Panasonic LUMIX GX7 – Not Big, Very Clever

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In these days when pretty much any mobile phone is capable of taking half decent snapshots, carrying a separate camera with you when you go out suggests serious photographic intent. If you hanker after the days when a camera was a camera, photos were on film and you had to wait a week to get your holiday snaps back from Boots, then the latest from Panasonic might be up your street.

The LUMIX GX7 has a pleasingly retro look with a smooth satin black or silver finish that invokes ‘proper’ cameras of the past. Behind the looks though is a thoroughly modern 16 megapixel unit packed with technology to help you capture the perfect shot. Among the highlights are a low noise sensor for improved results in poor light conditions, high speed auto focus and a maximum 1/8000 shutter speed for capturing fast moving subjects, and the ability to set focus and exposure with just a single touch on the screen. Although it’s a mirrorless design rather than a DSLR you can exchange lenses, making this a more practical alternative to bulky professional cameras.

There’s a tiltable viewfinder as well as a 3-inch touch-control rear monitor screen, which also tilts to 90 degrees, so you have plenty of options when it comes to composing your shots. The GX7 has a silent shooting mode which cuts out camera and shutter noise so that you can grab photos without disturbing the subject, ideal for working with children and pets or for getting the perfect street shot.

For the serious photographer there are plenty of creative of options and a physical mode dial as well as the touchscreen for control. The camera has built-in filters that mimic traditional darkroom techniques such as emphasising a certain colour in a black and white image. If you prefer your pictures to move the LUMIX can record video at 1080p resolution and with MP4 stereo sound.

When it comes to transferring your pictures you’ll find that the GX7 has Near Field Communication so you can send images to a smartphone or tablet with a single touch. It’s also possible to use your smartphone as a remote control for extra shooting flexibility.

The GX7 is a very serious piece of kit and as a step up from a compact without going to a full-blown DSLR it will appeal to people who are serious about their photography. No pricing was available at the announcement but don’t expect the GX7 to be cheap, however, if you pre-order you will get a free leather case and extra battery worth £69.99.

Panasonic New Design Icons for the Kitchen

Panasonic have recently embarked upon a singular crusade to make your kitchen look as stylish as possible and have bequeathed unto your granite surface a new range of incredible looking appliances.

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First up are the Panasonic NT-ZP1 / NT-DP1 Toasters. The sleek reflective surfaces looked amazing, although tended to pick up a lot of dust so have to be kept clean. However, seeing as these are used for food that’s no bad thing. Both toasters have a cool little tab on the side that you can pop down to pop up a croissant warming function – my very definition of fancy. They also over reasonably precise control over the level of browning – 5 on the NT-ZP1 and 7 on the NT-DP1. The thing I enjoyed most was the blue light once you’d set the toasting level – it works as a sort of countdown and looks especially great on the glassy front panel of they NT-DP1.

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As I’m a walking cliche of a writer, I love me some coffee and the Panasonic Coffee Maker NC-ZF1 / NC-DF1 is another great looking device. As I’m *really* a walking cliche of a writer I live in a tiny apartment, so really appreciated the NC-ZF1s slim design with the whole unit pretty much solely comprising the water tank. It’s fits in smalls spaces yet brews a mean cup of coffee. It’s incredibly simple to use (I never once felt the need to reach for the manual), and has a built-in aroma control that lets you adjust the strength.

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More of a tea person? Well then there’s the Panasonic Kettle NC-ZK1/ NC-DK range. Like the coffee makers, this is designed for modern living (which is a euphemism for tiny houses), and the kettle sits on a rotating power base so it can easily slot into a nook or cranny.

Find out more about Panasonic’s New Design Icons for the Kitchen

Panasonic Lumix range helps you get closer to the action – and share it with friends

If you’re hoping to get closer to the action this summer – whether it’s at one of the sporting summer’s events, or taking photos of the kids or wildlife in safari parks or in the countryside, then Panasonic’s latest Super-Zoom digital camera might do the trick.

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The LUMIX DMC-FZ62 has a 24x optical zoom lens and also offers full HD video capture. The 16-megapixel camera also has a 25mm ultra wide angle lens and 3.0-inch Intelligent LCD. There are plenty of manual operation options too, making it a good choice for enthusiastic photographers, while also offering enough help to less experienced snappers.

