New digital compacts to sport 12x zooms and 25mm wideangle lens

Panasonic has announced two new additions to its family of enthusiast digital compacts in the shape of the TZ6 and TZ7. And while the two cameras might seem to be similar at a first glance, further inspection reveals them to be quite different.

The 10-megapixel TZ6 succeeds the 9-megapixel TZ5, cramming an extra megapixel onto its CCD sensor for good measure, while the TZ7 is an all-new model that employs a 12-megapixel sensor with an effective output of 10-megapixels.

The main differences between the two new models is that the TZ7 is able to record HD video and can shoot in multiple aspects (4:3, 3:2 or 16:9), while the TZ6 offers 848×480 WVGA quality video and is able to capture images in standard 4:3, or 16:9 for viewing on a widescreen TV. As an added string to its bow the TZ7 can also be set to record a single image in all three aspects at once, thereby allowing the user to decide which one works best afterwards.

Reflecting the different shooting and video recording capabilities of each model is the choice of processing engines assigned. The TZ6 is powered by Panasonic’s Venus Engine IV engine and features a top ISO setting of 6400, while the more advanced TZ7 gets Panasonic’s Venus Engine HD to help out with its HD video capabilities. The TZ6 boasts a top burst speed of 6.5fps, while the TZ7 can manage 10fps.

One further difference between the two models is in the quality of the rear LCD. While the TZ6 features a 2.7in, 230,000-dot screen the TZ7 sports a 3in, 460,000-dot resolution screen.

Otherwsise, both the TZ6 and TZ7 sport a Leica DC Vario Elmar 25mm wideangle lens with a 12x optical zoom giving each model a top telephoto reach of 300mm (35mm equivalent). An Extra Optical Zoom function is able to increase this reach to 21.4x by using only the centre of the sensor, although this knocks overall resolution down to 3-megapixels. Both models also feature Panasonic’s lens-based Optical Image Stabilisation to combat camera shake at slower shutter speeds.

Both models come with a range of features designed to make successful image capture more reliable including Intelligent Auto mode with automatic AF Tracking to help keep moving subjects in focus. Likewise, the Face Detection feature on both models now incorporates automatic red-eye removal. In addition, each camera comes with a number of scene modes.

There’s no word from Panasonic yet regarding pricing, but both models are due to go on sale in April, and for more information visit the Panasonic website.