After my positive review of Panasonic's DMC-FZ8, I'm looking forward to testing the just announced Panasonic LUMIX DMC-FZ18. This compact powerhouse looks like a mini DSLR and packs a whopping 28mm-504mm (12x) [Correction: 18X Zoom] Leica zoom into an 8-megapixel body. Panasonic's image stabilization technology is excellent. I've tested it for magazine articles, including the recently released Steady Your Shot article in Macworld Magazine. Believe me, this stabilization technology works.
I'm also very pleased that Panasonic once again included Raw mode (and Raw+Jpeg) in this camera. That means you can still take advantage of the power of Raw, even when shooting with your compact camera.
The FZ-18 also has new "Face Detection" technology that identifies people in your scenes and sets the focus and exposure for them preventing mis-focused shots. Add in other nice features such as a spacious 2.5" LCD, and you have quite a powerful picture taker for around $399 US. The FZ-18 should hit the streets in Sept. 2007.