Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35 Review

 
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Panasonic FZ35 Exposure


Color

Saturation & Hue Accuracy
Fairly accurate color with moderate oversaturation mostly in blues and greens.

In the diagram above, the squares show the original color, and the circles show the color that the camera captured. More saturated colors are located towards the periphery of the graph. Hue changes as you travel around the center. Thus, hue-accurate, highly saturated colors appear as lines radiating from the center.

Saturation. The Panasonic FZ35 oversaturates strong blues, reds, greens and browns a bit, but less than we're used to seeing in consumer digital cameras. Yellows and cyans are actually undersaturated a small amount, and yellows get a little too close to green. 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. The Panasonic Lumix FZ35's Caucasian skin tones had a slight pink cast to them. However, performance here is still quite pleasing. 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 Panasonic FZ35 showed several color shifts relative to the correct mathematical translation of colors in its subjects, pushing cyan toward blue, red toward orange, and yellow toward green. Performance here is still better than average though. Hue is "what color" the color is.



See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sensor

Exposure and White Balance

Indoors, incandescent lighting
Best color with Manual white balance, very good exposure accuracy.

Auto White Balance
0 EV (default exposure)
Incandescent White Balance
0 EV (default exposure)
Manual White Balance
0 EV (default exposure)

Color balance indoors under incandescent lighting was a slightly reddish in Auto white balance mode, while the Incandescent setting produced a very warm orange cast. Manual mode produced the most accurate overall color, though it was a touch cool. The Panasonic Lumix FZ35 required a no exposure compensation to get good exposures, which is better than the average of +0.3 EV normally needed for this shot. 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.

 

Outdoors, daylight
Generally good color and exposure outdoors.

Auto White Balance,
+0.7 EV
Auto White Balance,
Auto Exposure

Outdoors, the Panasonic Lumix FZ35 handled harsh lighting pretty well for its class, though contrast is quite high. In the Outdoor Portrait shot above left, highlights are clipped and shadows are deep, but shadow detail is still pretty good. An average amount of exposure compensation was required. The Panasonic FZ35 did a pretty good job with the Far Field House shot at default exposure. While the image is a bit hot (some highlights are clipped), very few shadows are lost. Overall color looks good, if a touch cool.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Resolution
Very high resolution, 1,800 lines of strong detail.

Strong detail to
1,800 lines horizontal
In-camera JPEG
Strong detail to
1,800 lines vertical
In-camera JPEG
Strong detail to
1,800 lines horizontal
ACR converted RAW
Strong detail to
1,800 lines vertical
ACR converted RAW

Our laboratory resolution chart revealed sharp, distinct line patterns down to about 1,800 lines per picture height in both directions. Extinction of the pattern occurred at around 2,400 lines per picture height. We weren't able to do much better with Adobe Camera Raw converted RAW files, so the in-camera processing is pretty good here. 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.

See full set of test images with explanations
See thumbnails of all test and gallery images

Sharpness & Detail
Fine detail is slightly soft from noise suppression, and high contrast areas show minor edge enhancement.

Definition of high-contrast
elements is affected by
noise suppression and there's
evidence of edge enhancement.
Subtle detail: Hair
Noise suppression blurs
detail in areas of subtle contrast,
as in the darker parts of hair here.

Sharpness. The Panasonic FZ35 captures a lot of fine detail, but detail suffers a bit from noise and the effects of noise suppression, resulting in slightly soft images overall, though we wouldn't call it objectionable. In high contrast areas, the camera produces some minor but visible edge enhancement artifacts, such as along the branches in 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 moderate noise suppression, with the darker areas of hair showing limited detail. Individual strands become lost even in the moderate shadows, though performance here is better than average for the pixel density. 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.

RAW vs In-Camera JPEGs
As noted above, the Panasonic produces slightly soft images with minor sharpening artifacts in camera JPEGs. As is usually the case, more detail can be obtained from carefully processing RAW files though, without additional artifacts. Take a look below, to see what we mean:

In the table above, mousing over a link at the bottom will load the corresponding crop in the area above. Examples include in-camera Fine JPEG, RAW file processed with the bundled SilkyPix software at the default settings, RAW file with SilkyPix settings tweaked, and RAW file processed through Adobe Camera Raw version 5.5, then sharpened in Photoshop using Unsharp Mask at 500% with 0.4 pixel radius and a threshold of 1.

