Matsushita's New AF Camera Shoots Sharper HD Movies

Sep 17, 2008
Tomohiro Ootsuki, Nikkei Electronics
[Click to enlarge image]
A stereo microphone is seen on the top.
A stereo microphone is seen on the top.
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A logo of "AVCHD" is seen on the lower back of the camera.
A logo of "AVCHD" is seen on the lower back of the camera.
[Click to enlarge image]
The marketing plan for interchangeable lenses
The marketing plan for interchangeable lenses
[Click to enlarge image]
[Click to enlarge image]
Small strobe lights will also be available.
Small strobe lights will also be available.
[Click to enlarge image]

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co Ltd will release a digital camera that features an interchangeable lens and can shoot high-definition movies in spring 2009.

The company made this announcement at the press conference for its digital camera "LUMIX DMC-G1." The new camera that can shoot high-definition movies supports the "Micro Four Thirds System," a standard for mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses.

As for other digital cameras that have interchangeable lenses and high-definition movie functions, Nikon Corp will release "D90" Sept 19, 2008. However, the auto focus function of the D90 cannot be used when the camera is shooting a movie.

"Our new product will be the world's first camera that features an interchangeable lens and can use an auto focus function for high-definition movies," Matsushita said. "Auto focus functions are essential for consumer models. Even high-definition broadcast cameras are normally equipped with them because it is very difficult to adjust the focus by looking through an optical viewfinder with the naked eye."

The company has not revealed the size of a frame or the frame speed. As a compression method, H.264 will seemingly be used. A logo of "AVCHD" was seen on the mock-up exhibited at the conference.

Though the retail price of the camera is not clear, considering the 10x zoom lens attached to the mock-up, the price difference from the DMC-G1 and the prices of other cameras that can shoot high-definition movies, it might be from ¥150,000 to 200,000 (approx US$1,415-1,886) including the lens.

At the press conference, Matsushita announced that it will introduce three interchangeable lenses that are much smaller than those for the existing SLR cameras.

(1) The 10x zoom lens attached to the above-mentioned mock-up. Based on the 35mm film format, its focal length is 28 to 280mm, and its aperture F value is 4 to 5.6.

(2) A wide-angle zoom lens. Based on the 35mm film format, its focal length is 14 to 28mm, and its aperture F value is 4.

(3) A pancake lens. Based on the 35mm film format, its focal length is 40mm, and its aperture F value is 1.7.

The product names of (2) and (3) suggest that they will not have an optical camera shake compensation function.