Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 Announced and First Thoughts

by Reads (245)

Panasonic‘s latest addition to their FZ ultra-zoom line is the 18x optical zoom-equipped Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18. The nice optically stabilized long lens can also do wide angle (28mm equivalent) and the camera can capture 8.1 megapixel images. Panasonic has also rolled out an "Intelligent Auto" mode, which provides continuous AF, automatic scene selection and a face detection system along with optical image stabilization and Intelligent ISO control. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 will be available in September 2007 for $400.

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The Intelligent Auto mode is basically another step in the same direction that Intelligent ISO Control was in the last round of Panasonic cameras. This direction is to make it easier for your typical camera user to get the shots that they want. The continuous AF helps minimize focus time, the face detection lets you focus on and expose up to 15 faces correctly, and the Intelligent Scene Selector will choose between settings for Portrait, Scenery, Macro, Night Scenery, and Night Portrait.

Besides the specs already mentioned, the FZ18 has a 2.5 inch, 207K pixel LCD, an electronic viewfinder with 188K pixels, a maximum aperture of f2.8, and is capable of shooting at sensitivities up to ISO 1600. If has a full complement of manual exposure modes, like shutter priority and aperture priority, as well as plenty of preset scene modes.

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Panasonic also did some revamping of the controls a bit. There are now dedicated buttons for auto focus, auto exposure lock, and macro. It still has the joystick control that its predecessor, the FZ8, possessed as well. A rubberized grip provides a comfortable, stable way to hold the camera (and hold that 18x optical zoom steady).

I got hands-on with the FZ18 at a press event and was pretty impressed. The camera was very comfortable to hold and the 18x optical zoom lens was very good. As is typical of Panasonic cameras, operation was very snappy. The Intelligent Auto mode should be well-received by your average camera user.

Hands-On Shots

panasonic lumix dmc-fz18
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panasonic lumix dmc-fz18
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Here’s an example of the power of the zoom. Shot on the left is wide-angle, shot on the right is telephoto. Shutter speed was a little too slow to get a nice sharp shot, but these shots illustrate the zoom well.

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 Specs

  • 8.1 megapixels
  • 18x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilization
  • 2.5 inch, 207K pixel LCD
  • 0.44 inch, 188K pixel electronic viewfinder
  • Custom setting mode that memorizes frequently used settings
  • 1920×1080 mode for wide-screen HDTV viewing
  • Six auto focus methods: face detection, mutliple area, 3 point high speed, 1 point high speed, 1 point normal speed, spot
  • 27MB internal memory, accepts SD and SDHC media
  • Available in silver and black
  • Battery life: approximately 400 shots per charge of the lithium-ion battery
  • Dimensions: 4.63 x 2.96 x 3.47 inch
  • Weight: 0.90lb with battery and memory card
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