Panasonic continues to expand its super-zoom LUMIX FZ-Series with the LUMIX DMC-FZ150 appearing hot on the heels of the DMC-FZ47. Taking the title of the flagship of the FZ series, the FZ150 packs a 24x optical zoom (25-600mm equivalent) along with a 25mm ultra wide-angle Leica DC VARIO-ELMARIT lens. The camera also features a new 3D photo mode that automatically selects the two most suitable images from 20 panning shots to synthesize a 3D composite image.

The FZ150 combines Panasonic's Venus Engine with a new 12.1-megapixel MOS 1/2.33-inch sensor, that the company claims outperforms the 14-megapixel sensor found on its predecessor, the FZ100. It boasts the ability to capture 1920 x 1080 60p Full HD video in the new AVCHD Progressive (MPEG-4/H.264) format, which is a step up from 1920 x 1080 60i video recording capability of the FZ47.

The 24x optical zoom features Panasonic's new Nano Surface Coating technology which is designed to minimize internal light reflection that causes ghost and flare. The full zoom is available for recording video, as is Panasonic's iA (Intelligent Auto) Mode. The camera can also take 3.5-megapixel still images while recording video and the lens-based optical image stabilization has been improved to smooth out the shakes when capturing video while walking. The FZ150 also incorporates a stereo zoom microphone with a Wind Cut function.

The FZ150 offers full manual control, while the auto focus is around 50 percent faster than the FZ100 with an AF of 0.1 seconds. The Venus Engine can shoot consecutive shots at 12 fps without auto focusing, or 5.5 fps with auto focusing for keeping moving targets in focus. Tracking performance has also been improved with a doubling of the sampling frequency of the AF Tracking. The FZ150 can also shoot high-speed video at 220 fps in QVGA resolution.

The FZ150 also has an aperture range of f/2.8-8 (wide) and f/5.2-8 (tele), and an ISO range at full resolution of 100 to 3,200. Panasonic says newly developed Multi-process Noise Reduction technology applies optimum noise reduction according to the brightness of the part of the picture, meaning that high frequency noise that occurs in the dark part and low frequency noise that appears in the light part are suppressed to produce clearer images recorded in low-light situations.

There's also a new Creative Control mode offering a variety of artistic effect modes, including Expressive, Retro, High Key, Sepia, High Dynamic, Miniature Effect, Film Grain and Pin Hole. A new Photo Style feature also offers Standard, Vivid, Natural, Monochrome, Scenery, and Portrait presets with the ability to finely adjust the contrast, sharpness, saturation and noise reduction of each preset.

Images and video can be viewed on the FZ150's 3-inch articulated LCD screen packing 460,000 pixels or outputted to a HDTV via the camera's mini HDMI port. Images can also be recorded in JPEG or RAW format to SDXC memory cards, while the 3D images taken in the new 3D Photo Mode are recorded in MPO compatible format for viewing on any MPO-compatible equipment.

Another handy addition not found on the FZ47 is the inclusion of a hot shoe allowing the attachment of accessories such as an optional stereo microphone or external flash.

The Panasonic LUMIX FZ150 will be available from late September for US$499.

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