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Panasonic stacks new Lumix cams with 1080p, 3D, social networking features

Panasonic may have just dropped a slew of new cams just weeks ago at CES 2011, but it wasn’t the entire payload. On Tuesday, Panasonic offered a little more variety with expansions to its point-and-shoot series.

Lumix FX78

FX78Like its predecessors, it’s an incredibly slim camera with an intuitive touchscreen, but will upgrade to a 3.5-inch LCD display. The FX78 will also feature a 24mm ultra-wide angle lens with 5x optical zoom and f 2.5 aperture, meaning poor lighting conditions shouldn’t be an issue.

The point-and-shoot also has what are becoming standard built-ins with touchscreens: smart touch for auto focus, scene selection, subject tracking, and of course, easy finger flipping and dragging to browse through photos. The enlarged touchscreen is one of the camera’s most attractive upgrades, but it also comes equipped with in-camera editing (including Art and Beauty Retouch) and an improved 12.1-megapixel CCD sensor, and 1080p HD video recording.

Just to save you a potential future purchase, the FX78 also includes 3D capability. Panasonic’s 3D technology works by taking 20 consecutive photos and then stitching the two “best” together for a 3D image.

While the camera does include a sharing option, it isn’t as immediate as some upload-enabled point and shoots we’ve seen recently. Instead of social networking functionality built into the device, the camera allows users to checkmark photos that will later be uploaded, and upon connecting the FX78 via USB or SD card to a computer, upload to the designated site. A few more steps, but still fairly simple.

The FX78 will launch in March, and pricing will be available 30 days prior to.

Lumix TS3

TS3Panasonic is also adding to its tough cams. Generally, it looks like the TS3 has been given a new design and made more everything-proof, but it now includes a GPS function, as well as a compass, altimeter, and barometer. For travelers who utilize touch cams, the GPS allows the TS3 to automatically to adjust to local time, a welcome upgrade.

Here’s a quick rundown to note how the digital camera has been toughened up since the TS2: It’s now waterproof up to roughly 40 feet, shockproof up to roughly six feet, freeze-proof up to 14 degrees F, and (still) dustproof.

The 3D and social media sharing modes of the FX78 are also included, and it more importantly now has a 12.1-megapixel Hi-Speed CCD sensor as well as 1080p HD video recording. It still sports a 2.7-inch LCD screen, which may disappoint users who like the camera but wish it offered a more encompassing view. Expect it in March in red, orange, silver, and blue.

Lumix ZS-series

ZS10With the ZS10, Panasonic is putting its various upgrades into one, very capable package. The ZS10 is extremely similar to its predecessors of the ZS-series, but it will include a 3-inch touchscreen.  Now, photographers can tap for auto zoom, auto focus, shutter, playback and browsing, as well as using it for auto-tracking. GPS capabilities are also now built-in, and allow users to “geotag” subjects as well as visual and share maps pinpointing image locations. To round it out, 3D mode and the “sharing” feature is incorporated. While we’re not sold on the ease of this auto-upload, it’s assumedly quicker than labeling and uploading individual files yourself. That, and it sounds like a pretty painless process. The auto mode includes a host of editors and scene selectors as well for those who want a break from manual.

Aside from its less technical features, the ZS10 has upgraded to a 14.1-megapixel CMOS sensor and 1080p HD video recording, as well as an improved 16x optical zoom. Not to mention that it’s faster – way faster. Panasonic claims its auto focus is nearly 50-percent faster than the ZS7.

ZS8Panasonic is also introducing the ZS8, which also boasts a 24mm ultra-wide angle lens and 16x optical zoom. While it has the standard built-in features and 3-inch LCD screen, it isn’t touch-enabled, nor does it include 3D mode, GPS, or heightened HD video recording. Basically, it’s a stripped down ZS10 that will function as a quality point and shoot with manual settings. Both cameras will be available in March.