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Super 'sonics

Let's play a little role-play game. You're a camera manufacturer. You make a few high-end SLR cameras, but your core market is really compacts. But fewer and fewer people see the need for a compact when their phones can work just as well. So what do you do?

If you're Panasonic, the answer is 'pack your compacts with cool stuff phones can't do.' They've just announced a quartet of lovely new compacts with some interesting features.

First up, there's the Lumix FX78, which boasts an impressively large aperture, maxing out at F2.5, which means brighter pictures in low light. It also has a nice large 3.5-in touchscreen and a respectable 5x zoom.

If you need a bit more zoomy heft, though, you might want to look at the ZS8 and ZS10. They pack whopping 16x zooms, insane for compact cameras. The '10 has a few bonuses over the '8, including a touchscreen and the ability to take 3D photos (yes, really!).

Finally, maybe you're the sort who's scared to buy top-notch tech for fear of dropping it. You should consider the Lumix TS3. It's got a crazy tough, waterproof coating and, to further appeal to outdoorsy types, an altimeter and barometer, and compass. ABC!

Of course, lots of these features can be found on a smartphone through apps. But that 16x zoom is seriously cool. What a shame they didn't stick a phone in there too...

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