Panasonic has replaced its flagship travel compact camera, the Panasonic TZ30 (known as the Panasonic ZS20 in the US) with the Panasonic TZ40 - called the Panasonic ZS30 in the US.
The new Lumix TZ40 shares a few of the same specifications as its predecessor, most notably the same 20x Leica optical zoom lens. This covers a 35mm equivalent focal length of 24-480mm.
It has a new 18.1 million pixel high sensitivity MOS sensor and a new Venus processing engine that has been designed specifically with improving low-light images in mind. Power Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) is also said to have been improved, working to correct accidental movement around five axes to enable sharper images in low light and at telephoto focal lengths.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ40 also has built-in Wi-Fi, and interestingly also comes with a Near Field Communications (NFC) chip. This enables connections between other NFC devices - such as smartphones or tablets - merely by touching them together, rather than having to follow a series of steps, searching for the correct network and so on.
Although NFC is a growing technology, it's yet to be taken up by Apple, and as such you won't find it in iPhones and iPads. The Samsung Galaxy S4 and other big selling smartphones, however, do have this feature. It's widely rumoured that the iPhone 5S will include it as well.
Whether you have an NFC device or not, the camera can be paired with a smartphone to act as a remote device and to share images remotely. Like the Panasonic TZ30, the Panasonic TZ40 also has GPS technology built in, with Panasonic also adding GLONASS, the Russian equivalent, for improved coverage.
As with the Panasonic TZ30, the Panasonic TZ40 has a resistive touchscreen, but its resolution has been boosted to 920,000 dots, from the previous 460,000 dots. The new screen is also "multi-touch" sensitive, meaning you can use gestures, such as pinch to zoom to magnify images and swiping to browse through shots in playback mode.
The Panasonic TZ40 is designed to be an advanced camera, and as such it has a full range of fully manual and semi-automatic modes. It doesn't have the capability to record in raw format, though.
Keen to appeal to as wide a range of photographers as possible, Panasonic has also included a number of creative functions, including digital art filters, which are now available - for the first time - in conjunction with panoramic images.
As you'd expect, fully automatic and scene modes are also available.
The Panasonic TZ40/Panasonic ZS30 is priced at £329/US$399/AU$499. With its long focal length and range of advanced functions, it goes head to head with the likes of the Sony Cybershot HX30V, Samsung WB850F and Canon PowerShot SX260 HS.
At the same time as the Panasonic TZ40 launched, the company also announced the Panasonic TZ35. This is basically a pared down version of the Panasonic TZ40, featuring the optical zoom but no touchscreen or GPS, and with a lower resolution (16.1 million pixel) sensor.