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Showing 1-10 of 111 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 221 reviews
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.

Jerry
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on November 15, 2007
Having owned Olympus, Minolta and Canon digital cameras, I was somewhat reluctant to go through a new brand's learning curve, but on paper the FZ18 had everything I wanted, so I went for it. I use digitals mostly for wildlife and nature photography, therefore optical zoom, image stabilization, fast focusing capability and good handling of low-light situations were my main priorities. I didn't want to shift to dSLRs mainly because of weight issues; I was looking for a compromise, for something that would give me flexibility and quality without the hassle. I have to say that, after several weeks of subjecting this camera to everything that came my way, I am pleasantly surprised. The FZ18 is FAST, especially with a SDHC card (check that your card reader handles these, otherwise get a newer reader), and although I usually work with the optical zoom fully extended and no tripod, there has been no shake. This camera does well in low natural light, focuses ultrafast, colors are mostly true (sometimes it oversaturates reds a tad)and below ISO 400 there is no discernible noise -- I never use anything above that anyway. I have control over all the settings, too, but if I get lazy I can let the camera do all the thinking for me: it does equally well as a point-and-shot and as an advanced amateur camera. I like that I can extend zoom even more if I reduce resolution. Menus are intuitive and I've had no trouble learning how to handle them. The one thing I don't like much are the proprietary batteries: I'd rather be able to use AA's. But this is a minor setback, considering all the FZ18's qualities.

January 2008: After using this camera for a few months and taking a couple thousand pictures (bird photos: if you're lucky, one in ten is passable!), I stand by what I said before. But there is one issue that I perceived over time, and that has been annoying me. There is a tiny lag between pressing the button and the camera actually registering the image (optical zoom fully extended, maximum resolution). This tiny lag has made me lose a lot of pictures, especially of birds in flight. I've been trying to learn to compensate for it, but I can't say I've been successful -- understandably, since birds don't always fly predictable paths... This lag isn't bothersome when you're shooting landscapes or slow moving objects. I never perceived this with my previous camera, a Canon S3 IS, and I'd like to know from other users if they have noticed this in the FZ18 as well.
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on December 3, 2007
I've owned the Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ18K ultra zoom for less than two weeks. I've made close to 800 or more shots with it. I love this camera! I selected it after doing extensive research on other camera in this price and performance range. I had decided to purchase the Olympus SP 560 UZ as I have a special fondness for this camera manufacturer (I'm still eyeing its E-510 DSLR as a future purchase). However, when I learned that the Olympus SP uses nonstandard storage cards, I decided that the Panasonic won out. Besides, the Panasonic has a slightly wider and longer zoom.

I'm an avid reader of product manuals--I even read the poorly written ones. This one is fairly well written, straightforward and the text actually relates to the functions, which some manuals never quite seem to master. I've read and studied the Lumix manual closely. With one exception, I've used all the exposure mode settings and I've tried out all the features of the subcategory settings. For example, I've shot many statues and buildings in Aperture priority (my favorite exposure mode), Manual, (my second favorite mode), and in Intelligent Auto mode (iA). But I've also gone inside the menus to find the categories under the "SCN" mode to set the features to "sunset." Alternatively, I've use the "Scenery" mode, then delved deeper to venture inside the menu to select "Architecture." Reaching the menu selections is intuitive once you understand the basic structure you can easily find your way around and make settings quickly. If you read the manual while sitting with the camera you can try out the features as you read along.

These special settings inside the menu really take much of the guesswork out of your picture taking. I prefer having the greatest control over my camera features by being able to make finer adjustments than allowed in the auto modes. Please don't think that scrolling through menus is necessary to take great pictures with this camera. It is not. You can set it to "P" for Program (Auto Exposure) and shoot away! This is also possible shooting in the Intelligent Auto mode. If you only want to point & shoot (P&S), you can. Although, frankly, I'm not sure why anyone would purchase this great little camera and choose only to P&S. The features on this camera beg to be explored and if you do, it will take your photography skills to the next level.

Soon after the camera arrived, I was shooting after the 120 minutes needed to charge the battery. That was just enough time to read the manual the first time. I'd also highly recommend reading some of the online reviews of this camera, like at Camera Labs, where you can see an actual demonstration of the camera's features--that certainly will helped shorten the learning curve.

