1,183 of 1,199 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Panasonic Lumix TZ18 Digital Camera - Black (14.1MP, 16x Optical Zoom) 3.0 inch LCD (Electronics)For the majority of people looking for a "pocket" camera - they can stop looking. This will honestly do for pretty much everything you really need. It's the newly released little brother to the £100 more expensive TX20. Personally I did have a good look at this and nearly got it but in the end decided that I wouldn't pay the extra money for the Geo-tagging feature on the camera and would make do with just remembering where I was when I took the photo. If you really want to know where you were maybe just take a photo of a road sign nearby ? Works for me anyway :o)
It is not perfect, of course, but even if you take a "money no object" approach to picking an upper premium compact camera - there is currently nothing on the market that is head and shoulders better than this - although there can always be a case made for different qualities.
Big zoom - check
Good "glass" on the front - yep, Leica
Good quality photos - sure, with the caveat that a "full monty" digital SLR will do better - the photos come out are a nice colour (not too vivid but also not too tame and washed out) and they aren't a funny colour in artificial light (some cameras can struggle and give you a funny tint under striplights or old fashioned tungsten bulbs).
Noise levels - definitely there especially at higher ISO's but you get this problem to and exten even with the bigger sensor SLR's up to a year or two ago - and even the best of the modern breed aren't infallible if you read the reviews
HD Video - check, but in MPEG format. This takes up more space than AVCHD but I would be wary of getting a camera that uses this format if you have an older PC or laptop and especially if netbook - because the hardware may not be able to cope - so I guess that's Windows XP definitely wary - Vista machines more wary esp if you have a laptop as the hardware will be likely slower than the equivalent PC. I have a mixture of laptops and netbooks running Windows 7 through to XP so didn't want to take the chance - especially as other family members and the kids will probably want to view some of the footage (family and my kids have the older machines whilst dad gets the upgrade LOL). I wonder if the AVCHD format on the more expensive TZ20 is going to be a bit of an evolutionary dead end - just as BLU RAY hasn't really taken off even though it's technically better than DVD - most people even if they have a big widescreen TV find that their DVD is fine (probably because the modern DVD players and TV's will upscale the DVD resolution to give a semi-HD picture quality). The TZ20 I think gives you the option to record in both I think I read somewhere but if this a deal breaker you should check for sure.
If you only want a great point and shoot camera this has loads of options - which are really easy to access and the menus pretty much tell you what each option (mode) is going to do for you. Some cameras have menus that were laid out by people from Mars as they are so unintuitive that you have to keep referring to the instruction book to work out what to do even if you're pretty experienced with cameras.
This has A LOT of manual control thrown in which is pretty unusual in the compact camera class. The big SLR cameras will all give you this - but until now there haven't really been any cameras that give you a big zoom range and full control like in an SLR. If you are looking for something more suited to your needs in a little bit if you want to be more creative and do more than point and shoot then this camera will do that for you - as it has Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Full Manual modes.
If you are an experienced SLR user looking for a backup camera, I can tell you that the PASM options are pretty nicely implemented. Pretty sensibly placed access buttons (the small round exposure button and Q Menu buttons to the right of the screen do this) and the menus are nicely set up to access the bits you want for Aperture / Shutter priority & full manual control.
The 16x optical zoom is class leading. Only compare optical zoom between cameras and ignore the Panasonic advertising guys (or anybody else )who point to the overall 20x zoom - because if you include the quoted digital zoom - the extra 4x zoom basically just crops your optical zoom photo in camera - and your laptop software will do that - only better - though I guess it might be relevant if you don't want to be doing with all that and just need an "okay" photo).
It has a really good wide angle lens - 24mm - the lower the number the better and 24mm is currently the lowest I am aware of. The lower the number the more you can fit into the photo - so if you are looking at a nice panorama or want to take a photo with the whole table in the shot - you are more likely to get it with this lens when compared to other cameras which start at 27mm, 28mm, 35mm. Be aware if you are thinking of getting a more budget camera or an outgoing model this small difference can be the difference between getting everything and not quite everything into the shot that you want.
