Samsung HZ35W Review

Camera Reviews / Samsung Cameras i Express Review
Basic Specifications
Full model name: Samsung HZ35W
Resolution: 12.00 Megapixels
Sensor size: 1/2.3 inch
(6.2mm x 4.6mm)
Lens: 15.00x zoom
(24-360mm eq.)
Viewfinder: LCD
Extended ISO: 80 - 3200
Shutter: 1/2000 - 16 sec
Max Aperture: 3.2
Dimensions: 4.2 x 2.4 x 1.1 in.
(107 x 61 x 28 mm)
Weight: 8.4 oz (238 g)
includes batteries
MSRP: $350
Availability: 03/2010
Manufacturer: Samsung
Full specs: Samsung HZ35W specifications

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Imaging Resource rating

3.0 out of 5.0

Samsung HZ35W Overview

by Theano Nikitas and Stephanie Boozer
Review Date: 10/28/2010

Long zoom compact cameras are emerging as one of the latest trends in digital photography and the 12-megapixel Samsung HZ35W (Samsung WB650 in some markets) fits neatly into that category. It's small enough to be pocketable yet is equipped with a wide-angle, 15x optical zoom that delivers an impressive focal range of 24-360mm (35mm equivalent). That's more than wide enough to capture great landscapes and group shots of family and friends and grab distant shots that would otherwise be out of reach. Dual image-stabilization, optical and digital, helps steady the Schneider-Kreuznach lens, while an aperture selection of f/3.2-f/11.6 at wide-angle and f/5.8-f/12 at telephoto allows for depth-of-field control. Shutter speeds range from 16 seconds to 1/2,000 second, so you can take long exposures in low light or stop action. ISO can be set from 80-3,200.

In addition to the 15x optical zoom lens, other hot features include built-in GPS with a map display and a 3-inch, 614K-pixel AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode) screen for framing and viewing images. Both of these features set the Samsung HZ35W apart from its near-twin, but less expensive sibling the HZ30W (WB600), which has no GPS and is equipped with a 3-inch, 230K pixel LCD.

The Samsung HZ35W also offers a solid feature set that is designed to span the needs and experience levels of snapshooters and enthusiasts alike. Preset scene modes, Auto, Program AE, and Smart Auto are ideal for point-and-shoot simplicity, while shutter-priority, aperture-priority, and manual exposure options will appeal to more experienced users. The combination of automatic and manual controls also makes the Samsung HZ35W a good learning tool for those who want to amp up their photography skills. Image adjustment options and the ability to apply certain styles to photos are complemented by a few creative effects including Vignette, Miniature, and Fish-eye. Of course, HD video is available as well, with the highest resolution topping out at 1,280 x 720 at 30fps.

At this point, Face Detection is a standard feature on almost all compact cameras and the Samsung HZ35W is no exception. Other people photography options include Face Recognition, which gives priority to faces you register, as well as Smile Shot and Blink (the camera takes a second shot if the person's eyes are closed in the first shot). The camera also offers a special Beauty mode, which helps alleviate imperfections by softening the skin.

On paper, the Samsung HZ35W looks good, even at a price of US$350. Again, though, if you have no interest in geotagging and can be happy with a modest 230k pixel resolution LCD, then check out the HZ30W.


Samsung HZ35W
User Report

by Theano Nikitas

The Samsung HZ35W offers a lot of versatility from its wide-angle long zoom to its wide range of shooting options. It's small enough to carry around everywhere without sacrificing much of anything. The camera is generally easy to use and with all of its point-and-shoot options, snapshooters will be happy with the Samsung HZ35W's simple operation. More experienced users will find plenty of features to control their image capture. A few operational quirks, less than stellar performance, and image quality that can go from great to just okay, depending on shooting conditions, are some of the Samsung HZ35W's minor shortcomings, but the camera lived up to most of our expectations.

Look and Feel. The Samsung HZ35W's dark grey body is sturdily built and feels solid, if a little chunky. Weighing about 7.57 ounces (without battery or media card), the camera has some heft to it, which helps when you're trying to hold the camera steady at telephoto. Measuring 4.2 x 2.38 x 1.1 inches, the Samsung HZ35W is larger than some compact models, but given the fact that it sports a 15x zoom, it's really impressively small--small enough to slip into a small bag or mid-sized pocket and carry everywhere. You can even wear it around your neck with a lanyard.

