I sold my Panasonic DMC-FZ18 to a birder in India last spring, thinking that I would simply order one of the next generation of ultra-zooms. Thanks to Amazons 30 day return policy I tried the Fujifilm HS10, Nikon P100, Panasonic FZ100 and now the Canon SX30IS. Its my first day...but it looks like the Canon is a keeper (finally). From a birders perspective....focusing was a constant struggle for the Nikon & Fuji...they only took good pictures in ideal conditions...and even then images were soft (blurry detail). The Panasonic did a great job of staying in focus...but is shots were too soft for my eye. This Canon is doing an amazing job of focusing, it ignored the foliage in the way & picked out a crow perched in a tree enjoying an apple, more than a 1000 feet distant at 35X (Canon SX30 35x zoom simulator online: http://canon-sx30.blogspot.com/
). My 35X shot of a Golden crowned sparrow ...in mediocre light... was really detailed and the 35X shot of a Black Phoebe in late afternoon light was tops as well. The image stabilization is excellent!...and it feels so much lighter than the Fuji...comparable with the Panasonic FZ100.