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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ3

By dpreview staff on Jul 21, 2004 at 00:48 GMT

Panasonic has today announced the new twelve times optical zoom three megapixel DMC-FZ3, the little brother to the new FZ20. The DMC-FZ3 is aimed at the 'soccer mom' market with a surprisingly compact body, lower resolution, fewer features and a lower price. However the FZ3 still manages a respectable zoom range, a very fast lens (F2.8 throughout zoom range) and Panasonic's optical image stabilization.

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Press Release:

New Digital Camera DMC-FZ3
Combine 12x Optical Zoom with Advanced MEGA O.I.S.
in Super Compact Body

Panasonic is introducing the incoming LUMIX model DMC-FZ3, 3.1 mega effective pixels CCD model with MEGA O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilizer), incorporating a 12x optical zoom (equivalent to 35mm to 420mm on a 35mm film camera) with full-range F2.8. The DMC-FZ3 is the heir to the 2.0-megapixel DMC-FZ2, achieving the downsizing in the smooth rounded form. DMC-FZ3 has enhanced its excellence, not only with the total number of pixels but also with the innovative technical improvements in the image processing LSI and in the accuracy of O.I.S.

The most remarkable advancement is the complete improvement of the image processing LSI, the brain of a digital camera which handles the image processing. In the previous Venus Engine, the luminance signal is extracted from all RGB pixels to improve the diagonal resolution by 50%. In addition to that, the newly developed Venus Engine II gains new imaging process which adds the luminance signal extracted only from the G pixels upon detecting the horizontal / vertical lines in the image. This results in the improvement of the horizontal and vertical resolution by more than 10% compared to the former Venus Engine, while maintaining the 50% in the diagonal resolution. Besides, the amount of the noise reduction is controllable according to the brightness level of each subject in the image, which reduces the noise in the dark areas as low as 1/3 without affecting the resolution in bright areas of the image.

Thanks to the further improved multi-task image processing, response has also been accelerated, resulting in the industry-leading release time lag of approx. 0.008 sec minimum and a shutter interval*1of approx. 0.3 sec, for achieving more stress-free operation. It also boasts high consecutive shooting performance, realizing the shooting at 4 frames/second at full resolution. Newly installed Infinite Consecutive Shooting function*2 allows limit-free consecutive shooting up to the capacity of the SD memory card.

MEGA O.I.S. , which we strongly believe indispensable for a high-magnification model, is subsumed with 2 selectable modes. In “Mode 1”, the O.I.S. lens continuously compensates the vibration, and in all Panasonic’s own “Mode 2”, the O.I.S. lens suppresses hand-shake only at the moment the shutter button is pressed. In this mode, the lens can move in all directions at the moment to maximize its effect, and higher-resolution image can be taken by capturing the image as close as to the center of the lens. Venus Engine II also encourages this advantageous performance in the point of enhancing the accuracy of hand-shake detection, which allows you to use the 1-step slower shutter speed than that of the models with previous Venus Engine. Consequently, even without using a tripod, it allows you to reduce the shutter speed 3 or 4 steps compared to the conventional cameras without O.I.S., while assuring clear images.

As with the conventional LUMIX models, the DMC-FZ3 incorporates LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT lens that promises high resolution and low aberration images. The Use of 3 aspherical lenses, which Panasonic boasts its in-house manufacturing know-how, accomplish conspicuous downsizing even with 12x optical zoom model.

The DMC-FZ3 offers expanded photographic possibilities by providing manual exposure in addition to aperture-priority AE and shutter-priority AE, and choices of 4 AF modes including 9-point AF. On the other hand, it also offers simple mode with backlight compensation for the entry-level users. A variety of options of DMC-FZ3 fulfill the needs of wide range of people, from family users relatively unfamiliar with digital cameras, to high-end amateurs who prefer the creative freedom of their own.

1. 3.1-megapixel 12x optical model in a compact body

The LUMIX DMC-FZ3 digital camera is equipped with a 3.1 mega effective pixels CCD and LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT lens offering 12x optical zoom (equivalent to 35 to 420mm with a 35mm film camera) with F2.8 aperture throughout the entire zoom range. The combination of 3 aspherical lenses generates high optical performance while preserving the compactness of the unit. The zoom range can be totally extended to 48x when combined with 4x digital zoom.

2. Upgraded MEGA O.I.S. offers clear, sharp images in difficult situations

MEGA O.I.S., which we strongly believe indispensable for a high-magnification model, is subsumed with 2 selectable modes. In “Mode 1”, the O.I.S. lens continuously compensates the vibration, and in all Panasonic’s own “Mode 2”, the O.I.S. lens suppresses hand-shake only at the moment the shutter button is pressed. In this mode, the lens can move in all directions at the moment to maximize its effect, and higher-resolution image can be taken by capturing the image as close as to the center of the lens. Venus Engine II also encourages this advantageous performance in the point of enhancing the accuracy of hand-shake detection, which allows you to use the 1-step slower shutter speed than that of the models with previous Venus Engine. Consequently, even without using a tripod, it allows you to reduce the shutter speed 3 or 4 steps compared to the conventional cameras without O.I.S., while assuring clear images.

Its outstanding benefit can be reaffirmed especially with the shootings in telephoto, in low light or in macro.

