The Panasonic Lumix DMC FS18 is a small pocket digital camera. It has 16 megapixels and a 4x optical zoom lens. It scores well for ease of use and appears to be a well made digital camera. The Lumix DMC FS18 is a good choice if you are looking for a more basic and therefore cheaper pocket camera.
There are a couple of features that you may not expect to see at this price point. These include the ability to shoot High Definition movies.
Panasonic have produced 3 different coloured versions with the camera available in black, silver and violet.
Why Buy The Panasonic DMC FS18
The Lumix DMC FS18 offers great value for money.
94.3 x 53.5 x 18.8mm
Megapixels and Zoom
The Lumix DMC FS18 has 16 megapixels and a 4x zoom lens. The focal length of the lens is equivalent to 28mm to 112mm in 35mm format. A minimum focal length of 28mm gives you the ability to squeeze wider scenes into your shots.
How to Increase the Amount of Zoom Available to You
One of the advantages of having 16 megapixels at your disposal is that you can opt to decrease the number of megapixels you are shooting at and still be able to produce a print. When you do this the amount of zoom available to you also increases. A maximum of 9x zoom can be used when you decrease the resolution to 3 megapixels or below.
Image Stabilisation for Sharper Photos
Image stabilisation gives your photos that bit of extra clarity when handholding your camera. This feature comes into its own when the light is low.
The 2.7 inch LCD screen is about standard in this price range. If you shop around you may be able to find a few similar cameras with a larger 3 inch LCD screen. One feature of the screen you may find useful from time to time is the High Angle mode. When you switch the camera into this mode you are able to see the screen more easily if you need to hold the camera above eye level when taking a picture. This could be if you are holding the camera over a crowd.
High Definition movies
Although a lot of cameras now offer the ability to shoot High Definition movies you often need to pay that bit more than you need to do for the Lumix DMC FS18. Therefore you could look on this feature as a nice little bonus.
Macro Mode for Your Close In Shots
You can focus from 5cm away from your subject. That compares well with other small, snapshot digital cameras.
Select Your Ideal Picture Shape
Panasonic offer 3 picture dimensions with most of their digital cameras. The reason why this could be important to you is because you can avoid parts of a picture being cut off when it is viewed or printed. The 4:3 aspect ratio is ideal for viewing images on an old fashioned computer screen or television set. The 16:9 ratio matches the aspect ratio of a widescreen television set. The final ratio of 3:2 is your best bet for 6 x 4 inch prints.
Intelligent Scenes and Scene Modes
Digital cameras come with a range of built in scene modes. When you select a scene mode the camera knows the type of scene you are photographing. It can then select what it considers to be the optimum settings to give you the best result for your photograph. The Lumix DMC FS18 also has a small set of intelligent scenes that it can automatically scan a scene for. The automatic scenes are Portrait, Scenery, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Sunset and Macro. The built in predefined scenes are Portrait, Soft Skin, Transform, Self-Portrait, Scenery, Panorama Assist, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Food, Party, Candle Light, Baby1, Baby2, / Pet, Sunset, High Sensitivity, Hi-Speed Burst, Flash Burst, Starry Sky, Fireworks, Beach, Snow, Aerial Photo, Pin Hole, Film Grain, High Dynamic(Standard, Art, B&W) and Photo Frame.
More Advanced Setting When You Need Them
Although the Lumix DMC FS18 operates primarily as a point and shoot digital camera there may be times when you would like to take a little extra control over the way your photos look. When this happens you have access to more advanced features such as White Balance, ISO and Exposure Compensation.
As with any small digital camera with a smooth finish, it is not as easy to hold the camera as still as when you have more bulk to get a really firm hold. Having said the Panasonic have made it as easy as possible to get a good grip. With this in mind they have created plenty of room on the back of the camera for you to place your thumb. The thumb area has also been dimpled to help that little bit more. The downside of making that extra thumb room is that some of the buttons are small. If you have larger hands you may find them fiddly.
