Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35 review: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
  • Overall: 7.3
  • Design: 7.0
  • Features: 8.0
  • Performance: 8.0
  • Image quality: 7.0
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Useful 27mm wide-angle zoom; excellent image stabilization; full selection of manual and automatic exposure controls; very good 720p movie capture with operational zoom and manual controls; relatively fast.

The Bad Noise and compression artifacts in JPEG photos; no hotshoe.

The Bottom Line A better-than-average megazoom choice, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35 delivers standout video capabilities and an excellent manual feature set. Still, it suffers from a lot of the same drawbacks as its competitors, including weak photo quality.

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With the Lumix DMC-FZ35, Panasonic overhauls the insides of its popular FZ28 megazoom, offering higher resolution, an improved optical image stabilizer, faster AF, and support for the AVCHD Lite movie codec. But while the camera does deliver better performance and photo quality than its predecessor, they're still not great--typical for these megazooms--and only a robust feature set makes it really stand out from the crowd.

On the small and light side for a typical megazoom, the camera feels a little plasticky but comfortable to grip and shoot. Rather than participate in the lens X wars, Panasonic sticks with its tried-and-true 18x zoom lens, a model that goes back several generations and which remains more than adequate a range for the general-purpose shooter.

Panasonic manages to cram a boatload of capabilities into the FZ35. In addition to the typical set of modes--PASM, preset scene program, and an intelligent auto--the FZ35 provides a very robust movie mode with manual controls and the ability to save three groups of custom settings. While that's one more set than the FZ28 has, for this model Panasonic had to stuff them all into a single dial slot to make room for the other features. There are a lot of AF options, including face detection, tracking, 1-area, a narrower spot, as well as an 11-area mode that allows you to clump the areas in a variety of configurations. A programmable Fn button can pull up quick review (a nice alternative to the more limiting switch), ISO sensitivity, white balance, metering, AF mode or intelligent exposure mode.

There's a downside to the FZ35's broad capabilities: no matter you're experience level, you definitely want to read the manual before you start shooting or you'll get some unpleasant surprises. For example, I couldn't figure out why a lot of my JPEG shots looked bad until I realized that the camera drops to standard-quality JPEG when shooting raw+JPEG. The same goes for shots where I mistakenly thought that AF macro zoom was what all other cameras call super macro instead of a macro plus digital zoom mode. The manual isn't always that helpful, however. For instance, it fails to adequately differentiate between 1-area focusing ("The camera focuses on the subject in the AF area on the screen") and high-speed 1-area focusing ("The camera focuses quickly on the subject in the AF area on the screen"). Well, that clears things up. (You can get a complete accounting of the FZ35's features and operation by downloading the PDF manual.)

 Key comparative specs Olympus SP-590 UZ Nikon Coolpix P90 Canon PowerShot SX20 IS Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35
Sensor 12-megapixel, 1/2.33-inch CCD 12-megapixel, 1/2.33-inch CCD 12.1-megapixel 1/2.3-inch CCD 12-megapixel 1/2.33-inch CCD
Lens (35mm equivalent) 26x f2.8-5 26-676mm 24x f2.8-5 26-624mm 20x f2.8-5.7 28-560mm 18x f2.8-4.4 27-486mm
Closest focus (inches) 0.4 0.4 0.0 0.4
Sensitivity range ISO 64 - ISO 6,400 ISO 64 - ISO 6,400 ISO 80 - ISO 1,600 ISO 80 - ISO 6,400
LCD 2.7-inch fixed; 230,000 dots 3-inch tiltable; 230,000 dots 2.5-inch articulated; 230,000 dots 2.7-inch fixed; 230,000 dots
Video (max resolution at 30fps) 640x480 640x480 1,280x720 H.264 MOV 1,280x720 (AVCHD Lite or MJPEG MOV)
Optical zoom during movie capture Yes (no audio) No Yes Yes
Exposure modes Auto, PASM, Scene Auto, PASM, Scene Auto, PASM, Scene Auto, PASM, Scene
Batteries (CIPA rating) 4 AA-size; 340 shots (alkalines) Lithium ion; 230 shots 4 AA-size; 340 shots (alkalines), 600 shots (NiMH) Lithium ion; 470 shots
Body dimensions (WHD, inches) 4.3 x 3.5 x 3.6 4.5 x 3.3 x 3.9 4.9 x 3.5 x 3.4 4.6 x 3.0 x 3.5
Operating weight (ounces) 18.7 17.2 19.8 14.5
Mfr. Price $449.99 $399.95 $399.99 $399

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35

Part Number: DMC-FZ35K Released: Aug 15, 2009
MSRP: $399.95 Low Price: $489.77 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Release date Aug 15, 2009
  • Digital camera type Full body
  • Optical Zoom 18 x
  • Optical Sensor Type CCD
  • Sensor Resolution 12.1 Megapixel
    12.1 Megapixel
  • Image Stabilizer optical (POWER O.I.S.)
  • Lens 27 - 486mm F/2.8
  • Optical Sensor Size 1/2.33"