Product Type: Panasonic digital cameras
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18
Member Name: rleigh
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18
Advantages: Excellent picture quality, aesthetically beautiful.
Disadvantages: May be a bit expensive for some.
Aesthetically the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 is beautiful, a lovely looking camera and one of the best looking of its kind in fact that I have ever seen. It's all black appearance was greatly alluring for me, and was the reason I looked into the camera further and eventually decided to buy it. For many a year I had wanted to purchase a Nikon SLR, I have long been an admirer of their D40 model and will no doubt one day buy this dream camera of mine, but for the foreseeable future this Lumix is the camera for me. It will be a long time before I'm in the market for a digital SLR camera, and my outlay of £245 therefore seems a lot less substantial than I had previously thought. I tried and tested a number of different cameras before finally settling with this one, and am certainly glad that I made the final choice that I did. Not once has this camera let me down, and always the pictures that I take impress.
- Size and Weight -
First and foremost, when buying a new camera you need to consider the size and weight of any given camera before making a purchasing decision. You'll be wanting to take the camera out and about with you, and therefore if the camera is too big then it's going to prove to be too bulky when on the move and it's just going to annoy you. Similarly, if a camera is too heavy then carrying it around can become quite a chore and you may find yourself not wanting to take the camera out and about with you due to its cumbersome presence. This particular camera has a weight of 360g and dimensions of 4.63 x 2.96 x 3.47 inch (width, height and depth respectively). This camera I feel is the perfect size and weight, any larger and it would be quite a nuisance to carry but it's just right I feel. When holding the camera I do not feel that it is at all on the large side, and its weight merely makes it feel sturdy and strong. Too light and you wouldn't be able to hold the camera with comfort, and similarly you may not notice if it had gone from your person (I'm prone to losing things). The weight of this camera allows it so sit comfortably in the hand, and it makes its presence well known without ever feeling overly heavy.
- Ease of Use -
I am by no means a professional photographer, somewhat of a novice in fact; but even I can take a professional quality photo with this camera. I would therefore suggest that this camera is extremely easy to use then, I certainly have no problems in utilising its many features. In the past I have done little more than point and click with the cameras that I have owned, if the picture was good then I was glad of it, if bad then so be it. Since purchasing this Panasonic Lumix camera however I have found myself taking far more care over my photos and adjusting settings in order to take the best photographs possible. It's not difficult to do, and the camera does in fact have many features to take full advantage of.
- Picture Quality -
As my first digital SLR style camera, I have nothing really to compare the quality of my prints to. I have however looked at pictures taken by various other similar cameras on-line and find the quality of those taken with this Lumix to be up there amongst the best. Regardless of situation, this camera always seems to come up trumps in taking an excellent photo and never appearing at all dull or dreary. The photographs taken with the camera are always rich in colour and beautiful to look at, I've definitely been thoroughly impressed with some of the fine camera work I have shown since I purchased this camera. A few years back I was taking photos I was really quite ashamed of, no such worry now though as I capture some beautiful images that are bursting at the seams with colour and life.
Images can be taken in four different formats; Fine, Standard, RAW, and RAW+ JPEG. Picture quality using all four modes I have found to be excellent, but there are certainly some major drawbacks in utilising 'RAW' and 'RAW+ JPEG'. If using either of these modes then you can prepare for a long wait when taking your photos. 'RAW' will take around 10 seconds to save pictures, and 'RAW+ JPEG' will take an even more frustrating 15 seconds. The times I am quoting are if you're utilising the inbuilt memory of the camera, but if saving to an SD card then the time taken to save is still quite long (although roughly half what it is when saving the files to the camera internally).
Due to the 8.1MP rating of this camera, pictures as large as 3264x2448 can be taken. Although this is obviously something that is not always necessary, it is nice to have these sorts of capabilities with the camera (even if it is quite memory draining to take pictures at such high resolution). Only a couple of times have I utilised the capabilities of this camera to that degree and on all occasions I have been greatly impressed with the photographic outcome.
- Video Recording -
As well as being able to take stills, video capture is also possible with this particular Panasonic Lumix camera. I have never owned a video camera, I have never felt the need to really (although deep down I've always wanted to buy one, I just can't justify the expense), I have used this camera for capturing videos quite a bit though. Much like with taking pictures, video quality is excellent with this camera and has always impressed me. Videos can be captured at a maximum resolution of 848 x 480 pixels, and in my opinion this is excellent. I did not buy the camera for taking videos, just for taking photographs, but the video recording capabilities of this camera have been greatly pleasing to see. Ultimately I do want to own a video camera eventually, technology astounds me and I love to own all the latest gadgets; this camera however is great for capturing video and the need for a Video Camera for me is therefore no longer there.
