Panasonic Lumix FZ40
14 megapixels; 24x optical zoom; 25mm wide-angle; f2.8 max aperture; Optical image stabilization (POWER OIS); 3-inch LCD; 720p HD video (AVCHD Lite); Intelligent Auto mode (iAuto); Full manual control; Electronic viewfinder; Captures to SD/SDHC/SDXC media cards; Rechargeable lithium-ion battery
The FZ40 is the more modest of Panasonic's two current (in-production) superzooms, but it's certainly no slouch. The lens is of course the centerpiece: a 25mm wide-angle, 24x zoom, f2.8 monster, which is impressive even in the face of the 30x and higher monstrosities out there now. Manual control is here, as well as intelligent Auto, of course. It shares many specs with the decked-out FZ100, but because it's built around a slower CCD sensor, the feature set is a bit more modest -- that is, a pokey continuous drive and "only" 720p video. It also lacks a hot show accessory port, so there's no slot for an external flash or the like. But even as the lesser of Panny's superzooms, it's still a solid buy. For whatever reason -- perhaps the crisis in Japan, though that's speculation -- the FZ40 is a bit hard to find at the moment, and prices are higher than they should be ($400 or less), so make sure you're not overpaying.