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Panasonic premieres ZS3 / TZ7 with AVCHD lite video

By dpreview staff on Jan 27, 2009 at 14:03 GMT

Pre-PMA 2009: Panasonic has announced the release of the DMC-ZS3 (DMC-TZ7 in Europe), the first of six new digital compact cameras, and also the first camera to record AVCHD lite HD videos. The ZS3 is also packed with some impressive video and audio features such as 48kHz sample rate and Dolby Digital Stereo Creator for high quality audio, a Wind Cut function and Intelligent Auto mode for video recording. This 10MP camera (10MP output from a 12MP sensor) also comes along with a 3 inch hi-resolution LCD, 12x optical zoom (25-300mm equiv), Optical Image Stabilizer, and Advanced Face Recognition.

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Press Release:

Panasonic’s DMC-TZ7 Hybrid Camera – Performance without Compromise

27th January 2009: Panasonic Lumix cameras go from strength to strength with technological advancements designed to offer the ultimate in picture performance and user convenience.  Building on its digital still camera achievements, Panasonic presents a completely new photography concept – in the form of the new DMC-TZ7 hybrid camera. Offering all of the features that Panasonic’s multiple award winning TZ range of cameras is renowned for – including a remarkable 12x optical zoom in a compact, stylish body and 25mm ultra wide angle lens – the TZ7 goes one step further to offer AVCHD Lite*1 motion picture recording, making the TZ7 a truly versatile proposition.

More Detail in a Single Frame
The TZ7 features a high-quality LEICA DC VARIO ELMAR 25mm ultra-wide-angle lens with a 12x optical zoom. A lens like this, with a range from 25mm to 300mm in 35mm film equivalence, is almost inconceivable in such a small, lightweight camera. Comprising 10 elements in 8 groups, including 2 ED lenses and 2 aspherical lenses with 3 aspherical surfaces, and utilizing new lens material in its design, this advanced lens unit realizes the outstandingly slim and compact body while passing Leica's stringent standards to deliver exceptional optical performance. The Extra Optical Zoom function that extends zoom power to 21.4x (at 3-megapixel resolution) by using the center part of the large CCD to bring subjects even closer without deteriorating the image quality.

The TZ7 has a 12-megapixel CCD and shoots with up to 10-megapixel resolution. This is because the CCD on the TZ7 is multi-aspect that can reproduce images shot with the lens set from 25mm to 300mm in any of three aspect ratios - 4:3, 3:2 or 16:9 - so you can always capture dynamic, richly expressive shots with a wide perspective. The Multi Aspect mode lets you to take an image in all three aspect ratios simultaneously then choose the one that best suits your scene after shooting.

AVCD Lite for Long Recording of HD Motion Images
In addition to Motion JPEG images*2, the TZ7 can record high-definition motion picture*3 in AVCHD Lite. It features almost doubling the recording time in HD quality compared with the conventional Motion JPEG format. The TZ7 also features Dolby Digital Stereo Creator to record high quality audio, so you can match the beautiful motion images with outstanding stereo sound.

Including features more commonly seen in camcorders, such as stereo microphone, a wind cut function to block out most of the noise from the back ground wind and audio sampling 48kHz – the TZ7 is a true hybrid – a single model that performs admirably as both a camera and a camcorder. Not forgetting ease of use, Panasonic has paid particular attention to achieving smooth, easy operation in both modes through features such as an independent movie recording button,

Now on the TZ7, the popular iA (Intelligent Auto) is also available in motion image recording. Optical Image Stabilizer (O.I.S.) helps prevent handshake when using high-powered zoom. Face Detection automatically detects a face in the frame and adjusts focus, exposure, contrast, and skin complexion so it always turns out beautifully. Intelligent Exposure continually checks the ambient light level and adjusts the exposure setting as conditions change to prevent blown highlights and blocked shadows. And Intelligent Scene Selector automatically switches between Normal, Portrait, Macro, Scenery, and Low Light modes according to the situation to optimize visual quality.

Motion image recording can be started by pressing a dedicated button on the camera's back panel - an extremely quick, convenient way to start motion image recording. Most of the camera’s settings will be carried over when switched to motion picture recording. The powerful 12x optical zoom is available in movie recording, too.

The TZ7 also carries over 16 different scene modes in movie recording. In AVCHD Lite recording, you can select from three levels of motion image quality: SH (17 Mbps), H (13 Mbps) and L (9 Mbps).

