Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35

The FZ35 should be at the top of any potential superzoom buyer's list, with a fully featured specification sheet and good image quality.


8.2
CNET Rating
8.8
User Rating

View more from Panasonic »

About The Author

CNET Editor

Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.


Design and features

Following up Panasonic's previous superzoom, the FZ28, is the new Lumix FZ35 which shares a similar, if not identical, form factor and specifications. Again, like so many other "update" cameras we've seen this year the FZ35 contains incremental updates to its predecessor.

The clues about the updates come on the outside: 12 megapixels, up from 10 on the FZ28, and the more efficient AVCHD Lite recording as opposed to standard 720p HD recording. The main calling card of a superzoom, its optical zoom, sits at 18x on this camera. It's not as extensive as other offerings from manufacturers like Canon (20x), Nikon (24x) or Olympus (26x) but should be sufficient for most purposes. Weighing 414g with battery and memory card, the FZ35 feels a lot more dainty and demure than its weight would lead you to believe, feeling more like something from the G-series of Lumix cameras, like the Panasonic Lumix G1, than a similarly sized compact digital SLR.

Optically, the FZ35 possesses a 27mm wide-angle lens opening up to a maximum aperture of f/2.8 at this end, and f/4.8 at the telephoto. Like all other Panasonic compacts, the lens is Leica branded. At the top of the camera, there's a mode dial with the standard PASM options, a dedicated movie option, intelligent auto plus scene, custom and preset shooting modes. The power switch is located just alongside the mode dial and is a small switch that slides. The zoom rocker sits around the shutter button and is pleasingly resistive to use.

The top of the Panasonic FZ35. (Credit: Panasonic)

Turning to the back now, and we can see that the 2.7-inch LCD screen is somewhat spartan in appearance, but next to it on the right are a myriad of buttons and options to choose from. There's a four-way directional pad that has the usual flash/self-timer/exposure compensation options plus a programmable Fn button that is initially programmed to switch the camera into playback mode (though there is also a dedicated switch to the right). There's also a small joystick like the one that appeared on the FZ28 that's used to toggle between menus, adjust exposure and exposure compensation depending on the mode, plus a dedicated movie button that starts and stops recording regardless of the mode you are in. The FZ35 has AF tracking as well as face recognition, in a similar configuration to other Lumix cameras — it can recognise recorded faces and adjust exposure accordingly. At the top of the camera, perched on the pop-up flash is a stereo microphone. HDMI output is supported from the camera.

An electronic viewfinder completes the external specifications, with a dioptre adjustment. It's fairly small, and appears to remain unchanged from the version last seen on the FZ28. It's awkward to frame shots with due to its small size (even though it does cover 100 per cent field of view) and cannot really cope with fast moving subjects due to the low refresh rate. Panning or any other swift movement with the camera is likely to induce motion sickness, or an unwieldy blur. Disappointingly, the resolution of the LCD screen at the back is only 270,000 dots, but when compared to other cameras in its class this is fairly standard.

Power OIS, a newer version of the optical image stabilisation that was found on the FZ28, claims to provide increased reduction in camera shake — and with a superzoom, given the telephoto zoom length exacerbates any form of camera shake, image stabilisation is an absolute necessity. In terms of recording options, the FZ35 can take images in JPEG or RAW, or a combined JPEG+RAW, in aspect ratios of 4:3, 3:2 or 16:9. Given the amount of control that the FZ35 affords its users, we're disappointed not to see a hotshoe included on the camera.

The FZ35 uses a Lithium-ion battery that sits in the base of the camera, alongside the SD/SDHC card slot. Note that the power cord for the battery charger is incredibly short. Included in the box is a battery, power charger, the FZ35 itself, a lens cap which can be tethered to the body, a carrying strap, user manuals, a flower lens hood, digital interface cables and a USB cable, plus user manuals and a CD containing software.

Below is a table comparing the FZ35 to its main superzoom competitors.

Panasonic FZ35 Canon PowerShot SX20 Nikon P90 Olympus SP-590
414g 560g 460g 435g
12.1 megapixels 12.1 megapixels 12.1 megapixels 12 megapixels
18x optical zoom 20x optical zoom 24x optical zoom 26x optical zoom
2.7-inch LCD (fixed) 2.5-inch LCD (variable angle) 3-inch LCD (tilting) 2.7-inch LCD (fixed)
Electronic viewfinder Electronic viewfinder Electronic viewfinder Electronic viewfinder

Performance

Generally, superzooms are not known for their speedy performance and the FZ35 doesn't set our performance benchmarks on fire: it starts up and takes its first shot within 2.05 seconds. Shutter lag without pre-focusing measures 0.35 second on average which is actually pretty fast for a superzoom, but image processing times let the side down again: processing a RAW image takes 4.4 seconds, and a JPEG takes 3.3 seconds.

In continuous shooting, the FZ35 can only take three shots at full quality before coming to a halt to process them and manages about 2 frames per second. The refined and updated Power OIS image stabilisation system was very effective, and in everyday testing we managed to get down to a shutter speed (handheld) of 1/20s before camera shake became visible.

Panasonic rates the battery of the FZ35 at 470 shots.

Image and video quality

As the optics haven't changed since the FZ28, image quality is quite similar to the other camera. Our test shots appeared well exposed with good levels of detail across focal lengths. There was an amount of chromatic aberration present at full magnification across high contrast areas at the wide-angle reach of the lens. The camera also had a tendency to over-expose and blow out highlights in these areas.