Holding the camera is comfortable, even for one-hand shooting, thanks to a modestly curved grip and a well-placed thumb rest. Be sure to keep your right forefinger on the shutter button, though; otherwise it's easy to block the built-in flash. The GPS receiver protrudes slightly on camera's left corner and looks a little odd. It doesn't interfere with holding the camera. You can also support the camera by placing your left palm under the lens, which telescopes out when the camera is powered on.

Controls. Other than the GPS receiver and on/off switch, the Samsung HZ35W offers a fairly standard compact camera control layout. If you have large hands, you might want to try the camera on for size before you purchase it, but the HZ35W should be usable by most.

Along the top surface, you'll notice a protrusion, which is the GPS receiver. Just to the right is a small switch that turns the receiver on and off. The switch requires enough force to move that it can't be switched on accidentally and a small white light indicates when the receiver is powered on so you always know its status. If you're not going to use the GPS, it's best to leave it turned off since it puts extra drain on battery life.

The power button is also low profile and, like all low profile controls, is difficult to locate by touch. Once you get a visual on the power button it's easy to turn the camera on and off, especially since a bright blue light encircles the button when the camera is powered on.

A mid-sized Mode Dial sits between the power and shutter buttons. The dial turns a full 360 degrees, making it easy to move swiftly between shooting modes using your thumb or forefinger. It's ratcheted and inset far enough to avoid accidental mode changes, but has a relatively smooth feel during use. The shutter button, which is surrounded by a zoom lever, is well-positioned to keep your forefinger out of the way of the built-in flash.

Not surprisingly, there's no optical viewfinder. Instead, the Samsung HZ35W is outfitted with a 3-inch AMOLED (Active Matrix Organic Light Emitting Diode) display. This 614,400-dot VGA screen is large, clear, and very usable in bright sunlight at its Normal setting. Screen brightness can be adjusted using Auto, Dark, Normal, or Bright options. Keep in mind that this can affect how the image looks and can skew your exposure analysis. You're better off turning on the camera's histogram to judge how well the image is exposed instead of depending on the monitor.

The red dot button in the upper right corner starts recording movies in any shooting mode. In addition to the convenience of not having to set the Mode Dial to Movie mode to record video, you can also press the red button or the shutter button to stop recording. The OK button, which is surrounded by the 4-way controller, will pause recording and re-engage the movie mode when pressed a second time. All in all, the Samsung HZ35W's movie mode is very well implemented.

Rear controls also include a Menu button to call up the internal menu as well as a 4-way controller, which toggles through Display, Self-Timer, Macro/Normal AF/Manual focus, and Flash settings. The Display offers two options: basic shooting information or more detailed information (including shooting mode, image size and quality, battery life, grid overlay, GPS and more). Cycling through Self-timer options you'll find myriad settings, including those that are timed to let the photographer get into the shot. You can turn the Self-timer off or set it to take a shot within 10 seconds or 2 seconds after the shutter is pressed. There's also a Double-shot mode that captures one image after 10 seconds and a another one 2 seconds later. A Motion Timer is activated for 6 seconds after the shutter is triggered and when motion has stopped (i.e., after you run into the scene), a shot is automatically captured.

A handful of Flash settings include forced-on (fill flash), forced-off, Automatic, Slow-sync (which balances the foreground and background exposure) and two red-eye options. The first detects and removes red-eye; the second setting helps prevent red-eye.

The final two external controls are the Playback and Function/Delete buttons. Playback offers a number of options, including a slideshow with a choice of sound tracks and the ability to zoom into an image up to 12.5x to check focus. The Function button, which doubles as the Delete button in Playback, calls up an on-screen menu for quick access to the most-often changed settings such as photo size, photo quality, Exposure Compensation, ISO, White Balance, Face Detection, Focus Area and more. The Function button also allows you to change the manual and semi-manual exposure settings, but we'll talk more about that later.

