Like the SZ3 that it replaces, the Panasonic SZ8 is a small, slim compact camera that is intended to be a step up from a phone for picture taking.
Although it has 16million pixels like the SZ3, the SZ8 uses a new sensor and the zoom range has been boosted from 10x or 12x giving an equivalent focal length range of 24-288mm.
Panasonic has also added Wi-Fi connectivity so the SZ8 can connect to a phone for easy image transfer and image sharing.
On the back of the camera is a 3-inch, 460,000-dot LCD screen. That's bigger and better than the 2.7-inch, 230,000-dot device on the SZ3.
This is the only means of composing and reviewing images, as – not surprisingly – there's no viewfinder on the SZ8. Fortunately, the screen provides a nice clear view, but we'll need to take it outdoors into the sunlight before we can comment upon its suitability for general use and whether it suffers from reflections or not.
In other respects, the SZ8 is very similar to the SZ3 with a small collection of controls. The top-plate has just the power button, zoom control and shutter button, while on the back of the camera there are just five buttons (including the menu/set button) and a navigation control. It's designed to be very easy to use, and indeed it is.
The SZ8 is the type of camera that you can slip into a pocket or handbag to take photos at parties and social events. Its 12x zoom range means that it is more versatile than a smartphone when it comes to taking photographs, but we will need to test a full-production sample before we can ascertain whether it produces noticeably better images. It should, but we won't take that for granted.