Note that SilkyPix has a lot of parameters that you can adjust when sharpening. For our tweaked shot, we used: OE=Outline Emphasis=30 (less than the default of 50, which made things look way harsh), DE=Detail Emphasis=86, (higher than the default of 74, gave somewhat finer detail), FOC=False Outline Control=0 (default), USM=Unsharp Masking on output=77% (no default setting), R=USM Radius=0.2 pixels, T=USM Threshold=1 level.

As you can see, more detail can be extracted from RAW, but noise becomes more visible with such strong sharpening, so we recommend carefully applying some noise reduction before sharpening.

ISO & Noise Performance
Effects of noise reduction visible at all ISOs, but very good detail up to ISO 200.

ISO 80 ISO 100 ISO 200
ISO 400 ISO 800 ISO 1,600

Panasonic FZ35 image noise levels are low to moderate at lower ISOs, though the effects of noise reduction are already evident at the lowest ISO. While moderate blurring is visible at normal ISOs, detail remains quite good to ISO 200. At ISO 400, noise suppression efforts become quite strong, further blurring fine detail. There's also quite a bit of chroma noise at ISO 400 and above, especially in darker areas. Detail continues to degrade as ISO increases, to the point where there is very little fine detail left at ISO 1,600. In this very difficult sample, we're also seeing yellow blotches that actually start at ISO 80 and continue to grow all the way up through ISO 1,600. For shots of hair especially, it's best to keep the ISO setting to 400 or below. See the Print Quality section below for maximum recommended print sizes at each ISO.

Extremes: Sunlit and Low Light tests
High resolution with strong overall detail, though high contrast and deep shadows. Good low-light capabilities.

+0.3 EV +0.7 EV +1.0 EV

Sunlight. The Panasonic Lumix FZ35 had a little trouble dealing with the deliberately harsh lighting in the test above, producing very high contrast with deep shadows, though shadow detail is surprisingly good for an all-in-one with a small sensor. The camera required about average compensation to get proper exposure of skin tones, at +0.7 EV, which pushes highlights in the shirt and flowers a fair amount. While the +0.3 EV exposure had fewer blown highlights, the face is too dim, and +1.0 EV resulted in too many lost highlights. 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.)

 

iExposure Low
0.0 EV
iExposure Standard
0.0 EV
iExposure High
0.0 EV
iExposure Off
0.0 EV

Intelligent Exposure. In addition to a contrast adjustment, the Panasonic Lumix FZ35 has what the company calls an Intelligent Exposure mode, which attempts to automatically adjust contrast and exposure to suit the scene. The Panasonic FZ35 has four levels of iExposure, including Off. Here you can see it made a big difference in our difficult outdoor portrait shot, though we would have preferred it didn't produce so many hot highlights. While there are more blown highlights at all three active settings, shadows and midtones have been boosted with no exposure compensation required. Using iExposure did result in slightly increased noise, as the camera raised sensitivity from ISO 80 to 125.

 

Face Detection Off
0.0 EV
Portrait Mode
0.0 EV
iAuto
0.0 EV

Face Detection. Here, we test to see what effect the Lumix FZ35 Face Detection has on the exposure of the model's face. The camera was placed in Portrait mode, which enables face detection, and no exposure compensation was added. As you can see, enabling face detection did optimize exposure for a properly exposed face. Intelligent Auto also detected the face and exposed accordingly. In both cases, the camera opened the aperture from f/5.6 to f/3.6, without needing to raise ISO or reduce shutter speed. Both modes also produced somewhat softer skin tones that most users would likely find more flattering for portraits.




Low Light (One Foot-candle)
ISO 80, 3.2 sec, f/2.8 ISO 100, 2.5 sec, f/2.8 ISO 200, 1.3 sec, f/2.8
ISO 400, 0.6 sec, f/2.8 ISO 800, 0.3 sec, f/2.8 ISO 1,600, 1/6 sec, f/2.8

Low Light. The Panasonic FZ35 performed well in our abbreviated low-light test, which simulates standard city street lighting at night. Images are bright, with good detail and acceptable noise up to ISO 400. Color balance was very neutral from the Auto white balance, even at higher ISOs. With a maximum exposure of 60s in Starry Sky mode, the FZ35 should have no problem with much darker scenes. The camera's AF system had a little trouble with low lighting, able to focus down to just under the 1/4 foot-candle light level without AF assist enabled, though the camera was able to focus in complete darkness with the AF assist lamp enabled.

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.

