Panasonic announces budget compact cameras from $120 to $199

Panasonic unveiled three new digital cameras today: The Lumix DMC-FS7, DMC-FS15, and the DMC-LS85. The FS7 and FS15 are additions to Panasonic's Lumix FS line of compact, stylish, and easy-to-use point-and-shooters, while the DMC-LS85 is a low-end budget model that takes AA batteries.

Panasonic announces budget compact cameras from $120 to $199
Panasonic unveiled three new digital cameras today: The Lumix DMC-FS7, DMC-FS15, and the DMC-LS85.  The FS7 and FS15 are additions to Panasonic's Lumix FS line of compact, stylish, and easy-to-use point-and-shooters, while the DMC-LS85 is a low-end budget model that takes AA batteries.

The FS15 is the more interesting of the two FS models, with its nice and wide 29-145mm (equivalent), f/3.3-5.9 lens -- though I do question the need for its 12.1-megapixel resolution. Panasonic smartly kept its top of the line Lumix DMC-LX3 to 10.1 megapixels and by doing so was able to roundly beat its top competitor, the Canon PowerShot G10, in low-light image quality. In my opinion, 10.1 megapixels is more than enough resolution for a camera the size of the FS15, which has a 1/2.33-inch sensor. The FS7 sticks to 10.1 megapixels (on a smaller, 1/2.5-inch sensor) and sports a 33-132mm (equivalent), f/2.8-5.9 lens.

Panasonic announces budget compact cameras from $120 to $199
Both cameras include have a Quick Auto Focus feature that allows you to automatically keep focus on your subject without having to hold your shutter button halfway down, as well as a dedicated Intelligent Auto Mode button that lets you access Panasonic's intelligent auto features without having to go into the menu.  Intelligent Auto Mode features in both cameras include optical image stabilization, intelligent ISO control, automatic scene selection, and face detection.  The FS15 also includes two additional intelligent auto features: a new autofocus tracking feature that lets you lock your focus on your subject, keeping it in focus as it moves, and an intelligent exposure feature that monitors the lighting situation and automatically activates backlight compensation if necessary.

Both models are slated to ship in late March. The FS15 comes in blue, silver, and black will be priced at $199.95. The FS7 comes in silver, black, blue, pink, and green and will be priced at $159.95.

Panasonic announces budget compact cameras from $120 to $199
The third camera announced today, the DMC-LS85, looks like a good low-cost option, priced at just $119.95.  Like the other two cameras it includes both Quick Auto Focus and a dedicated Intelligent Auto Mode button, which in this camera's case provides access to optical image stabilization, intelligent ISO control, automatic scene selection, and face detection. The 8.1-megapixel camera sports a 33-132mm (equivalent), f/2.8-5.9 lens and will come in silver, black, and pink when it begins shipping in April.

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