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Old Apr 6, 2008, 4:00 PM   #1
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I'm ready to take the plunge, and (like everyone else) find no particular digicam is "perfect". The Panasonic FZ18 is really close, but I want to know if something better exists now or is right around the corner.

I need a wide-angle zoom lens and some form of image stabilization, which greatly limits the selection. I like a zoom, but not necessarily a super zoom.

I've read every reviiew on the web.

I really like the image quality at low ISO offered by the FZ18. This probably knocks the Fuji and Olympus superzooms off my short list.

I really like the lens qualities of the FZ18. Distortion and purple fringing also tend to knock Fuji and Olympus off my short list.

About the only real problem I have with the FZ18 is noise at higher ISO. I tend to take a lot of pictures in dimly-lit rooms where some of the subject is out of flash range.

Is Panasonic about to update the FZ line with a new model? Maybe with a 20x lens, updated Venus engine, and new imager (unfortunately from a noise standpoint - likely to have more pixels)?

Should I wait for one of the competing superzooms to get reviewed on the web. They might have improved somewhat. The older ones haven't compared favorably against the FZ18.

What about other alternatives. Is Nikon or Sony about to come out with something that meets my needs? Is anyone thinking of using a larger imager in a wide-angle zoom with stabilization?

What's coming around the bend?

I've also thought about SLRs, but they have their own set of problems (including price)? The E-510 from Olympus might work, but it suffers from a smallish imager. I like the new Sony Alphas, such as the A300 and A350, but apparently the kit lens leaves a lot to be desired and the 16-80 lens is wonderful but out of my price range.

Thanks, Tom
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Old Apr 6, 2008, 5:14 PM   #2
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I have the FZ18.There is no getting away form serious problem with noise at low light conditions. In day light it is a fantastic camera and the zoom is great as is the wide angle ...

I don't know if there is anything better though. I was initially very dissappointed as the pics i got were much worse than I had taken on FZ5 as far as noise is concerned. I bought a noise reduction program which has helped a little buut there is no getting away from the serious noise problem.

Jussi.

PS. I am about to post a series taken today in London at midday outside where noise was not a problem!


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Old Apr 9, 2008, 1:25 AM   #3
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I bought the FZ18 back in Dec last year and sold it last week. It's a good camera once you learn how to get the most out of it. I found noise to be a bit of a problem (typical of Panasonic cameras, though). Once I tweaked some camera settings, I achieved good results. I also found resolution at 18x long FL to be poor compared to my 5 MP first generation 12x zoom Sony H1. The camera offers an awful lot of controls, which is helpful. Flash photography was decent as long a the camera was set to ISO 400, otherwise, the flash is not powerful enough. Images are good, thoughas long asthe subject is within a short range from the camera. I believe the FZ18 is the best long zoom camera out there but I'd wait for the Sony H50. With a slightly larger sensor, the H50 is promising. The otheralternative is the Oly SP570, which apparently has received a lot of praise and decent reviews.
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Old Apr 10, 2008, 8:36 AM   #4
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I would look at the sample photos on the review on this site or dpreview and see what you think of the noise..........I am not real fond of my FZ18 but it has nothing to do with noise.....I do not like the small size or the dang joystick thing or the extending lens.....but if you are not a pixel peeper and learn how to properly expose photos ,I do not think noisewill be a big problem.....I am not saying there is no noise ,I am only saying that displayed at about 1400 pixels on the long side or printed up to 8 X 10 you may find the noise acceptable. I use no NR at all and I can live with the noise...... I will add, when I want noise free photos I use a DSLR.

There have been lots of high ISO shots posted at dpreview that are very nice.
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Old Apr 10, 2008, 10:52 AM   #5
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Thanks everyone.

I looked at the sample photos, and have decided the noise would be a problem for me. Noise appears to be worse than I am suffering from now with various P&S cameras. I'm not pixel peeking, but I do use computer software to lighten shadows, and find that along with detail in the shadows, I get excessive noise. And this is in 8x10 prints.

I'm now looking into DSLRs. The new Canon Rebel XSi (EOS-450D) looks promising, with less noise and a sharper kit lens than the Sony Alpha DSLR-A350.
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Old Apr 10, 2008, 11:15 AM   #6
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Don't ignore the Olympus E510. It comes packed with great features, it's small (for an DSLR) but very comfortable to handle. However, its best asset is the Zuiko kitlens (or lenses if you buy the 2-lens kit). They are very compact, light and have great optics. The camera has its share of flaws but so does the Canon, Nikon or any other entry level DSLR. All I'm saying is that it's worth a look.
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Old Apr 10, 2008, 3:10 PM   #7
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Remember what I said a properly exposed photo goes a long way toward eliminating noise......lightening shadows does not fall in that scheme.....but you did the correct thing making up your own mind.

Both those dslrs are excellent choices.......I prefer Nikon but the Sony seems very interesting.





tomlang wrote:
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Thanks everyone.

I looked at the sample photos, and have decided the noise would be a problem for me. Noise appears to be worse than I am suffering from now with various P&S cameras. I'm not pixel peeking, but I do use computer software to lighten shadows, and find that along with detail in the shadows, I get excessive noise. And this is in 8x10 prints.

I'm now looking into DSLRs. The new Canon Rebel XSi (EOS-450D) looks promising, with less noise and a sharper kit lens than the Sony Alpha DSLR-A350.
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Old Apr 16, 2008, 2:24 PM   #8
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Tom-

I went through your original post very carefully. I concluded that you might want to take a good look at the Panasonic TZ-5 camera. It could be a viable alternative, wth its iA Mode, the 460,000 pixel LCD screen, its ability tozoom while taking HD video clips, and its very small form factor. Take a look at these photos. Are these the kind of photos you really want to take?

Sarah Joyce









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Old Apr 17, 2008, 1:29 AM   #9
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I don't know if Tom will take a look at the TZ5 but I certainly will. I like those shots, Sarah. It appears to be a very capable camera, with a 28mm WA lens. It seems like a better option over the Sony H10 (the H3 cost $100 less so that may be something to consider).
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Old Apr 19, 2008, 10:37 AM   #10
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Tullio-

In actual practice the TZ-5 is a better shaped camera for going into a pocket or in the corner of your camera bag. The battery life between the two camera is just about the same. The photos right out of the camera on the TZ-5 require less PP than those from the H-3. So when we head out for a three month contract, I will be taking the TZ-5 with me instead of the H-3, or I will see if I can rearrange my camera bag to take the FZ-18, the H-3, and the TZ-5 all stowed in the vertical position to save space.

Here (in the photo below)are all three cameras stowed vertically in a slightly taller camera case. And they fit in rather nicely with excellent protection.

Have a great weekend!

Sarah Joyce



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