Panasonic's (News - Alert) commitment to the digital camera concept is clearly not being deterred by the growing numbers of smartphone cameras out there, as just yesterday, they unveiled six new entries in the Lumix camera line, including two seriously high-end models in the G5 and the LX7 series.
The Panasonic G5 may well be the biggest advancement in the lineup, operating without mirrors and with interchangeable lenses. It boasts an eye-level viewfinder as well as a variety of controls, but it's actually smaller—and thus for many easier to work with—than most DSLRs.
The Panasonic LX7, meanwhile, is small enough to be easily portable—one of the main reasons that more people are going to smartphone cameras—yet also offers interchangeable lens capability, including access to an f/1.4-2.3 lens. While it's going to have some competition on its hands by way of the Sony RX100, which will manage to boast a larger image sensor in roughly the same amount of space, the LX7's overall features set should make it a fair category.
But that's not all that Panasonic will be bringing out in the buildup to holiday shopping season; they'll also be bringing out the FZ200, a camera that's packing an ultra-long zoom in addition to many of the same specs that were found on the FZ150, making this one something of a restrained improvement, but an improvement nonetheless. Also slated for launch are the FZ60, the SZ5 and the LZ20. The FZ60 is essentially a watered-down FZ200, the SZ5 is the SZ1 repackaged with Wi-Fi capability for easy uploading of pictures—which will no doubt be a welcome addition for those who take a lot of shots on the go and want essentially unlimited capacity as long as they're within range of an open Wi-Fi signal and the LZ20 is geared toward shooters on a budget.
While some are quite impressed by this lineup, and with good reason—objectively, these are pretty solid camera entries with a good array of features overall—the primary competitor to the digital camera market, smartphone cameras, will likely not lose a lot of ground to these cameras. Sure, there will always be a market for cameras that are more powerful than the ordinary, for the professional and the hobbyist market, the plain truth is that for most regular people and amateurs in the field, the digital camera has been largely replaced by the smartphone. They already have a camera on them, and their users already take their phones with them everywhere they go anyway, so they have a camera on hand for those shots of opportunity. Why carry a camera, many reason, when they already have a perfectly serviceable—and in some cases, surprisingly potent—camera on the back of their phone anyway?
Still though, it's good to see Panasonic sticking around the market; for some people the smartphone camera won't be enough, and Panasonic needs all the potential revenue streams it can get anyway. Hopefully these solid camera entries will find a market sufficient to keep them up and running.
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Edited by Rachel Ramsey