Taking those impromptu images should be easier, thanks to the fact that the camera fires up in 0.9 seconds and can shoot 10fps in full resolution with the mechanical shutter and 5fps in continuous autofocus.

AF tracking ensures it locks on to your subject and maintains focus even if it’s moving fast – plus the optical image stabiliser ensures there’s less handshake, especially in low light and night time shooting,

If you like to have fun with your shots, the good news is that the Creative Control mode has been upgraded to offer eight new filter options including : Dynamic Monochrome, Cross Process, Low Key, Toy Effect and Star Filter along with Retro, High Key, Sepia, and Miniature Effect5.

The LUMIX DMC-FZ62 will sell for around £349.99.

If you like to share fun photos and videos with friends, take a look at the Panasonic LUMIX SZ5. The LUMIX SZ5 has a number of connectivity options – from Wi-Fi, to DLNA to smartphone compatibility – making it easier to post images and videos online. It is also possible to use your smartphone as a remote control. The LUMIX SZ5 has a 14-megapixel sensor, plus a 10x optical zoom, the LUMIX SZ5 allows you to boost the quality of your daily photography.

This compact camera is on sale for a tad under £180.

Finally, Panasonic is launching a budget price superzoom camera in the shape of the LUMIX DMC-LZ20, which has a 16MP CCD, 25mm ultra wide angle lens with 21x optical zoom and optical image stabiliser. Video is restricted to 720p at 30fps but the camera costs a very reasonable £150 or thereabouts.

MWC 2012: Android’s coming of age party

This year’s Mobile World Congress was the best ever. No – this isn’t one of those super-positive articles that vapidly attempts to befriend everyone. It genuinely was the best. Why? How about this: 41 megapixel camera; projecting mobile phone; a phone that plugs into a tablet. Does your iPhone do any of that?

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MWC 2012 – or as we like to call it, Android’s coming-of-age-party, was packed to the rafters with this year’s top handsets. Even Panasonic got in on the action, with its new Eluga and Lumix lines (more about those later). It seems that with Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich finally providing a solid, versatile operating system for mobile users, mobile manufacturers have gone a bit mad. And it’s brilliant.

How Many MegaPixels?

The new Nokia 808 PureView has 41 megapixels. Forty-one. It accomplishes this through a 1/1.2” camera sensor – bigger than those found in a high-end point’n’shoot (and much bigger than in the iPhone 4S). The huge sensor means that it can digitally zoom without losing quality (probably up to about 5x), works better in low light and zooms 12x for 640×360 video.

It’s also got a Carl Zeiss lens at F2.4 aperture (awesome), a xenon flash and five-years-in-the-making “oversampling” technology, to make pictures super sharp. Basically, it’s the best camera phone ever – by a long way. And they paired it with Dolby 5.1 audio recording. Sick.

Panasonic has revealed a Lumix Phone 101P, with a 13.2 megapixel sensor. Yawn.

Project It!

Of course, if you want to look at stuff rather than photo it, you’ll need the Samsung Galaxy Beam. It has all the smartphone goodness of the other Galaxys (although not the size of the Note), as well as a 15 lumen projector, built right in. Shame it runs Android 2.3, but beggars can’t be choosers. If you want to project an image up to 50” onto a wall, this is your phone. No word on battery life or lamp life as yet.

Padfone?!

Sure, the Motorola Atrix was the original tablet where you could plug in a phone – but this will be better. Much better. From the geniuses behind the ASUS Transformer (there’s two new ones of those out, too) comes the PadFone – a tablet you can plug your phone into.

Or rather, it’s a big screen, which only activates when you put your phone in it. And the stylus acts as a Bluetooth headset. And you can plug in a keyboard. Its nuts, and it’s awesome, and it will be mine.

We haven’t been this excited about getting our hands on something since Gollum misplaced his precious a long, long time ago in a land far, far away (that’s right, right?).