Lens. The Samsung HZ35W has upped the ante when it comes to zoom power. It wasn't too long ago that the best one could hope for from a compact digital camera was a 4x or 5x optical zoom. A 15x optical zoom lens was previously only possible on larger, megazoom models. Even among compact long-zoom models, the Samsung HZ35W offers more telephoto reach than most as it extends to a 35mm-equivalent of 360mm, long enough to zoom in on distant subjects. With a wide-angle of 24mm (35mm-equivalent), the Samsung HZ35W is great for landscapes and group shots, with plenty of room to capture large gatherings of family or friends. The Macro mode works well as close as about 1.18 inches (3cm). If you're going to use flash in your macro shot, go into the menu and adjust the flash power; otherwise the image will probably get blown out. Also take into consideration that it's easy to end up with a vignette in Macro, depending on the angle you're shooting from.

Although the lens isn't particularly fast, with a minimum aperture of f/3.2 to f/5.8 across the zoom range, it stops down to f/12 at telephoto. The combination of the long telephoto zoom and f/5.8 aperture provides good bokeh (soft, out-of-focus background and sharp subject, which is great for portraits) and decent manual control over depth-of-field.

Optical image stabilization is available via the internal menu and works relatively well, although at full telephoto, it's a little hard to handhold the camera and get a sharply focused shot unless you have lots of bright light. For extra anti-blur protection, the Samsung HZ35W offers a special Dual IS mode accessible via the Mode Dial, which combines optical and digital image stabilization. The former is the preferred choice since there's less chance of image degradation.

The zoom moves from wide-angle to full telephoto in about 12 steps, giving you enough options to get close to the desired zoom range at a manageable pace. A 5x digital zoom is available in some modes, with the "digital zone" indicated in the zoom bar on the AMOLED display. With a 15x optical zoom, there's really no reason to go for the extra 5x since it will degrade the image. If you need a closer view, consider cropping in an image-editing program like Adobe Photoshop Elements so you can better control the results.

Modes. Considering that this is a compact camera, the Samsung HZ35W offers a lot of shooting options. The Mode Dial provides quick access to any of the eight shooting modes. To make it easy to identify your selection and understand what each mode does, a virtual selection visual appears on the AMOLED display with a brief explanation of each mode's function.

For no-brainer shooting, there are Program, Auto, Smart Auto, and Scene. As always, Program Auto is a good balance between automatic shooting and user control over basics such as ISO, Metering, and White Balance. Auto and Smart Auto limit the number of options available to the user. While you can change the Photo Size and Image Quality, there are few other choices since the camera makes all the exposure decisions. Smart Auto automatically selects the best set of parameters to fit the scene you're shooting. Position the lens close to a subject, for example, and a Macro icon appears in the upper left corner of the monitor. Smart Auto also can choose from landscapes, bright backgrounds (to compensate for backlighting), landscapes and portraits (during the day or at night), clear skies, text and most of the other Scene modes. With the shooting we did, Smart auto seemed best at recognizing Macro and Landscape scenes.

Scene modes include a Beauty Shot, which automatically smooths out a subject's skin to remove blemishes and imperfections, as well as Close-up, Landscape, Portrait, Night, Children, Beach, Text, and more. All told, there's a baker's dozen scene options, which is more than enough to cover most--if not all--common shooting situations.

As mentioned earlier, the Samsung HZ35W offers dual image stabilization. It's on the Mode Dial and activates both optical image stabilization and digital stabilization at the same time. Not our favorite option; your better bet is to use optical image stabilization alone, which can be turned on via the camera's menu system.

On the manual side, the Samsung HZ35W is equipped with Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority and full Manual exposure modes. All three are available via a single "ASM" setting on the Mode Dial. In these semi-manual and manual exposure modes, you can set the aperture from f/3.2 to f/12 (depending on where the zoom is set) and the shutter from a very respectable 16 seconds for long exposures to 1/2,000th of a second. That's the good news. The bad news is that this mode is inconvenient to use. Once you set the Mode Dial to ASM, you then have to select Aperture, Shutter, or Manual from the menu and then press the Function button to gain access to the aperture and shutter settings. From there, you need to press the left/right and up/down arrow keys of the 4-way controller to change the settings. It's not the ideal configuration and, frankly, I would have used the manual settings more often if the process were easier.

Jaggies. You'll get the best video results with the HD resolution, otherwise you may end up with jaggies and moire, as evidenced in this low resolution clip.

