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Panasonic Unveils Five New Lumix Cameras

New York — Hailing it as “the most aggressive” digital camera launch in the company’s history, Panasonic introduced five new Lumix digital cameras, including three models with 12x optical zooms.

The 12x models include the 3-megapixel DMC-FZ3, the 4-megapixel FZ15 and the 5-megapixel FZ20. All of the cameras incorporate the company’s MEGA Optical Image Stabilizer (OIS) that automatically detects and optically compensates for hand movement by physically shifting internal lens elements to reduce blur as users focus.

These cameras also feature an extra-low dispersion (ED) lens to minimize color aberration, a new Venus Engine LSI — the Venus 2 Engine LSI — that enables a shorter camera start-up time, increased shutter speed, reduced lag time and faster consecutive shooting to the length of an SD memory card.

All the models will ship late summer, the FZ3 for a suggested $399.95, FZ15 for $499.95 and FZ20 for $599.95

The new 5-megapixel DMC-LC80 will ship in August with a suggested retail price of $349.95. It features a Leica DC Vario-Elmarit lens with a 3x optical/3x digital zoom, motion JPEG video capture at 320 by 240 with audio, and an Auto Focus (AF) trigger that allows the user to pre-focus on a specific area of the image before taking the shot. Other features include a 1.5-inch LCD screen, SD/MMC slot, auto bracketing, intelligent light metering, real-time histogram and various scene mode settings.

Using two AA Alkaline batteries the LC80 can take up to 160 shots in normal mode with the LCD on, or up to 420 shots in Economy Mode 2 with the LCD turned off. It can also run on optional Ni-MH rechargeable batteries.

Finally, Panasonic took aim at the compact camera market with the 5-megapixel DMC-FX, hailing it as “the first compact digital camera to feature both an Optical Image Stabilizer and a 2.5-inch LCD.”

The DMC-FX7 will be available in August in black or silver for a suggested $499.95.

The camera features Leica optics and a 3x optical/4x digital zoom, the company’s Venus 2 Engine LSI, a Mega Burst mode, auto bracketing and program AE.

“Many people have asked us, ‘Why are we in this market?’” said Andy Nelkin, a Panasonic VP. “Well we make all the core components ourselves,” Nelkin noted, saying Panasonic grinds the lenses, manufacturers the CCDs and the LSI circuits used in all of its Lumix models.