Specifics I like: The size. By adult women standards, I have very small hands. This camera fits in my hand like a glove! I love it. It reminds me of my old Olympus OM-1 film camera from the 70s, which was considered small back then. By the way, I still use this camera! The Lumix FZ18K has its major dial at the top of the camera, nicely placed. I can actually hold the camera in my right hand and use my fingers to turn the mode dial! The back of the camera has a 2.5 LCD that is bright and easy to see. What is quite cool is the viewfinder. It's an EVF (electronic viewfinder). I'm still a little stuck in the 70s and I like looking through that tiny window to compose. I see most digital users holding the camera out in front of them to compose. I'm learning that there's a time a place for both methods and I'm learning to use the bright LCD monitor. One huge plus to the electronic viewfinder is being able to rely on it when shooting in bright light. The screen is easier to see from the EVF than it is from the LCD monitor. The Lumix also has a diopter adjustment near the viewfinder that allows finer EVF tweaking by moving a tiny wheel adjacent to it. This is a huge plus and if you wear glasses or could use a little vision help.

While I've tried all the exposure modes, here is the exception. I have not spent any time with the motion picture mode. I will in due time. I'm so impressed with the still camera functions I just haven't had time. I must say something about the lens. It's fantastic! It's a Leica lens, so one would expect it to be great--and it is. Very sharp. This is an ultra zoom, with the ability to take super close-up. I just started testing that and shot some fun pictures of a squirrel and birds. I was pleased with my novice results.

On a camera like this, one would expect some innovative features. This camera doesn't disappoint. It has image stabilization, which I must admit at first I didn't get. But I was testing it indoors, making it harder to appreciate its results. The manual will tell you that in very low light situation it might not work as well. When I used it outside, there is no problem. It works! Focusing in "M" (manual) mode is aided by the LCD screen magnifying a small portion of the scene that you use as a focusing guide. Really a neat feature. The camera allows you to shoot in black and white, adjust color balance, determine the mega pixels you'll use, and very important to me, shoot in RAW, JPEG and RAW+JPEG. At first, I thought that the battery seemed to drain rather quickly but actually, I may be the blame for that. I've had days of shooting far more shoots than 100 pics and felt I had to return home to recharge. How many more pictures I could have taken before actually running out of juice, I don't know. Still, I'm purchasing an extra battery so I can change in the field if necessary. Another plus, some cameras allow for either single file deletion or "Delete All." You'll love the Lumix's ability to easily mark multiple files, simultaneously, for deletion and keep only what you want.

Now, one thing about which one should be aware: This is only an issue if you're looking for total control over creativity and camera features. The widest aperture is f2.8, which is fine for most of us. If you want to throw the background out of focus, this should be sufficient. If, however, you're accustomed to a good 50mm lens with an f1.8 or f1.4, which will allow you to work a bit easier in low light situations, you might miss these wider apertures. Again, most people won't care about this at all.

If you're on the fence about which advanced compact, ultra zoom, bridge digital to purchase, you will be thrilled with the Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ18K.
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on October 22, 2015
I have had this camera for seven years, and it really holds up. Gives me great photos, has a good selection of settings, and is comfortable to hold and operate. I need a larger camera...my arthritic hands don't easily hold the pocket cameras or phone cameras...and this Panasonic reminds me of my old, beloved, 35mm camera. I'm sure there are newer versions available that give you the excellent lens, high pixels, zoom as well as macro capability, and ease of operation that are found in this Panasonic...but I'm quite content with it, so find no need to switch. One note: I use it mainly outdoors. It does have issues in low light situations that I usually have to adjust for in my photo-editing software.
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on December 23, 2007
Panasonic's partnership with Leica has created some real gems for photographers who want fast and fun cameras. The latest in their megazoom FZ line is this - the FZ 18, so called because of a 28mm-504mm 18x zoom.

Those optics are the first of three great things about this camera. The lens is sharp and produces remarkably little distortion, a great achievement for a camera of this zoom range.

Second is the optical image stabilization - as Panasonic calls it, MEGA OIS. This feature, one of the best available in the market, helps to steady the camera which allows for clearer hand-held shots than was possible before stabilization, which makes the long end of the zoom truly useful.