- Memory -
Built-in to this camera is roughly 27MB of memory. This is obviously not going to be enough to meet your requirements and in fact allows you to store very little at all. The camera does however accept SD cards, SDHC cards, and MultiMedia cards also, so there are plenty of options open to you for expanding upon the memory that is already built-in to the camera. When I bought this camera, at the same time I also bought a 4GB SD card to store all my photographs on. Shop around and you can find one of these for as cheap as £10, it really is quite incredible how cheap SD cards are becoming and I could in fact have bought an 8GB SDHC card for only £28.99 from mymemory.co.uk had I felt the requirement to, but decided that 4GB would be plenty enough space for me.
- LCD Screen -
The screen on this camera is plenty big enough at 2.5 inches. It is crisp and clear, a perfect place to view your photos in small before blowing them up later on the computer. It is a 230K Pixels screen and pictures as a result can be displayed in great detail, beauteous in their full glory and never with this screen do they ever appear dull. LCD screens on digital cameras are an extremely important feature I feel as if the camera is not blessed with a decent screen then you never know quite whether you've taken a good picture or not. The screen on this Lumix certainly allows you to tell, and if you do ever take a bad picture with this camera (a difficult task) then you will soon know about it.
- Zoom Feature -
Being quite a beginner in the photography field, my knowledge about the 'zoom' capabilities of cameras had been quite limited. When spending out £250 however, I certainly looked into this more closely and found that this particular camera is greatly blessed in the way of zoom. It has 18x optical zoom, and 4x digital zoom. This I feel is extremely substantial and allows for excellent pictures to be taken in all circumstances, a feature that renders interchangeable lens cameras as somewhat pointless. Great pictures can be taken without the need to keep changing lenses with this camera, an easy to use and highly practical solution to all your picture taking requirements that's for sure.
- Computer Connectivity -
When you purchase this camera, you are supplied with not only the camera itself, but USB cable, battery and all the required software also. Once the camera is bought you can simply install the software to the computer/s of choice, and then you'll be ready to go and will be easily able to connect the camera to your computer using the USB cable supplied. Given that the camera utilises SD memory, the great thing is that if you've got a computer that has a built-in SD drive then you can simply take the SD card out of the camera, insert it into the computer and view the files this way. This removes the need for using a USB cable, and if you're using a laptop and are quite limited in the way of USB ports as I am then this is something that you may find to be particularly useful.
- Battery Life -
With a professional camera of this sort, as great a battery life as possible is always most appreciated. I have found the battery life of this particular camera to be more than adequate. The battery will last for roughly '400 pictures' according to the specification, and this should be more than enough to fulfil your picture taking requirements. I can't say I've counted the number of pictures I can take before the battery life runs low with this camera, but this certainly sounds like a realistic figure to me and is one that I really can't complain with. On very few occasions have I drained the battery entirely, generally I'll recharge long before the battery runs low and I feel that this method is really of best benefit. I always feel that running the battery down to nothing hampers the performance of electrical products slightly sometimes, that's certainly something I've found in the past anyway and am therefore always quite weary of this.
- Final Thoughts -
Given that you can pay upwards of £1000 for a digital SLR camera, I feel that the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 actually offers exceptional value for money. It may sound quite expensive when you look at the figure on paper, but the excellence of the camera certainly justifies the price tag and makes the monetary investment well worth your while. Obviously if you're on a tight budget then this camera is not really a realistic avenue for you to go down, but then again I think that it's worth saving up for if you can. It's quite economical in that if you buy this camera then you won't need to buy another for a long, long time, whereas if you go for a cheaper model then you will perhaps find yourself upgrading far sooner. The camera comes in either silver or black, but I personally feel that the black is the far more beautiful of the two and therefore I took little time in opting for the black model as opposed to silver.
This is the best quality camera that I have ever owned , and it's certainly opened up my eyes to a whole new level of photography. I find myself thinking about angles, lighting, and camera settings when taking my pictures now, something that I have never done before. My photography efforts have before been a bit lacking, but now my creative energy surprises me. I'm starting to think like a professional photographer now, all as a result of my beautiful Panasonic Lumix. I'm not a professional, but from the quality of the pictures I can now take you'd never know it. Photography is so much more fun now that I have my lovely Lumix and I thoroughly suggest that you too consider investing in this camera. You certainly won't be left disappointed.
Summary: An excellent camera, by far the best that I have ever used.
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