In addition to two new 'pocketable' compacts Panasonic has revealed the latest FZ series 'super zoom' model, the eighteen times optical zoom FZ18. This camera mates its (tiny) eight megapixel CCD to a lens which provides the equivalent of 28 to 504 mm on a 35 mm camera, plus it's optical image stabilization. Just like the compacts the FZ18 gets 'Intelligent Auto Mode' and automatic LCD backlight control. The FZ18 is (on paper) a compelling option considering how much glass you'd have to carry around to match it with a digital SLR (ignoring other factors such as high ISO performance, lens quality and focusing speed).

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Panasonic’s DMC-FZ18

A Super-Versatile Camera with 28mm Wide-Angle Lens and 18x Optical Zoom

The perfect choice for any photographer with varied photographic needs and high ambitions – Panasonic is pleased to introduce the new DMC-FZ18 8.1-megapixel Lumix camera, featuring a powerful 18x optical zoom (equivalent to 28-504mm on a 35mm film camera), newly developed 28mm wide-angle LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT lens and Panasonic’s new and unique Intelligent Auto Mode. Panasonic’s award winning FZ series of Lumix cameras has been highly praised across the world, for concomitant realisation of both high performance and ease of use, and the FZ18 is no exception.

Bridging the gap between high-end compacts and digital SLRs, Panasonic’s DMC-FZ18 offers a level of control close to that of an SLR, but without the need for interchangeable lenses.  Perfect for photographers on the move and families who want to shoot pictures outdoors for example, the FZ18 offers an easy way to enjoy the fun of capturing beautiful digital pictures. 

Broaden your outlook and get the big picture

Panasonic has packaged a 28mm wide-angle LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT lens with f/2.8-4.2 brightness and a powerful 18x optical zoom (equivalent to 28-504mm on a 35mm film camera) plus an 8.1 megapixel CCD into a compact, portable body.

Comprising eleven elements in eight groups, including three aspherical lenses and two ED lenses that notably minimise the chromatic aberration that is likely to occur in telephone lenses, this advanced lens unit passes Leica's stringent standards and delivers an exceptional optical performance.  The zoom ratio can be extended up to 28.7x in 3-megapixel resolution mode with minimal deterioration thanks to the Extra Optical Zoom.  By using the central part of the CCD, this powerful zooming function allows you to easily capture and magnify distant subjects. 

Intelligent Auto Mode – the camera does the hard work so you don’t have to!

For more simple and more intelligent operation than ever, Lumix is offering the ideal automatic shooting.  Building on the success of Simple Mode and I.ISO Mode, Panasonic’s unique Intelligent Auto Mode is newly incorporated and introduces a new concept to photography – the ultimate auto mode.  With Intelligent Auto Mode, the camera automatically selects the most appropriate setting according to the situation without any user interface.  Designed for ease of use, simply select Intelligent Auto mode from the dial and the camera will automatically detect motion (Intelligent ISO), shake (MEGA O.I.S), face (Face Detection) and scene (Scene Detection) and select the settings accordingly.  These multi-capable functions happen automatically, so you can shoot without the bother of adjusting settings every time conditions change.  Lumix and its powerful Intelligent Auto Mode do all the work for you.  Now anyone at any technical level of photography can take beautiful pictures with ease.

The technologies that Intelligent Auto Mode Covers

Panasonic incorporates both MEGA O.I.S (Optical Image Stabiliser) to compensate for handshake and Intelligent ISO control system to detect and suppress motion blur into all Lumix cameras, which are the industry’s most advanced countermeasures against blurring.

In addition to these two paramount anti-blurring technologies, Intelligent Auto Mode also features face detection and scene detection.  The Scene Selector automatically sets the appropriate scene mode, from the most frequently used modes such as -portrait, scenery, macro, night scenery and night portrait - according to the scene you’re going to take.  With the new scene selector, the camera automatically sets the most appropriate scene mode and adjusts the detailed picture quality setting according to its detecting exposure, metering focus distance, face of the subject and motion of the subject. 

The Face Detection system helps the camera to recognise a human face and adjust AF/AE - allowing portrait photos to be taken effortlessly.  Up to 15 human faces can be recognised simultaneously – perfect for group shots.  The quick AF system allows the camera to start focusing on the subject even without pressing a shutter button halfway, to get the best result out of a shutter chance by minimising the AF time. 

