Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX35 Review
Panasonic FX35 Exposure
Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Generally good overall color and hue accuracy, with minor oversaturation of some colors.
Saturation. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX35 oversaturates red and blue tones slightly, but undersaturates bright yellows. This is typical of many consumer models, but we found its colors pleasing on a wide range of subjects. Most consumer digital cameras produce color that's more highly saturated (more intense) than found in the original subjects. This is simply because most people like their color a bit brighter than life.
Skin tones. Here, with the color balanced properly for the light source, the DMC-FX35's skin tones looked pretty good, though just a little pinkish. Where oversaturation is most problematic is on Caucasian skin tones, as it's very easy for these "memory colors" to be seen as too bright, too pink, too yellow, etc.
Hue. The DMC-FX35 showed a few small color shifts relative to the
correct mathematical translation of colors in its subjects, pushing cyan
toward blue, yellow toward green, and orange toward yellow. Still, overall
color looked pretty good across our range of subjects. Hue is "what
color" the color is.
| See full set of test images
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images
Exposure and White Balance
Indoors, incandescent lighting
Nearly accurate color with the Manual white balance setting, but color casts with the Auto and Incandescent options. Less than average positive exposure compensation required.
|Auto White Balance
|Incandescent White Balance
|Manual White Balance
Color balance indoors under incandescent lighting was slightly pinkish in Auto white balance mode, while the Incandescent setting had a very warm cast. Manual mode was the most accurate overall, though it too had hints of magenta. The Panasonic FX35 required a +0.7 EV exposure compensation boost to get a good exposure, which is actually a little less than average for this shot. Overall color with the Manual white balance setting is good, though the blue flowers are dark and purplish. (Many digital cameras reproduce these flowers with a dark, purplish tint, so the DMC-FX35 struggled a bit here.) Our test lighting for this shot is a mixture of 60 and 100 watt household incandescent bulbs, a pretty yellow light source, but a very common one in typical home settings here in the U.S.
Good overall color and exposure, though high contrast limits shadow and highlight detail.
|Auto White Balance,
|Auto White Balance,
Outdoors, the Panasonic Lumix FX35 performed fairly well, with good overall exposure, though contrast is high. Highlights are a bit hot, with lost detail, and the shadows also hold onto only the strongest detail. Some losses in shadow detail are also due to a small some noise artifacts as well as some noise suppression. The Panasonic FX35 also has an Intelligent Exposure mode, but we didn't see a strong difference in exposure here.
High resolution, 1,500 ~ 1,600 lines of strong detail.
|Strong detail to
1,600 lines horizontal
|Strong detail to
1,500 lines vertical
Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,600 lines per picture height horizontally, and to about 1,500 lines vertically. Extinction didn't really occur, though lines began to merge around 2,000 lines. Use these numbers to compare with other cameras of similar resolution, or use them to see just what higher resolution can mean in terms of potential detail.
Sharpness & Detail
Fairly sharp images overall, with only minor edge-enhancement on high-contrast subjects. Noise suppression limits detail in the shadows.
Sharpness. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX35's detail would probably be better were it not for the significant amount noise and noise suppression, even the lowest ISO setting. Slight enhancement artifacts are visible on high-contrast subjects such as the crop above left. Edge enhancement creates the illusion of sharpness by enhancing colors and tones right at the edge of a rapid transition in color or tone.
Detail. The crop above right shows fairly high noise and noise suppression, with darker areas of Marti's hair showing limited detail. Individual strands merge together in the medium shadows. Noise-suppression systems in digital cameras tend to flatten-out detail in areas of subtle contrast. The effects can often be seen in shots of human hair, where the individual strands are lost and an almost "watercolor" look appears.
ISO & Noise Performance
Moderate to moderately high noise at the normal sensitivity settings, with very high noise and blurry details at the highest settings.
|ISO 100||ISO 200||ISO 400|
|ISO 800||ISO 1,600|
Noise levels and efforts to suppress noise are quite evident at the Panasonic FX35's lower sensitivity settings, with much higher noise at ISO 400 and up. Even at ISO 200, we can see some fairly obvious noise reduction artifacts, such as blurred detail. At ISO 400, a strong grain pattern appears, and it only gets worse from there. At ISOs 800 and 1,600, the grain pattern becomes progressively stronger, with a shift in overall color as well. Because ISO 3,200 and 6,400 are reduced resolution modes, we did not test them, but judging by the ISO 1,600's printed performance, the results are unlikely to produce a better 4x6-inch print.
Extremes: Sunlit and low light tests
High resolution with strong overall detail, but high contrast and limited shadow detail. Not very good low-light performance, only capable of capturing bright images under average city street lighting at the higher ISOs, though special scene modes do allow for longer exposures.
|Default Exposure||+0.3 EV||+0.7 EV|
Sunlight. The Panasonic Lumix FX35 had some difficulty dealing with the deliberately harsh lighting in the test above, producing high contrast with washed-out highlights and deep shadows. Shadow detail is limited, with the smudged detail from noise suppression. The camera required about average compensation to get proper exposure of skin tones, at +0.3 EV, but unfortunately blows the detail in the shirt. The camera's Intelligent Exposure mode made some effort to even out the exposure, but contrast remained high. Be sure to use fill flash in situations like the one shown above; it's better to shoot in the shade when possible.
