Panasonic just announced the Lumix DMC-FX500, a high-end point-and-shoot camera with nearly every feature Panasonic could offer, plus a few it hasn't even tried yet. The FX500 is the company's first compact digital camera to use a touch-screen interface. A 3-inch touch-screen LCD lets users browse their photos or make various adjustments with their finger or an included stylus. We've found touch-screen cameras iffy in the past, but fortunately the FX500 also features a more standard joystick control system for certain settings. This is a handy alternative not found in other touch-screen cameras like the Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T300, the HP Photosmart R937, or the Samsung L74 Wide.
Besides the large touch screen, the 10-megapixel FX500 includes several additional high-end features. It incorporates a 25 to 125mm-equivalent, f/2.8-5.9 5x optical zoom lens, offering users both wider and longer shots than most compact cameras. The lens uses Panasonic's Mega O.I.S. image stabilization system, which shifts lens components to compensate for camera shake. The FX500 presents a variety of "Intelligent" modes that Panasonic claims lets the camera adjust settings on the fly to set the best scene preset, ISO sensitivity, and exposure compensation. It also uses Panasonic's new AF tracking feature, which according to the company can track moving subjects after focus is set. If those various photo tricks aren't enough, the FX500 can also record HD (1,280 x 720) video at 30 frames per second, in addition to the more standard VGA (640 x 480) and WVGA (848 x 480) movie modes.
All of these features come at a price, however; the FX500 will retail for about $400 when it ships this May. It will be available in silver and black versions.