Panasonic has today announced the Lumix DMC-FZ8, a new 7.2-megapixel digital camera, featuring a powerful 12x optical zoom lens (equivalent to 36-432mm on a 35mm film camera) with f/2.8 brightness.While the DMC-FZ8 boasts the same high 12x zooming power as the Panasonic DMC-FZ50, which is currently popular among demanding amateur photographers, it also enhances mobility with its compactness and easy joystick operation. The Venus Engine III image processing engine gives it even higher image quality and speedier processing.
Even Mega O.I.S., however, cannot suppress the motion blur caused by a subject moving as the photo is being snapped. That's where Intelligent ISO Control comes in. In this system, the camera's Venus Engine III image-processing engine detects whether the subject is moving and, as necessary, raises the ISO setting and shutter speed according to how fast the subject is moving and the light conditions. This happens automatically, so you can shoot without the bother of adjusting settings every time conditions change. Lumix and its powerful Intelligent Image Stabilization system do all the work for you. You enjoy easy, trouble-free shooting in any situation and get the satisfaction that comes with capturing clear, beautiful images.
Effective resolution has been increased to 7.2 megapixels, which supports the FZ8's enhanced functions. For example, Panasonic's Extra Optical Zoom function provides additional magnification to 18x when taking photos with 3-megapixel resolution. The resolution of the LCD has also been increased to 207,000 pixels, and the larger, 0.44-inch EVF (electronic viewfinder) has a resolution of 188,000 pixels, making it easy to see both when monitoring and playing back images.
Other features that
improve usability and convenience include enhanced operation with a multi-purpose
joystick, which further simplifies exposure compensation. Frequently used
functions, such as light metering, AF (auto focus) mode, ISO setting,
and white balance adjustment, are quickly and easily handled with the
Quick Setting function. The position of the AF area can be selected among
the 11 positions in the single point mode, the multi-point mode and the
spot mode. When manually focusing, the focus area is automatically magnified
and movable for greater control. White balance can be adjusted on two
axes to better express the photographer's intended colouring.
Leica DC Lens with f/2.8 Brightness and Powerful 12x Optical Zooming in
a Compact Body
The DMC-FZ8 packages a LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT lens with f/2.8-3.3 brightness and powerful 12x optical zoom (equivalent to 36-432mm on a 35mm film camera) together with a 7.2-megapixel CCD into a compact body. Comprising 11 elements in eight groups, including three aspherical lenses, this advanced lens unit passes Leica's stringent standards and delivers an exceptional optical performance. Further, in 3-megapixel resolution mode, the Extra Optical Zoom function uses the centre part of the CCD to provide additional magnification, extending the zoom power to 18x. Using this feature in combination with the 4x digital zoom brings the total zooming power to a remarkable 72x.2. Intelligent Image Stabilization: Mega O.I.S. for Hand-Shake Plus Intelligent ISO Control for Motion Blur
Panasonic drew on its cutting-edge lens technology to invent Mega O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) that prevents blurring from shaky hands – the leading cause of blurry images. Featured in the entire Lumix line-up since 2005, MEGA O.I.S. has earned such high praise from users around the world that it is a standard feature of digital cameras. In Panasonic's Mega O.I.S., sensors act at a frequency of 4,000 times per second to accurately detect even slight camera movement, such as from unsteady hands, and a corrective lens in the O.I.S. lens unit is shifted to compensate. With Mega O.I.S., it is easier than ever to capture clear, sharp, beautiful images when shooting telephoto shots, indoor portraits, illuminated night scenes or even the scenery you see from a train window.
While hand-shake is the single biggest cause of blurry images, it is not the only one. Another problem is the motion blur that can occur when a subject moves as the shot is being snapped. Incorporating Panasonic's new Intelligent ISO Control, Lumix cameras are the first in the world to fight motion blur. This system detects whether or not the subject is moving. If it is, the system automatically raises the ISO setting accordingly, allowing the camera to shoot at a higher shutter speed. If the subject is not moving, the camera shoots at a low ISO setting and captures beautiful, natural-looking images. Intelligent ISO Control is included as one of the corrections in certain scene modes used to shoot subjects that are often moving, such as Sports, Baby and the newly added Pet mode. Simply select the mode that best suits the subject, and Intelligent ISO Control provides the optimal corrections, making it easy to capture crisp, clear photos.
