Fact Sheets on the Best Digital Cameras
 
 
 
 
    Bookmark and Share  
 
Home
News
Articles (RSS Feed)
Press Releases
Site Map
 
Best Digital Cameras
Buyer's Guide
Point-and-Shoot
Beginner
Serious
Advanced
Ultra Compact
Ultra Zoom
User Manuals
 
Digital Camera Reviews
Reviews Matrix
Photoxels Awards
 
Fundamentals
Tutorials
Glossary
 
History of Cameras
Featured Sites
Contests
 
About Us
Contact
Privacy Statement
 
Photo Store
Digital Cameras
Accessories
 
 

 
You are hereHome > Digital Camera Reviews > Panasonic FZ18 Review

Panasonic Digital Cameras

   

Panasonic FZ18 Review

Review Date: Sep 7, 2007

Category: Beginner to Serious Amateur

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18

HANDLING & FEEL

The Panasonic FZ18 has slightly increased in dimensions and weight but it is still very compact and light (117.6 x 75.3 x 88.2 mm / 4.63 x 2.96 x 3.47 in.; 360 g / 0.79 lb). A deeper molded handgrip provides better handling and it's possible to hold the camera with one hand. It is most comfortably carried slung over a shoulder or around the neck. It uses the Secure Digital (SD) memory card.

The camera rests naturally in the palm of your left hand, with the fingers of that hand wrapped securely around the lens barrel which juts out from the body at about 4.7 cm (1.6 in.). When the camera is turned ON, the lens extends an extra 0.8 cm / 0.2 in. (W) and 2.5 cm / 0.8 in. (T).

Startup time is about 2 sec., shot to shot times about 1 sec., and there is no practical shutter lag (AF lag will depend on your subject contrast and lighting). Autofocus is fast and precise, even at long focal lengths (with usual slight AF lag) and low-light (with AF-assist).

If you choose RAW file format, the camera saves an image in RAW in approx. 3 sec. and in RAW+JPEG in approx. 4 sec. A Fine image takes about 3 MB of disk space, a Standard about 1.5MB, RAW about 13MB. Note that RAW+JPEG saves a RAW plus a (Standard quality only) JPEG image for quick review purposes.

# Images (Fine)
27MB
2GB
4:3
3254x2448
8M
6
499
2550x1920
5M EZ
10
804
2048x1536
3M EZ
16
1239
1600x1200
2M EZ
26
1937
640x480
0.3M EZ
131
8858
3:2
3264x2176
7M
7
557
2560x1712
4.5M EZ
11
898
2048x1360
2.5M EZ
18
1377
16:9
3264x1840
6M
8
659
2560x1440
3.5M EZ
14
1050
1920x1080
2M EZ
25
1823

 

# Images (Standard)
27MB
2GB
4:3
3254x2448
8M
13
983
2550x1920
5M EZ
21
1549
2048x1536
3M EZ
32
2384
1600x1200
2M EZ
52
3647
640x480
0.3M EZ
214
12402
3:2
3264x2176
7M
7
1087
2560x1712
4.5M EZ
11
1721
2048x1360
2.5M EZ
18
2583
16:9
3264x1840
6M
8
1291
2560x1440
3.5M EZ
14
2066
1920x1080
2M EZ
25
3444

 

# Images (RAW)
27MB
2GB
4:3
3254x2448
8M
2
114
3:2
3264x2176
7M
1
128
16:9
3264x1840
6M
1
151

 

# Images (RAW+ Standard JPEG)
27MB
2GB
4:3
3254x2448
8M
1
102
3:2
3264x2176
7M
1
114
16:9
3264x1840
6M
1
135

 

STYLE
- Colours: silver ("titanium") or black
- Looks: SLR type
   
FEEL
- Good handgrip though pinkie is tugged underneath
- Controls are well positioned and spaced, and the joystick is intuitive to use
   
DIMENSIONS & WEIGHT
- Medium Compact: carry using shoulder/neck strap
- Dimensions: 117.6 x 75.3 x 88.2 mm /
4.63 x 2.96 x 3.47 in .
- Weight: 360 g (0.79 lb)
407 g with Battery and SD Memory Card (0.90 lb)
- Takes 1 rechargeable Li-ion battery CGR-S006A 7.2V 710mAh (320 shots/charge)
   
