Panasonic DMC FZ18 Review

Digital Cameras with Extended Zoom Lenses

Picture
Panasonic DMC FZ18 Ease of Use 8
Features 9
Movie Mode 9
Build Quality8
Colours 8
Photo Quality 8
Style 9
Lowlight 8
Macro 8
Value for Money 8
8 Megapixels
18x Zoom
2.5 inch LCD Screen
117.6 x 75.3 x 88.2m
360g

Overview

The obvious attraction of the Panasonic DMC FZ18 is its 18x optical zoom lens. This is one of the first digital cameras to increase the lens length on a consumer digital camera beyond 12x. The lens is supported by image stabilisation to help cut down on any camera shake caused by the added weight of the lens. The DMC FZ18 also hosts a number of manual controls and settings and is based on the lines of a digital SLR camera. In fact it is one of the most feature packed cameras you can buy. It has 8 megapixels.

Main Features

Megapixels:
Zoom:
LCD Screen:
Dimensions:
Weight:

8
18x
2.5 inches
117.6 x 75.3 x 88.2m
360g

Macro:
HD Movies:
Manual Controls:
Batteries:
Memory Cards:

1cm
No
Yes
Lithium-ion Rechargeable
SD/SDHC

Image Quality - See Sample Images Below

Outdoor Scenic Shots in Good Light

Outdoor 1 (Medium Zoom): This type of shot appears not to cause any real problems for the DMC FZ18. The photo is sharp and the levels of focusing are maintained very well up to the edges. Colours look natural although in places where the sun is at its strongest blues appear to have a purple tinge to them.

At the time of the year the photo was taken many cameras really struggle with the glare from the sun in this photo. Although not perfect this camera handles the problem quite well.

Outdoor 2 (No Zoom): This photo is brighter than many cameras manage to produce when the lens is not zoomed in at all. Colours are strong, but there is a small amount of noise creeping into the sky. Considering how far distant some of the objects in the photo are the DMC FZ18 does a fair job of focusing.

Outdoor 3 (Maximum Zoom): When using the full capacity of the zoom lens the camera is still able to produce a sharp shot.

More or less every super zoom camera suffers from a problem called purple fringing. This is where a purple line is added to the edges of objects where the sun strikes them and the lens is using most of its zoom. Therefore I was interested to see what would happen with this even longer lens. The result does show some purple fringing, but no more than I am used to seeing with 12x lenses. If anything it looks less of a problem with the DMC FZ18.

One worrying aspect is that noise is again showing in the sky. It is more noticeable in this photo and it may cause a problem in larger prints.

Portraits

Outdoor Portrait: I like this shot. To help warm up the photo I used the white balance setting of shade. This helps to add some extra life to the shot.

Indoor Portrait with Flash: Another portrait shot that works well. The flash unit pops up well away from the lens so there should not be a problem with red eye in your shots. This image is bright and sharply focused.

Indoor Portrait without Flash: The indoor portrait without flash doesn't work so well. Although the light is not especially poor the resulting photo is dark. The camera also appears to have pushed up the ISO levels. This has led to a fair amount of noise appearing. Many people prefer the more natural look a photo has without flash. With the DMC FZ18 it looks like you will need pretty good light to be able to take flash free indoor portraits.

Macro, Colours and Noise

Macro: This is another good result and it suggests you should be able to take some decent close up photos with this camera. The photo is sharply focused.

Colours: Throughout all my test shots I am happy with the colours. They are strong enough without being overbearing.

ISO 400: There is a loss as picture quality at this setting as I would expect, but the DMC FZ18 does perform better than most cameras I have tested.

ISO 1600: After pushing the ISO setting up to its maximum there is a clear loss of quality. Again though it is not as pronounced as I often see, and the camera manages to stop the colours from starting to break down.

Summary

This is the first digital camera with an 18x zoom lens I have tested. Overall I am happy with the results. They may not be perfect in places, but the results compare well with other super zoom digital cameras.

See sample images link arrow

Style

The DMC FZ18 resembles a small digital SLR camera. It is available in black and silver.

Shutter Lag Times

Shutter Lag Rating Par

Single Shot
Five Shots
Single Shot With Flash
Five Shots With Flash

0.32 seconds
6.7 seconds
0.51 seconds
9.53 seconds


Shutter Lag Table link arrow

Ease of Use

Ease of Use - Par As you would expect with all the features this camera has it will take time to master them all. The menus and buttons used to control the camera are all laid out and relatively easy to find.

Points I Like

Long zoom lens - colours - picture sharpness - design - features

Where it Could Improve

Noise creeping in on some photos

Verdict

Overall the Panasonic DMC FZ18 is a winner. There are one or two areas where I think picture quality could improve, but that is the same for just about every other camera too. The camera has a very good range of controls and taking the length of lens into consideration Panasonic have managed to keep the price tag very reasonable. It is also one of the most feature packed consumer level digital cameras on the market.

Product Shots

Front View

Front View

Back View

Back View

Top View

Top View

Sample Menus

menu iso

playback setup

Top Rated Cameras in this Category

Panasonic DMC FZ48 Rating 87/100

The Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ48 is very hard to beat. It is up against some stiff competition, but the combination of features, image quality and pricing makes it the outstanding model in its category. When it comes to picture quality it has few weaknesses and its length of lens means it can cope with more or less any photo opportunity.

Read Review: Panasonic DMC FZ48 Review

Fuji Finepix HS30EXR Rating 86/100

The Fuji Finepix HS30EXR does offer a number of differences to rival Super Zoom or Bridge digital cameras. The main difference is the twisting lens barrel, but there are other handling aspects that make it that bit closer to a Digital SLR experience. In terms of features Fuji have packed in just about everything they can think of. Picture quality compares well against rival cameras and shutter response times are also impressive. This makes this camera a very attractive proposition if you are looking for a fully featured camera with a great deal of zoom power.

Read Review: Fuji Finepix HS30EXR Review

Nikon Coolpix L810 Rating 79/100

The Nikon Coolpix L810 offers something different as it gives you the power of an extra long lens, but with the simplicity of a point and shoot digital camera. This helps to make it somewhat cheaper than the more fully featured models with similar zoom power. Picture quality does not match up to the more expensive models in this category, but it is only if you are planning to make extra large prints that you are likely to see much difference between photos taken with this camera and those that give you that bit of extra quality. This camera is a good choice if you are looking for simple operation and a powerful lens.

Read Review: Nikon Coolpix L810 Review

Related Pages

Panasonic DMC FZ18 Review Panasonic DMC FZ18 Specification Panasonic DMC FZ18 Sample Images Panasonic DMC FZ18 Features Panasonic Digital Cameras

Review Date

October 2007

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