3. With greatly improved resolution and response, the world's highest level performance: the Venus Engine II

Panasonic has achieved great improvements in both resolution and response compared to the performance of previous Venus Engine. The previous Venus Engine, the luminance signal is extracted from all RGB pixels to improve the diagonal resolution by 50%. In addition to that, the newly developed Venus Engine II gains new imaging process which adds the luminance signal extracted only from the G pixels upon detecting the horizontal / vertical lines in the image. This results in the improvement of the horizontal and vertical resolution by more than 10% compared to the former Venus Engine, while maintaining the 50% in the diagonal resolution. Besides, the amount of the noise reduction is controllable according to the brightness level of each subject in the image, which reduces the noise in the dark areas as low as 1/3 without affecting the resolution in bright areas of the image.

Thanks to the further improved multi-task image processing, response has also been accelerated, resulting in the industry-leading release time lag approx. 0.008 sec minimum and a shutter interval* of approx. 0.3 sec for achieving more stress-free operation. It also boasts high consecutive shooting performance, providing shooting at 4 frames/second at full resolution. Newly installed Infinite Consecutive Shooting function*2 allows limit-free consecutive shooting up to the capacity of the SD memory card.

4. Enhanced AF and light metering options

With the DMC-FZ3, an AF method can be selected according to the shooting situation: 9-point AF, 3-point AF, 1-point AF, or spot AF. Meanwhile in the 3-point AF, high-speed AF is achieved by obtaining the focus information from the CCD by double frequency. In addition, AF assist lamp is newly equipped for expanding the AF ability even at night or under the low-light conditions.

For the light metering, center weighted metering can newly be selectable in addition to the intelligent multiple metering and spot metering.

5. High-end usability satisfies a wide range of photographers

Manual functions such as aperture-priority AE, shutter-priority AE or manual exposure, which were previously selected from menu screen are now be selectable directly by the mode dial for the smooth control. On the other hand, it also offers easy shooting even to the entry-level users by providing the simple mode with backlight compensation. Thus, DMC-FZ3 is capable of meeting a wide range of graphic needs.

In addition, Newly adopted OSD supports easy-to-follow operation. Now 9 varieties of scene mode including Fireworks, Party, Landscape and Night Landscape(separated from Night Portrait mode) assist shooting, by selecting one from the on-screen menu according to the wide-ranging situation. Soft skin detail function works in portrait and night portrait modes detecting only skin tones and softens detail to produce smooth and beautiful skin.

Last but not least, the EVF magnification is extended from 7.6x up to 11x to afford a larger view and now you can save the majestic image in non-compressed TIFF file format.

Combining the latest advances in optical and digital technologies, the LUMIX DMC-FZ3 opens the door to a new level of creativity.

*1 Not including the time for AF.
*2 The speed of the consecutive shooting varies depending on the SD memory card.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ3 specifications

Sensor

• 1/3.2" Type CCD
• 3.3 million pixels total
• 3.1 million effective pixels

Image sizes • 2016 x 1512
• 1600 x 1200
• 1280 x 960
• 640 x 480
• 1920 x 1080 (16:9 HDTV)
Movie clips • 320 x 240 (10 / 30 fps)
• With audio
• Limited only by storage
File formats • Still: TIFF, JPEG (EXIF 2.2): Fine / Standard
• Movies: MOV (Motion JPEG)
Lens • 35 - 420 mm equiv. (12x zoom)
• F2.8 (throughout zoom range)
• MEGA OIS (Mode 1 / Mode 2)
• "LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT"
Image stabilization Yes, optical, two modes
Digital zoom Yes, up to 4x
AF area modes • 1 point
• 3 points
• 9 points
• Spot
AF assist lamp Yes
Focus distance • Normal: 0.3 m - Infinity
• Macro: 5 cm
Metering • Intelligent Multiple
• Center weighted
• Spot
ISO sensitivity • Auto
• ISO 80
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
Exposure compensation • +/- 2.0 EV
• 1/3 EV steps
Exposure bracketing • 3 frames
• 0.3 to 1 EV steps
Shuttter speed 8 - 1/2000 sec
Aperture F2.8 - F8.0
Modes • Program
• Aperture Priority
• Shutter Priority
• Manual
• Macro
• Simple
• Scene
• Moving Image
• Playback
Scene modes • Portrait
• Sports
• Landscape
• Night Landscape
• Panning
• Night Portrait
• Fireworks
• Party
• Snow
White balance • Auto
• Daylight
• Cloudy
• Halogen
• Flash
• Manual
White balance fine tune Yes
Self timer 2 or 10 sec
Continuous shooting • Full resolution: 4 or 2 fps
• Full resolution: max 13 images (standard mode), 7 images (fine mode)
• Infinite consecutive (unlimited but slower shooting rate)
Image parameters Color (Natural, Standard, Vivid)
Flash • Built-in
• Modes: Auto, Auto with red-eye reduction, Slow sync, On/Off
• Range: 4.6 m
Viewfinder • 0.33" EVF (electronic viewfinder)
• 114,000 pixels
LCD monitor • 1.5" TFT LCD
• 114,000 pixels
Connectivity • USB 1.1
• A/V out
• DC-IN
Print compliance PictBridge
Storage • Secure Digital / MMC card
• 8 MB SD card supplied
Power • Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery
• Charger included
Weight (no batt) 290 g (10.2 oz)
Weight (inc batt) 326 g (11.5 oz)
Dimensions 108 x 68 x 85 mm (4.3 x 2.7 x 3.3 in)

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