Flash

Coverage and Range
Modest power for a long-zoom flash, with uneven coverage at wide-angle. Auto flash performed well in our indoor test scene.

27mm equivalent
(ISO 100)
486mm equivalent
(ISO 800)
Auto Flash
(ISO 250)

Coverage and Exposure. Flash coverage was quite uneven at wide-angle, but not surprising for a wide-angle lens. Coverage was much more even at telephoto. In the Indoor Portrait test, the Panasonic FZ35's auto flash mode resulted in a well-exposed, if a little washed out, image, but it raised sensitivity to ISO 250.

Flash Range: Wide-angle
6 ft 7 ft 8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft
Click to see FZ35FL06W.JPG
1/30 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see FZ35FL07W.JPG
1/30 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see FZ35FL08W.JPG
1/30 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see FZ35FL09W.JPG
1/30 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see FZ35FL10W.JPG
1/30 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see FZ35FL11W.JPG
1/30 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
12 ft 13 ft 14 ft 15 ft 16 ft
Click to see FZ35FL12W.JPG
1/30 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see FZ35FL13W.JPG
1/30 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see FZ35FL14W.JPG
1/30 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see FZ35FL15W.JPG
1/30 sec
f2.8
ISO 100
Click to see FZ35FL16W.JPG
1/30 sec
f2.8
ISO 100

Flash Range: Telephoto
6 ft 7 ft 8 ft 9 ft 10 ft 11 ft
Click to see FZ35FL06T.JPG
1/125 sec
f4.4
ISO 100
Click to see FZ35FL07T.JPG
1/125 sec
f4.4
ISO 100
Click to see FZ35FL08T.JPG
1/125 sec
f4.4
ISO 100
Click to see FZ35FL09T.JPG
1/125 sec
f4.4
ISO 100
Click to see FZ35FL10T.JPG
1/125 sec
f4.4
ISO 100
Click to see FZ35FL11T.JPG
1/125 sec
f4.4
ISO 100
12 ft 13 ft 14 ft 15 ft 16 ft
Click to see FZ35FL12T.JPG
1/125 sec
f4.4
ISO 100
Click to see FZ35FL13T.JPG
1/125 sec
f4.4
ISO 100
Click to see FZ35FL14T.JPG
1/125 sec
f4.4
ISO 100
Click to see FZ35FL15T.JPG
1/125 sec
f4.4
ISO 100
Click to see FZ35FL16T.JPG
1/125 sec
f4.4
ISO 100

ISO 100 Range. At wide-angle and ISO 100, flash intensity was a bit dim at 6 feet, but peaked at 9 feet, then decreased from there. At telephoto, maximum flash intensity was at 7 feet, decreasing from there.


Manufacturer-Specified Flash Range
Wide-angle Telephoto
Click to see FZ35FL_MFR098WM0100.JPG
9.8 feet
ISO 100
Click to see FZ35FL_MFR062TM0100.JPG
6.2 feet
ISO 100

Manufacturer Specified Flash Test. Panasonic rates the FZ35's flash range at 3m (9.8 feet) at wide-angle using ISO 100, and 1.9m (6.2 ft.) at telephoto. In the shots above, the FZ35's flash performs to Panasonic's specification at wide-angle, but underperforms slightly at telephoto. We did however see that telephoto was brighter at 7 feet vs 6 feet in our ISO 100 Range test, so the results at telephoto here may be due to a difference in metering, not flash power. 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.

Output Quality

Print Quality
Good print quality at ISO 80 and 100 at 13x19 inches. ISO 400 images are good at 11x14, ISO 800 shots are good at 8x10.

The Panasonic FZ35 was able to produce good 13x19-inch prints at ISO 80, 100, and 200. ISO 400 shots were still quite usable from a distance at 13x19, but really sharpened up at 11x14.

ISO 800 shots are a bit soft at 11x14, though, and look better at Letter size or 8x10. ISO 1,600 shots are surprisingly good at 5x7.

As for the yellow and purple blotches you can see in hair and other slightly yellow objects in our indoor shot (INB), they are only slightly noticeable at the sizes above, and only in the ISO 800 and 1,600 images do they stand out -- and then only under bright light.

Overall, the Panasonic FZ35 produces good, usable shots at all ISOs, an admirable performance.

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 Pro9000 Mark II studio printer, and on the Canon Pixma MP610 here in the office. (See the Canon Pixma Pro9000 Mark II 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-FZ35 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-FZ35 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.

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