Panasonic DMC-FX75 compact camera sports ultrawide bright lens, HD video, and 3-inch touchscreen

Panasonic's new Lumix DMC-FX75 compact digital camera sports an extra wide and bright lens, HD video, and an intelligently implemented 3-inch touchscreen.

Panasonic has just announced a new addition to its ever expanding Lumix digital camera line.  Like many of the current-generation compact cameras, the slim and light Lumix DMC-FX75 crams 14 megapixels on a tiny 1/2.33-inch sensor which can be a recipe for poor low-light performance, but Panasonic mitigates this by using a brighter-than-average lens. In fact, the lens is what appeals to me most about this camera -- the 5x image stabilized Leica zoom lens is not only nice and wide at 24-120mm equivalent, but its maximum aperture of f/2.2 (to f/5.9 on the long end) is also brighter than most in its class.

The other stand-out feature of this ultracompact camera is the roomy 3.0-inch, 230,000-dot touchscreen LCD. Some will continue to bemoan the lack of optical viewfinders in new compact cameras, but I personally am fine with the move toward larger LCDs at the expense of the viewfinder. Because the FX75's screen brightness automatically adjusts in 11 increments depending on the brightness of the surrounding environment, it will likely be easier to view in a variety of outdoor settings. Plus, the FX75's touchscreen is particularly well integrated with Panasonic's easy-to-use Intelligent Auto mode. Not only can you lock autofocus on a subject by touching its image on screen, but you can also set the Intelligent Scene Selector based on what you touch on the screen (e.g., touching a face switches to portrait mode).

The ability to record 720p HD video is no longer unusual in a compact camera, but the FX75 adds a couple of nice touches. Not only can you record to AVCHD Lite and Motion JPEG formats, but Intelligent Auto features are now available during video recording, allowing you to use autofocus tracking, automatic exposure, automatic scene selection, and the like. Other features available during video recording include the 5x optical zoom and many scene modes such as pinhole, film grain, and the questionable "cosmetic" mode which lets you take portraits with a variety of skin colors and detail (for a suntanned effect or a wrinkle-minimizing effect for example). Of more use is the in-camera video editing feature that allows you to divide your video into two sections to shorten or delete unwanted sections of recording.

As has become Panasonic's standard M.O., it has not announced pricing or availability, so stay tuned for more details.