Panasonic is launching its new range of Lumix cameras today in Queenstown, and Zara Baxter is on the scene. We'll bring you as much live coverage as we can during the event, and upload photos taken with the new cameras later today and tomorrow.
The press launch has started, but for the moment all we have is tourist videos of Queenstown and an introduction to our Panasonic hosts... we're off for jetboat rides and glacier photoshoots later in the day to test out the new launch cameras - I've taken a few shots of them on my phone that I'll upload when I get a moment.
Nakahara-san, the GM of the AV group, provides an overview of the ten years of Lumix, including the introduction of Mega-OIS, 25mm lens compact cameras, and micro-four-thirds system cameras. We've come a long way, baby!
Matsumoto-san, the GM of overseas sales and marketing, gives us a vision of the Digital Hearth - it includes 3 new camcorders with 3D lens capability to be released in 2011. Panasonic is also bringing out a 'Dual-Camera', capable of pocket camera portability and features, as well as full camcorder quality. It's designed to bridge the gap between the pocket camcorders such as the Bloggie or Flip and the full featured camcorders that Panasonic has excelled at in recent years.
...And now we're onto the product details!
First up is video, and we're walked through the new technology.
Panasonic says its new Crystal Engine Pro improves the signal to noise ratio over the 700 series, for the new 900 series products.
In addition, there's improved Hybrid Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS).
Hybrid OIS combines power OIS and intelligent resolution techology to work for image stabilisation from wide-angle through to telephoto settings. At a certain point, the gyrosensor detects gross movements to compensate, but for hand-shake, the intelligent resolution technology and EIS takes over. Panasonic says that the hybrid system works twice as well as Power OIS alone.
The new S90 has a new lens structure, called a "multi-actuation lens system"; three groups of lenses are used, one for focussing and two for zooming to cover both wide-angle and telephoto shooting.
anasonic's new Dual Camera range is a set of upright style camcorders. The HX-WA10 is 3m waterproof, the HX-DC10 and HX-DC1 are similar, but with more waterproofing and higher megapixel count, respectively.
We weren't huge fans of Panasonics's Flip competitor the TA1, but Panasonic says the new TA2 is better in low light, and there's now a rugged version, the T20. The new models include night view mode, too, to improve brightness in low light environs.
Cameras are next up, and there are 12 new Lumix cameras.
The new features in cameras (note that not all features are in all cameras) include improvements with video - Full HD recording in 50i, and OIS with an 'active mode' that corrects even large handshake - such as if you are walking while shooting - during video shoots.
Autofocus speed is improved through optimisations of the autofocus algorithm - Panasonic claims it's up to 50% faster than last year's models.
On the cameras, there's now a 3D photo mode on the mode-select wheel. You take two shots consecutively, and combine them for 3D.
Of course, as with all such improvement claims, the proof of the pudding is in the eating - we'll put up comparison photos for you to take a look at later.
The TZ20 has FullHD movie recording and GPS function; the TZ18 lacks those, but both have the 16x optical zoom - compared to 12x on last year's models, such as the TZ10.
The Lumix FT series - famous thanks to their excellent adverts - has an upgrade from the FT2 to the new FT3. It's freezeproof to -10C, and its GPS information now includes an altimeter, compass, depth indicator (underwater) and barometer. There's also a new high-speed CCD, with dual-channel transfer - Panasonic says it's designed to aloow FullHD movie shooting.
The DMC-FX78 includes an interesting new touch - you can drag and drop settings you use a lot to your quick menu on the camera's 3.5in touchscreen. We just got a quick demonstration of the beauty mode on Nakahama-san: the ability to add makeup quickly via foundation, lip colour, eye shadow and blush provides some amusement for many of the attending journalists.
The so-called stylish compact range includes 8 cameras, from the higher end FH27 (16MP CCD and touchscreen LCD, as well as a 28mm wide-angle lens) to the entry-level S1.
We'll be using the TZ20 and FT3 in our shooting tour today, we just discovered.