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For an 18x zoom camera, the FZ35 is relatively compact. Since it doesn't take AA batteries, the grip is a bit smaller than competitors', but the camera is still comfortable to hold.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

Lots of options

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, for this model Panasonic had to cram them all into a single dial slot to make room for the other features.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

Big mic

For a camera, the FZ35 has a nice large stereo mic.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

Focus on buttons

I'm not crazy about the feel of the focus (for moving the focus area) and AF/AF macro/AF zoom macro/MF buttons. They don't register presses consistently and you generally have to hold them down a bit too long.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

A mixed bag

The drawback to having a switch for playback mode is that you can't simply press the shutter button to get out of it, which I find an annoying break in my shooting rhythm. However, on the FZ35 you can program the Fn button to perform this function. Your other Fn choices are ISO sensitivity, white balance, metering, AF mode (face detect, AF tracking, 11 area, 1 area standard, or high speed or spot) or intelligent exposure mode.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET

More controls

While I like the dedicated movie record button, there's a ridge around it that makes pressing it a bit difficult. And though the Quick Menu joystick works well for navigation, having both it and the four-way nav buttons seems like overkill.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Sarah Tew/CNET
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