SPEED OF OPERATION
- Startup with lens extending about 2.5 cm (0.8 in.) and LCD turning on and ready in about 2 sec.
- Shot to shot time less than 1 sec.
- No practical shutter lag
- AF is fast and precise; at long focal lengths, there is the usual slight AF lag but it locks positively
   

Included in the box is a rechargeable Li-ion battery that can take about 400 shots with LCD on (CIPA standard) on a fresh charge and a Battery Charger DE-A43 that will recharge a new battery in approx. 120 min. The Battery Charger is of the type that plugs directly into a wall electrical socket.

The Terminal compartment is conveniently on the left side of the camera (viewed from the back) with a hinged plastic door that opens -- and stays open at -- 90° (which is way better than those rubber flaps that you've got to struggle with), which makes it easy to connect the USB cable.

Panasonic FZ18 Flash Up

The flash is powerful and can reach up to 6m on ISO Auto. You need to manually pop it up before it can be used -- the type I prefer. When closed, you won't be surprised by the flash suddenly popping up and firing when you don't want it to. Press a small button and it pops up; you can then use the RIGHT ARROW to select 4 flash options: Auto, Auto Red-eye reduction, Forced On, and Slow Sync Red-eye reduction. A fifth mode, Forced On Red-eye reduction, is available only in the PARTY and CANDLE LIGHT scene modes. To turn the flash off, simply close it.

Controls

Panasonic FZ18 Top Controls
Mouseover image for closeup of controls

The top of the camera has the Shutter Release Button with the Zoom Lever around the collar, the AF Macro/Focus button, the AF/MF button, the Power ON/OFF switch, and the Mode Dial with usual PASM modes, plus Custom, Print, Movie, SCN (Scene Mode), Night Portrait, Sports, Scenery, Portrait, iA (Intelligent AUTO), and Playback. The scene modes that are directly accessible on the Mode Dial have a number of sub choices.

The shutter release button could probably do with a further slight angular rotation toward the front. It sits inside a "well" (the Zoom Lever collar) that functions effectively as a rest for your index finger, especially for those who are prone to be "trigger-happy."

The Zoom Lever is a collar around the shutter release button and the Power switch is just beside the Mode Dial. The Zoom lever has a short angle of motion. It only takes a quick 3 sec. to zoom all the way from wide-angle to 18x telephoto, and there are about 41 intermediate steps: If you just toggle the zoom lever slightly, the zooming can be slowed down to @ 7 sec. If Zoom Resume is set in SETUP, then the zoom position is remembered when the camera is turned off, and restored when the camera is turned back on.

The "stepped" zoom makes for a very smooth transition from wide-angle to max. telephoto and allows incredibly precise framing especially at the wide-angle end of the zoom.

Stabilizer

The Image Stabilizer is selected from the Menu (sorry, no button anymore) and provides 3 possible options: set it to OFF when putting the camera on a tripod; MODE1, if you want to see the effect of image stabilization at all times; MODE2, for the most effective stabilization, which takes place just before the image is taken.

Manual Focus

Press the AF/MF button to toggle between Auto Focus and Manual Focus modes. In MF mode, the central portion of the screen or full screen is enlarged (depends on your selection in SETUP) and provides a pretty clear view of what you are focusing on. You push the Joystick up and down to focus. It works quite well, though it depends on your subject matter whether you'll be able to tell when it snaps into focus. In the example above, it was pretty easy to see the "K" snap into focus.

The Mode Dial rotates easily (but not loosely), and you can use your thumb to do that while holding the camera. It clicks solidly in place and I've not had any problem where the setting on the Mode Dial is inadvertently changed.

You can record movies with sound (until the memory card is full or 2GB is reached -- when using a super high-speed SD memory card) at either 848 x 480 or 640 x 480 or 320x240 pixels at 30fps or 10fps. You can preset optical zoom before any movie mode recording, but cannot zoom (optical or digital) during movie recording. Sound is always recorded.

