The DMC-ZX1 is Panasonic's all-new 'Super Compact Camera'. Squeezed into a matt silver casing no bigger than a packet of Marlboro Lights you'll find a 12.1-megapixel machine ready and eager to take snaps at the push of a button.
The DMC-ZX1 is the latest addition to the award-winning Panasonic Lumix range of cameras. It's the younger sibling to the more powerful Panasonic TZ series, with the DMC-ZX1 trying to push the boundaries of what we've come to expect from today's truly compact compacts.
The DMC-ZX1 incorporates an 8x optical zoom lens in its slim body. Panasonic has been able to get such a whopper of a lens into such a trim casing thanks to a newly developed lens unit which features the world's first 0.3mm super-thin aspherical lens.
This 8x zoom lens provides a 'super zoom' focal length range equivalent to 25-200mm (on a 35mm film SLR or full-frame DSLR) so the DMC-ZX1 is all set to capture expansive landscape on its wide end, then with a quick zoom, you can focus on the main points of interest with your chosen scenes. You can also use this ultra-wide-to-telephoto zoom lens to take group portraits of friends or family, then quickly zoom in to get individual portraits.
That's an optical zoom, by the way, not the naff digital zooms some cameras have which isn't a zoom at all, just a cheap way of pretending to zoom in digitally and ruining image quality as a result.
You'll find a roomy 2.7-inch LCD on the rear of the DMC-ZX1 to clearly compose your photos, and with a flick the Record/Playback selector switch, you'll be able to accurately review your shots on the same sizeable screen, zooming in to check for sharpness.
Other highlights we'll explore in more detail in this review are the DMC-ZX1's improved Face Recognition technology – which can be set up to 'remember' faces and prompts you to focus on that person when taking group shots so their faces are bright and in focus.
There's also five iA (intelligent Auto) shooting modes on offer to help enhance your photography the easy way. Plus the Intelligent ISO Control which aims to reduces motion blur by adjusting the ISO sensitivity if your subject moves.
As we've come to expect from the latest and greatest compacts, the DMC-ZX1 comes primed with new and improved image stabilisation tech (POWER Optical Image Stabiliser) to make sure your chances of sharp shots are significantly increased. Plus, there are the ubiquitous Scene Modes – all 29 of 'em, including such modes as Candle Light, Sunset, Fireworks and, er, Underwater!
With online prices around £220, the DMC-ZX1 still has room for a 'Motion Picture' mode which can record HD 1280 x 720p, 30fps videos you can view full-screen on HD TVs.
However, all this hi-techery doesn't mean jack if this new, slick Panasonic compact can't take decent photos. Read on to see what we really think of the DMC-ZX1…