The FZ18 sits in the increasingly popular "super zoom" category of compact cameras.
Whilst this is not an SLR (and doesn't pretend to be), it offers great picture quality, fantastic zoom and superb image stabilisation.
As a "point and shoot" camera, it's great. Just select "intelligent auto" mode and away you go, everything is done for you.
If you are more advanced, then you can really start to see the advantages of this camera. It has all of the manual tweaks for focus, aperture priority, ISO settings, etc.
There have been some reviews that seem to be concerned with the quality of the pictures in high ISO settings. Well, it is a cause for concern if you are regularly using the higher ISO settings, but for most of us, who tend to shoot in reasonably light conditions, or use the flash, it is not an issue.
Also, software like noise ninja can be used to fix this in post processing.
The fact that the image can be saved in RAW format, rather than just JPEG means that post processing holds a lot more options than most cameras in this price range.
Overall, an excellent camera that lets you get close to SLR quality without getting anywhere near SLR prices!