Panasonic DMC-FZ18 Review
|Full model name:||Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18|
|Sensor size:||1/2.5 inch
(5.8mm x 4.3mm)
|Extended ISO:||100 - 6400|
|Shutter:||60 - 1/2000|
4.6 x 3.0 x 3.5 in.
(118 x 75 x 88 mm)
|Full specs:||Panasonic DMC-FZ18 specifications|
The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ18 has body styling reminiscent of a single-lens reflex digital camera, and offers a 1/2.5" CCD image sensor with an effective eight megapixels. Dominating the front of the FZ18 is a Leica-branded 18x optical zoom lens - the longest range yet offered on a LUMIX digicam, with previous models reaching a maximum of only 12x. The Panasonic FZ18's lens has a wide angle of 28mm, and reaches all the way out to 504mm at wide angle - exactly the same range as we've seen previously on Olympus' SP-550 UltraZoom. The FZ18's lens is a little brighter at the telephoto end than that on the Olympus though, with the maximum aperture varying from f/2.8 at wide angle to f/4.5 at telephoto. Of course for a lens this powerful, image stabilization is a must-have - and Panasonic has its Intelligent Image Stabilization system in the whole of its 2007 camera lineup, which includes both mechanical image stabilization (known as Mega Optical Image Stabilization) plus Intelligent ISO Control (which analyzes subject motion and then where possible boosts ISO sensitivity as necessary to select a suitable shutter speed to prevent blur).
The Panasonic DMC-FZ18 is one of the first three Panasonic digital cameras to introduce a couple of new technologies to the LUMIX line, the other two cameras being the DMC-FX33 and DMC-FX55 models announced simultaneously. That must-have feature in the digicam market for 2007 - face detection - makes its debut with Panasonic's incarnation able to detect up to 15 faces in a scene and then use this information to set focus and exposure appropriately. Face detection is enabled automatically in portrait or baby scene modes, and can cope with moving subjects. A second new feature is what's being called "Intelligent Auto" mode, which analyzes the scene and then automatically selects the scene mode (Portrait, Scenery, Macro, Night Scenery or Night Portrait), and activates optical image stabilization, intelligent ISO, face detection and continuous autofocus functions as necessary.
Other features of the Panasonic LUMIX FZ18 include a 2.5" LCD display with 207,000 pixel resolution, ISO sensitivity to 1600 (or 6400 max. in high sensitivity mode), a range of creativity-friendly options including both aperture- and shutter-priority plus a full manual mode, plus no less than fourteen scene modes to keep things approachable for the less experienced photographer. FZ18 images are stored in 27MB of built-in memory or on SD / MMC / SDHC cards in either JPEG or raw file formats (with a raw+JPEG option available), and power comes from a proprietary Lithium Ion battery which is included in the product bundle. Connectivity options are NTSC / PAL video and USB, and bundled software includes LUMIX Simple Viewer, PhotofunStudio viewer, SILKYPIX Developer Studio 2.1SE, ArcSoft MediaImpression, and ArcSoft PanoramaMaker.
The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ18 goes on sale from September 2007, priced at about US$400.
Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.