When shooting movies, it's easier to simply press the red button on the back of the camera instead of turning the Mode Dial to Movie. To make setting changes, all you have to do is press the Menu button to change resolution, frame rate, activate the Smart Scene Detection, which is supposed to automatically recognize landscapes, clear skies, forested areas, and sunsets. Due to the locations we were shooting in, the landscape icon showed up most often so it was difficult to judge the effectiveness of this "smart" setting. The zoom works during video recording although some noise is audible from the zoom action. If that really bothers you, you can turn the sound off or have the camera mute the sound while zooming. The latter is pretty disconcerting, though, as you can see in the video.

The final Mode Dial setting is Map View, which, in conjunction with the GPS feature, shows your location (and the location of your geotagged images) on a map. More about that below.

GPS. GPS hasn't yet become a must-have digital camera feature for most snapshooters but if you want to geotag your images so you can have a permanent record of where you captured each of your images, then the Samsung HZ35W's GPS may be a dealmaker for you. Samsung has implemented all the right components, but getting them to work can be a little frustrating.

The Samsung HZ35W's GPS antenna has a separate power switch so you don't have to waste battery life on images that you don't need or want to geotag. When the switch is in the Off position, the GPS icon on the display is greyed out. Move the switch to the On position, and the GPS icon appears on the display with a colored status indicator (green for normal reception, red or yellow for no signal). It often takes a while to get a signal, depending on your location. The most effective method of getting a signal is to place the camera where it's not blocked by buildings and leave it there for a while--even as long as 10-15 minutes or more. Once the icon turns green, then the geotagging is automatic. If you make minor location changes or turn the Samsung HZ35W's GPS receiver on and off without moving too far from your original location, the signal should remain strong or, at least, quickly reset to nearby satellites. If you move from one city or state to another you need to start the process all over again.

Samsung's Intelli-studio, the Windows-only application bundled in the camera itself, allows you to map your images in a number of different ways, including showing the address, the longitude and latitude or the general locations where the images were shot.

In order to make use of the Samsung HZ35W's Map View mode, where you can see your location on the camera's monitor and map the location of geotagged images, you need to download a set of maps from the Samsung website and load them on the media card you'll be using. The process can be a little clunky, but once you have the right files on your media card and have a GPS signal on the camera, everything works seamlessly. The camera comes with Windows-only Intelli-Studio software embedded in the camera, which facilitates transferring images to your PC, and has several Map options so you can see where your images were shot after you've transferred them to your PC. It's pretty cool, although geotagging won't appeal to everyone or be needed for every situation.

Menus. Overall, the Samsung HZ35W's menu system is fairly intuitive and the text is easy to understand. The shooting menu is divided into Shooting, Movie, Geotagging, Sound, Display, and Settings. Within the Shooting section, you'll find many of the same options already available via the Function button including Photo Size, Quality, Exposure Compensation, ISO, White Balance, Face Detection, Focus Area, Metering, Photo Style Selector, Smart Filter, Drive Mode and Optical Image Stabilization. You have to go into the main Menu, though, to register Faces so the camera will recognize and prioritize them with its Face Detection function. The main Menu is also where you can adjust Contrast, Sharpness, and Saturation and turn on the ACB (auto contrast brightness) option, which helps compensate for backlighting.

The Main menu also offers options to change resolution and frame rate for movies, as well as turn the sound on, off or mute it when zooming.

Geotagging options include GPS Valid Time, which allows you to use the most recently recorded geotag if you can't get a GPS signal. Location Display displays the name of the city, county, and/or state where you're located. There's a GPS Reset option, which prompts the camera to conduct a new search for satellites. A Map Information menu option simply displays the version of the GPS data and Map information provider.

Storage and battery. The single media card and battery compartment is located on the bottom of the camera, with a lock that makes it easy to open and close. Compatible with SD/SDHC cards, the Samsung HZ35W is guaranteed to work with up to a 8GB card. There is also 128MB of internal memory, though the documentation is not clear on how much is available for image storage.

