Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 Announced and First Thoughts

Discussion in 'Digital Camera News' started by Ben Stafford, Jul 24, 2007.

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  1. Ben Stafford

    Ben Stafford Site Admin

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    Panasonic's latest addition to their FZ ultra-zoom line is the 18x optical zoom-equipped Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18. The nice optically stabilized long lens can also do wide angle (28mm equivalent) and the camera can capture 8.1 megapixel images. Panasonic has also rolled out an "Intelligent Auto" mode, which provides continuous AF, automatic scene selection and a face detection system along with optical image stabilization and Intelligent ISO control. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 will be available in September 2007 for $400.

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    The Intelligent Auto mode is basically another step in the same direction that Intelligent ISO Control was in the last round of Panasonic cameras. This direction is to make it easier for your typical camera user to get the shots that they want. The continuous AF helps minimize focus time, the face detection lets you focus on and expose up to 15 faces correctly, and the Intelligent Scene Selector will choose between settings for Portrait, Scenery, Macro, Night Scenery, and Night Portrait.

    Besides the specs already mentioned, the FZ18 has a 2.5 inch, 207K pixel LCD, an electronic viewfinder with 188K pixels, a maximum aperture of f2.8, and is capable of shooting at sensitivities up to ISO 1600. If has a full complement of manual exposure modes, like shutter priority and aperture priority, as well as plenty of preset scene modes.

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    Panasonic also did some revamping of the controls a bit. There are now dedicated buttons for auto focus, auto exposure lock, and macro. It still has the joystick control that its predecessor, the FZ8, possessed as well. A rubberized grip provides a comfortable, stable way to hold the camera (and hold that 18x optical zoom steady).

    I got hands-on with the FZ18 at a press event and was pretty impressed. The camera was very comfortable to hold and the 18x optical zoom lens was very good. As is typical of Panasonic cameras, operation was very snappy. The Intelligent Auto mode should be well-received by your average camera user.

    Hands-On Shots

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    Here's an example of the power of the zoom. Shot on the left is wide-angle, shot on the right is telephoto. Shutter speed was a little too slow to get a nice sharp shot, but these shots illustrate the zoom well.

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    Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 Specs

    • 8.1 megapixels
    • 18x optical zoom lens with optical image stabilization
    • 2.5 inch, 207K pixel LCD
    • 0.44 inch, 188K pixel electronic viewfinder
    • Custom setting mode that memorizes frequently used settings
    • 1920x1080 mode for wide-screen HDTV viewing
    • Six auto focus methods: face detection, mutliple area, 3 point high speed, 1 point high speed, 1 point normal speed, spot
    • 27MB internal memory, accepts SD and SDHC media
    • Available in silver and black
    • Battery life: approximately 400 shots per charge of the lithium-ion battery
    • Dimensions: 4.63 x 2.96 x 3.47 inch
    • Weight: 0.90lb with battery and memory card
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 28, 2015
  2. usapatriot

    usapatriot Well-Known Member

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    No Manual Zoom.
    EVF is still poor.
    Small CCD means lots of noise at high ISO levels.
    Big zoom means increasing the iso to get faster shutter speed to not cause blur even with O.I.S.

    *sigh*
     
  3. AaronM

    AaronM News/Review Writer News/Review Writer

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    CCD Size?

    do we know the size of the actual CCD?
    Aaron
     
  4. Ben Stafford

    Ben Stafford Site Admin

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    It's a 1/2.5" CCD.
     
  5. wanderlust714

    wanderlust714 New Member

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    Why does the resolution decrease with increased optical zoom:confused: ? That sounds like fancy marketing for digital zoom to me.
     
  6. Ben Stafford

    Ben Stafford Site Admin

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    Are you referring to the wide-angle vs telephoto shots in the article? If so, I actually resized them since I was just demonstrating the optical zoom.
     
  7. bTaryag

    bTaryag Well-Known Member

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    Seems like a nice camera. The only thing it has over my beloved Canon S5 is 18x zoom and wide angle. The latter is especially nice. And it's also 100 bucks less.

    I wonder about the continuous AF - how quick is is - do you not have to spend any time focusing? The S5 also has is, and it reduces focus time, but does not eliminate it.
     
  8. Ben Stafford

    Ben Stafford Site Admin

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    Under the conditions in which I was using the camera, the continuous AF was not really quick enough to zero in on the subject. I was in a slightly darkened theater and shooting Broadway artists on a stage - the problem was that the artists kept moving. I'm sure it helped once I did press the shutter partway to get the focus lock, but I wasn't able to actually do any timing.
     
  9. wanderlust714

    wanderlust714 New Member

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    No, I'm talking about this part of the spec:

    Optical: 18x
    Extra Optical :
    4:3 Aspect Ratio: 23x for 5 Mega, 28.7x for 3 / 2 / 0.3 Mega
    3:2 Aspect Ratio: 23x for 4.5 Mega, 28.7x for 2.5 Mega
    16:9 Aspect Ratio: 23x for 3.5 Mega, 28.7x for 2 Mega

    I don't quite understand this, but basically it looks like full zoom only has 3 Mega or less resolution.
     
  10. Ben Stafford

    Ben Stafford Site Admin

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    Past the 18x full-res optical zoom, the camera uses a smaller portion of the sensor. The lens isn't moving any more, but the camera also isn't zooming in electronically or doing any sampling to create a full-res image from something much less than full res. It's not really a "zoom", but more of a crop factor.

    For example, if you have a group shot with 10 people at 18x zoom and you decide to let the "extended zoom" operate, only a part of the image is used, so only 2-3 people would fit in that smaller-res image, but the same portion of the sensor that captures those 2-3 people is the same as in the 18x shot. Does that make sense? I'm having problems figuring out the best way to say it.
     
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