Home / Cameras / Camera / Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 / Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 - Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18

By Cliff Smith

Reviewed:

Awards

  • Recommended by TR
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18

Summary

Our Score:

9

User Score:

At 360g the FZ18 is about 50g heavier than the FZ8, mostly due to the larger lens, but it is by no means a heavy camera. It is nearly 200g lighter than the Canon S5 IS, and less than half the weight of the Fuji S9600. It's also 100g lighter than the Olympus SP-550UZ. It is perfectly comfortable to operate with one hand, although it is certainly better with the two-handed grip that the SLR-like body invites. The handgrip is a bit bigger than one on the FZ8, and with the rear thumbgrip now also sporting a textured surface it provides a secure grip and camera feels comfortably solid in the hand.

It is a well made camera, and despite the low weight the plastic body feels reasonably robust. The battery/card hatch has a strong metal hinge, the tripod bush is steel, and the front edge of the lens barrel has a wide metal rim, into which the lens retracts when powered down, offering some protection to the most vulnerable component. One small criticism of the construction is the viewfinder eyepiece surround which, like the one on the FZ8, is made of hard plastic rather than the more comfortable rubber, and as I found out is quite capable of scratching spectacles.

The control interface is very well thought out. It has the same mini-joystick as the FZ8, which is used for exposure compensation, exposure settings in manual mode, positioning the AF point and also accessing a quick menu system for the main functions including MegaOIS mode, focus area mode, metering mode, white balance, ISO setting, picture size and compression. As a control system it is exceptionally easy to use, and allows very rapid changes to key settings. Other options including flash mode, drive mode, self timer, macro focusing and auto-bracketing are accessed via buttons including the D-pad, leaving the actual main menu for more basic settings, such as the adjustable contrast, sharpness, saturation and noise reduction. One example of well-considered design is the AF/MF button. While all the other buttons respond quickly to a single press, this control, which is positioned close to the shutter button, requires a longer press to activate, so you don't accidentally turn off your AF if you fumble when trying to take a shot quickly.

With such a huge zoom range, the quality of the zoom control is of crucial importance, and Panasonic has made a pretty good job of it. It is operated by a rotary bezel around the shutter button, and it has two speeds. Move the control a little and the zoom moves quite slowly, taking around seven seconds to go from one end of the range to the other, slow enough for accurate framing. But push the control all the way over and the zoom speeds up, getting from 28mm to 504mm in less than three seconds.

NRoy

July 6, 2008, 2:36 pm

It's been almost a year since the publication of this review. So, I think the ratings need to be updated. My ratings would be like this:


Features 7


Image Quality 7


Value 7


Overall 7





"Why"?


Well, you can't use the zoom while recording video unlike MANY compacts. The audio is HORRIBLE. VGA video is unacceptable for a camera of so much potential, particularly when they already have pieces like the TZ5/50 etc with the new Venus engine 4. Noise is visible THROUGHOUT the iso ranges due to their disgustingly tiny sensor. Also, it needs to be mentioned that it is STILL not available (officially) in many countries (at least in India, where I live). I wish Panasonic releases a venus engine 4 counterpart of this model with better video and audio, and making the zoom available while recording video. It is NOT too much to ask.

Doug Sinnott

August 6, 2008, 1:14 am

Get a life!


It's video/sound quality is much the same as most compacts,if you want better buy a video camera!


My FZ18 produces great 10x8s,and,although my Nikon D40 can outperform the FZ18 at bigger blowups,the FZ18 is so handy to take with you,whereas my D40 two lens kit is often left behind because of its weight.


For travelling,and holidays,the FZ18 is ideal,and hard to beat,packed with features,with a great lens,as was proved to me on my own recent holiday.For the first time I wasn't weighed down with a bulky camera bagwhich pleased my wife!,and yet I came back with sharp,colouful,photoes as good as most I have taken in the past,even a couple of quite good video clips!


I keep it on a low ISO setting,as I know the limitations of small sensors,and how Panasonic pack it all is amazing.


So if your forte is exhibition prints,get a modern digital SLR,or if your into videos,get good video camera.


You can't expect too much from a tiny camera like the FZ18,but it can turn out great photoes,and the advantages well outweigh any percieved shortcomings you have.


I have been a keen photographer for 40 years,and these modern compacts are a revelation,offering so much,for so little!!

aurum_daktulos

August 18, 2008, 3:41 pm

I've got to agree with Doug on this one.


I have just purchashed this camera and have had some time to play with it. Is it perfect? No, of course it isn't, but it's 'only' 𧶀. If I wanted a system for excellent video & sound, I'd use a camcorder. If I wanted a system for excellent photograph quality in any environment, I'd spend a whole lot more on a dSLR.





As it stands, I had a budget of 𧶔 and needed a camera that would give ease of use for quick photo's, can be perform reasonably in most lighting conditions, have enough functions to be able to custom set-up the camera to the way i want it (without the necessary complexity of dSLR's) and have a good zoom capability.





The FZ18 meets all of these criteria. Personally, I'm more than happy with it.

Bertie

August 23, 2008, 11:49 pm

NRoy,





Audio "horrible"? OK, it's not exactly my Linn system but it's certainly better than what my Canon 8mm analogue camcorder delivers. The picture quality is too but I regard the video function on the FZ-18 as a bit of a bonus to a camera that seems to have a better brain than mine as it consistently turns out results on its iA setting that I'm totally satisfied with.





For two hundred quid odd, the FZ-18 is not just a steal, it's grand larceny! Can't praise it enough and I can only stand slack-jawed in amazement at the technology that went into this unique and remarkable camera.

Shutterbug

September 1, 2008, 12:28 am

I was going to make a comment about the fz 18s versatility as a take-everywhere camera, but found that Doug has got it about right. I took a while to think out the best camera to take on a short break, and eventually settled for my Lumix fz 18 instead of a DSLR (canon 40D). The results of the trip photographically have been better than expected and the great advantage of this compact is that you really don't miss any photographic opportunity at all: the quality of the image is outstanding for such a tiny piece of kit, the only downside being that you probably take many more pics than you would normally, but then you don't have film prices to worry about. So far as the small sensor is concerned, well what do you expect - such a camera with its astonishing spec is bound to be the result of a tradeoff in that area. And, for me the crucial factor is the quality of the lens: barrel distortion such as you experience on the Canon G9 for example (with a 35mm equivalent to the fz 18s 28mm equivalent WA end, is unacceptable. In the end, the lens and the results determine the success of a camera, so for me the Lumix fz 18 gets pretty much full marks throughout for all ratings. Now if Lumix come up with something which improves upon that, then expect Canon and Nikon with their current DSLR prosumer range to take a seriously sharp dip in sales.

Terry

September 18, 2009, 5:47 am

What's this with criticizing some cameras for their "small" sensor and not so for others? It seems that most of this style of camera has a small sensor... so why not downgrade all of them? Appears these cameras are top notch in their own right...

comments powered by Disqus