Panasonic announces Lumix TS3 waterproof, ZS10 compact megazoom, and FX78 ultracompact cameras

Panasonic updates its high-end waterproof point-and-shoot, compact megazoom, and ultracompact digital cameras.

[Updated to add photos and links: January 25, 2010 @ 5:01am] Following up on its eight-camera blitz at CES earlier this month, Panasonic is out again with the announcement of new updates to three of its popular higher-end Lumix point-and-shoot models. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 is an update to the waterproof DMC-TS2, the DMC-ZS10 is a follow-up to the DMC-ZS7 compact megazoom, and the DMC-FX78 is the next generation of the DMC-FX75 ultracompact shooter.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 Though I did pick last year's DMC-TS2 as the waterproof camera of choice on my list of Top 10 compact digital cameras back in May, the one thing I wasn't thrilled with was Panasonic's choice to bump resolution up to 14 megapixels. With the new TS3, due out in March, the electronics giant smartly drops back down to 12.1 megapixel resolution, which should be more than adequate for the vast majority of users and will likely improve low-light image quality, not to mention reduce file sizes. Like its predecessor, the TS3 features a wide-angle, 28-128mm 4.6x optical zoom lens and is shockproof to 6.6 feet and freezeproof to 14° F. The TS3, however, extends the camera's waterproof capabilities down to 40 feet (7 feet deeper than the TS2). Other new features include:

  • 1920x1080 HD AVCHD video recording
  • Built-in GPS, compass, altimeter and barometer
  • 3D Photo mode, which chooses the best two of 20 consecutive shots to create a 3D image
  • Lumix Image Uploader, which marks images and videos for easy uploading to social networking sites
  • Red, orange, silver, and blue color options

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS10 This camera's predecessor, the DMC-ZS7, was also on my Top 10 list last year. Since it pioneered the compact megazoom category back in 2006, Panasonic has come out with consistently impressive models offering wide-angle/long zoom lenses in compact bodies, but it now faces some stiff competition, with practically every key vendor with a model on the market. The push up to 12 megapixels in the ZS7 arguably hurt the camera's low-light performance, so I'm a bit skeptical of the ZS10's further ramp up to 14-megapixels (I would have preferred to see a drop back in resolution as with the TS3 and FX78). Still, the new ZS10 sports some pretty impressive specs, with an even wider and longer zoom lens at 24-384mm (16x). Like the ZS7, the new ZS10 features a built-in GPS system and key new features include:

  • 1920x1080 HD AVCHD video recording
  • 3-inch, 460,000-dot touchscreen (with Touch Zoom, Touch AutoFocus, Touch Shutter, and Touch Playback)
  • 49 percent faster AutoFocus (than ZS7)
  • 10 fps burst shooting with mechanical shutter/5 fps with continuous AF
  • 3D Photo mode
  • Lumix Image Uploader
  • Black, red, blue, silver, and brown color options

The ZS10 and a lower-end ZS8 model (with 720p HD video and minus the GPS and touchscreen features) will both ship in March.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX78 The follow-up to Panasonic's DMC-FX75, this new ultracompact shooter sports a similarly wide and relatively bright 24-120mm 5x zoom lens (though the new lens has a f/2.5 aperture rather than the f/2.2 lens in the FX75). As with the TS3, the FX78 happily drops down in resolution from its predecessor (from 14.1 to 12.1 megapixels) which should improve low-light image quality. The biggest change, however, is a huge 3.5-inch widescreen LCD (16:9 aspect ratio) touchscreen that offers the same Touch AF, Touch Zoom, Touch Shutter, and Touch Playback features seen on the new ZS10. Other new features include:

  • 3D Photo mode
  • Lumix Image Uploader
  • Black, gold, and white color options

Like the TS3 and ZS10, the FX78 will be available in March. As usual, Panasonic won't announce pricing until closer to the ship date.