Panasonic has announced the new DMC-FX40, a new 12.1-megapixel camera for the Lumix range.

The camera features a 25mm ultra-wide-angle Leica DC lens and
powerful 5x optical zoom, which will apparently capture almost double the viewing space at the same shooting distance compared to an ordinary 35mm camera.

However, if you opt to take photos in the 3-megapixel resolution mode, the Extra Optical Zoom function will allow you additional magnification, extending the zoom power to 9.8x.

The camera also features a 2.5-inch LCD screen and a newly-added face recognition function that allows the camera to remember faces it has captured photos of before.

This means that when a familiar face is recorded several times, the camera will prompt you to register the face. Once complete, it will display the name you specified for that person and prioritise focus and exposure so that the registered face is bright and in sharp focus.

You can even specify age when you register a face, meaning the camera automatically switches to Baby Mode when a child under three is photographed, or choose to view photos by person in playback.

Such face recognition is made possible by the new Venus Engine V, which also helps towards making the FX40 quiet and energy efficient, with a fast response time.

In fact, Panasonic boasts that in burst shooting mode at full 12.1- megapixel resolution, the FX40 can snap approximately 2.3 photos per second.

Other features users will find on the FX40 include a Panorama Assist mode and the PanoramaMaker to help you with your panoramic shots, and the new Macro Zoom function that will allow users to take photos closer than ever.

The FX40 will be available in a choice of black, silver or red from April 2009. Prices are yet to be confirmed.