The HZ35W's photo quality is very good up to ISO 200. Subjects in its photos are relatively sharp with little to no visible noise when viewed at 100 percent. However, at ISO 400, there's a noticeable decline with noise reduction smearing fine detail. The results will be usable for smaller prints and Web use with little or no cropping or enlarging. At ISO 800, there's significant detail loss and start to pick up yellow blotches from noise. The results aren't unusable until ISO 1,600 when it picks up color issues. Basically the HZ35W is like a lot of compact cameras: very good in bright light, but indoor and low-light photos are weaker.
Megazooms generally have detail issues when its lens is fully extended, and the HZ35W's photos at its longest focal length are on par or slightly better than competing models. You will need a lot of light to keep the shutter speed fast and sensitivity below ISO 200, though, as the biggest aperture is f5.8.
If you like taking close-ups, the HZ35W does pretty well in Macro mode. It's able to focus as close as 1.2 inches from a subject. As long as you can keep the ISO low, you'll get reasonably sharp results with good fine detail. If you like things even sharper, there's an in-camera slider for bumping it up as well as contrast and saturation.
The camera does have aperture- and shutter-speed priority modes as well as full manual. However, they are a pain to use because you have to open up the Fn menu every time you want to change the settings. Also, if you decide you want to switch from one mode to another, you either have to go two steps into the main menu system or turn the mode dial out of and back into the ASM position. Apertures at the wide end include: f3.2, f3.6 f4.2,f4.6, f5.2, f5.8, f6.6, f7.3, f8.3, f9.3, f10.3, f11.6. With the lens full extended you get: f5.8, f6.8, f7.6, f8.3, f9.6, f10.7, f12.0. Shutter speeds range from 16 seconds to 1/2,000 of a second.
The HZ35W has a very versatile lens for a compact megazoom. The 15x zoom lens goes from a 35mm-equivalent 24mm wide-angle to a long 360mm. Samsung does an excellent job of controlling lens distortion, too, as there was no discernible barrel or pincushion distortion in my test shots.
What earned this camera's photo quality some extra points is its color performance; they are bright, vivid, and accurate. Exposure and white balance are very good, too. Although, typical of compact cameras, clipped highlights are common.
Using the camera's GPS isn't quite as smooth as it is on Sony's HX5V or as full featured out of the box as Panasonic's ZS7. But once you figure out when it's working and how to use it, it gets the job done.
Along with slider adjustments to RGB values, you can pick from 11 Photo Styles. All of them can be used at full resolution except Sketch, which drops photos down to 5 megapixels. The Styles sadly can't be combined with the Smart Filters.