August 7, 2007 Ten years ago the release of the first digital camera to have one-megapixel resolution under US$1000 was cause for celebration. In two years time, manufacturers had comfortably doubled that resolution and by 2001, it had doubled again... and the trend continues unabated into 2007 with the latest 8.1 megapixel release from Panasonic - the LUMIX DMC-FZ18. Though not matching Fujifilm's recent 12-megapixel F50fd in resolution, the DMC-FZ18 boasts 18x optical zoom – six times the average zoom of one year ago - and has a raft of other features including face detection and image stabilization.
Optical zoom has taken a back seat to resolution in previous years but is again high on the agenda of many camera manufacturers. The Panasonic LUMIX is among the leaders in this respect alongside models like the Olympus SP-550 UZ and the Fujifilm FinePix S8000fd.
The DMC-FX18 joins the LUMIX DMC-FX33 and DMC-FX55 as the first Panasonic digital cameras to offer the revolutionary Intelligent Auto Mode, which includes Face Detection, Intelligent Scene Selector and Continuous Auto-focus functions. Intelligent Auto Mode enhances the ease and effectiveness of a shot in a myriad of different ways. It can focus on any of up to 15 pre-determined faces and hold focus for an extended period of time, even on a moving subject. It assists with selecting the scene mode for the shot, choosing from categories such as portrait, scenery, macro, night scenery and night portrait. The camera has advanced countermeasures against blurring, compensating for two fronts - the Intelligent Image Stabilization system counterbalances hand shaking and the Intelligent ISO Control detects and adjusts motion blur caused by subject movement.
The LUMIX DMC-FZ18 is equipped with a 2.5 inch high resolution LCD screen with 207,000 pixels, and a 0.44 inch electric viewfinder which has 188,000 pixels and is powered by the Venus Engine III which can shoot at ISO 1600 in normal recording mode. The auto focus, auto exposure lock and Macro buttons are independent, allowing quick and direct operation. The redesigned body also incorporates the joystick made popular by the DMC-FZ8 model, which enables a host of settings, such as manual focusing and exposure, to be accessed quickly and easily.
The 360 gram LUMIX DMC-FZ18 will be available in September 2007 for a suggested retail price of US$399.95.