German camera specialist Leica has announced its first compact superzoom in the form of the 12.1 megapixel V-Lux 20. The new addition to the Leica family not only benefits from 12x optical zoom and 720p HD video capabilities but also features built-in GPS tagging for recording the exact geographical location of each snap taken.

If you're thinking that the V-Lux 20 looks somewhat familiar, you'd be right. Spec for spec it's almost the same as the less expensive and slightly smaller Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZS7 announced in January but sports a Leica brand logo instead and doesn't benefit from Panasonic's AVCHD Lite video movie format. Other than that the main features are, somewhat disappointingly, the same.

Both cameras have a 1/2.33in CCD sensor with 14.5 million total pixels (12.1 million effective), a LEICA DC-VARIO-ELMAR 4.1-49.2mm f/3.3-4.9 ASPH 12x optical zoom lens with a focal range of 25-300mm (35mm equivalent), an ISO80 to 1600 sensitivity range and a 3in 460,800 dot LCD display with 100 percent field view. Integrated image stabilization, face recognition, automatic scene modes and smart exposure should ensure good picture quality and memory card support includes SDXC. Connectivity options are covered by USB 2.0, HDMI and AV out.

GPS tagging co-ordinates are automatically added to the Exif data of each photo "ensuring the user always has a useful and accurate record of their trip". And of course, including such information in a photo means that if it's uploaded to social media or sharing sites on the internet, "the data automatically reveals exactly when and where the photos were taken". Additionally, the camera can display up to 500,000 points of interest spread across 73 countries to help users find interesting photo opportunity.

Those with a requirement for a little more than mere point and shoot automatic settings will be pleased to find Program, Manual, Shutter and Aperture options available via the familiar dial on the camera's top. And for capturing those movie moments in high definition, Leica's V-Lux 20 offers its 720p HD video at 60 frames per second in QuickTime Motion JPEG format (whereas the ZS7 records to the more advanced AVCHD Lite format).

The matt black 4 x 2.4 x 1.3in V-Lux 20 will ship with Adobe Photoshop Elements 8 and will be available shortly for US$699.

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