In a move bound to surprise no one after both Casio's and Sony's recent announcements, Panasonic has announced a new 12-megapixel compact camera called the Lumix DMC-FX100. However, this new Panasonic distinguishes itself from the competition with a 3.6X optical, 28mm-to-100mm, f/2.8-to-f.5.6 zoom lens, which should prove useful for snapshooters trying to compose photos of friends in tight quarters, such as a crowded nightclub. The new Lumix also includes Panasonic's Mega O.I.S. optical image stabilization, as well as a 2.5-inch, 207,000-pixel LCD screen.
Panasonic has reached new heights in misleading marketing with what it calls "Extra Optical Zoom." Despite its inaccurate name (tantamount to lying to its loyal customers in my opinion), this feature crops in on the image you could capture at a given focal length, thus narrowing your field of view to an equivalent of a longer focal length. For example, if you choose this shooting mode and want to shoot at an equivalent field of view of a 7x zoom, the camera will show you that preview on the LCD, but also note that you'll only get a 3-megapixel image if you do. In effect, this is just a more-transparent digital zoom process, which is good, but the name could easily make people believe they're getting something they are not, which is horribly disreputable.
Other features that Panasonic's marketing team wants to highlight are a more powerful flash, compared to previous Panasonic FX models, and a top sensitivity of ISO 6,400. However, if you read the fine print, you'll note that ISO 6,400 can only be reached if the camera rolls its pixel resolution down to 3-megapixels, which is what happens when you activate its high-sensitivity mode. In this mode, the camera varies sensitivity between ISO 1,600 and ISO 6,400, instead of topping out at ISO 1,600 as the camera does in its regular shooting modes.
Despite my gripes with the company's marketing tactics, the DMC-FX100 should prove an able competitor in this year's compact 12-megapixel market, as long as its image quality passes muster. Look for our review in the next couple of months to find out. Panasonic plans to make the Lumix DMC-FX100 available in both silver and black colors this July.