With Intelligent Image Stabilization – Mega O.I.S. to compensate for hand-shake plus Intelligent ISO Control to prevent motion blur – Panasonic has taken image stabilisation a leap forward and equipped the new Lumix DMC-FZ8 with the industry's most advanced countermeasures against blurring.3. High-Quality, High-Performance Image-Processing LSI: The Venus Engine III
The DMC-FZ8 features the Venus Engine III, Panasonic's advanced image-processing engine that can record at a sensitivity setting as high as ISO 1250 with full resolution. Noise reduction is also greatly improved, with picture noise removed in stages during image processing. First, critical noise is roughly undraped and chromatic noise and luminance noise are separated. The chromatic noise, which has a greater effect on picture quality, is then selectively suppressed to a substantial degree.
With its multi-task image-processing capability, the Venus Engine III also boasts outstanding response time. Shutter release time lag is as short as 0.005 second and the shutter interval is as short as 0.6 second*. This fast response makes it easy to capture sudden, spur-of-the-moment shots. In burst shooting mode, the FZ8 can fire off three shots per second at full resolution**. It also allows unlimited consecutive shooting*** – you can continue snapping shots until the SDHC/SD memory card is full.
Thanks to the energy-efficient Venus Engine III imaging engine, the Panasonic FZ8 offers a long battery life. The DMC-FZ8 can take around 380 shots on a single battery charge.
* Not including auto focusing time
**Max. seven images in standard mode/ five images in fine mode.
***The consecutive shooting speed varies with the memory card, image size, and image compression mode. The number of shots depends on the memory card size, battery life, image size and image compression mode.4. More Intuitive Manual Control with a Joystick
The joystick that was so popular in the previous DMC-FZ7 for its superbly easy operation is now included in the DMC-FZ8. This allows a host of settings, such as manual focusing and exposure, to be made quickly and easily. When manually focusing, both the focal length and the depth of field according to the zoom range and aperture are displayed. The MF assist function lets you enlarge the focus area and even move it around with the joystick, to achieve quick focusing to suit the composition even when framing is fixed due to the use of a tripod. The joystick also makes it possible to quickly set frequently used functions like light metering, AF mode, white balance, ISO sensitivity, picture size, and compression format in the same way as in the popular FZ7. These shortcuts let you make fast, easy adjustments while keeping your eye on the subject.
The shutter speed in manual exposure mode can be adjusted from 1/2000 to 60 seconds to meet a wide range of shooting needs.5. Bright, High-Resolution LCD and Electronic Viewfinder
The DMC-FZ8 boasts a large, 2.5-inch LCD with full 207,000-pixel resolution for comfortable viewing both while monitoring shots and playing back the results. The pixel-mixed readout method used by the CCD automatically increases the brightness of the live image on the LCD, making it much easier to shoot in low lighting. Thanks to the Power LCD function, which boosts the LCD backlighting by 40%, even shooting outdoors in bright sunshine is no longer a problem. The High Angle mode, which can be accessed quickly and easily via a dedicated button, makes the LCD screen extremely easy to view when the camera is held high, such as to shoot over a crowd.
The larger, 0.44-inch EVF has high, 188,000-pixel resolution to provide easy, corner-to-corner focusing confirmation even in manual focus mode.6. Industry-Leading Auto-Focusing Speed for a High-Powered Zoom Model with Easy Manual Focusing
To match the shooting situation and subject's position, the user can select from five auto-focusing methods: multi, 3-point high-speed, 1-point high-speed, 1-point normal-speed, and spot. With the 1-point AF method, the auto-focusing area can be chosen from as many as 11 points with the joystick or cursor button. Various group area patterns can also be selected in the new Multi method. As with all high-powered zoom models in the Lumix family, the DMC-FZ8 leads the industry with its short shutter time lag for quick, smooth operation. Although screen-freeze in high-speed auto focusing is now minimised, it can be entirely eliminated when taking pictures of fast-moving subjects by selecting 1-point normal-speed AF.
Manual focusing, which is a valuable tool for professional-level photography, is also easy thanks to the previously described joystick.7. Record Clear, Bright, Wide-Aspect VGA Motion Images – Ideal for Wide-Screen Viewing
In addition to recording standard VGA (640 x 480) motion images at 30 frames per second, the DMC-FZ8 can record stunning wide-aspect VGA (848 x 480) motion images at 30 frames per second. These 16:9 motion pictures look extremely impressive on a wide-screen TV. The pixel-mixed readout method used by the CCD enhances image brightness, so the pictures you see are clear, bright and beautiful.