Unique to Panasonic, the new Intelligent Auto Mode does the hard work, so all you need to do is choose the shot you want! 

At the heart of the camera

At the heart of the camera is the Venus Engine III, Panasonic’s advanced image-processing engine that can record at a sensitivity setting as high as ISO 1600 with full resolution.  The DMC-FZ18 boasts outstanding response time – for example the burst shooting mode boosts the capability of sequential shots to a rate of 3 frames per second at full resolution.  If this wasn’t enough, you also get unlimited consecutive shooting - which allows you to take photos in succession up to the capacity of the memory card or built in memory.

The Venus Engine III greatly improves noise reduction, with picture noise removed in stages during image processing.  Critical noise is analysed, and chromatic and luminance noise are reduced separately.  The chromatic noise, which has greater effect on picture quality, is then selectively suppressed, resulting in clearer images. 

The Venus Engine III also supports a new High Sensitivity mode that lets the DMC-FZ18 record at a setting of up to ISO 6400 – sensitive enough to capture subjects in near-total darkness without using a flash.  This advanced processing engine is also energy efficient – its low power consumption means you can shoot around 400 images on a single charge, for a full day of shooting fun.

Inherently user friendly

The joystick that was so popular in the sister model DMC-FZ8, is employed in the FZ18 – for manual adjustment of focusing and exposure setting.  Panasonic has redesigned the FZ18 to make it more stylish and enhance its operational ease.  For example, the newly incorporated AF/AE lock button maintains the focus and exposure values that were automatically fixed when the lock button was pressed.  This means that there are no more worries about accidently changing a delicate focus point after you’ve worked hard to get it right.  The Custom setting is also incorporated to memorise your frequent setting patterns to be instantly applied by simply selecting this function with the mode dial. 

The DMC-FZ18 features the new Advanced Scene Mode, offering the simple operation the same as the Scene Mode setting, but with some additional adjustments available to users.  The frequently used scene modes (portrait, sports, landscape and night portrait) have been added to the mode dial and within these modes users can select either standard, outdoor, indoor or creative to capture more suitable images.  For example creative changes factors such as aperture, shutter speed, ISO - outdoor changes backlight compensation, and indoor changes the I.S.O. 

As easy as LCD

The new models boast a 207K pixel high resolution, 2.5” large LCD so you can effortlessly capture and playback your pictures.  The camera detects the light condition and automatically boosts the LCD backlighting by 40% when shooting outdoors in bright sunshine, and boosts signals by mixed-pixel readout method when shooting under low-lit situation to secure a clear image in any circumstance.  The High Angle mode, which can be accessed quickly and easily via a dedicated button, makes the LCD screen extremely easy to view when the camera is held high, such as to shoot over a crowd.

Quick and Smart AF and Easy Manual Focusing

To match the shooting situation and subject's position, the user can select from six auto-focusing methods: face detection, multi, 3-point high-speed, 1-point high-speed, 1-point normal-speed, and spot.  With the 1-point AF or spot AF method, the auto-focusing area can be chosen from as many as 11 points with the joystick or cursor button.  Various group area patterns can also be selected in the new Multi method.

With the newly added Face Detection system, the detection keeps working on the faces even if subjects are moving so that the time for AF is minimized before you click away the shutter.

Manual focusing, which is a valuable tool for professional-level photography, is also easy thanks to the joystick, and instant switching between AF and MF is available with the independent AF/MF button.  The DMC-FZ18 is also equipped with AF Macro button and it activates One-Shot AF function in MF mode with a single press of the button.  In both AF/MF, the subject just 1cm away can be finely captured sparing no detail of it so you can experience the dynamic close-up of macro shots.

To further add to its appeal the FZ18 can save image data in the RAW film format for your photographic freedom.  For editing and developing in the RAW file format, the FZ18 comes complete with SILKYPIX Developer Studio 2.0SE software application.  Approximately 27MB of built-in memory is provided and the camera accommodates large SDHC memory cards for your convenience.

For users who feel that ordinary compact cameras simply do not give them the functions and control they need for full enjoyment, the Lumix DMC-FZ18 serves as a gateway to truly creative photography.

