The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 is an 8.1 Megapixel super-zoom camera with a massive 18x optically stabilised lens. Announced in July 2007, it comes just seven months after its predecessor the Lumix FZ8.
The FZ18 may greatly resemble the earlier FZ8 from the outside, but internally there’s two major differences: first the inevitable – and somewhat unnecessary – boost in resolution from 7.2 to 8.1 Megapixels, and secondly a much more important increase in zoom range from 12x to 18x. Crucially, this doesn’t just result in a more powerful telephoto reach either, as the FZ18 now zooms wider too. So out goes the 36-432mm equivalent 12x range of the FZ8, and in comes the new and much more useful 28-504mm 18x range of the FZ18.
While these are the headline new features of the FZ18, look a little closer and you’ll notice a raft of small, but (mostly) worthwhile tweaks and enhancements. To pick a few, the macro mode now focuses as close as 1cm rather than five, the RAW mode now allows you to choose whether it’s accompanied by a JPEG file or not, the command dial has been revamped to include popular scene presets along with Panasonic’s Intelligent Auto mode, and there’s now the addition of face detection technology. In the perhaps less worthy category you’ll also find the maximum sensitivity has been increased to a somewhat optimistic 6400 ISO.
The FZ18 inherits its predecessor’s excellent movie modes which include a genuine widescreen option, and Panasonic’s excellent drop-down menu system which allows quick and easy access to common settings. There’s also the same degree of manual control which includes full adjustment of aperture and shutter speeds. All of this is packed into a light and compact body which will easily fit into small bags or even larger coat pockets.
We were very impressed by the sheer value of its predecessor the Lumix FZ8 and commented that image quality aside, the only major criticism we could make was a lack of wide angle facilities. Now Panasonic has included them on the new FZ18, along with extending the telephoto end to boot, has it created the ultimate budget super-zoom?
Find out in our Panasonic Lumix FZ18 review where we’ll point out the differences between it and its predecessor, along with comparing the image quality against what’s likely to be it biggest rival, the Fujifilm FinePix S8000fd. As always we’ll also demonstrate the camera’s key features in our FZ18 video tour. Note due to similarities with its predecessor, some sections of the following review are taken from our earlier FZ8 article.
We tested a final production Lumix FZ18, and following our convention of using default factory and best quality JPEG settings to test camera bodies unless otherwise stated, the FZ18 was set to 8M Fine JPEG mode with Auto White Balance, Multiple metering and the Standard Colour mode. The FZ18 does however offer the choice of noise reduction settings and we’ve included samples of its lowest and highest options alongside the standard setting in our FZ18 Noise Results page.