Panasonic has announced the latest in the FZ 'double digit' series of prosumer digital cameras (a replacement for the FZ30). The Lumix DMC-FZ50 features a twelve times optical zoom lens, optical image stabilization, a ten megapixel sensor, up to ISO 1600 sensitivity and something Panasonic call IIC (Intelligent ISO control). This new feature monitors the amount of movement in the frame and adjusts the ISO sensitivity automatically at the time of exposure (higher for more movement).

Phil: I'm honestly not surprised to see Panasonic 'pixel stuffing' but I'm quite sure that many existing FZ30 owners (and even FZ20 owners) would say that their camera has more than enough resolution and that they would liked to have seen bigger strides in usable high ISO (lower noise) and other innovations.

Summary of differences compared to the Lumix DMC-FZ30

  • Ten megapixel 1/1.8" CCD
  • 16:9 movie record mode (848 x 480 pixels)
  • TIFF file format dropped (RAW remains)
  • Venus Engine III image processor
  • Scene modes adjusted
  • Sensitivity up to ISO 1600 at full size, ISO 3200 (upsampled)
  • TTL Flash hot-shoe
  • Slower continuous shooting (from 3 to 2 fps, max images from 7 to 5 in standard)
  • Lower resolution LCD monitor (from 230,000 to 207,000 pixels)
  • Support for SDHC cards (SD greater than 2 GB)
  • 'SilkyPix Developer Studio' for RAW conversion

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Press Release:

New 10.1-Megapixel, 12x Optical Zoom Digital Camera
Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ50

Featuring Intelligent Image Stabilizer by MEGA O.I.S. and World’s First* Intelligent ISO Control

*For a digital still camera, as of July 19, 2006. 

Panasonic today introduced the 10.1-megapixel LUMIX DMC-FZ50 with MEGA O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer) featuring powerful 12x optical zoom (equivalent to 35 mm to 420 mm on a 35 mm film camera) f/2.8 LEICA DC lens, as a successor to the DMC-FZ30, which has received high acclaim worldwide.

The DMC-FZ50 boasts a 10.1-megapixel high resolution CCD for its image sensor and Venus Engine III for the image processing LSI, making it possible to record a image at max. ISO 1600 high sensitivity setting at full resolution.  Furthermore, by dramatically reducing the noise levels that challenged its predecessor, the DMC-FZ50 is able to capture 10.1-megapixel full resolution images even in high sensitivity recording.

To fight against the major cause of blurred images, Panasonic invented the MEGA O.I.S. system taking advantage of its superior lens technology to compensate for handshake – a feature which has long been incorporated into the LUMIX range of cameras. In addition, to also compensate for the other major cause of blurred images – movement of the subject – the FZ50 is also equipped with the world’s first* Intelligent ISO Control (hereafter I.I.C.) within the advanced image processing LSI Venus Engine III. When set to the I.I.C, the Venus Engine III detects the subject’s movement and adjusts the ISO setting and shutter speed to best suit the subject movement and the light condition automatically. Panasonic’s excellent image stabilizing system allows users to take clear, crisp images in any situation automatically, leaving everything to the camera.

From a point of view of further improving the usability of its predecessor, the DMC-FZ50 is equipped with a new Function Button which serves as a shortcut to quickly set frequently-used settings such as recording image size, light metering, AF area, white balance, and ISO sensitivity. Also, thanks to the newly incorporated custom setting function, your frequent setting patterns can be memorized and it can be instantly applied by simply selecting this function with the mode dial. The 2-inch LCD flips out to 180 degrees, making it easier to view even when shooting from high or low angles. As for optional accessories, the DMC-FZ50 is now compatible with TTL external flashes. Finally, the battery life is greatly extended by approx. 29% compared with its predecessor allowing the FZ50 to shoot approx. 360 images on one charge* (CIPA).

The LUMIX DMC-FZ50 faithfully inherits the well received basic specifications from its predecessor FZ30 such as the manual focus ring and manual zoom ring, yet enhances the image sensor up to 10.1-megapixel. Noise is drastically reduced with this new FZ50 achieving a rendition of even higher quality images. The DMC-FZ50 is bound to spark the imagination of high-end users and join the Panasonic LUMIX high-end model lineup.
* Based on the CIPA standard.

