Product Type: Panasonic digital cameras
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18E-S - a superb package
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18
Member Name: Machair1
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18
Advantages: 18x zoom and powerful range of features
Prior to buying this camera I had little experience with digital cameras. My previous Olympus SLR had served me well but the future is digital and I was fed up with carrying around the cumbersome zoom lens.
What I needed was a camera with a reasonably high pixel count and with a very good zoom capacity. I also wanted something that could act like a 'point and snap' if necessary.
In steps the Panasonic DMC-FZ18. It comes in black or silver. For some reason sometimes one colour is cheaper than the other and as I result I ended up with the silver version. The -S or -B at the end of the model number tells you whether it will be silver or black - otherwise, as far as I can tell, there is no difference.
The camera looks nice and has a nice feel in the hand. It is chunky - this is not what you buy if you want a camera to slip into your top pocket - but this is the price you pay for that fabulous 18x zoom. It still weighs less than my old SLR and no need for extra lenses (though you can buy telephoto and close-up lens adaptors which further extend the range).
The camera has a massive range of features and modes which result in a manual of about 140 pages. It is therefore somewhat daunting unless you are familiar with this type of camera. I found it best to put the camera on 'intelligent auto' (iA) mode and use it as a 'point and snap' whilst I familiarised myself with the manual and some of the features after that extending to other modes. The iA mode is great as it spots what sort of picture you are taking and automatically selects the right mode.
If you are familiar with cameras where you can adjust shutter speed, exposure and so forth it has this capability - providing you with everything you might need if you are an experienced and knowledgeable photographer.
The camera comes with a battery and it is not a bad idea to buy a second one if you are likely to be out and about as the zoom can use quite a bit of power (this is true for any of these super-zoom cameras). Having said that, I found when taking holiday snaps it lasts for ages (the manual estimates 400 pictures).
The camera has some 27Mb of built-in memory, but you will need to get a memory card if you are going to take anything more than a minute number of photos. You will often find a decent package offering memory card and camera as a bundle for virtually no extra cost so worth looking at the total cost of purchase. A word of warning on memory cards though: this camera uses full size SD cards. If you want to use cards above 2Mb then they must be SDHC cards (2Mb or less can be standard SD cards). High speed cards are recommended for video.
Quality-wise the pictures are excellent. I cannot criticise in any way. Perhaps if I was a professional or dedicated photographer I could comment, but for the average joe-public the quality is astounding, even when at full zoom.
The only criticism I have of the camera at all is that sometimes I find the auto-focus a little slow to react and settle. Pressing the shutter button half way down does seem to make it focus, but there's probably a setting somewhere I need to change!
Overall, a superb package. It delivered exactly what I needed - high quality photos, great zoom capability, but the ability for simple point-and-snap. The range of features allows me to take a greater range of photos than I ever could with my SLR - well done Panasonic!
Summary: A superb camera for the price. Nice balance of features against cost
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