Movie mode

Movie mode on the FZ18 is almost identical to the FZ8, with only a few minor interface tweaks. The camera supports SDHC cards for anyone who wants to shoot a lot of movie clips, though there is a 2.0GB limit on a single clip.

The movies are recorded in QuickTime MJPEG (.mov) format, with fairly heavy compression - they work out at around 1.3 MB/sec, meaning you can fit around 11 minutes of VGA or 9.5 minutes of 16:9 footage onto a 1GB card at 30 frames per second.

Movie quality is pretty good and smooth, the only problem being the usual slight hunting at the very long end of the zoom and the exposure system sometimes being caught out by rapid changes in scene brightness, but neither is any worse than competing models. The image stabilization comes in extremely handy in movie mode, it would otherwise be impossible to avoid jerkiness at the long end of the massive zoom. Unfortunately you cannot zoom in movie mode, which is a pity as the lens is actually very quiet.

As with stills recording you can choose the amount of information overlaid on the live preview image (though there's no histogram). You can, however, use the AE compensation controls.
In movie mode you get a slightly more basic set of menus (though there's still plenty here to play with!). Recording options include aspect ratio (4:3 or 16:9 widescreen) and frame rate.
The quick menu (brought up by pressing the joystick) has been expanded to include focus, movie quality, IS, metering and white balance modes.
Playback mode shows a thumbnail of the first frame in the movie. As with stills you can choose the amount of information overlaid, including (as shown here) a histogram.
Movie playback is fairly basic stuff - you get controls for playing, pausing and fast forward/rewind. Nothing fancy here.

Sample movie

640x480 pixels @ 30 fps
File size: 6.9MB
Duration: 5 seconds

Shot at mid zoom (85mm equiv.)

Click on the thumbnail to view the movie (caution: large file!)