The battery is charged in the camera, which is fine except the USB cable/AC plug is very short, so you may need to rest the camera on a chair or box so it doesn't dangle from the outlet. The cable detaches from the AC plug to attach the camera to your computer's USB port for transferring images. Battery life is slightly below average at 240 images per charge or about 100 minutes for video (video is limited to 20 minutes a clip). When the battery was low, it also seemed more difficult to acquire a GPS signal, so you may want to pick up an extra battery for travel and if you plan to use the GPS a lot.

Shooting. I have to confess that I'm not a huge fan of geotagging, perhaps because most of my recent travels are between New York City and the Washington, DC area and I can easily identify where my images were shot. That said, once I figured out how to work with the GPS, it was kind of fun using the Samsung HZ35W's Map View and looking at the mapped images on my computer using Samsung's Intelli-Studio.

Initially it was difficult to get a GPS signal from my home office so I ended up putting the camera in the dining room, which is more open and faces the backyard. Once the camera locked in the signal, it stayed constant as I wandered around the neighborhood. In Map View, I could even see which pictures were shot in the front yard, the backyard and up the street. Although my city wasn't available on the map, the county and my street were visible.

Getting the GPS receiver to pick up a signal in Manhattan was more challenging. I started walking down Broadway to photograph the city's Sidewalk Catwalk public art--a series of mannequins, decorated by designers, positioned along the pedestrian areas of the street. Since I didn't have time to sit and wait to get a signal, I turned on the GPS receiver and hoped for the best, but with no luck. Even though I was outside, I'm sure the lack of signal reception was a combination of the tall buildings and the fact that I was walking (albeit slowly). Later that evening I had a lot more success at a rooftop dinner downtown where there was no interference from tall buildings and I was able to keep the camera stationary until it locked in on the satellite signal. When viewed on the map, the camera picked up slight movements across the roof. Pretty nifty, although I'm not sure how I'm going to use that information. If I were traveling across country or Europe, geotagging would be much more useful but it was still kind of fun to use as I roamed the city.

Given bright enough conditions, the Samsung HZ35W can produce excellent images from its widest angle of 24mm through 360mm. Even though this mannequin was illuminated by bright sunlight, the camera picked up the details of its decorative shells.

Given that I was shooting the Sidewalk Catwalk in mid-day with lots of bright sunlight, the AMOLED display came in handy. I was easily able to compose my mannequin shots without squinting or adjusting the monitor brightness. Occasionally I'd move into the shade to read the settings but that might be more of a problem with my eyesight than the monitor.

Although I was able to walk up to the mannequins, I wanted to test out the Samsung HZ35W's zoom power. As expected, the maximum zoom worked best during the day when there was enough light to bump the shutter speed to one of its higher settings. Under those conditions, detail capture was good throughout the zoom range--even at 360mm.

Under low-light conditions, with a slower shutter speed and higher ISO, test shots at 360mm weren't as sharp. Although the optical image stabilization seemed to work pretty well, ISOs even slightly above 200 exhibited some noise and detail softness.

Diane von Furstengerg's painted mannequin gives a Spider Woman feel when shot at 24mm against the New York skyline.

Without many landscapes to shoot in the city, I used the Samsung HZ35W's wide-angle lens to capture some close-up and funky images of the mannequins juxtaposed with Manhattan skyscrapers. The wide-angle end of the zoom also allowed me to get really close to the mannequins to capture some good detail.

Since using manual exposure modes was so frustrating, I tended to shoot on Program AE a lot with generally good results. The only drawback, regardless of metering mode, was the blown out skies in mid-town. On the other hand, shooting from the roof with plenty of fluffy white clouds juxtaposed against the blue sky resulted in some perfect exposures. Regardless of where I was shooting, the Samsung HZ35W produced accurate but vibrant colors.

Perhaps the biggest disappointment was the camera's speed, so I was glad to be shooting mostly static subjects. My disappointment increased when I switched to the Samsung's HZ35W's bracketing mode. It was so slow that you really need a tripod to make it work, especially if you want to combine images for a High Dynamic Range shot.

The Samsung HZ35W captured some gorgeous, perfectly exposed shots in the early evening, with just a little fill flash to compensate for backlighting.

A variety of Photo Styles--including Normal, Vivid and the more esoteric Calm, Cool and Forest--is available in some shooting modes. A couple of black and white (Sketchy and Classic) are also options, as is a fun Negative effect and the ability to adjust the Red, Green, and Blue channels to create your own style.