Lens and Flash Unit Position
The lens unit and its surround occupy a large area on the front of the camera. The lens protrudes from the camera when the Lumix DMC FS18 is turned on. The lens is placed well out the way of any stray fingers.
The flash unit is also positioned well away from any stray fingers that may block light.
Fast Response Ensures You Capture the Picture
This camera has fast turn on and shutter delay times. In fact the response times are faster than you might expect to see from more expensive models.
Controls on Top of the Camera
There are three controls on the top of the camera. These are a switch to turn the camera on, the shutter button and a ring for zooming in and out.
Controls on the Back of The Camera
The first control on the back of the camera is a switch for reviewing photos you have already taken. Next to this is a button for selecting the shooting mode. Further down is the main control area. This circular section incorporates controls for exposure compensation, setting flash, placing the Lumix DMC FS18 in macro mode and setting the self timer. In the centre of these controls is a button for accessing the menu system and confirming a setting. Two further buttons allow you to change the information displayed on the LCD screen and to access a menu containing key settings you may wish to change on a regular basis.
What's in the Menu System?
The menu system is divided into two distinct areas. These are the recording settings and the general camera set up section. In the recordings settings area are 14 menu items. The setup area contains 16 items. Help text runs along the bottom of the menu screen in a ticker to explain an option you have highlighted.
Image Quality - See Sample Images Below
Outdoor Scenic Shot 1
The first point worth mentioning is that the Lumix DMC FS18 copes well with the brightest areas of the shot. Many cameras struggle in bright conditions where there are large expanses of white coloured objects. In this test shot the camera is able to show a high level of detail on the boats and also on the white wooden slats under the roof of the building.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 2
Focusing for this shot is sharper than you might expect to see from a camera in this price bracket. There is a slight loss of crispness as you move towards the edges of the shot, but this is not enough to detract from the overall quality. There is a touch of purple fringing in places. Again this is unlikely to be much of a problem to you unless you are planning to make super sized prints.
Outdoor Scenic Shot 3
Picture quality again compares well against other smaller compact digital cameras. There is a small loss of clarity in the most distant part of the shot on the right hand side. Detail levels are good in the lighter and darker areas of the shot.
This is another credible effort. The levels of sharpness and detail are impressive. As in the previous shot there is a slight loss of definition towards the right hand side of the picture.
Panasonic include an extra white balance setting of shady. As this picture was taken in the shade the shady white balance setting was used. This gives the shot a warmer glow than it would have otherwise. There are no problems with focusing. You should have little problem taking pleasing portrait snapshots.
Indoor Portrait With Flash
The flash unit emits more or less the perfect amount of light. This ensures an even spread of light with potential problem areas like the hair being well lit. Colours in the skin tones take on a natural look too.
Indoor Portrait Without Flash
With the flash turned off the camera adds a warmer look to the picture. Noise is kept under control. This leads to extra detail showing in the shot. This is a very good effort for a relatively inexpensive pocket camera.
This is about as good as it gets at this price point. The Lumix DMC FS18 is able to get in close enough. Sharpness of the main subject is excellent and the camera is also able to throw more distant parts of the shot out of focus. There is also added depth to the colours.
Just like other Panasonic digital cameras the Lumix DMC FS18 is capable of adding some extra warmth to the colours it produces. This is in evidence in some of the portrait shots and also the macro shot.
Noise levels are controlled well. Typical problem areas such as areas of light shade and indoor shots show relatively low noise levels.
Picture Quality Summary
Picture quality is very good for this type of camera. The Lumix DMC FS18 manages very well with a variety of photo opportunities.
Shutter Lag Times
Single Shot With Flash
Five Shots With Flash
Turn on Time
Ease of Use
This camera operates as a simple point and shoot model. The menu system is easy to read and does not overload you with options.
Points I Like
Turn on and shutter lag times, picture quality, value for money
Where it Could Improve
Very minor purple fringing
The Panasonic Lumix DMC FS18 is a great little camera. If you are looking for a reasonably priced, pocket sized camera that can take a good quality snapshot then this is one of the best cameras around. In terms of value for money this camera is hard to beat. Recommended.
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