The phone itself has a 4.3” AMOLEDqHD screen, a Snapdragon S4 dual core processor and an eight megapixel camera. It runs Android 4.0, which then scales everything up to the 10.1” display of the tablet when you plug it in the back. The tablet also comes with 5x the battery of the mobile, meaning you’ll be able to go on and on. No-one wants to carry two devices and have two mobile subscriptions – this solves the problem in one pretty need solution.

When the going gets Toughpad

Those busy people at Panasonic Computer Products Europe recently unveiled the Toughpad FZ-A1, the first in its Toughpad family of professional-grade Android-powered tablets. The big deal here, is that this 10-inch uber-gadget is ideal for highly mobile outdoor workers (could that be you?) in challenging conditions like aviation, construction, field service and public safety. The range of Toughpads will be supported by an eco-system that includes a wide range of work-ready accessories, such as vehicle mounting and ergonomic hands-free holsters (how very handy?). The world-beating brand will unleash a 7” tablet to the Toughpad range in the second half of 2012.

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Hiroaki Sakamoto, Managing Director of Panasonic Computer Products Europe says: “Consumers have enjoyed tablet computing for a number of years now with almost no uptake in the workplace due to fundamental design limitations. Now users in business and industry can also benefit from the ease of use and portability of tablet computing. Toughpad takes all the Toughbook experience of rugged computing we have gained since 1996 and focuses it into tablets designed for the workplace.”

So then, what’s so cool about it? Well for starters, it’s bloody durable. The Toughpad is designed to meet the same durability standards as Panasonic’s Toughbook laptop product line. The Toughpad FZ-A1 has a MIL-STD-810G rating for 120cm drops as well as an IP65 ingress protection rating for resistance to dust and water (always useful when travelling). The Toughpad FZ-A1 is also rated for use in extreme temperatures. This allows it to be used reliably in almost any situation. That’s what’s so cool. Ha!

How secure is this thing then? The CPU in the Toughpad FZ-A1 incorporates a dedicated, tamper-proof, security processor, which frees up the multi-purpose CPU core for other tasks. The security CPU core handles software and data encryption, enhanced VPN, authentication, trusted boot and device management. This enhanced level of device security means the system on a Chip family of Toughpads will be compliant with FIPS 140-2 level 2.

And what about the all-important interactivity element? The pad offers as standard Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR, 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi, GPS and optional 3G mobile broadband offering up to 21Mb/s download speeds. Mega.

In terms of the display, the FZ-A1 has a high brightness, 10.1” XGA, capacitive multi-touch, daylight-viewable screen with an anti-glare coating. Again, if you’re a mobile worker, in markets like supply chain logistics, utilities and the military, then you can easily see critical data and operate the device in daylight.

What of data capture? For your reference, the Toughpad FZ-A1 includes an active digitiser that records pressure, direction and speed along with the signature, so the signing of a document has greater legal authority. The digitiser pen is also battery-free reducing device maintenance. Oh, and we’ll save the best info until last for you… the Toughpad FZ-A1 (once fully charged) offers 10 hours of battery life, so you’re not going to get stuck… very easily.

With a 3-year warranty, The Toughpad FZ-A1 will be available in the Spring of 2012 at an estimated street price of €850 + VAT for the standard model and €999 + VAT for the 3G model.

For more information on the product, you can visit www.toughbook.eu.

Bridging the gap: the Panasonic LUMIX GX1

Panasonic has been busy – along with announcing the world’s smallest 3D compact camera, it has also found time to bring a new Lumix G camera to the market – offering a new interchangeable lens camera that can fit in your pocket.

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The LUMIX G1 has the look of a classic camera, with its gunmetal grey or raven black body – its chassis is smooth aluminium, which means it is both sturdy and light (weighing 413g). The leather grip on the right hand side, is both practical and stylish in a retro kind of way.

The metal body makes it a sturdy camera, compared with some of the plastic bodied models available from Panasonic, making a steady base on which to fit the interchangeable lenses.
Mind you, with a body-only price of £500, it should feel good.

This is another Micro Four thirds camera, which fills the gap between a digital SLR and a snap-and-go compact, offering plenty of manual control and creativity for the enthusiast photographer.

Features that should delight the enthusiast include plenty of manual controls, a speedy autofocus (Panasonic reckons it’s as fast as 0.9s) and Burst Shooting speed of up to 20fps if you’re trying to capture fast-moving subjects.