10.1-megapixel CCD and f/2.8 12x optical zoom LEICA DC lens

The DMC-FZ50 includes a 10.1-megapixel high resolution CCD and the f/2.8 LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT 12x optical zoom (equivalent to 35 mm to 420 mm with a 35 mm film camera) lens. The lens unit is comprised of fourteen elements in ten groups including three aspherical lenses and an ED lens, All these are incorporated to generate low distortion and high optical performance while preserving the compactness of the unit.  The Extra Optical Zoom, made possible by using the center part of the 10.1-megapixel high resolution CCD, further extends the powerful 12x optical zoom to up to 21.4x for 3-megapixel image recording (17.1x for 5-megapixel and13.4x for 8-megapixel recording). High resolution images with richer gradation are always assured with these LEICA DC 12x optical zoom lens and the 10.1-Megapixel CCD.

More than just a MEGA O.I.S., LUMIX’s image stabilizing system further evolves

Taking advantage of its superior lens technology, Panasonic invented the MEGA O.I.S.(Optical Image Stabilizer) system to fight against the major cause of blurred images. It compensates for handshake and is now featured on the entire LUMIX range, and has been highly evaluated and appreciated by the users across the world. Every slight hand-shake movement is detected accurately with the sampling frequency at 4,000 times per second and will be compensated to render clear, sharp images. In addition, movement of the subject, the other major cause of blurred images, is suppressed by the advanced image processing LSI Venus Engine III with the Intelligent ISO Control (hereafter I.I.C.) and max.ISO1600 high sensitivity recording capabilities. The world’s first incorporation* of this I.I.C. allows the automatic adjustment of the suitable ISO setting and shutter speed that best suits the situation by analyzing the speed of subject movement. If the subject is moving, the ISO setting would automatically rise to allow high shutter speed. On the other hand, if the subject is still and no movement is detected, you can take beautiful natural images with a low ISO setting.

Accordingly the new LUMIX automatically takes the best countermeasures against any causes of blurred images with MEGA O.I.S. compensating for hand-shake and the I.I.C. compensating for movement of the subject. Image stabilizing system is further evolving with LUMIX.
*For a digital still camera, as of July 19, 2006.

Dramatically reduced noise with Venus Engine III

The DMC-FZ50 adopts the Venus Engine III to realize high sensitivity recording at max. ISO 1600 at full resolution. The noise reduction system is greatly improved by removing noise at the processing stages in series. First, critical noise is roughly undraped and the chromatic noise and the luminance noise are separated to respectively go through the supplemental noise reduction process so that the remaining noise is appropriately minimised. In addition, chromatic aberration is also reduced so beautiful images are assured even in telephoto shooting.

Despite the significantly increased performance of the camera, the Venus Engine III consumes only 80% of the power utilized by the Venus Engine II and is able to achieve a longer battery life of approx. 360 pictures (CIPA) on a single charge. With its multi-task image processing capability, the Venus Engine III also boasts outstanding response time with an industry-leading level of shutter release time lag of as short as 0.009 sec*. minimum and the shutter interval of 0.8 sec*. Together with the fast startup time of approx. 0.7 sec., the quick response of DMC-FZ50 enables easy capture of those spur-of-the-moment shots. The DMC-FZ50 also allows unlimited consecutive shooting up to the capacity of the SD/SDHC memory card***.

* Not including the time for AF.
**The number of recordable pictures depends on the memory card size, battery life,
picture size and image compression.

Intensifying functionality in pursuit of full manual controllability

The DMC-FZ50 succeeds the high operational ease and the good design that have been highly acclaimed with its predecessor DMC-FZ30. Two exclusive rings on the lens barrel provide manual control of zooming and focusing, allowing quick and fine control that cannot be achieved with button or lever operation. This feature will be highly valued by high-end users not only for its precise controllability but also for the feeling of manual operation. With the two dials located under the index finger and the thumb, you can compensate the exposure directly in addition to the shutter speed and the aperture smoothly and naturally. The newly added Function Button serves as a shortcut exclusively for the commonly used settings such as recording image size, light metering, AF area, white balance, and ISO sensitivity, allowing them to be set easily.

For further improvement, your frequent setting patterns can be memorized and can be instantly applied by just selecting the newly incorporated custom setting function. White balance now can be finely adjusted with a reference to the horizontal axis for amber to blue and vertical axis for green to magenta. Furthermore two composition guideline patterns can be overlaid on the normal shooting screen. 

