I wanted better than average digital camera but not DSLR. Also the HD-movie recording was one of my requirements. Read many reviews, tests and comparisons of different "bridge" cameras. Ratings for DMC-FZ38 were exceptional. So, I bought the DMC-FZ38 .
I'm very pleased so far (had it for a week and shot about 1000 pictures already). Automatic settings (intelligent-Auto or iA) are very good but so are the manual settings. Took the time to read fully the advanced options manual to understand all settings and possibilities. There is much to learn in photography for me :) I must also praise the Power O.I.S. that keeps the picture sharp even with 18x zoom.
I use the video recording (720p) instead of my old digital (HD) video camera. So far I have no complaints. The audio is very good and the HD picture is enough for me (1080p is too much and also it needs too much space for recording).
Only complaint is the high ISO noise on ISO800-1600, but this is due the small sensor (compared to DSLR). You can avoid this by setting the ISO limit in settings (only not for iA mode).
For the price this is the best-of-best.