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Old Nov 25, 2007, 2:26 AM   #1
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I just got my FZ18 early this week and after reading the many reviews already out there, the very first thing I did before taking any pictures was to change some camera settings. I started in P mode andchanged the i ISO to ISO max 400 (anything beyond that produces too much noisethat I wanted to make sure I set it myself if I have no other choice). Then I went to PICT. ADJ. and lowered the NR to-2, Saturation to -1 and left Contrast and Sharpness at default (0). Adjusted exposureas I felt needed to avoid over exposure clipping (unfortunately, the FZ18 does not have the HIGHLIGHT feature that the FZ20 has, which Imuch prefer over the histogram. Why did Panasonic eliminate such a useful functionality beats me). With that, I wentoutside and started taking pictures. Macro shots of flowers, wide angle view of my backyard, trees with a bright blue sky in the background, high contrast shots, subjects in full shade and full sun and, of course, some far away bird shotsusing the long range of the zoom.After downloading them to my PC and looking at each image in Picasa,I was ready to placethe cameraback in the box and returning it to Amazon, so disgusted I was with IQ. Noise was horrible even at the lowest ISO. Images were soft andunder exposed in many cases. So I took a deep breath andmade a few more adjustments.Ipicked a very colorful subjectsitting in the shade and took pictures with every possible (positive, and by that I mean +1 and +2)combination of Contrast and Saturation. OK, now I was getting somewhere. Images were still very noisy but at least they were sharper. They were also too saturated (for my taste - I prefer more natural tones)So, I reduced Saturation to -1, left Contrast and Sharpnessat +1and decided to go against the reviews and increase NR. I took another batch of shots changing NR from -2 to +2 and found +1 to be the ideal. OK, perhaps if you take pictures of people and cropit 100% you may notice a bit of loss in detail when looking at hair shafts- does it sound familiar??? if not, you haven't read allmost popularreviews out there. The only thing that was still bugging me was the under exposure issue. So, I lowered the EVF and LCD brightness one notch and that did the trick. Now what I see is more like what I get so if the image looks too dark ,itactually istoo dark and all I have to do is increase the exposure a bit. In other words, both the EVF and the LCD are a bit too bright and they can easily mislead you in terms of how bright (or not) the image is. The histogram however, is fairly accurate.

Next, I wanted to test its flash capabilities. So I set the three custom settings for flash photography using AUTO ISO, i ISO max400 and i ISO max800 and flash WB. The results were very good. The FZ18 focus very fast in low indoor light and the colorsare well exposed, very sharpand nicely saturated. The flash range is very decent if you allow the camera to choose high ISO values. I was impressed by how quickly the flash recharges and the camera is ready for another shot. The thing is, battery life is modest, nothing to brag about, so I'm alreadyshopping for a spare.

The two things I really dislike about the FZ18 are the already mentioned lack of the HIGHLIGHT feature and the fact that every tine you turn the cameraON you have to remember to remove the lens cap or the camera will not start up until you do so and then press the > button. Very annoying indeed specially if all you want is to check the menus.

There aremany other conditions for me to test my FZ18 but I'mhappy with my initial results.

Here are some samples:


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Old Nov 25, 2007, 2:32 AM   #2
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Old Nov 25, 2007, 2:35 AM   #3
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Old Nov 25, 2007, 2:38 AM   #4
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Old Nov 25, 2007, 2:41 AM   #5
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Old Nov 25, 2007, 2:44 AM   #6
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Old Nov 25, 2007, 2:46 AM   #7
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Moon shot - handheld (504mm)
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Old Nov 25, 2007, 2:21 PM   #8
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I would be very happy with any of those pictures. For the first you might have considered some fill flash to get the front of the flowers to exposed. That type of shot is difficult for most cameras.
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Old Nov 25, 2007, 9:59 PM   #9
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Thanks for commenting, thwim. I actually use fill flash quite often. In this case, I knew that part of the flower and stems would be in the dark and I kind of liked the effect of having just edges and part of the flower expose to light. In any case, I will try the fill flash next time to see the difference between the two techniques. Cheers.
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Old Nov 26, 2007, 11:41 PM   #10
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Nice shots and good write up on the camera. The FZ18 is a camera I have been looking at to replace my Sony F717, the 18x zoom is something I would really like to have in a camera. The FZ18 looks to be a good all around personal camera for most anyone taking pictures for their own enjoyment. I was pretty sure that I was going to get the FZ18 until today, two phone calls asking me to shoot (3) weddings this Spring. For weddings I going to needmore than what the FZ18 can offer in order to shoot a wedding, after all they only (hopefully) get married once.

Now back tocamera shopping, wonder if the wife will let me get two cameras?
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