Panasonic has refreshed its line up of Lumix digital still cameras with three new models, it announced today.

The high-end, 5Mp DMC-FZ5 is an improved version of the 3.1Mp DMC-FZ3 announced last July. Its high-speed auto-focus mode, which is new on the camera, focuses in 0.33s, about one third faster than the previous model, said Matsushita.

Like the FZ3, the FZ5 has a Leica 12x optical zoom lens and uses the company's optical image stabilizer technology. It measures 108-x-68.4-x-84.8mm and weighs 290g.

The two other new models, the 5-megapixel DMC-LZ2 and the 4Mp DMC-LS1, both include the image stabilizer but have less powerful zoom lenses than the FZ5. The LZ2 has a 6x optical zoom while the LS1 has a 3x optical zoom.

The LZ2 has a shutter release lag of 0.008 seconds and the LS1 has a release lag of and 0.006 seconds. The LZ2 and LS1 also include 14MB of on-board memory, allowing users to take more than 200 pictures without needing a memory card, the company said.

All three models will be on sale in Europe and the US by the end of March, and the FZ5 and LZ2 will be on sale in Asia, except Japan, at the end of the same month, according to Akira Ikenouchi, a company spokesman. The LS1 will be on sale in Asia before the end of April, he said. They'll go on sale in Japan in February and March.

The prices of the cameras in Japan will be ¥55,000 (around £288) for the FZ5, ¥40,000 (£210) for the LZ2 and ¥30,000 (£160) for the LS1. Pricing hasn't been set for overseas models yet, Ikenouchi said.