For further information, please visit www.panasonic.co.uk/lumix/

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 specifications

Sensor

• 1/2.5" Type CCD
• 8.3 million pixels total
• 8.1 million effective pixels

Image sizes • 3264 x 2448
• 2560 x 1920
• 2048 x 1536
• 1600 x 1200
• 1280 x 960
• 640 x 480
• 3264 x 2176 (3:2)
• 2560 x 1712 (3:2)
• 2048 x 1360 (3:2)
• 3264 x 1840 (16:9)
• 2560 x 1440 (16:9)
• 1920 x 1080 (16:9)
Movie clips • 640 x 480 @ 30 / 10fps
• 320 x 240 @ 30 / 10fps
• 848 x 480 @ 30 / 10fps (16:9)
File formats • JPEG Exif v2.2
• DPOF
• QuickTime Motion JPEG
Lens • 18x optical zoom
• 28 - 504 mm (35 mm equiv)
• LEICA DC VARIO-ELMARIT
• F2.8 - F4.2
Image stabilization MEGA O.I.S. (Mode1 / Mode2)
Conversion lenses Yes
Digital zoom up to 4x
Focus modes AF-Macro On/Off, AF/MF Switchable, Manual Focus(Joystick), One Shot AF, Continuous AF On/Off
Focus distance • Normal: 30 cm-infinity (wide) 200 cm - infinity (tele)
• Macro: 1 cm-infinity (wide) 200 cm - infinity (tele 6-11x)
• Tele Macro (at 12-18x) : 100cm - infinity
AF area modes Face / 1-point / 1-point high speed / 3-point high speed / Multi-point / Spot
AF assist lamp Yes
Metering • Intelligent Multiple
• Center-weighted
• Spot
ISO sensitivity • Auto
• ISO 100
• ISO 200
• ISO 400
• ISO 800
• ISO 1250
• ISO 1600
• High Sensitivity mode Auto (ISO 1600 - 6400)
Exposure compensation +/- 2EV in 1/3EV steps
Exposure bracketing +/- 1/3 EV -1EV step, 3 frames
Shuttter speed • Program AE: 1-1/2000 sec
• Aperture Priority AE / Shutter Priority AE: 8-1/2000 sec
• Manual: 60-1/2000sec.
• Starry Sky Mode: 15, 30, 60sec
Aperture F2.8 - 8 (wide) F3.1 - 8 (tele)
Modes • Intelligent AUTO
• Program AE
• Aperture Priority AE
• Shutter Priority AE
• Manual
• Custom
• Portrait mode
• Scenery mode
• Sports mode
• Night portrait mode
• Scene
• Motion picture
• Print
• Playback
Scene modes • Food
• Party
• Candle Light
• Sunset
• High Sensitivity
• Baby1
• Baby2
• Pet
• Panning
• Starry Sky
• Fireworks
• Beach
• Snow
• Aerial photo
Advanced scene mode • Portrait mode : Normal, Soft Skin, Outdoor, Indoor, Creative
• Scenery mode : Normal, Nature, Architecture, Creative
• Sports mode : Normal, Outdoor, Indoor, Creative
• Night Portrait : Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Illuminations, Creative
White balance • Auto
• Daylight
• Cloudy
• Shade
• Halogen
• Flash
• White Set 1/2
White balance fine tune 2-axis adjustable, ±9steps each, Blue/Amber and Magenta/Green bias
Self timer 2 or 10sec, 10sec / 3 images
Continuous shooting Full-Resolution: 3 frames/sec or 2 frames/sec max. 7 images (Standard mode), Max. 5 images (Fine Mode)
Image parameters • Contrast
• Sharpness
• Saturation
• Noise Reduction
• 3 levels (Low, standard, high)
Flash • Auto
• Auto / Red-eye reduction
• Forced On
• Forced On / Red-eye Reduction
• Slow Sync / Red-eye reduction
• Forced Off
• Flash output adjustment 1/3EV step, +/-2 EV
• Range: 0.3 - 6.0 m (wide) 1.0 - 4.0 m (tele)
Viewfinder 0.44" Color EVF (188K Pixels), Field of View : approx. 100%
LCD monitor • 2.5-inch Polycrystalline TFT
• 207,000 pixels
• Auto Power LCD mode, Power LCD mode, High angle mode
Connectivity • DC in
• AV out
• USB
Print compliance PictBridge
Storage • SD/SDHC/MMC card
• Internal memory (27 MB)
Power • Li-ion battery pack
• Optional AC adapter
Weight (no batt) 360 g (12.7 oz)
Weight (with batt) 407 g (14.4 oz)
Dimensions 117.6 x 75.3 x 88.2 mm (4.6 x 3.0 x 3.5 in)