Ok, this is my first bridge camera/superzoom and I'd consider myself a fairly advanced point-and-shoot user (have been using one with manual controls for a few years now).
After quite agonizing deliberation I chose the FZ38. Have used it to take over 1000 pics from a recent vacation and am very impressed with the photo quality. With the amount of controls on this camera you could take months over any one shot and probably create some pretty great art but on this vacation I was using it almost as a point-and-shoot so this review covers that sort of usage. The vast majority of my shots were taken using the intelligent auto (IA) mode to save time and only found it necessary to intervene with night scenes and fast motion. At that point manual shutter priority and white balance became my friend there but IA generally chose a well suited mode. Impressive points were: - As mentioned, the IA mode did very well - Zoom is pretty good and quite smooth - Wake up time is very good, recovery time is pretty good too - Stereo microphone - Face recognition (at one point I swear it managed to successfully pick out dog's face, that can't be right can it?!) - Build quality (haven't had it for long so can't comment on durability but it feels solid) - Ability to hotswap SD cards - Battery charging is fast (~1hr)
Less impressive points: - Battery capacity, the battery life for the capacity provided (695 mAh) is good but it seems like they could have put a higher capacity battery in there. My phone has 1400 mAh in what is (very approximately) a similar volume battery. - Turning the camera causes the lens to bump into the lens cover if it's been left on. It does complain after a few tries so I'm not too worried of motor damage but it's not ideal. - Menu navigation is a bit unintuitive, control scheme in general also requires a learning curve (buttons, toggle switches, joystick, dials, rockers)
Overall impression, a very nicely built bit of kit that does it all for me. One or two areas could stand a little improvement and I can see how this might be not enough for really serious photographers (no flash shoe, tiny sensor) but it's a really great bridge camera and more than enough for most non-slr needs. Very pleased I bought it!
At time of writing I paid £212 straight from Amazon. It was packaged well and comes with a neck strap, cables (usb, component video) , lens hood + mount, charger, and a lens cap.