Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Panasonic 18x Zoom LUMIX DMC-FZ18 Camera

The race toward ever-higher megapixel may be over, but looks like the race to make the biggest zoom has just started. Sony started it all by introducing the DSC-H9 with a 15x zoom lens, when everybody was still making 12x zooms. This week, Panasonic answered: a 8.1 megapixel camera with a 18x zoom lens in the form of FZ18.
The new Leica DC Vario-Elmarit allows zoom range of 28-504mm. It allows slightly wide angle coverage as well as massive zoom in capability. If this was a 35mm camera, the lens would look like a telescope. Macro performance has been greatly improved to allow minimum shooting distance of just 1cm at the wide end and 1m at the tele end. The only worry is distortion. If distortion is kept low, this would be a tremendous camera.

The new feature common in all the new Panasonic cameras is the Intelligent Auto Mode feature. Tired of getting poor pictures out of the Auto mode? This new mode automatically detects motion, faces, shake, and even the type of scene and sets the best settings. Scene detection includes normal, portrait, scenery, macro, night scenery and night portrait. It sounds quite amazing and could be a godsend for times when you need to hand the camera over to a friend or when you're just too lazy.

I find it curious why Panasonic brought out this camera so soon. Could this mean the end of the FZ50 series? In any case, the Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ18 looks to be a very good camera. It will be available in September 2007 for an MSRP of $399.95.

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