The Samsung HZ35W is also equipped with Smart Filters, which apply special lens effects such as Miniature (to mimic a diorama, but requires the right situation to work effectively), Vignetting, and two Fish-eye effects. I preferred the Vignetting and the more exaggerated of the two Fish-eye options.

HD movie. The Zoom Mute option was inadvertently selected so the sound cut out each time the zoom was activated. This option can be turned off, although you'll have to dig into the "Voice" sub-menu to reach the setting.

Since the Movie Mode is so easy to access, I was happy to come across a couple of very talented pianists participating in the public Play Me, I'm Yours celebration. Two mimes who were having fun dancing to the tunes provided interesting subject matter as well. Unfortunately, the Movie Mode was set to Zoom Mute so each time I zoomed, the sound would cut out. Since the setting was buried in the Voice menu, I couldn't find it in time to un-mute before the performances ended. The sound, when it was being recorded, wasn't bad but it's definitely worth bumping the movie resolution to its high quality 1280 x 720 setting for the best video results. Footage was sharper and less likely to jiggle or create moire patterns at 1280 x 720 than at 640 x 480.

Shooting with the Samsung HZ35W was, for the most part, a fun experience. Despite a few operational quirks, the camera is capable of producing some really nice images given enough light. I wouldn't count on capturing fast-moving action, but for still subjects, like the NYC mannequins, this camera did a good job.

See below for the results of our laboratory test shots and final conclusion.


Samsung HZ35W Lens Quality

Wide: Sharp at center
Wide: Soft at upper left
Tele: Sharper at center, though still a hint soft
Tele: Softest in upper right corner

Sharpness: The wide-angle end of the Samsung HZ35W's zoom shows mild blurring in the corners of the frame compared to center. Though the effect is mild, it does extend noticeably into the central image area. At telephoto, the entire image appears a bit soft, though the strongest blurring is in the top right corner. Again, this softening radiates in toward the main image area.

Wide: Minimal barrel distortion; almost imperceptible
Tele: A tiny amount of pincushion distortion, also barely visible

Geometric Distortion: There is very little barrel distortion at wide-angle (0.1%), and only slight pincushion distortion (0.2%) at telephoto. Excellent results.

Wide: Low
Tele: Moderate, but bright

Chromatic Aberration: Chromatic aberration at wide-angle is low, with only a suggestion of coloration along the sides of the target lines. At telephoto, however, strong, bright blue and red pixels are clearly visible.

Macro with Flash

Macro: The Samsung HZ35W's Macro mode captures sharp detail at the center of the frame, though blurring is very strong along the left side and in the corners, reaching far toward center. Minimum coverage area is 1.66 x 1.24 inches (42 x 32mm), which is quite good. The camera focuses so closely that the flash is blocked by the lens in the lower right corner, resulting in a dark shadow covering most of the frame.


Samsung HZ35W Viewfinder Accuracy

Wide: AMOLED Monitor
Tele: AMOLED Monitor

Viewfinder Accuracy: The Samsung HZ35W's AMOLED monitor showed about 100% coverage accuracy at wide-angle and at telephoto, which is excellent.


Samsung HZ35W Image Quality

Color: The Samsung HZ35W produced pretty good color overall, with only slight oversaturation in bright reds, greens, and blues. Yellows are actually a little muted, but still fairly good. Hue is also about right, as the HZ35W did not push cyan toward blue like many digital cameras are wont to do. Yellows do show a shift toward green, and darker skin tones are pushed toward red, but lighter skin tones are almost spot-on. Overall, a good performance here.

Auto WB:
Good, though slightly red
Incandescent WB:
Too warm
Manual WB:
Very good

Incandescent: The Samsung HZ35W's Manual white balance setting handled our household tungsten lighting quite well, though with a hint of a magenta tint in the whites. Auto mode came in very close, though with a more noticeable red cast, while Incandescent was quite warm.

Horizontal: 1,800 lines
Vertical: 1,800 lines

Resolution: 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 2,050 lines per picture height.

