Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 versus Fujifilm FinePix S8000fd real-life noise
To compare noise levels under real-life conditions we shot this scene with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 and the Fujifilm FinePix S8000fd within
a few moments of each other using each of their ISO settings in Program mode.
The lenses on each camera were adjusted to deliver the same field of view. In this first set of crops, the FZ18's Noise Reduction was at the default 0 setting.
The image left was taken with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 at 7mm f5.6 and with a sensitivity of 100 ISO; the original JPEG measured 2.87MB. The crops are taken from an area just below and to the left of the centre and presented here at 100%. Like its predecessor, the Lumix FZ18 suffers from visible noise at every sensitivity and if you're looking, you'll find it even at 100 ISO. That said, the results at 100 ISO do contain plenty of detail, and the camera's effective stabilisation at least allows you to use this sensitivity on a fairly regular basis. Jumping to 200 ISO sees a fall in detail, but it's still acceptable for most situations. A big drop in quality occurs at 400 ISO and another at 800 ISO, beyond which it's best not to mention.
That said, this is nothing we haven't become used to with non-DSLRs these days and you only have to look at the results alongside from Fujifilm's FinePix S8000fd to see it arguably has worse problems with noise. It's also worth looking at our Panasonic Lumix FZ8 noise results to see the addition of an extra Megapixel on the FZ18 hasn't had a detrimental effect on noise levels. And on the upside, the FZ18's RAW mode at least gives you the option to apply more sophisticated noise reduction to uncompressed image data later if you prefer. The FZ18 also offers adjustable noise reduction settings and to see how they compare, scroll to the bottom of this page.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18
Fujifilm FinePix S8000fd
64 ISO not available
1250 ISO not available
High Sensitivity Preset (1600 ISO at 3 Mpixels, scaled-up here)
3200 ISO (4 Megapixels, scaled-up here)
3200 and 6400 ISO not selected by High Sensitivity preset
6400 ISO (4 Megapixels, scaled-up here)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 noise reduction settings
The Panasonic Lumix FZ18 allows you to adjust its noise reduction by two steps in either direction. We photographed the same scene as above using the FZ18 set to its lowest and highest noise reduction settings along with the default zero position - note these photos were taken on a different day to those above.
You really need to pixel peep to spot many differences between the samples below up to 800 ISO. As you'd expect, the low NR setting has slightly greater fine detail at the cost of visible noise, while the high NR setting shows a smoother result, but with more smearing. But these are really subtle differences in practice. Greater differences become noticeable at higher sensitivities, but these deliver such compromised quality you'd be unlikely to use them often.
So while it's a little disappointing there isn't more detail to retrieve from the low NR option, at least the FZ18 still has its RAW mode to fall back on. This page is of course just one example of the FZ18's ISO range, so for more examples, check out our FZ18 sample image gallery.