OVERALL it just feels nice in the hand and has a cool solid feeling metal body - none of which would be of any use if the photos weren't top notch ... but luckily they are in my opinion. Sure you can get a little better photos perhaps but a lot of this is personal preference - like how you like your TV at home to be set up with brighter or more vivid colours or the opposite. In technical terms compact cameras are never going to match SLR cameras but the camera reviewers who do this for a living always seem to get a bit obsessed about this and not emphasising this enough. This gives great photos other compact cameras.
A lot of the websites offering camera reviews are a bit misleading IMHO as they often don't compare like with like.
For instance they will complain about high noise at higher ISO - which most pocket cameras will have as their image sensor is smaller than their digital SLR breathren.
If you want a big zoom compact for day to day use and have a digital SLR for "proper" photos (like I'm lucky enough to have) this will do a great job for you.
If you want a compact camera and this is going to be your primary camera you will be happy with what you get from this I think - but try not to get too hung up on technical reviews as it is never going to give you technical quality photos of a large SLR - but you can video with it (even the newest SLR's don't do that very well though heaven knows why not - maybe they just have a slow escalation marketing policy and are going to deliver that to the market as the desire for SLR's with video capability increases). And remember that if you wanted a whopping great SLR you'd have got a whopping great SLR.
Go and have a look at "in the flesh" in store to see if the size suits you though. There aren't any smaller camera's with this big a zoom, but there are plenty of camera's which are smaller and more pocket / handbag friendly.
IF you consider the size too big then you should definitely look at other camera's, but if the zoom is just what you are looking for like me - then this is for you I reckon (unless you have a strong afinity or hankering for another brand in particular I guess).
IF you really want lower noise on high ISO photos but don't want an SLR and still want the big zoom then do have a look around at the competition.
IF you just want a nice pocket camera that gives you nice photos but are on a budget then you should look at the outgoing models from all of the manufacturers but do have a look at Fuji as they have currently (March 28th 2011) some nice deals on their outgoing models which would give you good zoom and reasonable photos eg Finepix F80 10x zoom 12MP Finepix JZ300 10x zoom 12MP.
And finally don't get hung up on the megapixels on a compact camera - the quality of the "glass" on the front of the camera is likely going to have just a big if not bigger impact - and although there are exceptions this will often equate to more expensive = better glass ... which is why getting a formerly £200+ camera (eg the FUJI mentioned above) as they are being discounted for the newer models is worthwhile as the more expensive ones will have good quality lenses - plus anything above 10MP is going to be fine 90% of the time - more megapixels often means more grainy photos in darker conditions.
If you love comparisons and want to have "the best" here's my snapshot of some good alternatives - although there are potentially important subtleties amongst them - how fast can they take photos - how do they perform in low light with the flash off - how realistic are the colours (which can definitely be a personal taste thing) - and also really important day to day things away from how good the camera is technically in delivering a good photo or video - eg are the buttons and switches and menus in just the right or wrong spot for you - and does it feel good in the hand to you - you may prefer a lighter camera, bigger or smaller buttons
Panasonic TZ18 14.1MP 25mm wide angle 16x zoom - there are definitely lighter smaller cameras but not if you want a zoom this big.
Panasonic TZ10 - the old range topping TZ10 which has only just been replaced by the TX20 - was retailing at £349 on Amazon - before the current price drop to £242 - has a 25mm lens
Sony DSCHX7V at similar priced £254 - higher 16.2MP, but 25mm wide angle zoom and only 10x Optical Zoom
Canon PowerShot SX210 has 14.1 MP and 14x zoom but only 28mm lens - though it is currently down from £359 to £230.99 looks a good bet too
Nikon CoolPix S 8100 has 12.1MP, significantly lower wide angle lens at 30mm so you won't be able to get so much scenery into the shot, only 10x zoom but is therefore smaller and more pocket / handbag friendly. It has a fast shooting 10 frames per second though the TZ18 can do similar job if not quite so fast. It has less manual control as it has no Shutter and Aperture Priority.
I reckon in this price range as you'd expect their all pretty good with mild strengths and weaknesses.
ME ... I wanted big zoom on a compact camera with a wide zoom and already have an SLR so this is perfect, although there are no doubt one or two better cameras out there, they aren't that much better to make me worry.