A 3in touchscreen is also included, although we reckon keen photographers would rather use the buttons for controls. However, if you’re more of a beginner, the touchscreen may feel familiar to you and Panasonic has included an Intelligent Auto Plus mode just for you to help you get going.

The LCD display can also be used to view your HD video and stills.

There are14 lenses to choose from (including Panasonic’s new pancake lens sized 14-42mm X Zoom lens, part of its new range of ultra-compact electronic power zoom ‘X’ lenses) which should be enough satisfy even the most demanding of photographers, plus a 16MP sensor and low-light sensitivity at up to ISO 12800. There is a 3D lens available as well.

As we’ve mentioned, the body is £499.99 or with the H-FS014042 lens £599.99 – both from mid-December. The body with the H-PS14042 lens will be available from mid January at £729.99.

Panasonic’s small wonder – the DMC-3D1

Compressed twin lenses are the secret behind Panasonic’s announcement that it has produced the smallest 3D compact camera ever.

The Japanese corporation has just announced the DMC-3D1, which is expected to be on sale in the UK in December and which offers both 3D photo capabilities, along with 3D video recording.

DMC-3D

So how does it do it? Well the secret lies in the fact that the camera giant uses a compressed twin lens system that offers folded optics. The two lenses are 25mm wide angle types, which have a 4x zoom, along with a 12-megapixel MOS sensor (which can only be used in 2D mode – for 3D you’ll be working with 8 megapixels). The sensor is noise reducing, allowing for sharper image capture.

When it comes to shooting video, you’ll have at your disposal an 8-megapixel version that can capture Full HD 1080p video at 8fps.

Control can be handled using the 3.5inch Smart Touch screen (the screen doesn’t allow you to view 3D images or video though)

If you’re not that bothered about 3D capabilities (and we’re still as yet not sure how interested the great British buying public is in this) there are other benefits to having two lenses – for instance, you could be shooting video with one lens, while using the other for taking still shots (handy at a wedding or party for capturing candid still portraits). Or you can catch a wide-angle image, while zooming in on a specific detail.

Panasonic is also claiming that battery life will be just as good as that on a standard 2D snapper.

No UK price has been confirmed as yet, although the Panasonic DMC-3D1 will be going on sale in the US for around $500.

Panasonic expands FX range: DMC-FZ150 and DMC-FX90

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Panasonic have added two new cameras to its award-winning range of ‘super-zoom’ digital cameras, the DMC-FZ150 and the DMC-FX90, as well as a firmware upgrade for the DMC-LX5. I have to admit that, unlike their uncanny ability to make their subjects look remarkably more attractive and even younger, zooms don’t seem to be a digital camera’s strongest asset. No wonder therefore has Panasonic’s FZ, which boast powerful zooms that can tackle proximity issues, won awards.

Evolving its ‘super zoom’ stature is the range’s newest addition – the DMC-FZ150. With its commanding 24x optical LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT, 25mm ultra wide angle lens, with Panasonic’s Black Box Nano Surface Coating Technology to minimise the light reflection that causes ghosts and flares, the FZ150 looks like it is meant for a more serious of photographer.

Check out TechnoBuffalo’s review:

In addition to its powerful lens, the FZ150 can record high-resolution full HD 1920 x 1080 50p videos for the photographers amongst us looking to record and shoot in high definition.

For those looking to update visual aspects of their social media locates directly from their camera, they now can, with Panasonic’s new DMC-FX90. As well as offering all the usual features the FX range has become renowned for, although minus the mega zoom of the FZ150, Panasonic have lifted cameras into being the latest gadget with Wi-Fi connectivity, meaning users can share their photographic marvels with their contacts almost instantly. Being ultra-compact and  definitely stylish, we reckon the FX50 is going to be a hit with all those Facebook junkies out there.

Another development in the FX range is the upgrade of the DMC-LX5, which, with updated firmware, has improved functions and performance. Such improvements include the addition of the High ISO NR (Noise Reduction) mode specifically aimed at reducing noises of images shot at high ISO 1600/3200 sensitivity, as well as boasting a redesigned algorithm, making it possible to speed up the AF time by reducing it by approximately 23% at the wide-end.