Video Storage Capacity
27MB
2GB
16:9
848x480
30fps
19m 32s
10fps
58m 10s
VGA
640x480
30fps
22m 47s
10fps
1h 07m 43s
QVGA
320x240
30fps
53s
1h 07m 42s
10fps
2m 40s
3h 16m 45s

As you can see, you can't record too much onto the approx. 27MB internal memory. We recommend a 2GB or larger capacity high-speed (at least 10MB/s) SD memory card.

Panasonic FZ18 back view

FUNCTIONS ACCESSIBLE BY CONTROL BUTTONS (clockwise starting from the Flash Open button)
- The pop-up flash is manually opened and will not automatically pop up when needed. Advanced photographers will welcome this implementation; beginners must remember to lift up the flash if they want to use it.
- Viewfinder Diopter Adjustment Dial on the left side of the EVF. The EVF itself juts out so it's easier to view without squashing your nose against the LCD. The Diopter Adjustment Dial works quite well.
- EVF/LCD button toggles between the EVF and LCD monitor.
- AF/AE Lock button can be customized in Menu to lock AF only, AE only or both AF and AE.
- Joystick used in Program Shift, to select an AF Area, to focus manually, to bring up a quick menu, and in A, S and M modes. It seems that now wherever you can use the ARROW Keys, you can also use the Joystick. Love it!
- DISPLAY/LCD MODE button. Press repeatedly to cycle thru Histogram, Out-of-Frame display, Recording Guide Line (Framing Guide), No display, Power LCD, High Angle.
-

Cursor buttons. UP ARROW (Exposure Compensation, Auto Bracket, Flash Compensation), RIGHT ARROW (Flash), DOWN ARROW (Review), LEFT ARROW (Self-timer 2s, 10s, 10s/3 pictures).

MENU SET button in the middle calls up the Menu/Setup; use cursor buttons or Joystick to navigate the Menu screens; press MENU SET again to accepts a screen choice.

- Burst Mode/Delete button. In Shooting Mode, it acts as the Burst Mode button (Normal 3fps, Unlimited @2fps) and in Review/Playback Mode as the Delete button (Picture; press again to access Multi, All).
   
EXPOSURE COMPENSATION / AUTO BRACKET / FLASH OUTPUT ADJUSTMENT
- Exposure compensation is accessed with the UP ARROW
- Once set, the Exposure Compensation Indicator conveniently stays displayed on screen until it is reset to "0"
- Range: -2 EV to +2 EV (13 steps in 1/3 EV increments)
- The screen brightness will increase or decrease to reflect the value you use
- Note: the exposure compensation value selected is retained even when the camera is turned off (so remember to reset to "0" after using it or the next time you turn the camera on, your shots may be over- or under-exposed.)
- Press UP ARROW repeatedly to cycle thru the other available options
- Auto Bracket can be set to ± 1/3, ± 2/3 or ± 1EV.
- Flash Output Adjustment: -2 EV to +2 EV (13 steps in 1/3 EV increments)
   
SHUTTER SPEED RANGES
- P: 1 - 1/2,000 sec.
A, S: 8 - 1/2,000 sec.
M: 60 - 1/2000 sec.
Starry Sky Mode: 15, 30, 60 sec.
   

In Aperture-Priority, Shutter-Priority and Manual modes, the Joystick conveniently adjusts Aperture and/or Shutter Speed. In Manual mode, an under/overexposure scale displays for about 10 sec. to indicate what exposure the current aperture/shutter speed settings will result in. This "Manual Exposure Assistance" is an invaluable approximation in obtaining correctly exposed pictures.

Speaking of exposure compensation, you access it by pressing the Up Arrow. Use the left and right arrow (or Joystick) to dial in a negative or positive exposure compensation. To dismiss the exposure compensation menu, just half-press the shutter release button or take the picture. If you instead press the Up Arrow again, you are now in Auto Bracketing mode and can select from ± 1/3EV, ± 2/3EV or ± 1EV. Press the Up Arrow again to set the Flash compensation. Note that Auto Bracketing remains in effect until you either set it back to OFF or turn off the camera.

WB Adjustment

WB Adjustment is also available but is now accessible from the Menu.

At the bottom of the camera, the tripod mount thread is metal. There is a very nice Battery/Card door and the battery has a latch to keep it from accidentally falling. You won't be able to change battery or card when the camera is on a tripod.

