Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18

The FZ18 performs typically for its class. From power on to first shot takes only 1.8 seconds, pretty quick for a long-lenser. Time to focus and shoot runs only 0.7 second in good light, rising to 1.1 seconds in dimmer situations--good for a non-dSLR, but still slower than you want. The interval for two consecutive shots is a brisk 1.3 seconds, which rises to an uncommonly fast 1.8 seconds with flash. Raw capture runs a bit slower--2.3 seconds for two sequential shots--which makes raw shooting a suboptimal workaround for the JPEG issues discussed earlier. In burst mode, it snaps at a clip of about 3.7 frames per second, but the camera's continuous shooting is limited to 7 frames at standard quality and 4 frames at fine quality.

Panasonic's Mega OIS image stabilizer works well, as always. In casual testing, photographing a stationary subject indoors at the camera's maximum 504mm-equivalent focal length using multipoint focus, I was able to shoot a reasonably sharp photo at 4 stops slower than mandated by the reciprocal focal-length rule; 1/125 second instead of 1/2,000 second. On the other hand, the FZ18's relatively low resolution 207,000-pixel 2.5-inch LCD and EVF disappoint. Typical for this class of cameras, they preview completely different color and exposures, but worse, they update far slower those of than competitors such as the S8000fd, making it difficult to shoot active subjects such as kids and pets.

You don't have much choice if you want one of these really long-lensed megazooms, but the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18 looks to be the best of a not-so-great lot. It's a fine camera, as long as you keep in mind its shortcomings and can work around them.

Shooting time (in seconds)
(Smaller bars indicate better performance )
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Time to first shot  
Shutter lag (dim)  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Canon PowerShot S5 IS
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-H9
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18
Fujifilm FinePix S8000fd
Olympus SP-550 Ultra Zoom

Typical continuous-shooting speed (frames per second)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

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