Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8: $350 Of Long-zoom Action

The Leica DC lens is the star of the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8 with its 11 elements in eight groups, including 3 aspherical lenses. The 12X optical zoom lens is carried over from last year’s DMC-FZ7, but is now backed with a 7.2-megapixel sensor and a newly enhanced Venus III processor. A RAW mode has been added as well.

It won’t find its way into your a pocket (unless you’ve got some big pockets and frankly that’s just disturbing), but the camera is overall compact and feels good in your hand, very well balanced.

The handy little joystick nubbin at the top right of the 2.5-inch LCD is for manual adjustment of focusing and exposure settings. It’s definitely a highlight of the camera in perfect reach of your thumb. And since the camera is so lightweight you can use it without feeling like you’re going to drop the camera.

A mode dial lets you easily rotate your options, including a widescreen video mode for recording in wide-aspect VGA (848×480) at 30fps.