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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ18I’m very excited.

After much research, I’ve bought myself a new camera. My current camera – a Konica Minolta – is a good few years old and was my first “proper” digital camera. It’s getting a little worn now and it’s a little sluggish.

So, first things first, what I needed. What photos do I take? Your standard family and holiday snaps plus rehearsal and show photos for BMTG.  What features do I therefore need? A decent pixel count and zoom, good low-light capability, good video recording and few problems with red-eye. I also want a viewfinder (don’t get on with staring at LCD screens) and image stabiliser. Ideally I’d like it to use SD cards and AA batteries.

I don’t want much 😉

And, after much research, I settled on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ8. I found an online price of £180 (not at one of the top retailers, but on a site that still had a good reputation). On Friday I visited 3 retail park electrical stores – Currys, Comet and Empire Direct. All sold the same camera for £200. With just a 10% difference I was sure it shouldn’t have been hard to get it for that. Only that day was news of the bad Christmas retailers had and the general economic down-turn. Nobody would turn around £180, would they?

All 3 did. None of the stores were interested. The price on display was the only one they’d accept.

However, something else happened. At Comet they had the next one up in the Lumix range – the FZ18. I tried that out – it has a higher pixel count, zoom, it has face recognition and a bag of other extras. Back at home I found it online for £240 (£280 in Comet). And, ironically, it was at Dixons.

Order made and it should turn up this week. I’ve also ordered a case (from eBay – the “official” Panasonic case  is £35 in comparison to this £8 version), memory card (4GB SDHC Class 6 from Crucial) and spare battery (from global-batteries).

A review, I’m sure, is to come…