I think most of the superzoom type camera's that you are looking at will be very simular in terms of image quality, sometimes it's just a matter of going to a good shop and pick up and handle these camera's and see what feels more comfortable for you..
I have and FZ18 and it's nice and light, simple to use and good image quality, although some of these superzoom camera's sometimes are not good for indoor low light shot's, depending wether you need a 10x - 18x optical zoom or not some compacts with 4x and 6x optical zoom give really good image quality..
I also have a canon a720is and the image quality from my 6x4 prints are almost identical...so it depends what your main shots will be of.Hope this helpsLeeW..
I have just been to the Camera shop and tried both cameras and am even more confused now....
I prefer the feel of the fuji in my hand, but the Panasonic menus look much better / easier to use. but I could teach myself the menu on the fuji....
Having not really used the shooting menus on previous cameras very much, I am not sure how much the menu would get on my nerves on the fuji. Can anyone with an S8000 comment?..
Cant help with the Fuji, The FZ18 is pretty straight forward, especially th IA (intelligent Auto) mode, it adjusts all the settings for you.Have you checked out the 2 full reviews on here, they are quite comprehensive.LeeW..
For me, the better lens and support of RAW on FZ18 worth the extra cash..
Fuji S8000fd is using CCD-shift IS? (correct me if I'm wrong).
The Leica lens with lens-shift IS on FZ18 should be better. And if you know how to work with RAW files, you can squeeze a bit more dynamic range from FZ18...
Having not really used the shooting menus on previous cameras verymuch, I am not sure how much the menu would get on my nerves on thefuji.
Out in the field you don't want to be strugling with horrible menus so this is definitely something to take into account..
The Panasonic's excellent IS system, pplus it's Leica lens and RAW capability (which later on you might get into) make it worth the extra money I reckon. Really the only reason to not get it would be if you shoot indoors a lot..
Theres a extensive comparison of the Panasonic FZ18 vs Olmpus SP-560UZ vs Fuji S800fd. The FZ18 won in just about every category. This should help you make your mind up..