom in or out and take your shot. In Economy mode, meanwhile, the LCD monitor is turned off whenever the camera is not used for 15 seconds, or when the flash is recharging. This reduces energy consumption and extends battery life.

The DMC-LC70 comes supplied with two AA-size Ni-MH rechargeable batteries and charger allowing the camera to shoot 320 pictures. The LC50 arrives with two AA-size alkaline batteries as standard allowing for 160 photographs.
Both models will be available from April 2004.