Third is the ergonomics and ease of use. The idiot-proof Intelligent Auto mode gets the shot right most of the time and the camera is fun to use with well-placed controls and a functional body.

Other, less defining achievements are fast response times, good battery life, excellent flash recycling times, a useful burst mode, and customizable shooting settings.

That said, there are some faults that inevitably come from the megazoom design - an irritatingly small sensor that will be prone to noise.

As I'm sure most photographic enthusiasts and electrical engineers will agree, the tiny design of such a chip will create electrical noise, indistinguishable from picture detail, which means in low light (and thus high ISOs), the pictures come out grainy. To correct for this, the camera processes the picture, reducing detail even more to smear out the noise.

However, this isn't the end of the world. First, the noise is nearly invisible on small prints - so if you only make small prints, no one would even notice. Second, the FZ-18's noise isn't much worse than its competitors such as the Olympus SP 550 and 560 UZ. And third, better than many of its competitors, the FZ-18 allow for the user to adjust the amount of noise reduction and also supports RAW output, which retains the detail for processing later.

Its movie mode is acceptable but not great. It can't zoom while filming and it doesn't have stereo sound like the Canon S5 IS does. If you want that, this camera might not be for you. Get a camcorder instead.

Another problem is the blue banding effect, which creates a large band of blue color on the left hand side of the picture under special conditions, but will almost never show in real-world shots. This problem seems to vary from camera to camera and Panasonic (as of X-mas time 2007) is working on a fix.

Movie mode (which I hardly use) and the blue band problem (a nuisance that is rarely seen in real life) aside, the only major drawback this camera has is its noise, a zit upon the forehead of photographic greatness. And although this is annoying, it's the same problem present in all megazoom cameras, which in this case is more than made up for by the ease of use and incredibly useful zoom range.

Overall, a good - though not faultless - camera that is probably the best-of-the-bunch of the megazoom range. Get to know its limitations and adjust your preferences, and it will give you excellent results. If you don't want to bother, put it in the Intelligent Auto mode and it will do fine all by itself.

As a side note, if you truly wanted to get away from noise, get a DSLR, but don't expect to be able to use the same zoom range without constantly changing lenses.
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on May 4, 2014
Was a long time film user and this was my second foray into digital cameras. I used high end equipment years ago and have been wary of digital/electronic cameras. Moisture sensitivity was a fear and image quality looked dull from most cameras I had seen.
The Lumix has a nice form factor and works best as a point and shoot with a long zoom. If that fits your needs you will like it.
The output is average as the Lumix software give a soft image and muted colors. Even outdoor shots in good sunlight lack the crispness I desire. Post processing helps but overall my 3MP Fuji 602 gave better looking color and resolution. This camera has the 18x zoom which is handy but has been eclipsed in reach over the years. The menus require relearning if I set it down for any amount of time. Overall I'd say it's an ok camera for limited uses but is barely as good as better phone cameras.
I'll definitely spend more to get more next time. I'd rather handle the bulk of a larger sensor and lenses to get the low light performance and image quality that I can be happy with. Digital has come a long way since this camera but when I look at my Kodachrome slides from the 60's and 70's the color pops in a way I have yet to see from all but the highest end digital cameras. Shouldn't have to spend $3000 to $5000 to meet the performance of film cameras. So I'm hanging onto the Lumix until the price/performance ratio becomes more sane.
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on December 20, 2007
This is my second Panasonic camera - the first one was a VHS-C Camcorder (NV VS7 EG) that I had bought in Oct 2000 and it is still working fine :-) Over the years I have owned and used other Digital cameras / brands e.g. Canon S400, S410, Fuji F10 and F30. The F30 is still my favorite for low light indoor / party photos, but when I step outdoors, the FZ18 just cannot be beaten. I did agonize over my decision for several weeks comparing with the Fuji SF8000fd and Olympus 560UZ and of course, the Panasonic TZ3. However my previous experience with Panasonic products and a great deal on Amazon for the FZ18 (from Vanns) clinched the decision last month. Yes, the images do get noisy at higher ISO's so pixel peepers will not be satisfied and it does not fit into a pocket. However, the Leica lens coupled with the OIS and in-camera processing provides outstanding results with minimal efforts. The zoom is fantastic and the digital zoom works well at a pinch. In addition, you can take over as much control as you like - going upto full manual on exposure and focusing and even fine tuning the white balance. If you are a snapshooter, switch it to the iA mode and let the camera do all the hard work. The flash is powerful enough for most social occasions (although I will still use my F30 for low light snap shooting) and the camera powers up very quickly - so you will not miss a shot and finally battery life is good as well. So if you want to have fun with photography and not blow a hole in your bank account, then this is the camera to go for. Enjoy!
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on September 7, 2012
This was a perfect replacement for my older camera of the exact same model I've had 5 years, this camera is extremely easy to use and the many useful settings work great with minimal or easy exposure tweaking, and the lighting settings are useful for different environments too. With a tripod, it can take some decent long exposures of a starry sky too (not crazy high quality there but works nicely enough to be a really cool thing to do!) It turns on and takes pictures and videos quickly and has good durability. (I took my old one on plenty of rainy stormy days and it was fine, just use common sense and try to treat it well) The picture quality, focus, & color is great to this artist's eye's (though I'm no photographer, just for fun and documenting neat things I see). The macro works well too for flowers and closeups and such. only downsides I can think of is that you can't zoom in or out while taking a video and the video, while great quality & good sound, is not HD like some newer camera models. I tried out a newer model but I was having too much trouble getting used to it as easily, this remains my faithful favorite for now. a charged battery can last a long long time, I charge it every few days if I use it somewhat often. if you have it on constantly snapping hundreds of pics all one day long, it may only last half the day at disneyland, so have an extra battery on hand. But I can easily have it last all day long and still take tons of pictures all day. it charges in a couple short hours.
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on December 2, 2007
I normally use digital SLR cameras. However, they are not always ideal to travel with or taking out to friend's houses or nights on the town. I bought this Panasonic because it is small yet powerful enough to take more advanced pictures (not just the quick point and shoot).