Good luck and have fun picking your camera.
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Showing 1-10 of 68 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Apr 2011 00:06:44 BDT
Thanks 'Captain Zoom' for taking the trouble to post such a comprehensive review which I've found to be vey helpful. I've been looking for a new camera for a while now and had more or less decided on the TZ20 but didn't really want to pay for a GPS feature that I probably wouldn't use. The TZ18 is significantly less money for similar cameras and I'll have to decide if the other differences between the two are worth the extra. Also I don't really need the camera for a few months so I'll take into account the price difference when I come to buy it.
I really like the LX5 because of it's larger lens but cannot really justify the cost of it plus I beleive it to be more bulky than the TZ series.
Thanks again for an excellent review.
Posted on 2 Apr 2011 12:28:37 BDT
Last edited by the author on 2 Apr 2011 12:30:35 BDT
K. Davis says:
What a fabulous review. I am in need of some help, I have absolutely no knowledge of cameras, do not understand what they are talking about when they mention noise etc!
I want to be able to point and shoot - having said that I have played with two camera's one was Panasonic Lumix TZ10 and the Fuji Finepix 300EXR. I took pictures of my daughter in the store and I just felt that the Panasonic results on the screen looked nicer but I was not interested in paying for something I didn't need (GPS) also the Fuji had a 15x zoom. So off I went on my merry way looking to purchase the Fuji. Then I came on here, the Fuji had 4 reviews in comparison with 235 on the Panasonic, a quick look at Amazon.com showed 41 reviews for the Fuji and 400 + for the Panasonic. I started reading the reviews and started to be leaning towards the Panasonic. Then the price of Fuji dropped from £189 to £135, price of Panasonic is £194.
I asked my husband to take a look who is no camera expert but is far more technical than me, I told him to ignore the price. He read a few of the professional reviews and opted for the Fuji. He has a Panasonic 35mm - not sure which model but several years old now and far to technical for me.
The problem is I know that the TZ10 is an older camera launched I believe around Jan 2010 so you would expect more reviews but there just seems to be so few reviews for the Fuji which I believe was launched in July 2010. I get the impression it hasn't been particularly good and hasn't sold very well.
So now we come to the TZ18 and TZ20 - I started to look at them and thought its only another £80 or so to get the TZ20 but when I read about the 3D - that put me off slightly as I don't need it, we have just relaced all our tv's but have got full hd not 3d - don't mind sitting in the cinema with daft glasses on but not at home. So then I looked at the TZ18 and the first thing I saw was that the LCD screen size is smaller which seems a real shame.
So to conclude I am still really unsure which camera to go for. Help!!!!!!
ps sorry for long post
In reply to an earlier post on 4 Apr 2011 07:33:33 BDT
Hi, I had the same dilemma, but eventually went for the TZ18 and I love it. Like you I wasn't bothered about the GPS or 3D and frankly the touch screen system doesn't appeal as it is easy to change the desired settings if you catch the wrong on-screen icon which are quite small. But that's down to personnel preference. The screen by the way on the TZ18 is 3", same as on the TZ20. Some websites quote it incorrectly as 2.7". Check the specs on the Panasonic site. regards .. Potwasher
In reply to an earlier post on 4 Apr 2011 11:05:25 BDT
Last edited by the author on 4 Apr 2011 11:55:39 BDT
Hi Kr K. Davis,
In regards to the Finepix 300EXR - this is a really good price for what by all accounts is a good point and shoot. It was selling for more than twice that - in fact the only reason I bought the TZ18 was because Amazon sent me an email advertising this camera and so I got to thinking ... !!! I think if you got this as a point and shoot you would be quite happy - and I am toying with getting one at this price for my mother in law for her birthday in a few months time. Remember that although pricey cameras can be unsatisfactory to own (best to have a play in a shop I reckon to see what suits you best and not rely too heavily on technical reviews) they usually do have good quality "glass" on the front of them. So this camera would be better than similarly priced cameras which were always intended to be in this price range "from the off" - and they would tend to have lower quality lenses on the front. CNET (a pretty reliable gadgets review site) said "This camera's great zoom range, metal build and cracking LCD screen are occasionally let down by rather dull, listless images lacking in contrast. The Fujifilm FinePix F300EXR's noisy zoom and overly sensitive mic are also considerable pitfalls"
TZ10 is pretty good if you want to save £30 or so. I checked the price this morning and it's currently £194 which for me would mean I would get the TZ18 as the price differential isn't so great.