Because digital cameras are more like slide film than negative film (in that they tend to have a more limited tonal range), we test them in the harshest situations to see how they handle scenes with bright highlights and dark shadows, as well as what kind of sensitivity they have in low light. The shot above is designed to mimic the very harsh, contrasty effect of direct noonday sunlight, a very tough challenge for most digital cameras. (You can read details of this test here.)
Low light. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX35 had some trouble in low lighting, as the camera captured a dim exposure even at the brightest light level we test at ISO 100. Increasing sensitivity provides brighter exposures, but noise levels rise as well. There are some scene modes such as "Starry Sky" that allow exposures up to 60 seconds at low ISO, but we didn't test those. Color balance is a little cool and magenta with the Auto white balance setting. The camera's autofocus system worked well however, as it was able to focus on the subject almost down to the 1/16 foot-candle light level unassisted, and down to the darkest light level with the AF assist enabled. (A useful trick is to just prop the camera on a convenient surface, and use its self-timer to release the shutter. This avoids any jiggling from your finger pressing the shutter button, and can work quite well when you don't have a tripod handy.)
How bright is this? The one foot-candle light level that this test begins at roughly corresponds to the brightness of typical city street-lighting at night. Cameras performing well at that level should be able to snap good-looking photos of street-lit scenes.
NOTE: This low light test is conducted with a stationary subject, and the camera mounted on a sturdy tripod. Most digital cameras will fail miserably when faced with a moving subject in dim lighting. (For example, a child's ballet recital or a holiday pageant in a gymnasium.) For such applications, you may have better luck with a digital SLR camera, but even there, you'll likely need to set the focus manually. For information and reviews on digital SLRs, refer to our SLR review index page.
Coverage and Range
A dim flash at close range, and not much of a match for the camera's 4x optical zoom. Our standard shots required higher-than-average exposure compensation.
|25mm equivalent||100mm equivalent|
Coverage. Flash coverage was very uneven at wide angle, with dark falloff in the corners and at the edges of the frame. At full telephoto, coverage was again uneven and dim. In the Indoor test, the DMC-FX35's flash underexposed our subject quite a bit at its default setting, requiring a +1.3 EV exposure compensation adjustment to get reasonably bright results. The camera's Slow-Sync flash mode produced slightly brighter results, though with a very strong orange cast from the room lighting.
ISO 100 Range. At wide angle, flash shots at ISO 100 began decreasing in brightness at 7 feet. At full telephoto and ISO 100, the target at 6 feet was already dim, and brightness decreased from there.
|Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range|
Auto ISO 200
Auto ISO 400
Manufacturer Specified Flash Test. In the shots above, the DMC-FX35's flash falls just slightly short of Panasonic's expectations, producing slightly dim exposures at the rated distance with its ISO set to Auto (which selected ISO 200 and 400). Our standard test method for flash range uses a fixed setting of ISO 100, to provide a fair basis of comparison between cameras. We've now also begun shooting two shots using the manufacturer-specified camera settings, at the range the company claims for the camera, to assess the validity of the specific claims.
Good print quality, good color, sharp 11x14 inch prints. ISO 400 images are soft but usable at 8x10, ISO 800 shots are still good at 8x10.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX35 had enough resolution to make good looking 11x14-inch prints, though with soft corners at all zoom ranges. 13x19-inch prints were reasonable, but appeared soft and stippled. ISO 200 shots at 11x14 were softer, but still usable; naturally they were better at 8x10. ISO 400 shots are good at 8x10, with only slight luminance noise in the shadows. ISO 800 shots are too soft at 8x10, but mostly usable at 5x7. Subtle detail is lost even at this size, thanks to noise suppression. ISO 1,600 shots are pretty muddled at 5x7, and don't improve much at 4x6; still, printed results at this setting will probably be acceptable to most users.
Overall printed performance is average, but not quite up to the standard of other pocket 10-megapixel digital cameras.
Testing hundreds of digital cameras, we've found that you can only tell just so much about a camera's image quality by viewing its images on-screen. Ultimately, there's no substitute for printing a lot of images and examining them closely. For this reason, we now routinely print sample images from the cameras we test on our Canon i9900 studio printer, and on the Canon iP5200 here in the office. (See the Canon i9900 review for details on that model.)
The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX35 Photo Gallery.
Recommended Software: Rescue your Photos!
Just as important as an extra memory card is a tool to rescue your images when one of your cards fails at some point in the future. We get a lot of email from readers who've lost photos due to a corrupted memory card. Memory card corruption can happen with any card type and any camera manufacturer, nobody's immune. A lot of "lost" images can be recovered with an inexpensive, easy to use piece of software though. Given the amount of email I've gotten on the topic, I now include this paragraph in all my digital camera reviews. The program you need is called PhotoRescue, by DataRescue SA. Read our review of it if you'd like, but download the program now, so you'll have it. It doesn't cost a penny until you need it, and even then it's only $29, with a money back guarantee. So download PhotoRescue for Windows or PhotoRescue for Mac while you're thinking of it. (While you're at it, download the PDF manual and quickstart guide as well.) Stash the file in a safe place and it'll be there when you need it. Trust me, needing this is not a matter of if, but when... PhotoRescue is about the best and easiest tool for recovering digital photos I've seen. (Disclosure: IR gets a small commission from sales of the product, but I'd highly recommend the program even if we didn't.) OK, now back to our regularly scheduled review...
Not sure which camera to buy? Let your eyes be the ultimate judge! Visit our Comparometer(tm) to compare images from the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX35 with those from other cameras you may be considering. The proof is in the pictures, so let your own eyes decide which you like best!
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Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.