This morning in Tokyo saw Panasonic Japan perform its twice-yearly ritual of renewing its entire line up of Lumix digital cameras - this time we were treated to six new models that will become available during February and March.
Of the shiny half dozen the most interesting pair are the Lumix TZ3, which is the world's smallest camera with a 10x optical zoom lens, and the FX30, the thinnest camera to feature a 28mm wide-angle optic. While the respective 'world's-best' claims are more or less meaningless, the addition of Panasonic's MOIS image stabilisation to the TZ3 is welcome in an entry-level camera.
Other aspects of the JPY47,000 (£197) TZ3 are attractive too, particularly the 7.2-megapixel sensor and the option to let the camera intelligently adjust ISO settings to ensure the correct shooting speed. As with all the new models, the TZ3 accepts SD and SDHC memory cards and has its own internal memory (12MB in this case, 27MB in the others) for stopgap storage.
Colour varieties and choice aplenty
The JPY40,000 (£167) FX30 has the same resolution but a lower optical zoom ability of 3.6x due to its slim 22mm body. Still, at least it comes in a variety of colour options to cushion the blow.
Otherwise, JPY50,000 (£210) will bring home the latest addition to the long line of excellent 12x zoom Lumix cameras, the RAW-capable, 7.2-megapixel FZ8, and JPY30,000 (£125) nets the point-and-shoot 6-megapixel FS1. That just leaves the LZ7 and LS75, two very plain 7.2-megapixel snappers that will both cost around JPY33,000 (£138) and run on two AA batteries.
The good news in the blizzard of new cameras is that all will be available outside Japan during the springtime, so start saving now.