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rags Dec 18, 2007 11:54 PM

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I currently have a Fuji S5200 which I like quite a lot but has a few flaws--no IS, 1.8 LCD. Also, I recently had it fixed and it's focus is not what it used to be.
I take mostly landscapes and sky scapes, city pictures and people. Low light is not a priority, although it should do well with cloudy days. I don't shoot sports and no longer have small fast moving children, so action is not important to me.
I am only a beginner and am just learning how to use manual controls. I still take about 70% point and shoot, although I am intending to increase my technique.

I think the Panasonic FZ18 would be suited to me. I especially like the idea of the wide angle plus the extended zoom but I have two concerns. Several people I have read have suggested that this camera would not work as a point and shoot, but only for someone with the experience to work with it. Others have said it does fine? Any one have an opinion on this? Is it perhaps too much camera for me? I am also aware of the fact that it is the photographer who makes the picture, not the camera. I've seen many beautiful images from this camera, but perhaps they are from fine photographers. Hard to know.
The other is the concern with the problem of blue banding that I have read about (and seen the pics) on dpreview.
Other alternatives are the Canon S3is or s5is but neither of those cameras excite me the way the Fz18 does.
Suggestions and opinions appreciated.

robbo Dec 19, 2007 2:29 PM

I would probably go with the FZ-18 as superzooms are interesting for me, too.

I had the S5200 and liked it. I then bought the Olympus SP-550 and liked it too, except that it focused pretty slowly. I sold it and got its successor, the SP-560, which I like better. I looked at the FZ-18 and thought carefully about getting it instead of the the 560. However, I thought the build quality of the 560 was better and I had some Olympus accessories. What's impressive about the FZ-18 besides the super zoom, are its 4 full resolution images per second burst mode (for 1 second). I was wondering why you didn't consider the S8000fd, which Steve reviewed rather favorably.

rinniethehun Dec 19, 2007 6:08 PM


After reviewing your particular camera needs, I think the FZ18 would be OK, but maybe not the best. It seems that the only real good reason for buying the FZ18 is the 28mm...that fits in with your landscapes, etc. Although I don't have personal experience with the FZ18, it would seem (based on some of the professional reviews I've read, and sample pics) to be about the best 18x digicam out there right now - but do you need the 504mm? There are downsides to big zoom ranges - the laws of physics applies. You already mentioned one of the problems - CA. Historically, the Panasonics are not real good in low light situations, and/or high ISO usage (in some cases anything over ISO 100), and I don't think the FZ18 is any exception. And, there will be times when you will have to crank up the ISO, like cloudy days, sunrise/sunset, etc.

So, what's a budding beginner photographer to do? Take a look at the Fuji S6000fd before you take the plunge. Even though it's a recently discontinued model, it has some advantages over your current camera as well as the FZ18. They would be (in order of importance for me, anyway) a larger sensor, better low light performance, a manual zoom ring, a more powerful flash, a manual focus ring, higher resolution LCD. It also uses (4) AA batteries and xD cards, which you are already familiar with. I had an S5100, and then got an S6000fd. One word of caution...the S6000fd is not a real great 'auto everything' camera. It's a lot better when you tell it what to do, like putting it in 'P' mode, and setting the ISO manually, shutting off the flash when it's not really necessary, etc. But that's not so hard to do.

Sorry if I added to the confusion...just thought you should know.

good luck with your choice.

the Hun

robbo Dec 19, 2007 9:59 PM

I agree with Rinnie - if you can get an S6000fd at a decent price, it's worth consideration. It's bigger than the FZ-18. It really excels at low light photography. My brother has one and let me use it for a couple of pictures. I was really surprised by the image quality - very, very sharp.

But if you want the extended zoom, and plan to shoot at ISO's 400 and below, the FZ-18 is a good option. I think the Olympus SP-560 is not bad, either.

rinniethehun Dec 19, 2007 10:07 PM

If cost is a major consideration, the $50 Fuji mail-in rebate is still in effect. Takes a lllllllong time, though. I'm still waiting for mine.

the Hun

rags Dec 19, 2007 10:25 PM

Thanks Robo and The Hun both for your information and suggestions. I am still drawn by the 28 mm lens, but will look around again. I've looked at the Fuji and the Specs say it has picture stabilization, but is that real IS, or just the cranking up of the iso I already have on my s5200? I want optical/mechanical IS this time around. My other option is to hold on to my Fuji for a bit and get a small, carry around camera with a 28mm lens like perhaps the Canon sd870 IS. I have two problems with the little Canons. One is that they don't have viewfinders, and I really miss a viewfinder. The other thing is that this summer, when my Fuji broke I used my Kodak z730 (my carry around camera) and it took surprisingly good pictures. But I really missed the long zoom and missed lots of shots because I couldn't get close enough--a problem shooting birds and animals. So there is my full dilemma. I wish I had the $ to buy both a little camera and a Fuji replacement.
I will keep looking. This is a birhtday/Xmas present from my husband, and I hope prices drop a bit after the holidays. Thanks again.

robbo Dec 19, 2007 11:03 PM

The 6000fd starts at 28mm and goes to 300mm. The S8000fd does have "real" image stabilization, not just increasing the ISO to increase shutter speed. So does the SP-560. The S8000fd is available at just over $310 from several reputable etailers.

rags Dec 19, 2007 11:52 PM

Thanks again, Robo for your input. My impression from the reviews is that the FZ18 is better than the Fuji 8000, but I will have to look at the 6000 again. My only problem with the Fuji 6000 is that it intimidates me somewhat. Even Steve's review says it is really for an experienced photographer. As I said, I'm just learning, and I'd still like to be able to point and shoot sometimes. But perhaps it's time to challenge myself. As The Hun says, it's not that difficult to use P mode. Still, it is a bit worrisome.
And there is still the Canon s3/s5 possibility. They both look like decent cameras but don't have that wide angle lens. It is a confusing decision but I'm having great fun looking at all the pictures, LOL.
I still would like to know if anyone feels that the FZ18 should be avoided because of the blue band problem.
Once again, thanks for the information.


Wibblemore Dec 21, 2007 3:38 PM

Hi Rags,

I purchased the FZ-18 for a trip to China (got back 5th Dec.) I took over 1,000 shots and I'm very pleased with it (not so pleased with the photographer!) I took shots of wildlife to cities (Hong Kong at night - it did very well, I thought), landscapes to architecture.

I've not noticed any blue banding (but I'm not a 'Pixel Peeper'). I think the p&s mode on it is fine; and I like the other modes it supplies too. I did play aound with tweaking it a bit, but honestly, I don't think it's a difficult camera to get to grips with- my sister was playing around with it too with no problem.

The FZ-18 was a replacement for a KM A2 whichis a superb camera, butway too much camera for me, and too big and heavy - I didn't carry it and didn't use it.

The FZ-18 for me is near to ideal. I love the wide-angle for landscapes, the zoom is terrific ('Do you need 504mm' - ooooh, yes!!I've usedthe full zoom a lot - got some fabulous close shots ofa hanging coffin!) It offers manual control should I get the confidence up to have a play, and it's small and light enough for me to carry around happily.

I was a little unsure when I was looking at it because it does feel so light and a bit toy-like, as others have mentioned - but that actually makes using it a lot more pleaseureable.

If it excites you, I don't think you'll regret it.

Photo 5 Dec 21, 2007 5:50 PM

s6000fd or S-9100. I had an S5200 for 6 months and upgraded when I could get an S-9100. Worlds of difference in them. At the time the S-9100 was fujis top of the line p&S. The S-9100 is not a good auto camera. It does an excellent jobwhen you tell it what to do -- put in P or A mode.....


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