Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX40

Also boasting the new Face Recognition mode is the Lumix DMC-FX40 (called the FX48 in the US), a super-slim (0.85-inch deep) 12-megapixel model.

It offers a 2.5-inch LCD, and the main draw here looks to be the 25mm wide-angle capabilities and a 5X optical zoom Leica lens in an ultracompact frame.

The DMC-FX48 also shoots high-def clips at a 1280-x-720 resolution at 30fps -- but in motion JPEG format, not AVCHD Lite. It also features a 10-images-per-second high-speed burst mode. Available in April for $350 (£245), the Lumix DMC-FX48 comes in black or silver.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS25

Billed as Panasonic's new 'top-of-the-line' ultracompact model, the 12-megapixel Lumix DMC-FS25 is just 0.86 inch deep and offers a 5X optical zoom Leica lens that reaches a none-too-shabby 29mm on the wide-angle end.

In addition to a large 3-inch LCD, the FS25 also offers new Intelligent Auto mode tricks, but they don't include the face-recognition feature. Instead, it offers motion tracking, optical image stabilization, exposure optimization, ISO optimization, automatic scene selection, and face detection (not recognition).

The FS25's movie mode also doesn't offer the ZS3's high-def chops: it maxes out at 848-by-420 wide-screen clips in WVGA format at 30fps. The FS25 will be available in April for $250 (£175) in black, gold, or silver.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FT1

Rounding out Panasonic's latest camera announcements is the 12-megapixel DMC-FT1 (called the TS1 in the US), a rugged model that is rated as waterproof down to 10 feet underwater, shockproof to drops up to 5 feet, and dustproof.

In addition to its weatherproof frame, the DMC-TS1 has a high-definition AVCHD Lite movie mode, as well as a high-speed burst mode that takes up to 10 photos per second. Also available in April, the DMC-TS1 comes in silver, orange, or green for $400 (£280).