Free-angle LCD and high resolution EVF to extend shooting potential

The 2.0-inch flip-out 207k high resolution LCD is adjustable to 180 degrees both vertically and horizontally. This assists smooth shooting even in high- and low-angle shooting positions. The pixel mixed readout method performed at the CCD achieves high sensitivity to offer sufficient brightness for easy shooting even in low-lit situations.  The Power LCD function boosts the brightness level by 40% to secure clear view even in sunny outdoors. The DMC-FZ50 is also equipped with the 235 k pixels high resolution EVF to encourage active shooting. Not OVF but EVF can provide the benefit of being able to check white balance, real-time histogram and the DOF(depth of field) before shooting.

Faster AF

The AF mode can be selected according to the shooting situation: 9-point, 3-point high speed, 1-point high speed, 1-point normal speed and Spot. In the 1-point and 1-point high speed AF mode, the AF area is selectable from the nine focusing areas with the joystick to best fit the composition of the subjects. Also, the AF assist lamp facilitates quick, accurate focusing in situations where focusing is difficult due to the lack of light.

Clear, bright, wide VGA motion image recording for viewing on wide screen TV

In addition to standard VGA (640x480) at 30 fps motion image recording, the DMC-FZ50 also records stunning full-size movies in wide-aspect VGA (848x480) at 30 fps. Shooting is one thing but viewing is another, and you will be suitably impressed by the 16:9 moving image when it is displayed on a wide screen TV. The brightness level of these motion images is also enhanced as a result of the pixel mixed readout method performed by the CCD. Zooming in while recording motion images is also possible with the manual zoom ring, while image clarity is secured by the Optical Image Stabilizer.

Included software and optional accessories

To edit and develop RAW files, the “SILKYPIX Developer Studio 2.0SE” software application is bundled with the DMC-FZ50. Using this software, you can freely adjust various setting such as exposure, white balance, and so on afterward with the RAW files to take maximum advantage of digital camera photography enjoyment.

The DMC-FZ50 is compatible with all the same accessories as the FZ30. In addition to those, the DMC-FZ50 is also compatible with the TTL external flash (GN50 or GN36). This expandability enhances the potential of shooting to make DMC-FZ50 a true high end camera.

DMW-LT55     Tele conversion lens
DMW-LW55    Wide conversion lens
DMW-LND55   ND filter
DMW-LMC55   MC protector
DMW-LC55     Close-up lens
DMW-RSL1     Remote shutter
DMW-AC7      AC adaptor
CGR-S006      Lithium ion Battery (710 mAh)
DMW-FL500    External Flash (GN50)
DMW-FL360    External Flash (GN36)
DMC-CZA30    Leather Case

The DMC-FZ50 will be available from September 2006.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50 specifications

Sensor *

• 1/1.8" Type CCD
• 10.4 million pixels total
• 10.1 million effective pixels
• Primary (RGB) color filter

Image ratios • 4:3 (default, CCD native)
• 3:2
• 16:9
Image sizes *
(4:3 ratio)
• 3648 x 2736
• 3264 x 2448
• 2560 x 1920
• 2048 x 1536
• 1600 x 1200
Image sizes *
(3:2 ratio)
• 3600 x 2400
• 3248 x 2160
• 2560 x 1712
• 2048 x 1360
Image sizes *
(16:9 ratio)
• 3584 x 2016
• 3072 x 1728
• 1920 x 1080
Movie clips • 848 x 480 (16:9), 30 / 10 fps *
• 640 x 480 (4:3), 30 / 10 fps
• 320 x 240 (4:3), 30 / 10 fps
• With audio
• Maximum movie clip size 2 GB
File formats * • RAW
• JPEG (EXIF 2.2): Fine / Standard
• MOV (Movies, Motion JPEG codec)
Image processor Venus Engine III
Lens • 35 - 420 mm equiv. (12x zoom)
• F2.8 - F3.7 (minimum aperture F11)
• 14 elements in 10 groups (3 aspherical, 1 ED lens)
• Labelled as "LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT"
• Non-extending / internal zoom
• Mechanical linked zoom ring
• Focus-by-wire focus ring
• 55 mm lens thread
Image stabilization • Optical, "MEGA OIS"
• Modes: 1 (all the time), 2 (at shutter release only)
Conversion lenses Yes (screw on front of lens; 55 mm thread)
Digital zoom

