A couple of weeks back, we caught a brief glimpse of the new Panasonic DMC-L10 digital SLR camera when it was first announced at IFA 2007 in Berlin.
Today, at a journalist briefing at the Tower of London, we got a chance to get up close and personal with Panasonic's new flagship DSLR.
The biggest addition to the new Panasonic DMC-L10 digital SLR camera is the 270-degree, full live view LCD screen. It flips open from the camera body at a 180-degree angle, and rotates around its axis to a free 270-degree angle - useful for shooting in awkward positions.
Another benefit is that your face will no longer be obstructed by the camera body - as with a traditional optical view finder - which can help when communicating with your subject.
The Panasonic DMC-L10 follows on from the Panasonic DMC-L1 (which will remain in the DLSR family) and retains the Four Thirds interchangeable Leica lens mount system of its predecessor. It's easy to operate, although some buttons (such as the flash settings) are not immediately obvious to the first-timer.
Key specifications of the DMC-L10 include a 10.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor, 3fps burst mode, all the usual focusing and shooting modes, and a 2.5-inch LCD that automatically adjusts brightness.
The Venus Engine III image processing system stays the same, and has been tweaked to work with the supplied Leica D 14-50mm lens. There's also face detection for up to 15 faces, and intelligent ISO to measure movement of the subject/s. These technologies work together to prevent motion blur in your photos.
"We've made unique functions such as intelligent ISO, optical image stabilisation and 28mm lenses standard across our entire range of compact and digital SLR cameras, and that's what sets us apart from other manufacturers," said Mark Robinson, product manager of the Lumix range at Panasonic.
"The new Panasonic DMC-L10 also features a new appropriate auto-focus system where you can decide on the LCD screen which bits of the image you'd like to be the focus. You can pinpoint the point of focus from 11 zones on the LCD, which should be good news for anyone that has managed to focus on the wrong object," Robinson said.
Photos can be taken in 3:2, 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratios. Unfortunately we can't show any of the photos we took at the Tower of London grounds this morning since the models we used were not the finished product. We're expecting a review unit in early October and will bring you a more in-depth review then.
The bundled body and lens kit will be branded the Panasonic DMC-L10K. Pricing is to be set around £899, and the camera will go on sale in early November.
MyPlace photo sharing
Panasonic also announced its MyPlace photo sharing website, which lets you share and comment on photos taken around the UK and Ireland. Under the "We love special places. Where's yours?" banner, the MyPlace website lets you upload pictures of your favourite buildings and landscapes around the British Isles, and pinpoint them on a map so that others can discover them.
There's also a hints and tips section where you can get pointers from professional photographers on how to take better pictures, and you can also vote for and comment on other photos on the site. Every week, the photo receiving the highest number of votes wins a prize.
"We noticed that British heritage is very popular at the moment - there have been numerous TV shows where people have travelled around the UK, discovering its cultural and natural history - so we wanted to create a community where people can recommend their favourite spots for others to visit," said Gaële Lalahy, e-commerce manager at Panasonic.
"Reading users' comments and looking at photos uploaded on the MyPlace site, you get a real feeling what that place means to them."