Launched a couple of days ago and showcased at an official media event in Hong Kong just hours ago, Panasonic displayed the abilities of their four new cameras - FX38, FX180, FZ28 and the LX3. As we've reported in our preview article , these four cameras will all feature Panasonic's new Intelligent Auto (iA) capability, which now includes AF Tracking. This function allows you to track virtually any moving subject, and is certainly not limited to faces. Initial demonstrations have proved to be excellent when using the iA mode, but as the units available here are still pre-production versions, we can only wait for the finalized units before we give our verdicts.
Also launched at this event are two new camcorders, the HDC-SD100 and the HDC-HS100. The SD100 uses flash media, which means that you carry less when you travel. The HS100 is a hybrid camcorder, combining both SD flash memory with a 60GB internal HDD to give you that extra capacity if you intend to be away from your computer for an extended period of time.
The key features of these camcorders are, however, to die for, especially if you're constantly pursuing richer colors out of your videos. Rather than go with their proven 3CCD technology, Panasonic has decided to wow consumers the world over with the introduction of the 3MOS system. Similar to the 3CCD technology, the 3MOS system comprises of three MOS sensors that process red, green and blue components of light separately, ensuring that color reproduction remains excellent and as true to what you really see with your eyes. These sensors also have about twice the light-receiving area as compared to CCD sensors, thus giving you that extra edge in image quality under low light conditions. MOS sensors are also known to produce less noise in photo/video captures, which is a good trait for any imaging needs.
Both the SD100 and HS100 are also equipped with a manual mode, allowing users the flexibility and creative freedom to express themselves in different ways. You will be able to control the zoom, focus, iris, shutter speed and white balance, which is pretty much unheard of in a consumer camcorder.
If you'd prefer to have a go at videography without exercising your creative juices, Panasonic has also included iA into these camcorders. While this version of iA is not the latest that you'll find in their newly launched compacts, it is sufficiently good for most camcorder users. Included in this iA capability are: Face Detection, Intelligent Contrast Control, Intelligent Scene Selector and Optical Image Stabilization. iA will also work in tandem with how you shoot, adjusting the settings as and when it is necessary. Expected suggested retail price when available in September is US$1,100 and US$1,300 respectively.
Besides these new imaging devices, Panasonic also announced the launch of a new range of SD cards. The RP-SDM06G (6GB) and RP-SDM12G (12GB) will allow you to record 90 minutes and 180 minutes of 1920x1080 Full HD content respectively with Class 4 specification. These new capacity high-performance cards were introduced to help consumers decide exactly how much they really need, that is, either 90 or 180 minutes. This greatly simplifies the technicality in handling capacity requirement in terms of gigabyte values and instead goes straight to address consumers on what they are really looking for - just exactly how long a particular storage card will last them. Plus, the 90 and 180 minute variants are familiar figures to those who handle the older tape based recording cartridges for camcorders (and is also familiar with older generations that handle VHS tapes). Since the amount of footage you can record is dependent on the quality of the video you shoot, the 90 and 180 minutes of recording time are based on footage shot in Panasonic's HX mode (9Mbps).
That's for now, but stay tuned for more coverage later from Hong Kong!