The TZ8 looks to me to be best value for a point and shoot camera though - and if I understand the Panasonic heirarchy correctly - it was the slightly lower specified version of the the TZ10. The currently reduced price of £164 is because of the TZ18/20 cameras release.
Overall, if you need to be able to zoom in close or take five photos in a second or two eg birdwatcher or have children/grandchildren then get the TZ18 and if you don't need to zoom in quite so close or take quick succession of photos - plus you'd be happy saving £60 or so (the prices on Amazon do fluctuate a bit) - then I would get the TZ10 which at £164 is really good value - most of the Amazon reviews were positive as you know.
If you want a really good value camera - and would feel happy saving nearly £100 - the Fuji at today's price of £135 would be good.
I haven't really looked at their relative video capabilities so much but the hi definition video on the TZ18 is pretty nice and if money no object I'd get this of the cameras you are looking at. I agree with you GPS on the TZ20 is a gimmick - though in 20 years my failing memory might disagree !!!
I hadn't thought of it for my own purposes but considering things from purely the point and shoot ability perspective - as a point and shoot the touchscreen bit on the back of the TZ20 may well be quite useful - as you can touch on the bit you want to focus on eg if you want to focus on the church in the background and not the traffic light or pedestrian in the foreground of the photo - or in a birthday party at a table with the birthday boy or girl to one end of the photo - a point and shoot will tend to focus on the middle of the photo and with a touch screen you could press on them to focus there and then keep every one else in the photo too without focussing on the paella in the middle of the table ... if that isn't too mixed an analogy.
It's easy enough to get around this with the TZ18 - you just move the camera to focus on the bit you want then half press the shutter button to lock the focus - then move the camera back to where you want it.
I hope I have added more than I have confused !
In reply to an earlier post on 7 Apr 2011 22:38:39 BDT
K. Davis says:
Just thought I would let you know I went for the TZ20 in the end, looking forward to getting my hands on it.
In reply to an earlier post on 7 Apr 2011 23:35:55 BDT
Kr K. Davis
That's great, it's a fabulous camera I think you'll be delighted with it.
In reply to an earlier post on 15 Apr 2011 16:03:01 BDT
Thank you for the reviews and also for putting it in everyday simple terms that I understood, I just purchased the TZ8 as i didn't want to spend a lot and i didn't want anything to complicated, previously i bought a Canon Powershot 650IS, yes!! because it had a fancy moving screen, but the camera is way to technical for me and all my shots look blury and shaky. I was worried about buying an old model of a camera, but looking at the reviews swayed me, so hopefully i will now have a good quality point & shoot that is simple to work.
In reply to an earlier post on 15 Apr 2011 19:20:06 BDT
From the reviews I've read the TZ8 is a nice camera - especially if the TZ18 is anything to go by - and fwiw/imho I don't think you'll be losing anything apart from maybe a smidgen of zooming power - which probably isn't going to make the slightest difference too you unless you're really into bird watching etc where a slight difference in power might make an important difference too you.
In reply to an earlier post on 18 Apr 2011 12:36:13 BDT
Last edited by the author on 18 Apr 2011 12:36:48 BDT
I've always considered Canon products to be good quality, my last two printers have been Canon's and they were fine, however I bought my daughter a Canon Ixus but she often complained that some shots were blurred and just after the warranty expired the lens jammed. Although this can happen to any camera, a search on the internet seemed to indicate that Canon's were particularly prone to this but is denied by Canon. I've since replaced her Canon for a Panasonic Lumix (one of the FS series) and she is very happy with it.
In reply to an earlier post on 28 Apr 2011 15:21:29 BDT
Just to say I love my Lumix TZ8, it's so simple and easy to use, my 5 year old niece also finds it great to use lol
Thanks again for the advice, i've just noticed another price drop on the Lumix TZ8, typical lol