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Panasonic Lumix FZ35 Digital Camera Review

panasonic091118.jpgDigital Camera Review by: Katrina Putker


Panasonic’s Lumix FZ35 is an advanced compact digital camera with mini DSLR-inspired stylings built into an ultra lightweight and highly portable unit that remains well priced for the bang it offers for some $769 bucks (RRP.)

With an impressive 18x optical zoom (equivalent to 27-486mm) the FZ35 is undoubtedly one of the best super zoom compacts currently available.

Backed up by some 12.1 megapixels, high definition movie recording, a 27mm wide angle Leica lens and the flexibility to shoot in both RAW and JPEG formats, this unit is ideal for those wanting to further their photography skills and capabilities without wanting to delve into the DSLR realm.

As an upgrade to its predecessor, the FZ28, the FZ35 offers an increased autofocus speed that is noticeably fast at 0.3 seconds and highly accurate.  Face detection technology has also advanced to include face recognition, which acts in a similar way as tagging people on Facebook does.

The FZ35 is able to recall faces that you have programmed it to remember and upon recognising them in a composition, labels their name on screen and prioritises their face in the photo ensuring it will be in focus and correctly exposed etc.

The optical image stabiliser is extraordinarily impressive both when still shooting and recording video.

It proves very effective in eliminating camera shake as a result of unsteady hands either by eliminating these movements altogether or reducing them to smooth glides instead of sudden jerks that can be quite unsettling to the eye.

Indeed, the FZ35 offers the best optical image stabiliser that Buy-n-Shoot.com has experienced. It makes a noticeable difference to the quality of still images, particularly when utilising the zoom function, and can make video appear to have been shot on a tripod when it was in fact hand-held.

Creative manual movie mode is available and offers users the ability to change shutter speed and aperture settings while recording, which isn’t general a possibility on many competing cameras in the FZ35’s class.

A dedicated recording button that thankfully conforms to the recognisable symbol for record (a round red circle) is easily spotted on the FZ35’s back and allows for instant movie recording at any time and regardless of the unit’s current settings.

This is a very practical addition that will help ensure not a moment is lost when recording. Users don’t have to search through any menus, change dials or flick any switches etc. prior to recording. Instead, the option is immediately available at any time with the single press of the dedicated record button.

The FZ35 has built-in left and right side stereo microphones for better and true-to-life sound quality when recording and playing back HD movies recorded in 1280x720p format.

The option to record in AVCHD format (as opposed to standard motion JPEG) has been made available, which not only increases image quality but also allows for almost double the recording time thus making the FZ35 more efficient with available memory.

Users can opt to shoot AVCHD Lite in either 17, 13 or 9 megabits per second and the FZ35 instructs users that any of these would be the better option for displaying movies on HD television sets, where motion JPEG is advised predominantly for email and computer display.

Full zoom capabilities are enabled during recording (frustratingly with some cameras this is not an option) and the FZ35 smoothly zooms in and out as instructed and continues to automatically adjust focus along the way.

Momentarily, the picture may blur slightly during zooming as the unit adjusts but this is not uncommon across the board and in truth, is unlikely to be obviously noticed.

Those who own a Panasonic VIERA TV will have the option to control HDMI still and video slideshows with their TV’s remote control, although they will need to purchase a HDMI mini cable to do so as Panasonic have not been generous enough to include one in the FZ35 kit.

For in camera viewing, the 230,000-dot 2.7-inch LCD screen (unchanged from the FZ28) offers a crisp, bright display that automatically adjusts its brightness according to the lighting conditions it is under.

Given the compact nature of the FZ35, initially the buttons and controls can seem somewhat bitsy in the sense that there are 15 individual buttons, a 14-option mode dial, a joystick, zoom toggle, and a mode switch all housed on a small (H) 75.8 x (W) 117.6 x (L) 88.9mm body to contend with.

All are clearly labeled and fairly logically placed although for lower-end compact camera users looking to graduate to higher levels of photography, this may be somewhat intimidating.

Having said that, regular use is likely to bring with it a sense of familiarity and users should learn to easily negotiate all of the external controls, along with the internal menu system, given time.

Image quality, particularly outdoors in daylight, is very good. The FZ35 reproduces colour and skin tone both accurately and vibrantly and reproduces detail well.

Images are pin sharp when ample lighting is available although the FZ35 doesn’t perform as strongly under lower light conditions, at least not in intelligent automatic mode, showing signs of noise and a slight loss of detail.

If users take the time to learn the various functions and abilities of this camera however, there isn’t much it cannot achieve. It only takes some knowledge and quick thinking to flick the FZ35 into the mode best suited for the subject at hand.

For example, standard Program, Manual, Aperture and Shutter Speed priority modes are available for those who like to take more creative control over their photography.

