Panasonic just unveiled three new 8-megapixel digital cameras for the fall, including two 28mm-equivalent wide-angled compact shooters and one midrange camera with a huge, 18x zoom lens.
The Lumix DMC-FZ18 is Panasonic's latest contender in the megazoom category. With a 28mm- to 504mm-equivalent 18x Leica zoom lens, the FZ18 looks like Panasonic's answer to the Olympus SP-550UZ. With RAW image support and plenty of manual control, this high-zoom electronic viewfinder (EVF) camera could turn out to be a good choice for aspiring photographers who want lots of zoom power and control without shelling out the money for an SLR and a huge lens.
For those of you looking for a more compact camera than the large-lensed FZ18, Panasonic also introduced the Lumix DMC-FX33 and FX55. While they don't have the high-zoom power of the FZ18, these two 8-megapixel shooters both sport 3.6x lenses with the same 28mm-equivalent wide angle as their bigger brother. Only screen size distinguishes the otherwise identical cameras from each other; the FX33 uses a 2.5-inch LCD, while the FX55 has a larger 3-inch LCD. The FX33 and FX55 replace the Lumix FX07 and FX50, respectively.
All three cameras feature Panasonic's Intelligent Auto Mode, an automatic mode that uses face detection, automatic scene selection, and continuous auto-focus to determine various settings. They all also use Panasonic's Mega Optical Image Stabilization system to help reduce the effects of camera shake. Mega OIS will be most useful when working with the FZ18's 18x zoom lens, but it should offer some help even when using the FX33 and FX55's smaller lenses.
All three new Panasonic Lumix cameras will be available this September. The DMC-FX33 will retail for about $300, and be available in silver, black, blue, and brown versions. The DMC-FX55 will retail for about $350 and come in silver, black, and pink. Finally, the DMC-FZ18 will have a suggested retail price of $400 and come in silver and black variants.