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Droolworthy digital cameras

Panasonic, Leica show fruits of camera venture

Panasonic, really Matsushita, and Leica, perhaps one of photography's most famous names, have unveiled their first baby together — a pair of digital still cameras that combine Matsushita's electronic systems with Leica's renowned optics.

Leica and Matsushita made public their joint venture in July this year. The first of the two cameras, both given their first outing at the World PC Expo show that began today just outside Tokyo, is the DMC-LC5.

The camera has a 3x optical zoom lens, 4Mp (megapixel) CCD (charge coupled device), 2.5in colour display with a hood to increase visibility in bright light and the ability to manually set the exposure and focus of the camera. With the latter two features, the companies hope the camera will appeal to serious photography enthusiasts.

For the less fussy, the DMC-F7 is less feature-packed. It has a 2x optical zoom, a 2Mp CCD and a 1.5in colour screen. Its highest picture resolution is 1,600x1,200 pixels while the DMC-LC5 has a higher 2,240x1,680 mode available because of its higher resolution CCD.

Burst shooting is offered by both cameras. The DMC-LC5 can shoot a maximum of eight frames at four frames per second and the DMC-F7 can manage up to five frames at four frames per second. Additionally, both cameras have the ability to record QuickTime movies and use SD (Secure Digital) or MultiMedia Card memory cards.

The DMC-LC5 weighs 360g and measures 127.5x82x63.4mm. The DMC-F7 is lighter at 150g and measures 104x50.9x31.6mm.

Matsushita has refused to disclose prices for the cameras, but speculation is pegging them at around £525 and £290 for the DMC-LC5 and the DMC-F7 respectively.

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