Panasonic Lumix FZ18 – review
Eleven days ago I unboxed the Panasonic Lumix FZ18 and now we have spent some serious time with the super-zoom FZ18 to measure it up. The camera features a massive 18x Leica zoom lens with optical image stabilisation and a 28-504mm equivalent focal length range. Check out our full review of this nice camera.
Body and design
The FZ18 is a solid camera, but it still only weighs in at 360 grams which makes it nearly 200 grams lighter than the Canon S5 and half the weight of a Fuji S9600, The grip surface is textured and it feels very nice to have it in your feed. You can access all buttons easily and you can really tell that they have been working hard on usability and the user interface – very intuitive and I really like it! The dimensions are 117.6 x 75.3 x 88.2 millimeters.
You will use the 2.5 inch LCD display most of the time when you shoot photos since the small viewfinder is quite bad (it’s not an optical viewfinder).
A view from the top.
A side shot with the flash popped up.
The display is very bright, clear and easy to read.
The Leica lens is a tryly impressive piece of equipment. Combined with the built-in image stabilization the FZ18 is capable of taking some amazing shots. Let me give you an example to see what I am talking about:
Here’s a wide angle photo, zoomed out to the max. I am going to zoom in on the marked area. (ISO 100, 1/100, f3.2).
And now I have zoomed in to the max. Pretty amazing don’t you think? I tried to do a similar shot with a Canon 400D and a Tamron 70-300 zoom lens but it was nearly impossible without a tripod.
And here is a 100% crop from the image above. The amount of noise is quite high even though it’s only shot using ISO 200 (1/100, f4.2).
Here’s another example as this is the single most impressive feature of the Lumix FZ18.
Impressive stuff! These kinds of details are impossible to see without a pair of binoculars.
Here is a comparison of the noise level in the available ISO settings (100, 200, 400, 800, 1250 and 1600). The ISO 100 is pretty clean and almost noise free, at ISO 200 you can see some noise but it doesn’t disturbe you unless you do a 100% crop. ISO 400 is useable but a lot of details are lost and in the 800, 1250 and 1600 level the amount of noise is very high. Here is a close-up of the different shots:
Camera Effective Pixels: 8.1 Megapixels
Optical Image Stabilizer: MEGA O.I.S. (Mode 1 / Mode 2 )
Optical Zoom: 18x
CCD (Image Sensor): 1/2.5″, 8.32 Total Mega Pixels CCD, Primary Color Filter
Extra Optical Zoom: 4:3 Aspect Ratio: 23x for 5 Mega, 28.7x for 3 Mega, 2 Mega, 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
Digital Zoom: 4x (Max. 72x combined with Optical Zoom without Extra Optical Zoom) (Max. 115x combined with Extra Optical Zoom)
Focal Length: f=4.6-82.8mm (35mm equiv.: 28-504mm)
Lens: Leica DC Vario-Elmarit Lens
Lens Construction: 11 Elements in 8 Groups (3 Aspherical Lenses/4 Aspherical Surfaces)
Aperture Range Wide: F2.8 – F8.0
Tele: F4.2 – F8.0
ISO Sensitivity: 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1250 / 1600 (High Sensitivity Mode: Auto(1600-6400)
Burst Shooting Mode: Full-Resolution Image, 3 frames/sec Max. 7 images (Standard Mode), Max 4 images (Fine Mode)
Here are some photos in their original size to give you a couple of examples of the image quality from the Lumix FZ18.
Verdict: 9 out of 10
The combination of the massive 18x optical zoom and the incredibly good image stablization system makes the FZ18 my top pick in the super zoom category. The camera is extremely easy to learn, easy to use and you can take really great photos with it – photos that you can’t take with for instance a Canon EOS 400D or a Nikon D40x unless you have some seriously expensive lenses.
If the noise level would have been a bit lower in ISO 400 and ISO 800 the FZ18 would be a solid 10! Highly recommended!