The Panasonic FZ18 uses the Secure Digital (SD) memory card. It has approx. 27MB of Internal Flash Memory that will record about 6 full-res images. A 2GB SD card will record about 499 full-res images. I recommed using as large a capacity SD card you can afford. The card is inserted into its slot at the bottom of the camera (same compartment where the battery goes) with its contact going in first and facing the rear of the camera. The diagram showing which way to insert the card and battery is not that clear, but fortunately there's only one way each will go in.

Panasonic FZ18 Silver with Lens Hood
Panasonic FZ18 Silver with Lens Hood

The camera comes standard with a lens cap (and retaining string so you don't lose it), and a very useful lens hood to guard against flare and that adds even a better surface for your left hand to hold.

The outer lens barrel is threaded to accept either a hood adaptor (supplied) or a Lens Adaptor DMW-LA3 (optional). The hood adaptor is used to attach the supplied Lens Hood. To attach the lens hood, just screw the hood adaptor on first, then easily fix the Lens Hood to the adaptor.

Panasonic FZ18 with optional Tele Converter
Panasonic FZ18 with optional Tele Converter

To attach a conversion lens -- either a teleconverter (1.7x) or closeup lens (both optional) -- you would remove the hood adaptor and screw in the optional Lens Adaptor first.

The inner lens barrel is also threaded and is used to attach a MC Protector (to protect the lens - DMW-LMC46, optional) or ND Filter (DMW-LND46, optional).

Note that it is not possible to use the conversion lenses together with the MC Protector or ND Filter.

A cool safety feature is that if you leave the lens cap on the lens barrel when you switch the camera ON, the camera lens extends, bumps into the lens cap, and won't try to extend the lens past it. This prevents damage to the sensitive lens mechanism. A warning message will display on the LCD monitor to remove the lens cap and press the RIGHT ARROW.

If you are going to use flash, you need to remove the lens hood or the flash light will cast the shadow of the lens hood on the bottom part of your pictures. Likewise, if you are going to need the AF-assist light, remove the lens hood. The AF-assist light is easily blocked by the thumb of your left hand (if your left hand is holding the lens barrel), so be aware of this when you need to use it.

LCD & Menus

The LCD (188K pixels) and EVF (207K pixels) gain up in low-light. The LCD has a fast enough refresh rate for a smooth display.

Besides displaying a Live Histogram or a framing grid, an interesting Out-of-Frame display provides a 2-in. image unemcumbered with any text and symbols (displayed outside of the image area). Note that you can now specify in SETUP whether you want to display exposure info and/or Histogram when the grid displays. You can also display a Histogram in playback but no Black and White Highlights.

Display with Info With Live Histogram
Display with Info With Live Histogram
Out-of-Frame Framing Grid Lines
Out-of-Frame Framing Grid Lines

The menu structure is very easy to understand and use. For some of the options that affect the image, the menu is transparent to show the effect of selecting that option. There are 4 RECord and 5 SETUP pages worth of menu settings.

MENU 1 of 4

- White Balance
- WB Adjust
- Intelligent ISO
- ISO Sensitivity
- Aspect Ratio

MENU 2 of 4

- Picture Size
- Image Quality
- Audio Recording
- Metering Mode
- AF Mode

MENU 3 of 4

- Stabilizer
- Continuous AF
- AF Assist Lamp
- AF/AE Lock
- Digital Zoom

MENU 4 of 4

- Color Effect
- Picture Adjustment
- Flip Animation
- Conversion
- Clock Set

SETUP 1 of 5

- Clock Set
- World Time
- Custom Menu
- Monitor Brightness
- Guide Line

SETUP 2 of 5

- Travel Date
- Play On LCD
- Auto Review
- Power Save
- Zoom Resume

SETUP 3 of 5

- MF Assist
- Beep
- AF Beep
- Shutter
- Volume

SETUP 4 of 5

- No. Reset
- Reset
- Video Out
- TV Aspect
- m/ft

SETUP 5 of 5

- Scene Menu
- Dial Display
- Language

LANGUAGE 1 of 2

LANGUAGE 2 of 2

WB 1 of 2

- Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Flash

WB 2 of 2

- Halogen, , White Set 1, White Set 2, Manual

ISO 1 of 2

- Auto, 100, 200, 400, 800

ISO 2 of 2

- 1250, 1600

PICT. ADJ.

