This camera looks to be really feature-packed, and a buddy of mine has a Panasonic P&S that has an amazing zoom! However, I don't know that a camera doing this much thinking for me appeals to me at all.. Face tracking seems to really be taking hold, with the camera continually adjusting focus to follow the face.. Opinions? Panasonic DMC-FS15 Posted: 16 Jan 2009 08:39 PM PST The Panasonic DMC-FS15 is a 12.1 megapixel compact camera with a 5x optical zoom and 2.7 inch LCD display. The lens is image stabilized and at its widest focal length is the equivalent of 29mm. It comes with face detection (which is the mode of 2009 by the looks of things), 11 point auto focusing, ISO range of 100 to 6400, four flash modes and 50 megabytes of internal memory. The Panasonic DMC-FS15 comes in silver, black and blue and will hit stores in March 2009 with a retail price of $199.99. Panasonic DMC-FS15 News Release Panasonics DMC-FS15 with 29mm wide angle Leica DC lens Feature Packed, Yet Slim and Sleek! January 16th 2009 : The world renowned Panasonic Lumix range offers sophistication in both technology and style, evidence of which lies in the new 12.1 megapixel DMC-FS15. The latest addition to the award winning FS series boasts a whole host of features - including a 29mm wide angle Leica DC lens* with 5x optical zoom and Intelligent Auto - whilst remaining inherently easy to use. Intelligent Auto Mode Just Keeps Getting Better Panasonic incorporated Intelligent Auto mode in pursuit of the ultimate ease of operation and the reduction of misshots. This mode is also further advanced with the inclusion of the AF tracking and Intelligent Exposure feature for the DMC-FS15. Furthermore, digital red-eye correction is also integrated in the Face Detection. In iA mode the camera does all the work, activating AF tracking, Intelligent Exposure, Face Detection, Intelligent Scene Selector, Mega O.I.S. (optical image stabilizer), and Intelligent ISO Control. This leaves the user free to simply compose the shot and press the shutter button, with the assurance that the image will be clear, beautiful and properly exposed. With the new AF Tracking function, the user can “lock” the focus onto a moving subject. The camera then automatically tracks the subject as it moves, keeping it in focus without the user having to hold the shutter button halfway down. This makes it easier to capture the perfect moment clearly and in sharp focus when shooting images of a child, pet, sports or any scene with moving subjects and spur-of-the-moment action. Intelligent Exposure suppresses blocked shadows and blown highlights to capture images that look natural and true-to-life. It now features an automatic backlight compensation function that activates whenever the camera detects that the light source is behind the subject Face detection accuracy has been increased in the FS15 to now provide continuous adjustment of the focus and exposure even if the face is turned sideways to the camera. Combined with AF Tracking, Face Detection helps users capture special moments, including the fleeting expressions on the faces of active children. Plus, with the FS15, the red-eye effect can be digitally corrected automatically when it occurs due to the use the flash. Intelligent Scene Selector automatically selects whichever of 5 scene modes — Macro, Portrait, Scenery, Night Portrait, and Night Scenery - best suits the shooting situation. The Quick AF system allows the camera to keep focus on the subject while the camera is in recording mode even before pressing a shutter button. In addition to the advanced functions mentioned above, the iA mode inherits fundamental functions users need in a good digital still camera. These include MEGA O.I.S., which prevents blurring from hand-shake, and Intelligent ISO Control, which prevents motion blur by adjusting the ISO sensitivity if the subject moves as the shot is taken. The MEGA O.I.S. conventionally has mode 1 and 2, and now it has AUTO mode to select the suitable one between the modes according to the zoom ratio being used. The user can activate all of these useful functions by simply pressing an independent iA button on the top of the camera, which is newly equipped for direct activation. All these features make the FS15 the ultimate, super-versatile automatic camera for capturing clear, beautiful, mistake-free photos with ease. The bigger picture with the Leica DC VARIO-ELMAR wide angle lens The 12.1-megapixel DMC- FS15 packages a 29mm wide-angle* Leica DC VARIO-ELMAR lens with 5x optical zoom into a slim, compact body. Comprising 7 elements in 6 groups, including 3 aspherical lenses with 4 aspherical surfaces, this advanced lens unit realizes the outstandingly slim and compact body yet passing Leica’s stringent standards to deliver an exceptional optical performance. The zoom ratio can be extended up to 9.8x (294mm*) in 3megapixel