Top positive review
147 people found this helpful
The FZ18 is a gem
on November 22, 2007
Panasonic puts a great deal of effort into their Lumix line. And they keep producing winners. The FZ18 is, in one word, a gem.
There is little radical in the way of new design. The well-established basic Lumix FZ design remains intact. Not quite a pocket camera like the worthy Lumix TZ3 and smaller than the somewhat more sophisticated and substantially larger FZ50. Panasonic's Venus III engine is dependable, relatively fast and capable.
It is the new features of the FZ18 that make it a standout. The 18x zoom is marvelous: 28mm to 504mm in the palm of your hand. Mind-blowing is the only word for it. And the Leica designed optics are as sharp as any on the market and, in fact, sharper than most. Coupled with an 8 Megapixel sensor, you're set for just about any common photographic need. The FZ18 is not intended to substitute for a Nikon or Canon dSLR. It is an everyday camera. But it is fine for photographing tourist vistas, family events, the everyday things that are the subjects of most photos.
Color rendition is accurate, though not perfect. The inclusion of an ISO 1600 equivalent is nice producing noisy, but usable, shots.
Focusing is generally fast, with some hunting in low light on the long end of the zoom.
The image stabilization is, as usual with the Lumix line, superb.
The flash is adequate out to about 15 feet or so with rapid fall-off on the edges. There is no shoe for an external flash. Do not use the supplied lens hood with the flash: it casts a shadow.
One of the new features is a three-shot option on the self-timer, which is surprisingly handy. It takes three pictures so if Aunt Tilly thinks she had her eyes closed, you don't have to walk back to the camera to reset the self-timer. Works with the flash nicely.
There's a face detection feature and an auto-focus zone selector. I haven't quite decided on the value of either of these features yet.
You can save to RAW or RAW+JPG. Saving to RAW takes substantially more time than saving to JPG format. When shooting action, I suggest you avoid the RAW formats.
The controls follow the Lumix pattern to date and are well spaced. You have 12 selectable modes from the main dial, which is nice, and many more accessible from the menu screens. You can acheive full manual control of the camera which is unusual in a camera in this price range.
I have one criticism: the zoom control does not extend quite far enough off the main camera body. It is just a wee bit difficult to use. Not a big deal, but a bit of a bother. Zooming is smooth and fast.
Battery life also seems to be a bit lower than promised.
Overall, a great camera for anyone and beyond great for those who want the enormous zoom range of this camera. The additional wide-angle range on the low end is fantastic - and being able to zoom to 504mm is just awesome.