Still or motion images recorded in AVCHD Lite on SD Memory Cards are easy to view on a Panasonic VIERA TV*4. Simply insert the card into the VIERA Image Viewer (SDHC/SD Memory Card slot) on VIERA TV or DIGA Blu-ray Disc Player to playback your contents. Alternatively, you can use an optional Mini HDMI cable to output the still and motion images you took from the TZ7 directly to the TV for VIERA Link. You can take maximum advantage of Lumix camera’s playback functions including the slideshow in which both still and motion images integrated in the timeline, category playback according to the scene mode you used or calendar display and so on. All control is possible using only the TV's remote control.

In addition, with the included software PHOTOfunSTUDIO HD Edition, it is easy to view and edit your recorded contents. You may also choose to upload your videos to YouTube*5 or burn them to a DVD disc for archiving.

Newly added Face Recognition
With the TZ7, taking great photos is that easy. Panasonic incorporated Intelligent Auto mode in pursuit of the ultimate ease of operation and the reduction of misshots. This mode is also further advanced with the inclusion of AF tracking and Face Recognition*6 feature – a function that ‘remembers faces’.

When a familiar face is recorded several times, the camera will prompt you to register the face*7. Once complete, if the familiar face appears into your frame again, the camera will display the name you specified for that person and prioritize focus and exposure so that the registered face is bright and in sharp focus. Perfect for group shots for example – this new feature will give auto focus and auto exposure priority to a single person, ensuring their loved ones face will be captured beautifully.

During registration, you can change the icon that indicates when the registered subject is in focus – for example you can attach a love heart to your partner. You can also manually register a persons details and the camera will remember them whenever you take a photo.

To further add to its appeal, you can also specify the age of the registered subject and have both the name and the age of the subject stamped onto your photos. When babies under 3 years-old are registered, the camera will automatically switch to Baby mode if the baby appears into the frame. In playback, you can choose to display only photos that contain a specific registered face using Category Playback – so you can search for all photos of your Cousin Jennie, for example - perfect for compiling a surprise birthday collage. 

You can also view image slideshows of only a selected person. Face recognition makes sorting archiving incredibly easy. This advanced face detection system also digitally corrects unwanted red-eye during recording.

With AF Tracking, the DMC-TZ7 can lock onto any subject and keep it in focus even if it moves – making it easy to get beautiful, clear shots when a great photo opportunity suddenly arises. Simply aim, lock, and shoot.

In addition to the advanced functions mentioned above, the iA mode inherits fundamental functions users need in a good digital still camera. These include Mega O.I.S., which helps prevent blurring from hand-shake, and Intelligent ISO Control, which reduces motion blur by adjusting the ISO sensitivity if the subject moves as the shot is taken.

The Mega O.I.S. now has an AUTO mode to select between the conventional Mode 1 and 2 depending on which mode best suits the zoom ratio being used. Intelligent Exposure optimizes the exposure for each part of an image, preventing blocked shadows and blown highlights and helping ensure that gradation and details are reproduced beautifully. It now features an automatic backlight compensation function that activates whenever the subject is in backlight. Intelligent Scene Selector automatically detects the five most common shooting situations – Portrait, Night Portrait, Scenery, Night Scenery and Macro - and switches to the appropriate Scene mode.

The Quick AF system helps keep focus on the subject while the camera is in recording mode even before pressing the shutter button. The user can activate all of these useful, convenient shooting-assist functions by simply selecting iA mode.

The Venus Engine HD
The high-speed, high-performance Venus Engine HD has been re-engineered to support the recording of beautiful, high-definition motion images in AVCHD Lite. With its twin CPUs, Venus Engine HD boasts approx. 2.4x processing capability, greatly improving the speed of camera operations.

This high performance LSI elevates the artificial intelligence of the camera by introducing new circuitry making it possible to “recognize” human faces individually. It also supports high definition output through HDMI.

In image processing, luminance noise and chromatic noise are reduced separately before and after signal processing. This is further refined by separating noise two-dimensionally into high-frequency and low-frequency noise. The circuits then effectively reduce only the low-frequency noise to minimize the unwanted noise and help produce beautiful, sharp still and motion images.

This multi-task image-processing engine has a super-fast response time. The shutter release time lag is as short as approx. 0.006 seconds, making it easy to capture sudden, spur-of-the-moment photo opportunities.

In burst shooting mode, the TZ7 can snap approx. 2.3 shots per second at 10.1-megapixel full resolution*8. In High-Speed Burst shooting mode, it fires off an incredible approx. 10 shots per second*9. Unlimited consecutive shooting is also available to let you shoot until the memory card is full*10. Newly added Flash Burst mode makes it possible to take consecutive shots with continuous emissions of the flash*11.

In addition to its outstanding performance, the high performance engine is also more energy efficient compared with the conventional Venus Engine IV, extending the battery life up to 300 shots (CIPA) per a single charge.