The Panasonic DMC-FZ8 also offers an exceptional function that lets you select and display thumbnails of nine sequential frames from a motion image. This is useful, as an example, for analysing the way you swing a golf club or tennis racquet.8. Other Advanced Features
In addition to its outstanding basic specifications, a host of other improvements make the DMC-FZ8 ideal as a tool for creative photography. Approximately 27 MB of built-in memory is provided, and the camera accommodates large-capacity SDHC memory cards. The long battery life lets the FZ8 take around 380 shots on a single charge (CIPA), for more shooting enjoyment. A wide variety of scene modes, including the new Pet and Sunset modes, also make it easy to get beautiful photos in a range of photographic situations. White balance allows fine adjustment from amber to blue on the horizontal axis and from green to magenta on the vertical axis.
With the Panasonic DMC-FZ8, the enjoyment of photography doesn't end when you're done shooting for the day. One additional function that broadens the fun of photography is Direct Print mode. To select it, simply turn the mode dial on the camera top. Then use a USB cable to connect the camera to a Pictbridge-compatible printer, and you're ready to print beautiful photos. Print all the images you shot or only your favourites, and make one copy or multiple copies as you wish. When you turn the mode dial, the mode selected is indicated on the LCD. This lets you change the mode to recording, playback or direct printing without taking your eyes off the subject.
Also interesting is the new Date Stamp function. In addition to showing the date a photo was taken, the FZ8 can show on which day of the trip a photo was taken. It can also stamp your baby's age in months on a photo, after you've taken the shots.* These dates, which can be helpful when making a photo album, can be stamped on photos whether you print them yourself at home or have a photo shop do them.
The SILKYPIX Developer Studio 2.0SE software application comes bundled with the Panasonic DMC-FZ8 for editing and developing images in the RAW file format. Using this software, you can freely adjust RAW data settings such as exposure bias and white balance even after shooting for greater enjoyment of digital photography.
*When the date is stamped on a photo, the photo is automatically resized to 3-megapixel, or the original size is maintained for photos smaller than 3-megapixel. However, you can choose either to save or overwrite the original picture.9. More Fun with Optional Accessories
The Panasonic Lumix
DMC-FZ8 offers a wide line of optional accessories to expand shooting
possibilities. A tele-conversion lens with 1.7x power (equivalent to
714mm on a 35mm film camera), a wide-conversion lens with 0.7x power
(equivalent to 25.2mm on a 35mm film camera) and a close-up lens can
be mounted using a lens adaptor. An ND filter and MC protector are also
available to provide the Lumix FZ8 with true high-end camera capabilities.
With the optional Panasonic
DMW-SDP1 HDTV Photo Player, it's easy to have a slide show of Lumix images
in 1080i high-definition quality. By simply connecting the SDP1, via a
component cable, to a high-definition TV such as a Panasonic Viera, and
inserting the SDHC/SD memory card into its slot, users can view their
photos on a large display together with family or friends. Like Lumix
cameras, the DMW-SDP1 incorporates the Venus Engine III imaging engine.
This provides extremely quick advancing from one slide to the next. It
also helps in the playback of wide-aspect VGA (848x 480) motion images**
that fit an HDTV’s 16:9 screen.
*1. Shooting conditions: 23°C with 50% humidity; LCD on; using SD Memory Card; starting to shoot 30 seconds after turning on the power; shooting once every 30 seconds with the flash in full operation for every other shot; changing the zoom setting from telephoto to wide, or wide to telephoto, for each shot; and temporarily turning the power off after each 10 shots (long enough to lower the battery temperature).
*Some accessories are not available in some countries.
*The use of recorded or printed materials that are protected by copyright for any purpose other than personal enjoyment is prohibited, as it would infringe upon the rights of the copyright holder.
*Leica is a registered trademark of Leica Microsystems IR GmbH.
*The LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT lenses are manufactured using measurement instruments and quality assurance systems that have been certified by Leica Camera AG based on the company’s quality standards.
*All other company and product names are trademarks of their respective corporations.
*QuickTime and the QuickTime logo are used under license. QuickTime is a registered trademark in the U.S. and other countries.
*This unit is compatible with both SD Memory cards and SDHC Memory cards. You can only use SDHC Memory cards on devices that are compatible with them. You cannot use SDHC Memory cards on devices that are only compatible with SD Memory cards. (When using a SDHC Memory card on another device, be sure to read the operating instructions for that device.)