Automatic modes for Portrait, Scenery, Sports, Close-up and Night Portrait shooting are instantly available via the mode dial and will automatically adjust settings to offer the best results for the chosen shooting situation.

A Custom mode is available where users can store three different sets of settings to refer back to as required along with a My Colour mode, which allows for personal selection of the white balance, brightness and saturation settings to suit your personal taste.

An extensive list of 20 different scene presets are on hand within the FZ35’s Scene mode and offers common options such as beach, snow, party, sunset and fireworks along with more unique scenes including baby, pet, pinhole, flash burst, aerial, high dynamic, and panning etc.

Only upon taking the time to learn all of these available functions will users truly get the most out of the FZ35. Switching to the specific mode best suited for the scene at hand can make tremendous amounts of difference to the final image.

Particularly if you’re planning a big trip or you travel regularly, the FZ35 would be a great option for you. It only weighs 414g with memory card and battery included and is very neat and compact for fitting into your carry-on luggage or daypack etc.
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Aside from its portability, the FZ35 has an expansive zoom range that will easily cover a variety of scenes you come across in your travels without having to carry and fiddle with multiple lenses.

High Definition video recording means you will be able to capture much more than just the sights of your adventures and the HDMI connection will allow for premium display of your media upon returning home.

Of course, the FZ35 would solidly perform under general day-to-day use as well and is very unlikely to disappoint any user, regardless of the intended application.


 

Appearance rating 4 stars
Functionality rating 4.5 stars
Image quality
4 stars
Lens quality
4.5 stars
View finder / LCD screen 4 stars
Value for money 4.5 stars
RRP (AUD) $769
SPACER.GIF  
Effective Pixels 12.1 Million mega pixels
Image Sizes 14 Sizes
Lens - zoom wide [mm] 27mm (35mm equivalent )
Lens -zoom tele [mm] 486mm (35mm equivalent )
Lens - Optical Zoom Yes, 18x
Resolution Settings From 640 x 480 to 4000 × 3000
Shooting Modes P (Program AE), Sports mode, Portrait mode, Night Portrait mode, Scenery mode, A (Aperture Priority AE), S (Shutter Priority AE), M (Manual Exposure), Intelligent Auto, SCN, Creative Movie Mode, Close-up mode, My Colour Mode, Custom
Face Detection Yes
Manual Focus No
Auto Focus Yes
Focus Range [cm] 30cm - infinity
Aperture Range F2.8 - 4.4 / Multistage Iris Diaphragm (F2.8 - 8 (W) / F4.4 - 8 (T))
Aperture Priority Yes
Macro Yes
Macro Range [cm] Wide 1cm / 200 cm (MAX) / 100 cm (11x - 18x) - infinit
Shutter Speeds Auto, 60 - 1/2000 sec
Shutter Priority Yes
ISO Auto6, ISO 80/100/200/400/800/1600
LCD Monitor 2.7" TFT Screen LCD Display (230K dots)
Field of View : approx. 100%
Viewfinder Yes, 0.20" Color EVF (201.6K Pixels equiv.), Field of View : approx. 100%, Lens 19.6x
Flash Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction, Forced Off
0.3 - 8.5m (Wide/ISO Auto), 1.0 - 5.4m (Tele/ISO Auto)
Hot Shoe No
White balance Auto / Daylight / Cloudy / Shade / Flash / Halogen / Color Temperature / White Set 1 / White Set 2 (Selectable at Portrait, Soft Skin, Sports, Baby, Pet, High Sensitivity, Hi-Speed Burst, Pinhole, Panorama Assist mode
Self Timer Yes, 2 seconds / 10 seconds / 10 seconds / 3 images
Movie Options Yes. Limited only by memory card size.
Video Out Yes
Storage Type SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card
Storage Included [Mb] 40MB
Image / Audio Formats Still Image: JPEG(DCF/Exif2.21) / RAW
Motion picture: AVCHD Lite ?QuickTime Motion JPEG
Connectivity USB 2.0 High-speed
Power Source AC Adaptor (Input: 110-240V AC)(Optional)
Battery Options Lithium-ion Battery Pack (7.2V, 710 mAh)(Included)
Dimensions 117.60 (W) x 88.90 (D) x 75.80 mm (H)
Weight Approx 367g

 

 

About Panasonic

 

Panasonic Australia is a proud member of the Australian corporate community. With long standing links to local manufacturing and with hundreds of employees, Panasonic Australia is committed to fostering good relationships with consumers, businesses and governments alike.

 

On both a Local and International basis Panasonic is deploying long term strategies related to stable economic growth, responsible use of resources and being friendly to the environment.

 

The pages contained within the 'About Us' area will give you an insight into how Panasonic Australia operates and an overview of our companies history.

 

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