- Contrast, Sharpness, Saturation, Noise Reduction

CONVERSION

- Use when attaching optional tele conversion lens (1.7x more) and close-up lens (DMW-LC55, optional).
- Optional lens adaptor DMW-LA3 is required.

SCENE MODE

- Food, Party, Candle Light, Sunset, High Sensitivity
- Baby 1, Baby 2, Pet, Panning, Starry SKy
- Fireworks, Beach, Snow, Aerial Photo

SCENE MODE HELP

- Press the DISPLAY button to display a brief Help Screen

EXPOSURE COMPENSATION

- -2EV to +2EV in 1/3EV steps
- A Histogram conveniently displays

IMAGE QUALITY

- Fine (Low Compression)
- Standard (High Compression)
- RAW
- RAW + JPEG (8M)

PICT. SIZE

- 8M (3264x2448)
- 5M EZ (2560x1920)
- 3M EZ (2048x1536)
- 2M EZ (1600x1200)
- 0.3M EZ (640x480)

MANUAL

Top to Bottom, Left to Right:
- M=Manual, Flash Auto Red-eye, WB 2, ISO 100, 8M Image Size, Fine Image Quality, Battery Level Indicator
- Image Stabilizer MODE 2, AF Macro, Space left for 490 images
- Flash Compensation +2/3, SD Card used
- Auto Power LCD ON
- Multiple Pattern metering mode, AF Lock, Live Histogram
- Manual Exposure Assistance
- Aperture F5.0, Shutter Speed 1/200s, Joystick indicator

MOVIE ASPECT RATIO

- 4:3
- 16:9

MOVIE PICT MODE

4:3:
- 640x480 30fps
- 640x480 10fps
- 320x240 30fps
- 320x240 10fps

16:9:
- 848x480 30fps
- 848x480 10fps

MOVIE

- 22m47s left to record

HISTOGRAM

- Histogram is displayed in Shooting and Playback mode
_ It is possible to display Framing Guide, Exposure Info and Histogram together

SAVING CUSTOM MODES 1 of 2

- 3 Custom Modes are available in SETUP
- To save your Custom Modes, first set the camera to the settings you desire, then access SETUP and save the camera settings as C1, C2 or C3

SAVING CUSTOM MODES 2 of 2

- Phrasing is a bit confusing.
- Should instead read: "Overwrite CUSTOM SET 1 with current camera settings? Yes, No"

USING CUSTOM MODES

- To use a saved Custom Mode, rotate Mode Dial to CUSTOM, and select C1, C2 or C3
- Press SET to select that Custom Mode
- If you want to view the camera settings saved under a Custom Mode, select "i"

VIEWING CUSTOM MODES 1 of 3

- Here is the first page of C1

VIEWING CUSTOM MODES 2 of 3

- Here is the second page of C1

VIEWING CUSTOM MODES 3 of 3

- Here is the first page of C3 that I saved as RAW+JPEG mode

The controls are well laid out at the back, and intuitive in actual use. Definitely "designed by a photographer."

A couple of other nice features: the hinged plastic Terminal door opens up wide to allow unimpeded access [don't you hate fighting with a rubber flap?] to the AV OUT/DIGITAL (USB) socket and DC IN socket. Last, but not least, the tripod socket is metal, though not inline with the lens.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 is built for photography, with intuitive-to-use controls. You get the distinct impression that much thought went into its design for ease-of-use. It is fun to use this camera, and you feel confident that your images will consistently come out with very good quality. Throw in a very effective image stabilization and a High Speed (and accurate) AF function, and you have a long zoom digital camera that is a pleasure to use.

<< Image Quality

User's Experience >>

 

 

 

 


 


 

  Home | Best Digital Cameras | Digital Camera Reviews | Tutorials | Special | About | Shop  
 

Product technical specifications are as represented by the manufacturer
and subject to manufacturer's change, so please do not rely on them without verification.
All trademarks, service marks, and Copyrights are the property of their respective owners.
Privacy Notice. Copyright © 2002-2015 Photoxels. All rights reserved.