Super High Resolution LCD for Easy Playback
The TZ7 is equipped with a 3.0-inch, 460,000-dot Intelligent LCD with super high resolution and a wide viewing angle. The screen brightness automatically adjusts in 11 steps as the surrounding brightness level changes, ensuring easy visibility at all times. The big screen reflects fine details, making it easy to check the focus before shooting. It also serves as a small photo and video viewer, allowing the user and friends to enjoy viewing the still and motion images together.

Menus are now cleaner and easier to navigate, even for seniors, thanks to the new "Display Size" option. Thanks to the Venus Engine HD, smooth image playback at very high speeds is now available, approx.17x faster for thumbnails and approx. 4x for single images even when the image resolution is as high as 12.1-megapixels.

The TZ7 offers a Mode Playback feature which allows you to choose playing back ‘only still images’, ‘only motion images’, or ‘both’. When choosing to playback ‘only motion images’, you can even select to playback AVCHD Lite and Motion JPEG videos separately. Images and videos can be played back together with an attractive seamless effect and background music in the new Slideshow Mode. Using an optional mini HDMI cable, you share your slideshows in astounding HD video and audio quality on your HDTV with your family and friends.

Scenes Modes for Motion Images Too
Designed with users in mind, the scene modes, which are optimized for a variety of still-image shooting situations, are now available for motion images as well. Thanks to a rich variety of 27 scene modes for still image and 17 for motion image (Portrait, Soft Skin, Transform, Self portrait, Scenery, Low light, Food, Party, Candle light, Sunset, Beach, Snow, Aerial, High Sensitivity, Pin hole, Film grain and Underwater), capturing beautiful videos is effortless with the TZ7. 

The new scene mode for shooting still images includes the Panorama Assist mode, which allows you to create powerful panoramic images - both vertically and horizontally. Simply align your shots according to a guide which overlaps the frame when you shoot, then use the included PanoramaMaker software to create your panorama images.

The mode dial comes with two My Scene settings. Users can assign a specific scene mode to each setting and switch instantly between modes when desired.

The minimum shooting distance has been shortened to 3 cm on the TZ7. With the new Macro Zoom function, the user can pull subjects even closer with the wide-angle setting using 3x digital zoom, and capture dramatic close-ups.

With such superior lens specifications and functionality, you’d be forgiven for thinking the TZ7 was quite bulky. Not the case. In fact, the TZ7 is smaller and lighter than its predecessors, making it effortlessly easy to take on your travels. Enjoy stunning photos and HD videos from 25mm wide angle to 12x telephoto – the TZ7 is your ideal travel partner delivering ultimate performance in a pocket sized body. The TZ7 will be available in choice of silver, black or brown and will be available from April 2009.

*1 The "AVCHD" is a high definition (HD) digital video recording / playback format jointly established by Panasonic Corporation and Sony Corporation. The “AVCHD Lite” is a subset of the “AVCHD format” for HD digital video cameras with HD video recording restricted to 720P.The new “AVCHD Lite” Logo and the “AVCHD Lite” License are restricted to devices within the AVCHD Video Camera category. Digital cameras have been added to the AVCHD Video Camera category.
*The “AVCHD Lite” and the “AVCHD Lite” logo are trademarks of Panasonic Corporation and Sony Corporation.
*AVCHD Lite motion images recorded onto an SD Memory Card or a DVD disc cannot be played from a device that does not support the AVCHD standard.
*2 Continuous recording exceeding 2GB is not possible when recording motion JPEG. Remaining time for continuous recording is displayed on the screen.
*3 Motion pictures can be recorded continuously for up to 15 minutes in some countries. When you set the picture quality to HD, WVGA or VGA, we recommend using a high-speed card with “10MB/s” or greater displayed on the package.
*4 AVCHD Lite motion images recorded onto an SD Memory Card or a DVD disc cannot be played from a device that does not support the AVCHD standard.
*5 YouTube is a trademark of Google Inc.
*6 Depending on background and facial expression, camera may not recognize a registered person. For family members with similar facial features, camera may not correctly identify the intended subject.
*7 A maximum of six people can be registered.
*8 Max 5 images in standard mode / 3 images in fine mode
*9 3-megapixel (4:3), 2.5-megapixel (3:2), 2-megapixel (16:9) recording. (10fps in Speed Priority mode / 6fps in Picture Priority mode)
*10 The consecutive shooting speed varies with the memory card, image size, and image compression mode. The number of shots depends on the memory card size, battery life, image size and image compression mode.
*11
Max. 5 images. In 3-megapixel (4:3), 2.5-megapixel (3:2), 2-megapixel (16:9) recording.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS3 (TZ7) specifications

