Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX35 Review
The Panasonic Lumix FX35 is a compact 10-megapixel digital camera. Like the other new Panasonic models, the FX35 comes loaded with cool, useful features. The Intelligent Auto (iA) controls 5 separate functions of the camera to assist you in taking good photographs. The exposure, optical image stabilization, ISO, scene modes, and face detection are all controlled when shooting in this mode. The camera also features a 4x 25mm wide optical zoom lens, Leica DC lens, 2.5" Diagonal Intelligent LCD and a HD 720 movie mode.
One of the main features on the new Panasonic models, including the FS35 and FS20, is the Intelligent Auto (iA) mode. When you shoot in this mode, the camera will automatically select the correct scene mode for the situation. It does a good job at recognizing faces, lighting and distance allowing it to pick even one of the advanced scene modes. Next the camera will pick the correct ISO setting. You do have the ability to set the max ISO. Combining the auto ISO with the Mega O.I.S. the camera does an excellent job of reducing camera shake and blurring in your images. Intelligent Exposure corrects the lighting in the photo, making the image appear the same as you see it originally. The final automatic option is the face detection software, allowing the camera to correctly focus and adjust for the faces in the image and not the surroundings.
Although it is small and compact, the FX35 has a very sturdy feel to it. It is operable with just one hand, although, it is easier to use and more comfortable with two. The top of the camera has an on/off switch instead of a button, which is not as easy to accidentally turn on, the shutter release and the zoom control coupled around it. The back has a dial for selecting the shooting mode, a switch to control shooting and playback modes and the 4-way control and menu buttons. There is a one-touch quick menu button that gives you a selection of functions that are most used. The rest of the back is occupied by the 2.5" LCD screen. This screen gives you the ability to see it from very extreme side angles as well as from below the camera. It is also very easy to see in all lighting conditions including direct sunlight.
Performance from the FX35 was very good for a 10-megapixel camera. From startup, the camera is able to capture its first image just 2.5 seconds after being turned on. The shutter delay is almost instantaneous when the camera is pre-focused and 6/10 of a second when allowing the auto focus to work. When shooting in single shot mode, the camera is capable of capturing 5 images in just 7.1 seconds without the flash and 5 images in 11.9 seconds with it. The camera also has two standard continuous shooting modes and a high speed continuous mode located in the scene modes. The normal continuous mode captures a series of 3 images at a time in just 1.2 seconds. Infinite mode will continue to capture images, just not as fast. It was able to capture 10 images in 6.7 seconds. Finally there is the high speed shooting mode. This mode gives you a choice of 2-megapixel image sizes (4:3, 3:2, 16:9) and captured 66 images in 10 seconds (6.6 fps). All of our tests were completed using an Ultra 150x 4GB SDHC memory card, normal shooting mode, ISO auto, flash off and all other settings at the factory defaults unless noted otherwise. Times may vary depending on lighting conditions, camera settings, media, etc.
The quality from our outdoor images was very good. The camera's exposures did an excellent job and the vivid and natural colors really make the images look good. The 4x wide optical zoom lens with a 35mm equivalent of 25-100mm produces crisp and clear images and is great for shooting landscapes. On the telephoto end, it is good for framing images and for portrait shots. It is not enough, however, to bring you closer to a distant image. At the wide end of the zoom you will notice a moderate amount of barrel distortion. When viewing the image at 100% you do see a little bit of noise in the dark areas, but this will not show on any prints 8x10 or under.
Our indoor quality was very similar to that of the outdoor images. The exposures and colors are good, but we still see the same problem with the noise in the dark areas. It even seems to show up a little more in our indoor samples. The built in flash has a range of up to approx. 18 feet when shooting in ISO. In order to accomplish this distance the camera raises the ISO incredibly high, greatly increasing the amount of noise in your photographs. Our sample shows how much the ISO was increased from just 6'-8' away, upping it to ISO 400 and giving you more noise than you want to see in a portrait shot.
Movie mode on the FX35 has been updated, giving it the ability to capture HD movies at 1280x720 resolution at 30 fps on top the normal 640x480 and 320x240 capture resolutions with a quicktime compression (quicktime motion jpeg). The frame rate is also adjustable on all of the resolutions. The camera captures very smooth video and audio. The audio does have a bit of ambient noise present when shooting outside. With the optional component cable DMW-HDC2, the HD movies can be plugged directly into your HDTV for group viewing.
Powering it is a 3.6V 1000mAh rechargeable Lithium-Ion battery pack. This battery has allowed me to capture well over 100 images, several videos and complete all of our tests on a single charge. This battery provides a good life, but we still recommend having a second battery on hand at all times, which is easy to keep charged with the included external battery charger.
Bottom Line - The Panasonic Lumix FX35 is a very stylish wide angle digicam with outstanding shooting performance. The 4x optical zoom with the 25mm wide angle lens and 10-megapixel imaging sensor really compliment the iA shooting mode and O.I.S. system. The only thing holding these camera back is the noise that is present in the dark areas of all the photographs, no matter what the ISO setting. With a MSRP of US$350, this camera is full of excellent features and a lens you wont find on any other camera. For shooting landscapes and outdoor photography, this camera will do nicely, but when you move inside or to darker lighting situations the noise will start to become a problem.
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