Mac users, we're pleased to announce Macphun's all-in-one photo editor Luminar is now available for just $69£52 with special Valentine Day bonuses (two eBooks, Vivid Wonderland preset pack, & Creative Sky Overlay pack) included for free until February 19. Use coupon code "PHOTOBLOG" to save another $10 on Luminar.
We rated Luminar as "Highly Recommended". Visit the Luminar web site to try it for free.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500 is a new 10 megapixel camera with 5x, 25mm wide-angle lens. The FX500 features touch-screen operation on a large 3 inch LCD screen, plus Intelligent Auto mode, HD motion picture recording and HD component output, and slideshows complete with music. Auto focus tracking is a new mode on the Panasonic FX500, tracking the subject even if it moves after the AF is set. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX500 will be available in silver and black for $399.95 in May 2008.
Panasonic UK Press Release
25mm Ultra-Wide-Angle 5x Optical Zoom Lens*
10.1-megapixel Lumix DMC-FX500 Featuring a 3.0-inch Large LCD with Touch-Screen Interface.
*35mm film camera equivalent: 25-125mm
Panasonic is pleased to announce a new flagship model for its Lumix slim and stylish FX series. The new 10.1-megapixel DMC-FX500 features a 25mm ultra-wide angle Leica DC lens with 5x optical zoom. Standing out from the crowd, the new FX500 features a touch-screen operation on a large, 3.0-inch LCD, bringing new enjoyment to the digital photography and enabling easy manual operation. A variety of advanced functions, including advanced Intelligent Auto mode, HD motion picture recording and HD component output, and slideshows complete with music, also enrich the camera’s appeal.
The newly developed Leica DC lens with 5x optical zoom boasts an 25mm ultra-wide angle of view that captures almost double the recording area at the same shooting distance compared with a conventional 35mm lens. This advanced lens system includes 4 aspherical lenses with 6 aspherical surfaces, and a newly developed, unevenly thick concave meniscus Extra High Refractive Index Aspherical (EA) lens. Fitting an unprecedented level of wide-angle performance into a slim camera assuring minimal distortion even at its 25mm wide end, resulting in high picture quality.
For more intuitive operation, the DMC-FX500 has a hybrid control system that combines joystick control with touch-screen operation. Basic settings can be directly controlled by the joystick, and other extensive ones are finely adjusted by touch or by moving a slider on the screen with the finger or an included stylus-pen. Users can set the auto focus and exposure at the desired part of the frame by simply touching the subject at that part while recording. In manual exposure mode, aperture and shutter speed can be adjusted by moving the slider. In playback mode, a new Easy Organisation menu is provided to simplify image sorting. The user can quickly select an image to view by scrolling the thumbnails located below the main window, and then edit the image using the same touch menu interface.
Auto focus (AF) tracking is also new with the DMC-FX500. It continues tracking the subject even if it moves after the AF is set, which is especially helpful for catching active children or pets.
The iA (Intelligent Auto) mode is a helpful shooting assist function that lets the user leave all the settings to the camera. Taking maximum advantage of this iA mode, users can go a step further to set auto focus and exposure on the desired subject by simply touching it on the screen. This kind of quick, easy rational operation is enabled by the new touch-screen interface.
The advanced DMC-FX500 combines a futuristic control system with a host of specifications and even manual control to please a wide range of users. Dressed in aluminum panels having a hairline curve on the front, the new model is available in silver and black*.
*Availability of models and colours may vary depending on the sales area.
1. 25mm Ultra-Wide-Angle 5x Optical Zoom (25-125mm) f2.8 High-Quality Leica DC Lens and 10.1-Megapixel CCD
The 10.1-megapixel DMC-FX500 packages a ultra-wide 25mm Leica DC VARIO-ELMARIT high-quality lens with 5x optical zoom(equivalent to 25-125mm on a 35mm film camera), offering f2.8 brightness. Comprising 7 elements in 6 groups, including 4 aspherical lenses with 6 aspherical surfaces, this advanced lens unit passes Leica’s stringent standards and delivers an exceptional optical performance. Notably, a newly developed unevenly thick concave meniscus EA (Extra high refractive index Aspherical) lens makes it possible to achieve the 25mm ultra-wide angle high optical performance while keeping the lens unit thin and the body slim. The 25mm ultra-wide-angle lens records almost double the viewing space at the same shooting distance compared to ordinary 35mm cameras. Further, in 3-megapixel resolution mode, the Extra Optical Zoom function provides additional magnification, extending the zoom power to 8.9x by using the center part of the CCD.
