While some might ask how many angels you can fit on the head of a pin, others are asking how many millions of pixels you can get onto a charge-coupled device image sensor in a compact digital camera.
Panasonic has answered that question by enabling 12.2-megapixel resolution for pictures taken on its new premium DMC-FX100 digital camera. Whether or not you need that many pixels is debatable, but the DMC-FX100 has other features that make it worth a look.
All clear The starting point is the camera's newly developed and exclusive 28mm wide-angle Leica DC Vario-Elmarit lens, with 3.6x optical zoom.
Next is the built-in intelligent imaging-stabilisation technology, which is touted by Panasonic as the industry's most advanced counter-measure against blurring caused by hand-shake or a moving subject.
The Mega Optical Image Stabiliser detects even the tiniest camera movement then automatically adjusts the lens to compensate. Meanwhile, the Intelligent ISO control, the advanced subject-motion detection circuitry, senses when your subject is moving and raises the camera's ISO sensitivity and shutter speed settings accordingly.
ISO refers to the International Standards Organisation, a non-governmental global body that sets standards across goods and services. In the digital-camera industry, ISO is used as measurement of a camera's ability to handle low-light images and pictures of moving objects. The DMC-FX100 has a highly sensitive, maximum ISO setting of 6400, though it remains to be seen how many 'artefacts' - unwanted blemishes or distortions - would be visible at that setting.
Finally, the snapper's Venus III processing engine ensures high image quality by offering fast shutter response and significantly reduced 'noise' - unwanted optical signals that cause interference in the reproduction of images.
The combination of these three features means you no longer sacrifice power in a compact digital camera.
Flash and grab The camera has a powerful flash, with a reach of up to 16 metres, and a high-speed burst mode function, which allows consecutive shooting at a lightning-fast eight shots per second. It can also shoot high-definition still photos at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 and video at 1280 x 720, both of which should look great even when displayed on a large-screen HD television.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX100, available in black or silver, has raised the bar for the compact digital-camera market. And, at HK$3,490, the price is right.