Panasonic has created a stylish line of point and shoot digital cameras with its Lumix family. In addition, the company has a few advanced interchangeable lens models, including intersting DIL models. These cameras have been released in the past 18 months, and they represent the best new cameras from Panasonic, both in its Lumix point and shoot camera lineup and in its DIL lineup.
Panasonic cameras, including point and shoot models, have typically featured Leica lenses, and the inexpensive Panasonic Lumix FH8 is no exception.
The FH8's F/2.5 Leica lens is one of the nicer ones that you're going to find on a beginner-level camera, like the FH8. This model includes 16.1 megapixels of resolution, a 5X optical zoom lens, and a 3.0-inch LCD, and it can shoot 720p HD video.
In addition, the FH8 measures only 0.77 inches in thickness, and is available in black, silver, and purple camera bodies. It appears to be a pretty nice camera with a good set of features for a reasonable price.
The Panasonic Lumix GF2 makes use of the Micro Four Thirds standard, meaning it uses interchangeable lenses, like a DSLR camera. However, because of its mirror-less design, it's not a DSLR. Panasonic calls the GF2 a DSLM (DSL micro), although DIL and EVIL are common acronyms, too.
The Lumix GF2 features a 12.1 megapixel Live MOS sensor, which combines the low power usage of a CMOS sensor with the image quality of a CCD sensor. You'll also find a 3.0-inch touch-screen LCD with the GF2.
One of Panasonic's recent Lumix digital interchangeable lens (DIL) camera, the GF5, provides quite a few advanced features that fans of these really nice cameras will surely appreciate.
Panasonic's GF5 is available in black, red, brown, white, or gold camera bodies, can shoot at 12.1 megapixels of resolution, offers full HD video, and a high-resolution 3.0-inch LCD. The primary portion of the GF5's camera body only measures 1.45 inches in thickness, which is small, even for a DIL camera.
If you appreciated last year's Panasonic DMC-GF5 DIL camera, you'll find a lot to like about the latest version, the Lumix GF6, which is now available for purchase.
The primary difference from last year's model to the GF6 is the inclusion of built-in Wi-Fi connectivity with this year's camera.
Many of the Lumix GF6's other features are very similar to what was available with the GF5, including 16MP of resolution, a 3.0-inch tiltable LCD, and full HD movie recording. The GF6 can make use of Micro Four Thirds model interchangeable lenses.
One quick glance at the specification list for the Panasonic Lumix GX7 DIL camera will quickly convince you that this is one of the more impressive mirrorless digital interchangeable lens cameras on the market.
The GX7 uses a MOS Micro Four Thirds image sensor with 16MP of resolution, a Micro Four Thirds lens mount, a 3.0-inch touch screen LCD, and full 1080p HD video capabilities.
The Lumix GX7 has some nice advanced features, too, including full manual control, ISO settings up to 25,600, 5 frames per second in burst mode, and shutter speeds up to 1/8000th of a second.
Look for the GX7 with a silver and black magnesium alloy on the exterior of the camera body along with rubber accents.
The next step in wireless connectivity for digital cameras -- NFC (Near Field Communication) -- is part of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LF1, which is now available.
Using NFC technology, you can connect the Lumix LF1 to a DLNA-enabled Panasonic TV to show your images directly from the camera with no wires, for example. The LF1, which made my list of 2013's best cameras, also has built-in Wi-Fi capabilities.
Panasonic gave the LF1 a 1/1.7-inch image sensor with 12.1MP of resolution, which should yield better image quality than point-and-shoot cameras. Additionally, the LF1 has a 7.1X optical zoom lens, a 3.0-inch LCD, an electronic viewfinder, and full HD video recording.
The Lumix LF1 is available in black or white camera bodies.
Panasonic's latest high-end fixed-lens camera, the Lumix DMC-LX7, offers a high-quality lens, a 1/1.7-inch MOS image sensor, and high-end features, including an aperture ring.
With its high-end image sensor, having 10.1 megapixels of resolution will provide you with impressive results. In addition, the LX7 carries a 3.0-inch high-resolution LCD, full HD video capabilities, 3D photography options, and a 3.8X optical zoom lens with good wide-angle options. The LX7 is available in either black or white camera body colors.
Its high price tag means the Lumix LX7 might not appeal to everyone, but this is a very strong camera that can help you achieve great photos.
If you want a glimpse at just how far digital camera technologies have come in the past few years in terms of the features that they offer, consider this: A new camera with a 10X optical zoom lens carried an average starting price of about $350 three years ago.
Then consider the latest 10X point and shoot camera from Panasonic, the Lumix DMC-SZ3, which is now available at less than half that amount.
The Lumix SZ3, which is available in black, blue, or white camera bodies, has a 16.1MP image sensor, a 720p HD video recording capability, and a 2.7-inch LCD screen. It also can shoot at up to 10 frames per second in burst mode.
An inexpensive tough camera isn't always easy to find, but Panasonic is aiming its Lumix DMC-TS20 squarely in that price range of about $150.
The TS20 can work in up to 16 feet of water depth, can survive a fall of about 5 feet, and will work in temperatures as low as 14 degrees Fahrenheit.
The TS20 can shoot at 16.1 megapixels of resolution, offers a 4X optical zoom lens and a 2.7-inch LCD, and is available in red, black, light blue, or orange camera bodies.
At only 0.69 inches in thickness, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-XS1 is one of the thinnest cameras on the market, and it has also fallen to a very interesting price point.
The XS1 is a very basic camera, offering a 5X optical zoom lens, 16.1MP of resolution, a 2.7-inch LCD screen, and 720p HD video recording capabilities.
However, with such a thin and inexpensive camera, Panasonic can be forgiven for including below average features. The Lumix XS1 is available in black, red, or white camera bodies, all with black trim.
Panasonic has built quite a few very interesting features into a point and shoot camera that measures only 1.1 inches in thickness with its Lumix DMC-ZS20 model.
The ZS20 includes a 20X optical zoom lens, a 3.0-inch high-resolution touch-screen LCD, and a built-in GPS unit. In addition, the Lumix ZS20, which was introduced at CES 2012, includes 14.1MP of resolution and full HD 1080p video recording capabilities.
That's a lot of high-end features in the ZS20, which is a beginner-level camera that's available in black, red, silver, and gray/white camera body colors. In my review of the ZS20, this camera just missed a perfect rating, but it's still one of the best 4-star cameras I've reviewed.
The ZS30 has a 20X optical zoom lens that also offers some nice wide angle capabilities. It has 18.1 megapixels of resolution in its MOS image sensor, full HD video recording, built-in Wi-Fi, built-in GPS, and a touch screen 3.0-inch LCD.
Those are some very impressive features. If Panasonic had only included a slightly larger image sensor with this camera than the 1/2.3-inch sensor that the ZS30 has, this would easily be one of the best cameras released in 2013.
Still, the Lumix ZS30 has a very competitive starting price point and is a great value. You'll find the ZS30 in three different body colors: Gray, black, or white.