1. Bought off [URL="http://www.tech4less.net"]www.tech4less.net[/URL]. Oddly enough, while they mostly have \nopen-box and return items in-stock, they actually carried a new DMC-FZ5 \nfor 0! Naturally, that's the one I bought. Shipping was cheap at \n, but I was surprised to see the FZ5 sell for even less at 4 after \nreading the other posts in this group. =(.. Still, a good price for \nthis camera, and good service from this vendor.\n\n2. The camera is very easy to use and setup if you already know digital \ncameras. I was changing menus, modifying settings, etc. right from the \nstart without reading the manual, and very, very easy to use if you're \ncoming from the SLR side (the button layouts and controls are very \nsimilar) and have a bit of digicam background (to get through the menus).\n\n3. The camera is as surprisingly light as people have said it is. \nComparing my Sony DSC-P150 to the DMC-FZ5 by simply hand weighing both, \nI'd say they're about the same in weight - the metal body of the Sony \nmaking it heavier than the plastic but bigger body of the Panasonic.\n\n It is even lighter than the FujiFilm 2800z I have (which gets \nweighed down by the 4 AA batteries - w/o the batteries, it's quite \nlight), and that's nice!\n\n4. The viewfinder is very sharp, colorful and contrasty, and daylight \nreadable. No problems or qualms here - it's a beauty. The EVF \nviewfinder, however, could be tossed out for the higher-pixel-count \nversions found in better long-zoom cameras, like the Minoltas. This \nviewfinder is barely decent, and it's more like a camcorder viewfinder \n(pixelated and low-res). Stick with the LCD viewfinder instead, which I \nthink most users will do.\n\n5. AF on this baby is very fast. Matches the Sony in most cases, but \nyou do have to set it into the faster AF mode. Here, I have my Sony set \nto MONITOR AF mode (faster than SINGLE AF); the Panasonic to 1 or 3 \npoint HS (high-speed) AF mode + Continuous AF monitoring - this is the \nRECOMMENDED AF mode to set the FZ5 (and Sony) to because it will AF very \nquickly. 1/3rd of a second or so, definitely fast.\n The bonus here is that like the Sony, if you have locked focus by \npressing the shutter down halfway, you can take a photo instantly, the \nvery moment the shutter is pressed all the way down. Extremely \nresponsive here, and very much like the SLRs I own.\n\n That said, the only downside is that this camera has no manual AF \nmode or focus point setting like the Sony (where you can preset focus to \n0.5, 1.0, 3.0, 5.0m etc). Thus, the BIGGEST downside of this camera is \nthat it will not AF and allow you to take a focused picture indoors in \nlow light with flash instantaneously ala Sony set in fixed focus with \nforced flash on mode. You will miss shots you would have been able to \ncatch with the Sony it said mode, and although the AF assist light does \nwork well, it's too slow to lock focus on a fast moving subject or \nquickly enough to catch fleeting moments. Still, it's fine for still shots.\n\n6. The auto-exposure in mixed daylight + fluorescent lighting indoors is \nnot as good as with the Sony. But, you can manually set white balance \nand this works well, but does take a few extra seconds and requires a \nwhite surface nearby.\n\n Daylight exposures are decent in color, contrast, and so forth. \nThe camera does expose everything to maintain detail in the brightest \nareas (as possibly allowed), so it will have a touch lower contrast and \ngrayer (less bright) image than the Sony by default. This does allow \nfor manual adjustment later to optimize the image, but also means you \nmay have to tweak the image for those typical 'consumer wants a juicy, \noversaturated, pop-style color print' that you see nowadays. On the \nother hand, it will allow for more 'realistic' colors than the Sony.\n\n7. Noise. It's still there in bright daylight in shadow areas of a \npicture in ISO 80 mode, and that's sad vs. the Sony and other cameras \nwhere they've processed that out of their images at <100 ISO speeds. I \ndon't see why you shouldn't have a smooth, noise-free image at <100 ISO \nspeeds in bright daylight, and that only shows that the \nsensor/processing in the Panasonic hasn't achieved the levels that the \nCanon DIGIC II processor has yet, for example.\n\n 200 ISO is the highest you'd normally want to use, ever. 400 ISO is \njust too muddied in color, etc. to be of much use unless you have to. \n(honestly! the same bright colors you see at night in 100-200 ISO turns \ninto a darker, muddied gray-tinted color at 400 ISO under the exact same \nconditions with only the ISO speed changed between shots)\n\n If you need something that will give you more speed, please, don't \nbother with this camera!!!!!! Buy a FujiFilm F10 at the minimum (which \ncan do 400 ISO very well) or something else that'll give you low-light \nshots at higher ISO (eg. dSLR) w/o going muddied and 'water-colored' on \nyou. (Yes, the image does degrade rather poorly at 400ISO vs. many \nother digicams; see dpreview.com tests for an example and the noise \nlevel figures.)