So far, I'm really impressed with the camera. The optics are top-notch. The glass is able to resolve the finest details. As far as point and shoot lenses go, the glass in this Panasonic is absolutely incredible. They are simply the best you'll get in non SLR cameras.

The reason I gave it 4 out of 5 stars is because the noise that appears in some pictures when using higher iso settings. Perhaps I'm spoiled from the low-noise pictures from my DSLRs. Panasonic put the best glass in this camera, but ultimately limited the camera's performance by using the small, noisy sensors.

Is it still a great camera? Yes, absolutely. All little point and shoot cameras are crippled by the same sensor noise, so this Panasonic is no different. However, the glass is wonderful. The zoom is excellent. It's a joy to use and takes marvelous pictures. Just don't expect miracles at high isos.

I recommend this camera to anyone. It is well worth the money and will take excellent pictures for you.
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on January 23, 2008
I have been using a Casio pocket digital for the last two years and have gotten terrific pictures with it, but the 3X zoom just dosen't do it for me any more. After a good deal of research, I decided on the FZ18. It not only has the 18X zoom, but also gives me wide angle. As I travel a good deal, this is an important matter for me.

After getting the camera, it's become apparent that it's capable of doing a great deal more than I care to. I have found however, that I'm starting to use some of the features that I thought I didn't care about, like exposure bracketing.

As other reviewers have noted, as the ISO goes up, the quality goes down. While it's capable of taking photos in low light, if you want great quality, use the flash or put it on a tripod and set it to a very slow speed. Without doing this, your pictures will be grainy. With the flash, they're beautiful and crystal clear.

I also like the backlight compensation. It really solves the problem of an overly bright background and is so easy to use. The camera is not totally intuative, but is mostly so. Once you figure the out the menu system, the rest is easy.

One other problem I had was finding a good bag. After ordering and returning a few I settled on the Lowepro Nova 1. It is inexpensive, very well made, holds the camera, accessories and personal items to get you through the day. I carry an extra battery rather than a charger. At 300-400 shots per charge, this should easily get anyone through even a short vacation.

I think this camera is going to satisfy all my photographic needs and would recommend it to anyone who wants more that a pocket digital but less than an SLR.
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