CES 2002: Panasonic has confirmed its range of 2002 Lumix digital cameras as well as availability and pricing. In this press release they also confirm two new models we've not previously heard of, the DMC-LC20 and DMC-LC40. The Lumix range boasts Leica Optics in combination with Panasonic (Matsushita) digital imaging. The line starts at $349.95 with the DMC-LC20 and goes up to $899.95 for the four megapixel DMC-LC5.

Press release:

PANASONIC ANNOUNCES AN EXCITING NEW DEVELOPMENT IN DIGITAL CAMERAS

New LUMIX Digital Camera Line Is First to Combine World-Renowned Leica Optics With Advanced Panasonic Audio Video Technology For The Perfect Balance Of Art And Science

LAS VEGAS (January 7, 2002) — Panasonic has developed an exciting new digital camera line that will revolutionize the world of digital photography. Building upon its relationship with world-renowned Leica Camera AG of Solms, Germany, Panasonic is the first consumer electronics company to incorporate Leica lenses in its entire 2002 Lumix™ digital still camera line. The new Panasonic Lumix cameras herald a new standard of quality and refinement in digital photography. Combining superlative optics and unparalleled digital electronics technology, the Lumix line seamlessly integrates the systems that capture the images in all their clarity and detail with the technology that processes those images and converts them into works of creative expression.

Not only do these cameras produce high-quality, professional-looking digital photographs, but their convenient, user-friendly features make multimedia applications quick and easy. Featuring built-in USB ports1 and SD Memory Card slots, the four new Mega-pixel digital cameras also offer consumers networking versatility with PCs and a wide variety of compatible SD-enabled devices.

Panasonic Lumix cameras were designed to emulate a film camera’s “feel,” ideal in size, weight and balance, and with consideration made for every control button, knob and switch.

“The new Lumix line elevates the performance standard of digital still cameras to a new level,” said Rusty Osterstock, General Manager of Panasonic’s Optical Group. “Panasonic wanted to create a digital camera that allows artistic expression as well as all the applications made possible by digital technology. With the Leica lens and new imaging technologies, we’ve succeeded in creating a digital camera that is responsive, precise and easy to use - a high-performance, digital imaging product with the heart and soul of a fine instrument.”

In the world of professional photography, Leica lenses retain a legendary reputation for creating images that capture the most delicate nuances of light and shade, the elusive ambience of "air," and subtle gradations of color. The finely crafted LEICA DC VARIO-SUMMICRON and DC VARIO-ELMARIT lenses have been incorporated into the Lumix line of cameras in order to render images with more warmth, subtlety and expressiveness than ever before achieved with a digital camera.

But it takes more than a great lens to produce a great picture. Panasonic developed new and enhanced technologies to convert the optical data from the lens into digital information.

New Mega-pixel CCDs capture images with incredible clarity and detail. Models DMC-F7 and DMC-LC20 feature a 2.1 Mega-pixel CCD (2.0 mega camera effective pixels); the DMC-LC40 and top-of-the- line DMC-LC5 feature 4.0 Mega-pixel CCDs (3.9 mega camera effective pixels). Traditionally, the use of more pixels translates into more detail but less light sensitivity. To counter this phenomenon, Panasonic uses an innovative gapless lens in the DMC-LC40 and DMC-L5 to boost light-collecting efficiency. The size of the pixels has also been increased to 3.25 microns, allowing them to receive an extra margin of light.

To capture sudden events as they unfold, Panasonic wanted to develop a fast, responsive digital camera that could take consecutive pictures nearly as quickly as a motor-driven film camera. The new MEGA BURST™ recording feature, a Panasonic exclusive, combines 4 frames per second or 5 frames per second, depending upon the model, with undiminished quality from frame to frame. Users can shoot up to a maximum of 8 frames (depending upon model) - and the last frame will be just as clear and crisp as the first. This industry-first achievement of dramatically increasing the speed and resolution of sequential shots is due to Panasonic’s new High Speed Multitasking Image Processing technique, which replaces the time-consuming serial signal processing method with a more advanced parallel processing technique.

Each camera’s CCD color filter is specifically designed to optimize the performance of the particular Leica lens used. Models DMC-F7 and DMC-LC20 feature a primary color filter for precise color reproduction in images captured by the LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT lens. For models DMC-LC40 and DMC-L5, Panasonic chose a complementary color filter to harmonize with the LEICA DC VARIO-SUMMICRON lens’s F2.0 brightness and the rich gradation produced by these models’ 4.0 Mega-pixel CCDs. Going a step further, Panasonic developed new Pure Color Engine LSI circuitry to work with the DMC-LC40’s and DMC-L5’s lens systems. It converts the CCD output signal into an RGB signal at an early stage and extracts the low frequency luminance component, resulting in superb color reproduction.

For precise, instant focusing, a new hybrid auto focus system in the DMC-L5 shatters the myth of a digital camera’s slow response. This system cuts focusing time to less than half that of previous Panasonic cameras.

Digital images can be downloaded to a PC or removable memory card, transferred to CD-Rs, printed out, viewed on a TV or computer screen, or attached to an e-mail message. With digital cameras, taking the picture is just the start of the creative process. Advanced digital technology and networking capability let consumers enjoy their beautiful photos in exciting new ways.

The magic of digital technology makes it easy for anyone to edit and enhance their images with the included ArcSoftä photo editing software. Using a photo editing web site like PictureStage.com, consumers can also store their photos in personal, online albums; create printed materials such as posters or calendars featuring their images; or have their photos printed on gifts like t-shirts and coffee mugs.

The Lumix cameras feature a memory card slot that is compatible with either SD Memory Cards or a MultiMediaCard.™ An 8MB, 16MB or 32MB SD Memory Card, depending upon the model, is included with each Lumix camera. About the size of a postage stamp, the SD card features large storage, great flexibility, excellent security and fast data transfer. The medium allows for the quick, easy exchange of images, music, video and slide presentations among a growing number of SD Memory Card-enabled devices, including audio products, camcorders, memo recorders and handheld computers and PDAs.

Most models feature both a 3x optical and a 2x digital zoom. Models DMC-LC40 and DMC-LC5 include a long-life, rechargeable Lithium Ion battery, helping to ensure that users will always have the power to capture that unexpected, once-in-a-lifetime shot.

Panasonic digital cameras are marketed in the United States by Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company. The company is a division of Matsushita Electric Corporation of America, the principal North American subsidiary of Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., (NYSE:MC) of Japan, one of the world’s largest producers of innovative electronic and electric products for consumer, business and industrial use. Consumers can get information on Panasonic consumer products from Panasonic’s Customer Call Center at 800-211-PANA or access Panasonic’s home page at www.panasonic.com. Media can access press releases on Panasonic consumer products via the Panasonic Pressroom web site, www.panasonic.com/pcecnews, or through New Directions Public Relations’ toll-free fax-back system at 888-734-7490.

MODEL AVAILABILITY MSRP
DMC-F7 Early Spring 2002 $499.95
DMC-LC20 Early Spring 2002 $349.95
DMC-LC40 Early Spring 2002 $699.95
DMC-LC5 Early Spring 2002 $899.95