\n\n8. NO TIME REMAINING for the battery life! =o =O =o =O\n\n This is the single, largest problem of the battery system in the \nFZ5 coming from the Sony, which does have a down-to-the-last-minute live \ncounter of the remaining battery life. You only get three, two, one or \nno bars, and that's simply unacceptable in a modern digicam. They have \nthe technology to allow for accurate time-remaining battery life \nindication, and Panasonic should have done this.\n\n That said, two hours or so to charge, two hours or so to drain, and \nthe Sony does far better in battery life (4+ hours easily).\n\n What this does mean is that it's fine for a typical home consumer \nwho takes a few shots with the kids on outings for the day, but not for \nthe semi-pro to pro who want's to use it all day long for a photo shoot \nto take 700+ photos over the course of 6+ hours (which my Sony P150 did \njust fine a few months ago).\n\n9. The lens is interesting. At wide-angle, it's mostly like a 5MP \nversion of the 7.2MP image my Sony produces, just less detail due to the \nsmaller size, but overall, about the same. But at longer zoom lengths, \nthe zoom really shines. At 3x in direct comparison, the Sony image has \nlost a lot of detail (eg. a corrugated roof becomes all smooth) whereas \nthe Panasonic shines by retaining quite a bit of detail and producing a \ndetailed, sharp photo (for an all-in-one, don't think this camera beats \nor matches a dSLR). I was surprised by this, and happily so. The Sony \nis a good P&S camera that's primarily used at the wide-angle mode; the \nPanasonic shines zoomed in on subjects.\n\n Naturally, bigger glass = better quality potentaily, which is what \nthe Panasonic has.\n\n10. Image stabilization works, but not as perfect as you'd 'want' it to \nbe. Yes, it'll get rid of most of the shake as long as you hold it \nsteady, but only so far. Try it in 12x in MODE 2 indoors at work, and \nyou'll still have to take a few shots to get a stable image (f/3.3, \n1/20th, 80 ISO exposure). The problem here? The camera is actually so \nlight in weight, it's shaky because there's nothing to counteract the \nnatural hand motions, so the anti-vibration has to counteract a lot of \nthis as well. It does give you an extra edge at other zoom lengths, but \ndon't think you won't need the faster ISO speeds (and here, if they'd \ndrop the stablizer and lens onto a FujiFilm F10, oh! that would be \nsomething nice! - NICE ISO 400+ shots + stablized images = nice low \nlight shots).\n\n But otherwise, think of it as on any other camcorder with \nstablizizer - works, but don't expect miracles.\n\n It does work all the time in movie mode, so you don't get \nsuper-shaky videos, but the problem then?... zooming is not allowed \nduring movie recording =( =( =(\n\n11. Movie mode. Decent 320x240 for what it is at 30fps, standard *.MOV \nquicktime file, but other than that, nothing too amazing. It's not \nhorrible by any means, so you will get a watchable, good movie from this \ncamera, but don't throw away your camcorders out yet.\n\n Here, wish they dropped in the latest MPEG-4 video mode at 640x480 \n30fps like on other digicams just out.\n\n12. Is this better than the Xacti C4/C5 MPEG-4 camcorder + 4/5 MP \ndigicams with 5x zooms? Don't know. Don't have those to compare \nagainst, but those leaning more towards a decent camcorder replacement \nshould look at the Sanyo Xacti's first rather than this one. You'll \nstill get decent photos, and you get the benefit of far better movie \nrecordings.\n\n However, both did feel responsive and good in my hands when I \ntried both in store, so maybe that'll be my next purchase? (Just too \nlazy right now to get one imported from Japan; or spend hundreds more on \nthe USA release of the same.)\n\n13. Viewfinder - ooh, just did lunch outside and it's still nicely \ndaylight viewable. Like it.\n\n14. Flash. Nice that it's not auto-fire when the flash unit is down, \nand that's one less menu to go through. Still, this is a preference - \nauto-popup or manually activated flash.....\n\n15. Controls and layout are as simple as the design team said they were \nafter. Easy to use, understand and remember where everything is. Not \ncrazy & confusing like some digicams.\n\n However, do wish they did drop in two control dials front and \nback of the grip ala a SLR for faster aperture and shutter speed (etc) \nadjustments w/o having to menu button to those settings.\n\n16. Battery and flash card loading - very easy-to-open slot, etc, but on \nthe bottom, so you can't change anything on a tripod. Otherwise, easy \nto use and load.\n\n17. Decently fast startup and shutdown times. Not the fastest, but never \nannoying long vs. the quick startup on the Sony P150. I don't notice, \nso it's not that long.\n\n-\-\-\n\nSo, that said, it's day two of ownership and it's a nice 12x digicam for \nthe price. I'll probably be eyeballing the Sony R1 when that comes out \n(the images online are already drop-dead amazing for an all-in-one 10MP \ndigicam, esp. from a 24mm zoom lens - perfect for replacing my SLR + \n24-135mm Tamron zoom, which still remains a solid workhorse), the Sanyo \nXacti C4/C5 series (better video mode), or something new with better \nfeatures. At the minimum, it's a good camera for anyone who had a \nFujifilm 2800/3800 and wanted something with longer reach, more \nfeatures, lighter weight, and better image quality in a petite \nall-in-one package.