Crave looks back on being 18 with fondness. We could fit into 28-inch jeans, listen to Blur on cassette tape, and didn't even have an email address. Actually it was rubbish, not least because we didn't have cameras like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18, with its monster 18x zoom. A zoom that size magnifies camera shake, so Panasonic has chucked in its Mega Optical Image Stabilizer. Mega! Haven't said that since we were 18.
The first thing to strike you is that the FZ18 is a chunky fella, but not as big as we might have expected. The lens is enormous, and gazing closely into it while zooming in and out is strangely hypnotic... It's equivalent to 28-504mm on a 35mm film camera, so there's plenty of space at the wide end, and the ability to zoom in on the action a long, long way away.
The camera itself boasts 8.1 megapixels, a 64mm (2.5-inch) LCD screen, and idiot-proof intelligent auto mode. Like many superzooms, the FZ18 features an electronic viewfinder, which we're not that keen on. But at least this one includes a dioptre, allowing you to dial the focus of the EVF to suit your eye.
The DMC-FZ18 shoots raw footage, as well as the option to shoot raw and JPEGs together. You can only fit two of those in the internal memory though. Shutter priority, aperture priority, scene modes and fully or programmed manual modes are all available. We particularly like the dinky little joystick for changing settings. And you get a lens cap. Mega!
Update: Aof the FZ18 is now available. -Rich Trenholm