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Customer Review

368 of 368 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Oustanding quality for the price!, October 15, 2007
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This review is from: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18K 8.1MP Digital Camera with 18x Wide Angle MEGA Optical Image Stabilized Zoom (Black) (Electronics)
I've had this camera about 3 weeks. This is my third digital camera - supplementing a Pentax Optio S4i. I researched this class of camera (more versatility and better quality than a sub-compact, but not as expensive as a DSLR) for a couple of months. If you look, there are a ton of sites doing very helpful, detailed camera reviews, although as a brand new model, there is not yet much on the FZ18.

I wanted something that was point and shoot for my wife (she takes great photos, but does not want the hassle of making adjustments) but versatile for me. I used to have a film SLR, and understand the basics of controlling shutter speed, aperture, etc. I loved the idea of 18x optical zoom, the 28mm wide angle, and all the shake reduction/face finding, etc. I seriously considered the Sony DSC H5, H7, and H9; the Canon S5 IS; the Olympus SP-550UZ/560UZ and the Panasonic FZ8. The Sony looks and feels great, but the spec is not as good as the newer FZ18, and many reviews refer to the no-intuitive user interface and long learning curve. The Olympus and Canon offerings in this class just did not match the FZ18 specs, and the earlier model FZ8 was getting great reviews, so I went with the latest FZ18.

Bottom line - both my wife and I are very pleased with the FZ18. The first set of vacation photos are superb. My daughter was with us and borrowed the Pentax, so we have some pretty good side-by-side comparisons, and the FZ18 wins hands down on everything, except fitting in a pocket! Even then, it's pretty light, and with a 4Gig ultra fast card, has loads of capacity. I can highly recommend this camera as the current state of the art in this class. Easy to use for those who want a point-and-shoot, flexible for those who want more control, great specs, and superb quality photos. I even found the manual fairly easy to use - a rare treat with some sophisticated electronics!

You will read critics complaints about noise (speckles) when you push the limits of the sensor - unless you are always shooting in very low light conditions, and blowing the results up into huge posters, you won't be troubled by noise. If you are, the problem is common to all compacts (from my research), so if it concerns you, spend another few hundred bucks and get a DSLR!

One warning - this camera is available at a deep discount on a couple of sites - when I tried to purchase one from one of these, it became apparent it was a "gray market" camera from Japan. Not a great idea for a US user! I ended up getting mine through an Amazon partner - no problems at all, and a decent price.
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Showing 1-10 of 11 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Oct 29, 2007 3:24:13 PM PDT
Debopam says:
Could you please let know what is the format of the movie files created? Is it in avi format? The Canon saves it in avi format.

Posted on Nov 12, 2007 9:38:20 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 16, 2007 3:55:34 AM PST
C. L. Hinkle says:
Can you help with this question? I've been interested in the Olympus because of the feature where it can be filling the buffer before you snap the photo, and that way you can actually get the action shot that you would've just missed otherwise. I haven't read that the Panasonic includes that feature (though the rest of it sounds fantastic). Is this a feature that the Panasonic has also? (I wrote to Panasonic customer support, but they haven't answered back yet -- and their web site says the closes place to try one out in person is 350 miles away.)

Posted on Nov 12, 2007 11:10:18 PM PST
GC says:
Appreciate your informative review. You mentioned that Olympus SP 560's spec isn' as good, could you elaborate further? I've narrowed my choices down to FZ18 and SP-560, and am leaning towards Olympus due to it's video format (AVI), AA batteries, and continuous shooting... perhaps I overlooked some negative points with Olympus? Any additional insights you could share will be greatly appreciated.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 4, 2007 10:06:02 AM PST
Sweetpilgrim says:
I am wondering what you decided between the SP-560 and the FZ18 as I am in the same situation having initially decided on the Olympus. After reading some additional reviews now I am not sure. Thanks.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 4, 2007 3:49:27 PM PST
J. Nicolas says:
Check out test FZ18 vs Fuji vs Olympus

Posted on Dec 13, 2007 8:03:14 AM PST
B. Zhao says:
photos taken by FZ18

Posted on Feb 6, 2008 9:19:42 AM PST
I agree with your views on the sites listing this camera at deep discount for gray market. Unless you specifcally ask that question, they will not volunteer the information.

Posted on Mar 3, 2008 1:06:28 PM PST
M. Velazquez says:
Can you tell me what site you bought the FZ18 from?

Posted on May 9, 2008 6:01:23 AM PDT
Sherry says:
I wanted to let you know that there is a way to ZOOM FOR Movie mode but not IN Movie mode. If you go to the automatic setting and set your zoom where you want it then switch to movie mode it will remain on that same zoom setting for movie mode. I just found this out which was very helpful sitting in a gymnasium and wanting to take a short movie of what was happening on the stage. So if I want to change the zoom setting for my movie I first have to go back to the automatic setting first to set it then switch back to movie mode. While this is not the ideal way to zoom it does help to know this at times. Other than this I absolutely love this camera. I've been able to get pictures of school performances that other parents haven't been able to get and I have been asked many times for copies of my pictures because theirs didn't turn out.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 25, 2008 5:02:59 AM PDT
Ivan Barrera says:
Panasonic cameras record their movies in "mov" format.
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