Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 Review
Timing & Performance
Previous FZ cameras felt very responsive in use and the FZ18 is actually slightly quicker for many tasks; the latest generation of the Venus Engine is doing a very good job here. As the measurements below show though, the difference in the overall performance between the new model and the FZ8 it's based on is not massive. Some things are also slightly slower, mainly image display and shooting in RAW mode. This is due to the increased file sizes compared to the FZ8 (higher MP count).
Focus and Shutter lag are both fast and more or less on the level of the FZ8. Continuous shooting, though not quite as good as the FZ8 (again due to larger file sizes), is not bad for a camera in this class.
All times calculated as an average of three operations. Unless otherwise stated all timings were made on a 8MP Fine JPEG image (approx. 3,670 KB per image). The media used for these tests was a 1.0GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card.
|Power: Off to Record||1.7|
|Power: Off to Play||Image displayed||2.3|
|Power: Record to Off||All activity ceased||1.7|
|Power: Play to Off||When buffer is empty, lens extended||1.2|
|Power: Play to Off||When buffer is empty, lens already retracted||1.2|
|Record Review||Image displayed||0.7|
|Mode: Record to Play||1.2*1|
|Mode: Play to Record||Lens already extended||0.8|
|Mode: Play to Record||Lens retracted||0.9|
|Play: Magnify||To full magnification (16x)||0.9*2|
|Play: Image to Image||Time to display each saved image||0.6|
|Play: Thumbnail view||3 x 3 thumbnails||0.8|
|Play: Thumbnail view||5 x 5 thumbnails||3.2|
|Zoom from Wide to Tele||28 to 504 mm (18 x) Full speed||2.5|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Wide angle, Multi AF||0.4-0.8|
|Half-press Lag (0->S1)||Telephoto, Multi AF||0.6-1.0|
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)||LCD live view or EVF, IS mode 1 (or off)||~0.08|
|Half to Full-press Lag (S1->S2)||LCD live view or EVF, IS mode 2||~0.18|
|Full-press Lag (0->S2)||LCD live view, wide angle, High speed AF||0.5|
|Off to Shot Taken||LCD live view||2.1|
|Shot to Shot||Flash off||1.1|
|Shot to Shot||Raw Mode||4.0|
|Shot to Shot||Flash on (red eye off)||2.3|
|Shot to Shot||Flash on (red eye on)||3.0|
|*1||2.1 seconds to display full info on screen|
|*2||requires several button presses|
|*3||Focus speed in good light is very fast - slows down slightly in low light or with 'difficult' subjects|
The tables below show the results of our continuous shooting test, indicating the actual frame rate along with maximum number of frames and how long you would have to wait after taking the maximum number of frames before you could take another shot. Media used for these tests was a 1.0GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card. Shutter speed was kept above 1/200 sec during these tests.
Continuous drive mode
In burst mode the FZ18 shows a brief review image for each frame taken, but the live preview does not work between frames. There are two continuous drive modes; Standard and No Limit (∞).
Frames in a burst *1
|8MP JPEG Fine||Continuous ∞||2.0 fps||n/a||n/a|
|8MP JPEG Fine||Continuous||2.0 fps||3||~ 2.0s pause|
|8MP JPEG Standard||Continuous ∞||2.0 fps||n/a||n/a|
|*1||In a single "burst" (finger held down on shutter release).|
|*2||In standard continuous mode shooting stops when the buffer is full (3 frames). This is the delay before the next burst|
The fastest shooting speed has dropped slightly since the FZ8, but with a fast card its still possible to shoot at 2 frames per second until the card is full. Continuous mode gives you the same speed as standard mode which somewhat makes the latter surplus to requirement.
File Write / Display and Sizes
Timings shown below are the time taken for the camera to process and "flush" the image out to the storage card, the timer was started as soon as the shutter release was pressed and stopped when activity indicator went out. This means the timings also include the camera's processing time and as such are more representative of the actual time to "complete the task". The media used for these tests was a 1.0GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card.
Time to store
File size *1
Images on a *2
|8MP JPEG Fine||~1.3||~0.6||3,670 KB||250|
|8MP JPEG Std||~1.2||~0.3||1,830 KB||495|
|5MP JPEG Fine||~0.9||~0.5||2,230 KB||404|
|3MP JPEG Fine||~1.0||~0.3||1,160 KB||625|
|*1||All file sizes are an average of three files. As is the case with JPEG it's difficult to predict the size of an image because it will vary a fair amount depending on the content of the image (detail and noise).|
|*3||All RAW files are 11,343 KB, and each is saved with a 1,500KB (std quality) JPEG|
With write times averaging around 2.8 seconds for a 14.8MP Raw+JPEG file, the FZ18 is very fast for a compact - approximately 5400KB/s. Very impressive stuff, and - with a shot -to-shot time of 4.0 seconds - the raw mode, although slower than the FZ8's, is still very usable.