Product Type: Panasonic digital cameras
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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 : Best in class
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18
Member Name: bipolarmo
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18
Advantages: Superb lens, packed with features and looks cool
Disadvantages: A bit complicated to navigate at first . Doesn't fit in your pocket .
How do you start to describe this camera. Well I guess the lens is as good as place as any. The high quality Leica lens is the main reason you'll want to buy this camera. The optics are highly regarded in professional reviews which consistently rate the FZ18 head and shoulders above it's competitors. It has an outstanding focal range which is the equivalent to a 28-504mm zoom on a 35mm camera. There is inbuilt image stabilization to help cope with this huge zoom which works very well... but obviously it can't perform miracles so you will still get blurred images if shooting handheld shots at 18X in low light levels. When used in normal light or with a tripod, images are excellent. In wide macro you can shoot as near as 1cm from your subject. The zoom is just wow!!!!
There is an almost overwhelming selection of modes on the FZ18 so you may be pleased to discover there is an Intelligent Auto Mode which will take care of everything... ISO speed, metering, face recognition, autofocus, etc, all you need to do is point and shoot. I use this Ai mode 80% of the time on all sorts of subjects and get superb results.
About 10% of the time I use Program mode which allows me to set a slow film speed and then just leave everything else to the FZ18. This is handy when I have the camera on a tripod for landscapes and don't want it to sacrifice film speed to prevent camera shake. Occasionally I'll use Aperture Priority or Full Manual.
There are numerous "scene" modes you can set for taking portraits, landscapes, sports, night shots etc. There are far too many modes to mention but trust me, Panasonic have everything covered from a candlelit dinner to a fireworks display! Handy if you are going to be taking several pictures in the same location but to be honest I have never used any of these modes nor the custom presets which you can set up yourself. The standard Ai mode is so good it detects faces, landscapes, backlighting and sets the appropriate exposure.
If you've upgraded from an old SLR you'll probably enjoy using the Shutter Priority and Aperture Priority modes which both do exactly what it says on the tin and are great for classic photography. There is also a Manual mode in which you can set everything yourself including manual focus. The 2.5" LCD makes it easy to frame and review your shots.
This camera has too many features to describe in a short review so perhaps it's easier to tell you what it lacks. Maybe there are just too many features, it can be difficult to navigate at times and you can spend ages trying to find something like autobracket. Image quality drops quite dramatically as ISO speeds gets higher. There is no remote or cable release. You cannot zoom once you have started filming in movie mode. An obvious but annoying thing is that the camera does not fit in your pocket. So while you don't need to carry a large camera bag full of extra lenses, flashes, etc, you do still need to sling a small bag over your shoulder. The LCD screen is fine but the viewfinder is very, very small which is disappointing as one of the main reasons I chose this camera was to use a viewfinder. Apart from that it's all good.
While the quality of printed images are very good compared to point and shoot cameras, they are not in the same league as DSLRs. 7X5 prints are very good and 8X10 are OK. I haven't printed anything onto bigger paper.
The supplied battery pack is excellent and recharges and holds it's charge much better than my Fuji.
If you want a simple point and shoot camera to stick in your pocket, forget it. However, if you are pining for an expensive DSLR but haven't yet won the lottery this could be ideal for you. It looks cool, has more features than you can shake a stick at and is the best camera you can buy for under £300.
Summary: Best camera you can buy for under £300
|Ease of use:|
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