Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 Review
Barely half a year after the introduction of the DMC-FZ8, Panasonic added another model to its popular range of compact 'super zoom' Lumix cameras in the shape of the FZ18. Although obviously based on the FZ8 (they are externally almost identical), the FZ18 doesn't replace it; it's a sort of 'big brother' with a bigger zoom, more pixels and a smattering of new features.
The biggest news is the optically stabilized lens, which has 'grown' at both ends and now sports a whopping 18x (28-504mm equiv.) zoom, putting the FZ18 into direct competition with Olympus' SP-550UZ (now updated to the SP-560UZ) and Fujifilm's recently announced FinePix S8000fd.
Almost inevitably the FZ18 squeezes even more pixels onto its 1/2.5-inch sensor, although the increase has been fairly moderate from 7.3 to 8.3 megapixels. Other new features include a dedicated AF/AE button, Face Detection and a new Intelligent Auto mode which integrates Image Stabilization, Intelligent ISO, Face Detection and Scene Detection into a 'Super' Auto Mode.
Despite the usual noise issues you would expect from a tiny sensor/big zoom camera (and our dislike of Panasonic's approach to noise reduction), overall we were pretty impressed with the FZ8 when we reviewed it a few months ago. This was to a large degree due to the superb LEICA lens. So let's find out how Panasonic have tackled the noise challenge - and if the new lens, with it's much more ambitious zoom range, can match its predecessor, starting with a look at what's changed:
Major differences to DMC-FZ8
- 18x optical zoom (28-504mm equiv.) - FZ8 has 12x (36-432mm) zoom
- Smaller maximum aperture at long end of zoom (F4.2 vs F3.1)
- 8.3 megapixel sensor (vs 7.2 megapixel)
- Face Detection
- Intelligent Auto mode
- Manually selectable ISO 1600
- ISO 6400 High Sensitivity mode
- AF/AE lock button and dedicated AF/MF button
- 1cm macro (was 5cm)
- Custom mode and extra scene modes (plus 'advanced scene modes')
- Five level Noise reduction (was three level)
- Slower continuous shooting (burst)
- Heavier and slightly larger
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 specifications
|Street Price||• US: $360
• UK: £270
|Body Material||Metal and plastic|
1/2.5" Type CCD
|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
• 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)|
|Digital zoom||up to 4x|
|Focus||AF-Macro On/Off, AF/MF Switchable, Manual Focus(Joystick), One Shot AF, Continuous AF On/Off|
|AF area modes||Face / 1-point / 1-point high speed / 3-point high speed / Multi-point / Spot|
|AF assist lamp||Yes|
|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
|Metering||• Intelligent Multiple
|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|
|Shutter 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) F4.8 - 8 (tele)|
|Modes||• Intelligent AUTO
• Program AE
• Aperture Priority AE
• Shutter Priority AE
• Portrait mode
• Scenery mode
• Sports mode
• Night portrait mode
• Motion picture
|Scene modes||• Food
• Candle Light
• High Sensitivity
• Starry Sky
• 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
• 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
• Noise Reduction
• 5 levels (-2 to +2)
• 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
|Storage|| SD / SDHC / MMC
27 MB built-in memory
|Power|| Li-ion battery pack
Optional AC adapter
|Weight (no batt)||360 g (12.7 oz)|
|Dimensions||117.6 x 75.3 x 88.2 mm (4.6 x 3.0 x 3.5 in)|
|Fangorn Forest by cand1d|
|Yosemite Falls with Moonbow by Jonathan Shapiro|
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