Well, I have only had my FZ20 for two days now but so far I have not noticed a problem with noise. I too read about the noise issue but I also ready reviews and posts from new owners that dispelled this story. To me, the best source of information on a camera are from those that use it. All the posts I have readfrom new owners have been very complimentary.
To me, the FZ20 is all I had hoped for and more. Everyone has their own opinion and that is fine. I actually am glad this camera uses a proprietary battery. After several years of using my old Olympus that ate batteries like they were going out of style, I am very happy to not have to be buying AA's finally! I intend on buying an extra one or two and keeping them in the camera bag so I won't have a problem with running out of power.
So far I find all the different modes located on the dail, very user friendly and conventient. If and when I get more experience and start using the camera in manual mode, I'll figure out all the 'tricks' and workarounds I need to use the camera the way I want to. I find this part of learning about your camera fun and after all, everyone has to find workarounds and tricks for getting the most out of their particular camera so why should the FZ20 be any different? If I was not willing to do this, I'd just go out and buy a point and shoot and forget about any manual controls at all.
I am not saying that everyone will like the FZ20 or that it is the right camera for all. I am just saying that at this point in my photographic journey, it is the right camera for ME. I am not telling anyone to go out and buy the FZ20, I just think that it's a camera certainlyworth looking at and considering when buying an ultrazoom digital camera.