a little east of reality

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

say 'cheese'

I haven't had a digital camera for a while. I borrowed one from work recently to take some photos of items I was putting on eBay, but I knew I wouldn't get away with keeping it long enough to take it to Japan with me ~ would have been super cheeky even to ask. And in truth I love owning a decent camera and my last digital, which came to me secondhand from my mum, was a tiny el cheapo with not much zoom (though it was devilishly easy to sneak into a concert, being so little). I decided that this trip was a good enough reason to put a camera on my credit card (tough decision given that NOT putting stuff on credit is my life theme right now) and so I've been researching cameras for a couple of days.

Today I bought this:

I not only got a $70 discount, but because I'm travelling overseas tomorrow, I'm also going to get all my GST back (around $80) because it's duty-free. The camera shop guy also threw in the extended warranty (two extra years) and gave me $15 off each of my new memory cards. It has a lithium battery and the charger accepts both 240V (Australian power) and 110V (Japanese power) so all I needed was a $12 adaptor to change the shape of the plug and I can now recharge it while I'm in Japan. This is very good because I tend to use the display when taking photos, so I was chewing up AA batteries with both my previous cameras.

It has an optical stabaliser and intelligent ISO. It's 8 megapixels and doesn't have that lag some digital cameras do when you press the button to take a picture. But the coolest feature by far for chosha the zoom junkie is that it has an 18x optical zoom. Yes, that's right...I said 18x. I was estatic at the thought of the Canon S5 IS having 12x zoom. I nearly passed out with delight at the thought of 18. I will be able to take close-ups of an ant's eyeball with that level of zoominess! (Yes, of course that's a word.)

Here's a very long paste from a review site that gives all the details:

Panasonic has expanded its LUMIX family of digtal still cameras with the introduction of the LUMIX DMC-FZ18, an 8.1 Megapixel compact camera with an impressive 18x optical zoom. In addition to a premium 28mm wide-angle LEICA DC lens, 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 include Face Detection, Intelligent Scene Selector and Continuous Auto-focus functions, allowing users to easily capture clear, professional-quality images in any situation or setting.

When this powerful camera, with an optical zoom up to 18x, is put into Intelligent Auto Mode, the multi-faceted functions engage automatically, so there is no need to adjust settings every time conditions change. The DMC- FZ18’s intuitive Intelligent Auto Mode is comprised of:

- Intelligent Scene Selector, which automatically selects the appropriate scene mode from the most frequently-used modes such as Portrait,Scenery, Macro, Night Scenery and Night Portrait

- Face Detection System, which helps the camera to focus, set auto exposure and detects up to 15 human faces capturing them clearly and brightly, and

- Continuous Auto-focus, which allows the camera to keep focus on the subject without having to press the shutter button halfway and allowing for the best results out of a shutter chance by minimizing the auto-focus time.

“The Intelligent Auto Mode in the DMC-FZ18 does all the work for you, making photo-taking trouble-free,” noted Alex Fried, National Marketing Manager, Imaging, Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company. “When taking into account the camera’s 18x optical zoom, which is among the industry’s longest zooms, and then adding 8.1 Megapixels, a 28mm wide-angle lens, MEGA Optical Image Stabilization, and Intelligent Auto Mode, the DMC-FZ18 delivers professional-level photo quality, in a powerful camera packed with advanced features that is still easy to use.”

Similar to the entire 2007 line of LUMIX digital still cameras, the camera sports advanced countermeasures against blurring - the Intelligent Image Stabilization system, which combines MEGA Optical Image Stabilization (O.I.S.) to compensate for hand-shake and Intelligent ISO Control to detect and adjust for motion blur caused by subject movement.

The LUMIX DMC-FZ18 also is equipped with a 2.5-inch large, high resolution LCD with 207,000 pixels, a 0.44-inch Electric Viewfinder with 188,000 pixels, f/2.8 brightness and is powered by the high-quality, high-performance, Venus Engine III, which boasts shooting at ISO 1600 in normal recording mode.

The DMC-FZ18 has been redesigned to make the camera more stylish and easier to use. The auto focus, auto exposure lock, and Macro buttons are now independent, to allow quick and direct operation, a metal-finished mode dial adds design strength and an enhanced rubber grip makes the camera easier to hold. 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 done quickly and easily.

Other advanced features of the LUMIX DMC-FZ18 include:

- Custom Setting Mode that memorizes your frequent setting patterns for instance use applied by simply selecting this function on the mode dial

- 1920 x 1080 pixel photos ideal for full-screen viewing on a wide-screen

- Six auto-focusing methods including: face detection, multi, three-point high-speed, one-point high-speed, one-point normal-speed, and spot.With the one-point auto-focus or spot auto-focus method, the auto-focusing area can be chosen from as many as 11 points with the joystick or cursor button

- Advanced Scene Modes provide users more control over some frequently-used scene modes such as, indoor and outdoor modes when selectingportrait or sports mode and nature or architecture settings whenselecting portrait mode

- Bundled SILKYPIX Developer Studio 2.0SE software application for editing and developing images in the RAW file format

- 27 MB of built-in memory: Perfect for backing up SDHC/SD Memory Card recording

- Extra Optical Zoom feature extends zoom power to 28.7x at 3 Megapixels

- Compatibility with large-capacity SDHC memory cards

- Title Edit Function allows inputting of text and additional picture information

- Picture Playback by category: Sorts images into categories such asportraits, landscapes, nightscapes, events and motion pictures. Also, allows slideshow playback of images in the same category.

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