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Panasonic illuminates Lumix digicam trio

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Panasonic has expanded its range of Lumix wide-angle digital cameras with the addition of a seriously professional-looking 8.1-megapixel model with 18x optical zoom. It also release two new compact models.

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Panasonic's Lumix DMC FZ18: Leica lens

Since Panasonic's DMC FZ18 has a 28mm wide-angle lens. This is complimented by a specialist automatic settings mode that detects the image surroundings and then selects the optimum settings for it, such as portrait or night-shoot.

The camera, which is available in silver and black, also includes face-detection technology, a fairly standard feature already built into many cameras, like the Samsung’s S85 series, and a continuous auto-focus. A custom setting also stores your frequently made settings, so they can be selected quickly from the camera's menu dial.

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Panasonic's Lumix DMC FZ18: round the back

A maximum sensetivity of ISO 1600 is available, while the body has a 2.5in LCD screen sitting at its rear. It has 27MB of on-board memory, but can also take SDHC memory cards.

At the lower end of the scale, the DMC FX33 and FX55 also offer 8.1-megapixels and 28mm wide-angle lenses, but have a shorter optical zoom than the FZ18 - just 3.6x. However, many of the increasingly standard features are included, ranging from face detection to image stabilisation.

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Panasonic's Lumix FX55

The FX33 and FX55 do differ slightly in their LCD screen size, measuring 2.5in and 3in, respectively. Both have the FZ18's 27MB built-in memory. Each also have a high-sensitivity mode that gives a maximum ISO 6400, which Panasonic claims is enough to shoot in low light levels without the need for a flash.

A burst mode is also included in both models, which allows users to act like paparazzi and shoot up to seven images per second.

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Panasonic's Lumix FX33

Both models will also be available in September, with the FX55 available in silver, black and pink and priced at $350 (£175/€200). The FX33 will be available in silver, black, blue and brown and will retail for $300 ($152/€185).

Panasonic’s Lumix FZ18 will be available in September for around $400 (£207/€261).

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