resolution mode with minimal deterioration thanks to the Extra Optical Zoom. By using the central part of the CCD, this powerful zooming function allows you to easily capture and magnify distant subjects. High Performance Venus Engine IV The image-processing LSI, Venus Engine IV, features advanced signal processing technology for rendering high quality images. Featured in the DMC- FS15, the multi-task image-processing engine Venus Engine IV supports a super-fast response time. The shutter release time lag is as short as 0.006 seconds and the camera’s quick response makes it easier to capture sudden, spur-of-the-moment photo opportunities. And in High-Speed Burst shooting mode,**it fires off an incredible 5.5 shots per second. You also get unlimited consecutive shooting,***which lets you keep shooting until the memory card is full. The Venus Engine IV also supports a High Sensitivity mode that lets the DMC-FS15 record at a setting of up to ISO 6400, sensitive enough to capture subjects in near-total darkness without using a flash.** Look at me! The DMC-FS15 incorporates an easy-to-see, large, 2.7-inch 230,000-dot high-resolution LCD for comfortable viewing while both monitoring shots and playing back the results. The Intelligent LCD function detects the light condition and automatically boosts the LCD backlighting by max. 40% when shooting outdoors in bright sunshine, and adjusts the frame rate when shooting in low-lit situations in addition to using the pixel mixed readout method to secure clarity in such situations. Detecting the lighting condition precisely and automatically controlling the brightness with a total of 11 fine steps, this function gives the display the most appropriate clarity in any situation without using extra energy. The High Angle mode makes the LCD screen extremely easy to view when the camera is held high, such as when shooting over a crowd. The Sound of Music To increase your enjoyment when playing back your images, the FS15 provides slideshows complete with music. Just select the pictures you want to show and choose the mood that best matches your selection from natural, slow, urban or swing, and you’ll get an emotion-filled slideshow with a variety of slide change effects and matching music without any annoying adjustments to the newly added speaker. Additionally, all Lumix cameras can take 1920×1080 pixel high-definition quality photos that are ideal for full-screen viewing on a wide-screen (16:9) HDTV. Panasonic has long focused on making photography more enjoyable, such as by letting people view their images easily on a Panasonic Viera TV with Viera Image Viewer (internal SD card slot). Not forgetting motion pictures, the FS15 can record WVGA**** (848 x 480) motion pictures at 30 frames per second in addition to standard VGA 640 x 480). The WVGA***** motion picture also fits a wide-screen (16:9) TV perfectly to offer impressive viewing. The Fun of Photography Technically specified, yet remaining easy to use the new FS15 features a variety of features to expand the fun and convenience for users. For example, the user can select from among several icons for the camera to use for indicating when the subject is in focus. In addition to the conventional dot, a flower, car and several other new shapes are available. The FS15 also adds a new Photo Frame mode. It lets the user put attractive borders around the photo. When printed, the photos look like postcards in picture frames, making them ideal as presents. With the My Scene setting, the user can assign up to two specific scene modes, which you use most often, and switch instantly to those modes when desired. The minimum shooting distance has been shortened to 3cm in the FS15 great for macro shots. Using the digital Zoom Macro function, the user can pull subjects even closer than the closest point possible with the wide-angle setting, and capture dramatic close ups. Introducing the included software The latest version of exciting software PHOTOfunSTUDIO 3.0 comes bundled with the DMC-FS15. The PHOTOfunSTUDIO 3.0 allows the user to edit or organize a collection of photos with more ease and fun. It features Face Recognition function that recognizes the faces in the picture stored in your PC to sort the photos by faces. Conventionally, you had to pick up one by one out of hundreds of photos when you only want the picture of a specific person. But with the PHOTOfunSTUDIO 3.0, the software automatically does it once the face is registered regardless of the camera type you used perfect for digging out all photos of Aunt Mary for her birthday surprise for example! On the sophisticated interface, you can also enjoy emotional slideshow with a variety of effects. Motion pictures (MOV or MPEG2) can also be upload directly to YouTube.****** The slim and sleek DMC-FS15 will be available from February in a choice of silver, black and blue.