Sensor

• 1/2.33" Type CCD
• 12.7 million pixels total
• 10.1 million effective pixels

Image sizes

• 4:3 Aspect Ratio: 3648 x 2736, 3072 x 2304, 2560 x 1920, 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480
• 3:2 Aspect Ratio: 3776 x 2520, 3168 x 2112, 2656 x 1768, 2112 x 1408, 2048 x 1360
• 16:9 Aspect Ratio: 3968 x 2232, 3328 x 1872, 2784 x 1568, 2208 x 1248, 1920 x 1080

Movie clips • 4:3: 640 x 480 pixels, 320 x 240 pixels @ 30 fps
• 16:9: 848 x 480 pixels @ 30 fps
• Quick Time Motion JPEG
HD Movies

• 1280x720 pixels, 60p - AVCHD Lite (SH: 17Mbps, H: 13Mbps, L: 9Mbps)
• 1280x720 pixels, 30fps - Motion JPEG

File formats • JPEG (DCF / Exif2.21
• AVCHD Lite (Motion picture)
• QuickTime (Motion JPEG)
Lens • 12x optical zoom
• 25 - 300mm (35mm equiv.)
• 4.1 - 49.2mm
• F3.3 - 6.3
• LEICA DC VARIO-ELMAR
• 10 elements in 8 groups (2 Aspherical Lenses / 3 Aspherical surfaces / 2 ED lens)
Image stabilization MEGA O.I.S lens-shift stabilization
Conversion lenses No
Digital zoom Yes, up to 4x
Focus

• Normal
• Macro
• Continuous AF
• Pre-AF
• AF Tracking

AF area modes • Face / AF tracking
• 11-point
• 1-point high speed
• 1-point
• Spot
AF assist lamp Yes
Focus distance • Normal: Wide 50cm/ Tele 200cm - infinity
• Macro / Intelligent AUTO / Clipboard : Wide 3cm / Max 200cm / Tele 100cm - infinity
Metering • Intelligent Multiple
• Center-Weighted
• Spot
ISO sensitivity • Auto
• 100
• 200
• 400
• 800
• 1600
• High Sensitivity Mode : Auto (1600 - 6400)
Exposure compensation ± 2EV, 1/3EV steps
Exposure bracketing ± 1/3 EV ~ 1EV step, 3 frames
Shutter speed • 8-1/2000 sec
• Starry Sky Mode : 15, 30, 60sec
Aperture • F3.3 - 4.9 / Iris Diaphragm (F3.3 - 6.3 (W) / F4.9 - 6.3 (T))
Modes • Intelligent AUTO
• Normal Picture
• Motion Picture
• Clipboard
• My Scene 1
• MyScene 2
• Scene
Still Piture Scene modes

• Portrait
• Soft Skin
• Transform
• Self-Portrait
• Scenery
• Panorama Assist
• Sports
• Night Portrait
• Night Scenery
• Low Light
• Food
• Party
• Candle Light
• Sunset
• Baby1
• Baby2
• Pet
• Hi-Speed Burst (Image Priority / Speed Priority)
• Flash Burst
• Starry Sky
• Fireworks
• Beach
• Snow
• Aerial
• Pinhole
• Film Grain
• Underwater
• High Sensitivity

Movie Scene modes • Portrait
• Soft Skin
• Transform
• Self-Portrait
• Scenery
• Low Light
• Food
• Party
• Candle Light
• Sunset
• Beach
• Snow
• Aerial
• Pinhole
• Film Grain
• Underwater
• High Sensitivity
White balance • Auto
• Daylight
• Cloudy
• Shade
• Halogen
• White Set
White balance fine tune ± 10steps, except for auto set
Self timer 2, 10 sec
Continuous shooting • Full-Resolution Image
2.3 fps Max. 5 images (Standard mode), Max 3 images (Fine Mode)
• High-speed Burst Mode:
Approx. 6 fps (recorded in 3M for 4:3, 2.5M for 3:2, 2M for 16:9)
Image parameters Standard, Natural, Vivid, Black & White, Sepia, Cool, Warm
Flash • Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction, Forced Off
• Range: 0.6 - 5.3m (Wide/ISO Auto), 1.0 - 3.6m (Tele/ISO Auto)
Viewfinder No
LCD monitor • 3.0 " TFT LCD Display
• 460K dots
• Field of View : approx. 100%
• AUTO Power LCD mode, Power LCD mode, High angle mode
Connectivity • USB2.0 High speed
• AV Output (NTSC/PAL)
• miniHDMI
• DC Input
Print compliance • PictBridge
• DPOF
Storage • SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card, MultiMediaCard (Still image only)
• 40MB internal memory
Power • Li-ion battery
• Charger included
• AC adaptor (optional)
Weight (no batt) 206 g
Dimensions 103 x 60 x 33 mm
(5 x 2.3 x 1.5in)
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