Panasonic added four new models to its Lumix lineup today: the DMC-FX37, a 10.1-megapixel wide-angle compact; the DMC-FZ28, a 10.1 megapixel megazoom model; the DMC-LX3, a 10.1 megapixel enthusiast compact camera; and the DMC-FX150, a 14.7 megapixel compact shooter. Panasonic DMC-FX37 The FX37 is an update to one of my favorite Panasonics, the FX35. It's been updated with an even longer lens, and now has a 25-125mm (equivalent) f/2.8-5.6 zoom lens vs. the FX35's 25-100mm lens. Happily, besides the upgrade from 4x zoom to 5x zoom, Panasonic didn't mess with the rest of an already excellent camera. The only other big difference is color: Like the FX35, the FX37 is available in silver, black, blue, pink, and white models but the company has dropped the gold version in favor of a darker brown color for the new model. Suggested retail price will be $349.95 when it ships in September.
Panasonic DMC-FZ28 This update to the FZ18 introduces a welcome lens change as well with its wider 27-486mm,f2.8-4.4 lens, which maintains its predecessor's 18x magnification factor by dropping the telephoto down from a 504mm focal length. Panasonic also bumped up resolution from 8 to 10.1 megapixels and increased the LCD slightly from 2.5 inches to 2.7 inches. Other changes include an improved Intelligent Auto Mode with a new Auto Focus tracking function, and a cool Focusing Distance Display, which displays the allowable shooting range above the zoom bar so you can easily readjust the distance from your subject. The FZ28 also bumps up video resolution, letting you shoot 30fps HD video at 1,280x720 resolution. It will be priced at $399.95 for silver or black versions, shipping in August.
Panasonic DMC-LX3 Panasonic's new high-end compact, the LX3, is an update to its LX2, which was never much competition for the excellent Canon PowerShot G9. The LX3 maintains its predecessor's 10.1 megapixel resolution, but uses a new-and-improved "ultra-sensitive" sensor. The new sensor bumps maximum ISO sensitivity up to ISO 3,200 (vs. the LX2's ISO 1,600 max). The other big change is the wider but shorter 24-60mm, f/2.0-2.8 lens (vs. the LX2's 28-112mm lens). The LX3 sports a slightly larger, higher-resolution 3-inch LCD than its predecessor, and adds an optional optical viewfinder which will be a welcome addition to those who didn't like the LCD-only viewfinder of the LX2. The new model will ship in August in silver or black for $499.95.
Panasonic DMC-FX150 The last and possibly least interesting of Panasonic's new offerings is the FX150, an update to the 12.1 megapixel FX100. Putting a 12-megapixel sensor in such a compact camera already seemed like overkill to me in the FX100, so upping the the resolution to 14.7 megapixels in the FX150 seems even more pointless (and a recipe for noisy images).