Panasonic has announced the Lumix G X Vario PZ 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 OIS collapsible power-zoom lens. The pancake zoom represents a series of firsts for Panasonic and the Micro Four Thirds system - it incorporates a lever-operated powered zoom and similarly controlled manual focus system. It is also the first lens to gain the company's 'Lumix X' branding that it will use to denotes high-end performance. The power zoom design with quiet focus and zoom motors joins the stepless aperture design to help optimize the lens for HD video shooting. The company will be pairing the lens with its diminutive DMC-GF3 camera body, or selling it separately for around $399. We've been using one of the first pre-production examples of the lens and have prepared a preview that demonstrates its behavior.

Click here to read our hands-on Pansonic LUMIX G X Vario PZ 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 OIS preview

UPDATE - We've asked Panasonic for clarification on compatibility and have been informed "The lenses are compatible and will work with all Micro Four Thirds cameras". We have now included the updated press-release that was issued.

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Press Release:

Panasonic announces the LUMIX GF3X, the company's smallest compact system camera with a new retractable power zoom, LUMIX G X lens

Panasonic’s New Premium LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 14-42mm Lens Features a Retractable Design to Achieve Ultra-High Mobility and Stunning Photo Quality

SECAUCUS, NJ (August 26, 2011) –Panasonic today announces a newly designed and innovative LUMIX G “X” lens that retracts to help minimize its size, without compromising its focal length or image quality. Panasonic’s new premium LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 14-42mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH./ POWER O.I.S. (H-PS14042) lens, will be available with the company’s smallest and lightest compact system camera as a lens kit option in the DMC-GF3X model. With electric-powered zoom operation, the retractable Power Zoom H-PS14042 lens is extremely compact, approximately 26.8mm in length, and weighs approximately 3.35oz, offering ultra-high portability.

Panasonic’s new premium LUMIX ”X” Series of lenses, including the LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 14-42mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH./ POWER O.I.S., offers a versatile zoom range of 14-42mm (35mm camera equivalent: 28-84mm) suitable for a wide range of scenes, such as dynamic landscape to portrait. Also announced today is another LUMIX X lens, the LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 45-175mm/F4.0-5.6 ASPH./POWER O.I.S.  Crystallizing Panasonic's optical technologies, the LUMIX X lenses feature superb image rendering for lifelike textures, crisp edge-to-edge contrast, a unique Nano Surface Coating to help minimize ghosts and flaring in natural settings with remarkable transparency.

“Panasonic continues to innovate in digital photography by offering advanced features in small and compact bodies, thus addressing the consumer’s need for camera equipment to be lightweight and easy to carry,” said Darin Pepple, Senior Product Manager, Imaging, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company. “With the new LUMIX X Series of premium lenses, we do not sacrifice size for quality and Panasonic still offers top-of-the-line image quality for our G Series, but in a smaller design that makes it extremely mobile.”

With the LUMIX GF3X, the camera and lens combination can achieve Light Speed AF of approximately 0.1 second – making it an extremely quick and high-performing digital camera. The LUMIX GF3X with the new 14-42 PZ lens also features POWER O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer), to make it easier to shoot clear photos even in low-lit situations. The convenient zoom lever on the lens barrel gives users a stable way to zoom.  Manual focusing is also available with a manual focus lever for even more precise control.

The LUMIX GF3, like all the LUMIX G Series of Compact System Cameras, captures high-quality photo images with real-to-life details through excellent resolution, image rendering and color reproduction. With its stunningly small compact profile, the LUMIX GF3 boasts high-speed, precise Contrast AF system and quick response times. The LUMIX GF3 is also capable of 1920 x 1080 Full High Definition video in the AVCHD format.

The LUMIX GF3X will be available in a black body and black lens or a silver body and silver lens kits options in October 2011 for a suggested retail price (SRP) of $749.99. The new LUMIX G X VARIO PZ 14-42mm/F3.5-5.6 ASPH./ POWER O.I.S. (H-PS14042) lens will also be available separately for an SRP of $399.99 and will be compatible the Panasonic LUMIX G Series.  For more information about Panasonic LUMIX digital cameras, please visit www.panasonic.com/lumix.

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