In addition, newly adopted iris diaphragm allows the users to adjust aperture at fine steps manually.
*35mm film camera equivalent: 25-125mm
**When the picture size is set to 3 megapixels or larger, the photo is automatically resized to 3 megapixels. When the lens is shifted back to the wide-end, the picture size is set to the original size automatically. The original size is maintained for photos smaller than 3 megapixels.
2. Intuitive Manual Operation with 3.0-inch Large Touch Screen Interface
A first for Panasonic Lumix cameras - the DMC-FX500 incorporates a 3.0-inch large touch-screen interface achieving the ultimate ease of use in terms of both taking and playing back images. Panasonic proposes a hybrid operation system combining the new touch-screen interface and the conventional operation system with joystick for more quick and intuitive control, by taking advantage of both operation systems. Users can make basic settings directly with the joystick while they can make extensive adjustments intuitively by touching or moving the slider on the screen.
To activate the menu, all you have to do is to touch the mode you want after pressing the mode button. Notably in the recording mode, auto focus and exposure can be set at the desired part of the frame by simply touching the subject at that part to activate the AF/AE. The camera continues tracking the subject even if it moves with the AF/AE Tracking function to minimize the shutter time lag at the spur-of-the-moment. In manual operation mode, aperture and shutter speed can be set to the desired value by moving the slider.
In playback mode, a new Easy Organisation menu is provided to simplify image organising. The user can quickly select an image to view by scrolling the thumbnails located below the main window, and then edit the image by resizing, trimming and inputting the text title of the picture. You can also flag the desired image as your favourites or delete them in one menu interface.
This touch-screen interface features a high-resolution Intelligent LCD which automatically controls the brightness at a total of 11 fine steps by detecting the surrounding lighting condition. This function gives the display the most appropriate clarity in any situation.
3. Great Photography Is Not Only from Professional Photographers Anymore – Advanced Intelligent Auto Mode
Intelligent Auto mode, which comprises various shooting-assist functions, has been advanced for the DMC-FX500 by adding the new Intelligent Exposure feature and Digital Red-eye Correction in addition to the conventional Mega O.I.S., Intelligent ISO Control, Intelligent Scene Selector, Face Detection and Quick AF functions. Mega O.I.S. suppresses hand-shake and Intelligent ISO Control prevents motion blur. The Intelligent Scene Selector sets the appropriate scene mode by automatically selecting it from the most frequently used scene modes, such as Portrait, Scenery, Macro, Night Portrait and Night Scenery. The Face Detection system detects human faces to set the focus and appropriate exposure for them automatically. The unwanted red-eye effect caused by the use of the flash can be digitally corrected. The newly added Intelligent Exposure function automatically controls the ISO sensitivity partially to increase the exposure of only the darkened area due to backlighting or insufficient flash lighting to capture the scene as you see it by suppressing the extreme brightness and darkness in the picture. The Quick AF system allows the camera to start focusing on the subject even without pressing the shutter button halfway, to get the best results from every shooting opportunity by minimizing the AF time. Once you enter iA mode, these multi-capable functions happen automatically so you can shoot without the bother of adjusting settings every time conditions change. You can enjoy easy, trouble-free shooting in any situation and get the satisfaction that comes with capturing clear, beautiful images.
The DMC-FX500 is a class above it’s peers. You can set auto focus and exposure on the desired subject by simply touching it on the screen with your intention and the rest of the settings are automatically supported by the iA mode.
4. Exciting Options to Expand the Fun of Photography in the High-Definition Era
All Lumix cameras can take 1920x1080 pixel HD (high-definition) quality photos that perfectly fit a wide-screen (16:9) HDTV for full-screen viewing. The new DMC-FX500 even records dynamic HD motion pictures in 1280 x 720p at a smooth 30 fps, in addition to WVGA (848 x 480) and normal VGA (640 x 480)* **.
With the newly added HD component output capability, you can enjoy watching still and motion pictures in stunning HD quality taken by your DMC-FX500 by simply connecting the camera to a TV via an optional component cable (DMW-HDC2).
The DMC-FX500 also provides slideshows complete with music for your ultimate convenience. Just select the pictures you want to show and choose the mood that best matches your selection from natural, slow, urban or swing, and you’ll get an emotion-filled slideshow with a variety of slide change effects and matching music without any annoying adjustments. If you make the slideshow with HD photos in 1920 x 1080 pixels, you can also enjoy watching an impressive HD slideshow with music on a large-screen HDTV by using the optional component cable.