Some of the chromatic aberration visible from the FZ35's lens. (Credit: Panasonic)

The lens displays good sharpness and clarity across all focal lengths though (even if optimal sharpness is at the centre of the frame), and there's only limited distortion (barrel and pincushion) at the wide and telephoto lengths respectively. RAW quality is excellent, exhibiting clear and punchy colours, slightly more so than its counterpart shot taken in high quality JPEG.

Noise control is reasonably good up to ISO 800, and ISO 1600 shows up a lot of over-processing and smeariness in order to compensate for the higher sensitivity. Furthermore, the lens hood causes vignetting at the wide end if it's not placed in the correct alignment (which is easy to do as the thread tries to lock it in the wrong position).

Click the image for a larger version of the FZ35's noise profile. (Credit: CBSi)

In creative movie mode (accessible from the mode dial rather than the dedicated record button), the user has the option of choosing the shooting mode from the PASM options. There's a limitation on the slowest shutter available, at 1/30, but it's good to see manual controls trickling down into consumer cameras with HD video. As for the quality of the AVCHD Lite files, they are generally excellent, though there is a tendency for overexposure in areas that fluctuate between extreme brightness and shade. Sound quality is also good, with the wind cut feature on the microphone doing a very good job of taking out incidental noise. Panasonic has fortunately allowed you to use the full optical zoom length while filming, and the motion is smooth. There is no provision to take still images during filming, but you can take still images from videos in the PhotoFunStudio software provided with the camera.

Conclusion

For a fully featured superzoom, you can't go past the FZ35. There are a couple of quirks as is wont with any camera of this ilk (relatively slow performance, missing expandability options like a hotshoe) but like the FZ28 that came before it, this is a very good choice for someone who wants a compact camera with a relatively extensive wide-angle to telephoto reach lens.

Previous Story

Olympus Mju Tough 6010

Digital Cameras
Next Story

Fujifilm FinePix S200EXR



Add Your Review 14


* Below fields optional


Post comment as
The Guru of Cool
10
Rating
 

The Guru of Cool posted a review   

The Good:All Good

The Bad:Zero

I'm really impressed with this camera. I can't make comparisons to the previous model FZ28 or any other brand as this is the first decent camera I've ever purchased (at age 55). I like it's ease of operation and the fact it recognizes faces. I've tried it in very dim light without a flash, where you'd expect to use a flash, and the pics turn out really well.

The Panasonic software is fantastic. I love the slideshow that auto zooms in & out and has random featuring. I was able to download 100 pics from playing golf today and burn 5 copies onto CD's for my mates, all in half an hour and that was my first time effort. This camera and software is made for an average person to use. Very uncomplicated.

I've have had cheaper digital cameras in the past and the pic reproduction is always "grainy" with bugger all zoom capabilities.

I'm 100% impressed with this camera. When I find half an hour I'll read up how to do a panorama view. That should be fun. Top marks, Panasonic/Lumix

 

Victoria posted a comment   

The Good:Light weight

The Bad:Isn't reliable and not fast enough

I'm a bit disappointed. It's a bit hit and miss and can be very slow when you want to capture something now!

 

MusicMick posted a reply   

I can't understand why you would say it's unreliable. I've had mine for 10 months now and it has never given me the slightest glimmer of a problem. I liked the camera so much, I recommeded it to 3 other friend who all agree it's a brilliant camera. Slow to capture?? Compared to the 3 other digital cameras I'ved owned, I find it very quick. Ithink your problem may be "operator error".

dylan hartland
10
Rating
 

dylan hartland posted a review   

The Good:exceptional

The Bad:nothing

For a camera of this size i thought it would be heavy but no it is light compact and durable.

The FZ35 is without doubt the best mid rage camera you can buy on the market today without breaking a sweat or the bank balance.

I bought mine from camera house in Hobart and the guys there really helped me out!

SEVEN
10
Rating
 

SEVEN posted a review   

The Good:ALL

The Bad:None

i'm using it. very good camera for all of you.

Jin
9
Rating
 

Jin posted a review   

The Good:everything

The Bad:none

VEry good camera, enough for eveyone.

 

CameraGuy posted a reply   

I would not go that far. I found the focus speed good but not good enough. I not have a DSLR and whilst I do not have the zoom reach the focus speed is like night and day. An additional benefit being the image quality is miles ahead. It is also twice the weight %u2026

asf
1
Rating
 

asf posted a review   

The Good:Looks nice

The Bad:Breaks

broke
dont trust

 

80s posted a reply   

Did you sit on it?

 

MusicMick posted a reply   

Easy fixed - don't drop it nuff-nuff!


Sponsored Links
CNET's latest

User Reviews / Comments  Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35

  • The Guru of Cool

    The Guru of Cool

    Rating10

    "I'm really impressed with this camera. I can't make comparisons to the previous model FZ28 or any other brand as this is the first decent camera I've ever purchased (at age 55). I like it's ease of..."

  • Victoria

    Victoria

    "I'm a bit disappointed. It's a bit hit and miss and can be very slow when you want to capture something now!"

  • dylan hartland

    dylan hartland

    Rating10

    "For a camera of this size i thought it would be heavy but no it is light compact and durable.

    The FZ35 is without doubt the best mid rage camera you can buy on the market today witho..."

CNET Speedtest

Recently Viewed Products