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Panasonic Lumix Quasi DSLR, £157.49 delivered

Bridging the gap between high-end compacts and digital SLRs, Panasonic's DMC-FZ8 (opens in new tab) offers a level of control close to that of an SLR, but without the need for interchangeable lenses. Perfect for photographers on the move and families who want to shoot pictures outdoors for example, the FZ8 offers an easy way to enjoy the fun of capturing beautiful digital pictures. Ebuyer sells it for only £157.49 with free delivery

This 7.2-megapixel Lumix camera, features a powerful 12x optical zoom, LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT lens and the ever popular and indispensable Optical Image Stabiliser (O.I.S). With a joystick control for manual adjustment of focusing and exposure setting, the DMC-FZ8 offers high end specification and portability.

Optical excellence from aperture to zoom The Lumix DMC-FZ8 is equipped with a 7.2 megapixel CCD and a LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT lens offering a powerful 12x optical zoom (equivalent to 36mm to 432mm on a 35mm film camera) with an aperture of F2.8 to F3.3. If this wasn't enough, in 3-megapixel resolution mode, the Extra Optical Zoom function uses the centre part of the CCD to provide additional magnification, extending the zoom power to an impressive 18x. Using this feature in combination with the 4x digital zoom brings the total zooming power to a remarkable 72x.

The combination of 11 elements in eight groups, including 3 aspherical lenses generates superior optical performance while maintaining the compactness of the unit.

Shaken not blurred: Panasonic is the first manufacturer to have successfully incorporated Optical Image Stabiliser (OIS) into its compact cameras - a feature strongly appreciated worldwide and now considered to be a standard requirement of photography. O.I.S minimizes the jitter from shaky hands that causes many photos to look blurred. By shifting the O.I.S lens unit to keep the optical axis aligned straight against the CCD, the camera ensures images are captured with supreme clarity and sharpness.

While hand-shake is the single biggest cause of blurry images, it is not the only one. Another problem is the motion blur that can occur when a subject moves as the shot is being taken - particularly common when taking pictures of sports, or young children for example. Building on the success of its predecessor the FZ8 incorporates a new feature designed to resolve motion blur. Intelligent ISO Control detects whether the subject is moving and, as necessary raises the ISO setting and shutter speed according to how fast the subject is moving and the light conditions. This happens automatically, so you can effortlessly shoot without the need to adjust the settings every time the conditions change.

Heir to the award winning DMC-FZ7, this new addition to the Lumix range has enhanced the excellence of its predecessor not only with the total number of pixels but also with several other innovative technical improvements. A key improvement is the inclusion of Panasonic's advanced image-processing LSI, Venus Engine III that can record at a sensitivity setting as high as ISO 1250 with full resolution. Noise reduction is also greatly improved, with picture noise removed in stages during image processing. Critical noise is analysed, and chromatic and luminance noise are reduced separately. The chromatic noise, which has greater effect on picture quality, is then selectively suppressed, resulting in clearer images.

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.