*In Motion Picture mode, the length of recording time depends on the capacity of the SDHC/SD Memory Card. (Up to the equivalent of 2 GB per motion-image recording.) When you set the motion picture quality to VGA 30fps, WVGA 30fps and HD(1280x720) 30/15fps, we recommend using a high-speed memory card with “10MB/s” or greater on the package. Some lens movement sounds may be recorded.
**For Europe, motion images can be recorded continuously for up to 15 minutes.
5. High-Speed, High-Quality Image-Processing LSI Further Evolves into the Venus Engine IV
A new image-processing LSI, Venus Engine IV, features more advanced signal processing technology for rendering even higher-quality images.
Notably, parallel noise reduction in both luminance signal and chromatic signal processing systems, a technology established by the preceding Venus Engine III, gains a more sophisticated process. First, the luminance noise is two-dimensionally separated into high-frequency and low-frequency noises and only the low-frequency noise, which tends to be conspicuous, is eliminated without affecting the high-frequency noise that greatly influences resolution. Second, the information of the change point between colours is minutely stored for precise determination of edges, thus colour bleeding is dramatically suppressed. This not only produces a clearer image in high ISO sensitivity recording, but also faithfully reproduces details in low-lit areas of pictures taken at low ISO sensitivity.
The Venus Engine IV also elevates the detection accuracy and corrective effect in both Mega O.I.S., which prevents hand-shake, and Intelligent ISO Control, which suppresses motion blur.
Featured in the DMC-FX500, the multi-task image-processing engine Venus Engine IV supports a super-fast response time. The shutter release time lag is as short as approx.0.005 second and the camera’s quick response makes it easier to capture sudden, spur-of-the-moment photo opportunities. In burst shooting mode, the DMC-FX500 can snap approx.2.5 shots per second at full resolution.* And in High-Speed Burst shooting mode,** it fires off an incredible approx. 6 shots per second. You also get unlimited consecutive shooting,*** which lets you keep shooting until the memory card is full.
The Venus Engine IV also supports a High Sensitivity mode that lets the DMC-FX500 record at a setting of up to ISO 6400, sensitive enough to capture subjects in near-total darkness without using a flash.****
*Max. 5 images in standard mode/ 3 images in fine mode.
** In 2-megapixel (4:3), 2.5-megapixel (3:2), 2-megapixel (16:9) recording.
***The consecutive shooting speed varies with the memory card, image size, and image compression mode. The number of shots depends on the memory card size, battery life, image size and image compression mode.
**** In 3-megapixel (4:3), 2.5-megapixel (3:2), 2-megapixel (16:9) recording
6. Other Features
The new DMC-FX500 features a variety of functionalities to expand the convenience and fun for users to enjoy taking beautiful pictures.
The energy-efficient Venus Engine IV imaging engine contributes to the long battery life of the DMC-FX500, making it possible to shoot around 280 shots* ** on a single battery charge despite the large, bright touch-screen LCD. A total of 20 scene modes help you to take more beautiful pictures in a wide range of situations. Also interesting is the Title Edit function, which allows text to be input as additional information for the picture, for example, names of children or pets, and travel places. Inputting and editing the text is astonishingly smooth and quick, thanks to the touch-screen interface. This information, as well as dates, which can be helpful when making a photo album, can be stamped on photos with the Text Stamp function whether you print them yourself at home or have a photo shop do them. Around 50 MB of internal memory is built-in to back up the SDHC/SD Memory Card recording and copying.
Inherently user friendly, all new Lumix cameras incorporate a REC/PLAYBACK mode switch. This helps the photographer to instantly switch between recording and playback modes, while always knowing which mode the camera is in. The GUI (Graphic User Interface) has been designed exclusively for the touch-screen interface looking more futuristic in terms of design and colour while maintaining the visibility of characters and usability of settings.
The major features mentioned above can be quickly understood with the newly installed slideshow program called Demo mode.
The included software PHOTOfunSTUDIO-viewer-2.0 offers more convenience to the user by taking advantage of the features available on the LUMIX cameras. You can access pictures not only by date, but also by scene mode, or baby name that you have inputted on the camera. The PHOTOfunSTUDIO-viewer-2.0 allows you to easily organize your growing number of still and motion pictures on one simple interface.