• 2x or 4x
• "Extra optical zoom" for smaller sizes (13.4x 8m, 17.1x 5m, 21.4x 3m) *

Focus • AF / AF Macro / Manual (switch on dial)
• Continuous AF On/Off
• Manual Focus (Ring)
• One-shot AF
AF area modes • 1 point
• 1 point high-speed
• 3 point
• 3 point high-speed
• 9 point
• Spot
AF assist lamp Yes
Focus distance
(wide / tele)
• Normal: 30 / 200 cm - Infinity
• Macro: 5 / 200 cm - Infinity
Modes

• Auto
• Program (with shift)
• Aperture Priority
• Shutter Priority
• Manual
• Scene
• Moving Image
• Playback

Scene modes * • Portrait
• Soft Skin
• Scenery
• Sports
• Night Portrait
• Night Scenery
• Panning
• Food
• Party
• Candle
• Fireworks
• Snow
• Starry Sky
• Baby 1
• Baby 2
• High sensitivity
Metering • Intelligent Multiple
• Center weighted
• Spot
ISO sensitivity • Auto
• ISO 80
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800 *
• ISO 1600 *
• ISO 3200 (High sensitivity mode) *
Exposure compensation • +/- 2.0 EV
• 1/3 EV steps
Exposure bracketing • 3 frames
• 0.3 to 1 EV steps
Shuttter speed • Auto: 1/4 - 1/2000 sec *
• Program AE: 1 - 1/2000 sec *
• Aperture/Shutter priority: 8 - 1/2000 sec
• Manual mode: 60 - 1/2000 sec *
Aperture • Wide: F2.8 - F11
• Tele: F3.7 - F11
AE Lock • Half-press shutter release
• AE-Lock button
White balance • Auto
• Daylight
• Cloudy
• Halogen
• Flash
• Manual 1
• Manual 2
White balance fine tune Yes (except Auto)
Self timer 2 or 10 sec
Continuous shooting • Full resolution: 2 or 1 fps *
• Full resolution: max 5 images (standard mode), 3 images (fine mode) *
• Infinite consecutive (unlimited but slower shooting rate)
Image parameters • Contrast (Low, Standard, High)
• Sharpness (Low, Standard, High)
• Saturation (Low, Standard, High)
• Noise reduction (Low, Standard, High)
Color Effect • Cool
• Warm
• Black & White
• Sepia
Flash • Built-in (manual pop-up)
• Modes: Auto, Auto red-eye reduction, Slow sync, On/Off
• Range: 0.3 - 7.0 m (W), 0.3 - 5.3 m (T)
• External flash via hot-shoe
• Flash exposure compensation (+/-2 EV in 0.3 EV steps)
Flash hot-shoe * • New TTL hot-shoe
• Compatible with: DMW-FL500 (GN50), DMW-FL360 (GN36) external flash
Orientation sensor Yes
Viewfinder • 0.44" EVF (electronic viewfinder)
• 230,000 pixels
LCD monitor • 2.0" TFT LCD
• 207,000 pixels *
• Flip down and twist
Record review 1 sec / 3 sec / Zoom
Playback • 2x / 4x / 8x / 16x magnification
• 9 / 16 / 25 thumbnail index
• Image rotation
• Slideshow
• Resizing
• Trimming
• Protection
• DPOF setting
Connectivity • USB 1.1
• A/V out
• DC-IN
Print compliance PictBridge
Storage • Secure Digital card, SDHC card *, MMC card
• 32 MB SD card supplied
Power • 710 mAh, 7.2V Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery
• Charger included
Weight (no batt) 668 g (1.5 lb) *
Weight (with batt) 734 g (1.6 lb) *
Dimensions 141 x 86 x 142 mm (5.5 x 3.4 x 5.6 in) *
Supplied software * LUMIX Simple Viewer, PhotofunStudio -viewer-, SILKPIX DEVELOPER STUDIO, ArcSoft Camera Suite (ArcSoft PhotoImpression, ArcSoft PanoramaMaker), Adobe Reader, Quick Time, USB Driver

* Updates or changes compared to the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ30

Additional images