Wide: Good, boosted to 640
Tele: Dim, but still effective
Auto Flash

Flash: Our manufacturer-specified testing showed good exposure at Samsung's rated distance of 16.4 feet, though the camera chose to raise the ISO to 640, significantly blurring detail. The telephoto test came out just a little dim at 9.8 feet, also boosted to 640.

Auto flash produced cool, dim results in our indoor portrait scene, though some ambient light is retained by the 1/45 second shutter speed. ISO was only increased to 200. Consider boosting ISO further, or adjusting the EV or flash compensation to get brighter results.


ISO: Noise and Detail: Detail is good and strong at ISO 80, on up to 200, with visible softening beginning at ISO 400. Chroma (color) noise becomes noticeable starting at ISO 800, but is more problematic at 1,600 and 3,200. Luminance noise is also strong at the higher settings, making all fine detail virtually disappear. See Printed results below for more on how this affects prints.

Printed: ISO 80 shots look good printed at up to 16x20 inches, though there's some softening and minor luminance noise in the shadows.

ISO 100 shots also look good at this size, but tighten up a bit at 13x19 inches.

ISO 200 shots are a little rougher at 13x19 inches, with detail loss in the reds and shadows, as well as around high-contrast edges. This gets better at 11x14 inches.

ISO 400 files are usable at 11x14, but get back to quite good at 8x10.

ISO 800 images look better printed at 5x7 inches, with softness only appearing in reds and other low-contrast areas.

ISO 1,600 images are soft but usable at 5x7.

ISO 3,200 images have grainy shadows and higher contrast at 4x6 inches, but are still usable.

Overall, this is a pretty good performance for the Samsung HZ35W.


Samsung HZ35W Performance

Shutter Lag: Full autofocus shutter lag is slow, at 0.82 second at wide-angle and full telephoto. Prefocused shutter lag is 0.111 second, also slower than average.

Cycle Time: Cycle time is also a little sluggish, capturing a frame every 2.44 seconds in single-shot mode.

Flash Recycle: The Samsung HZ35W's flash recycles in about 5 seconds after a full-power discharge, about average.

Low Light AF: The HZ35W's AF system was able to focus down to just above 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.

USB Transfer Speed: Connected to a computer or printer with USB 2.0, the Samsung HZ35W's download speeds are reasonably fast. We measured 4,654 KBytes/sec.


In the Box

The retail package contains the following items:

  • Samsung HZ35W camera body
  • Lithium-ion Battery Pack SLB-11A
  • AC adapter/USB cable
  • Wrist Strap
  • CD-ROM User Manual
  • Quick Start Manual


Recommended Accessories

  • Large capacity SD/SDHC memory card. A minimum of 2GB is recommended; 4GB or higher if you're going to shoot video
  • Extra battery pack for extended outings and heavy use of GPS.
  • HDMI cable


Samsung HZ35W Conclusion

Pro: Con:
  • 15x image stabilized wide-angle (24mm) optical zoom
  • 3-inch AMOLED monitor
  • Built-in GPS
  • Compact Size
  • Sturdy build
  • Multiple automatic exposure modes
  • Auto, Manual and semi-auto exposure modes
  • Easy-to-use Movie mode
  • Dedicated Movie record button
  • Operational zoom during video capture
  • Only minor to moderate chromatic aberration
  • Only minor pincushioning and barrel distortion
  • Good Auto white balance indoors
  • Good printed results
  • Small, weak flash
  • Macro mode is very soft around the edges
  • Long shutter lag
  • Poor shot-to-shot times
  • GPS is difficult to initialize
  • Extremely slow to start zooming
  • Slow autofocus
  • Autofocus often gives up in low light
  • Lens makes audible noise while zooming, which appears in video
  • Option to turn off recording while zooming is jarring in final videos


The Samsung HZ35W has a lot to offer whether you're a snapshooter or someone who likes to use manual controls. More than its full feature set, which includes a myriad of automatic, semi-auto and manual controls, the Samsung HZ35W's versatility is spotlighted by its 15x optical zoom. With an impressive focal range of 24-360mm, the HZ35W's image stabilized lens can handle just about any situation--from wide-angle landscapes to close-ups of otherwise out of reach distant subjects. Its other star feature is its GPS that, despite its initially tricky implementation, works well to track where your images were shot. Add the AMOLED high resolution 3-inch monitor and it's obvious that the Samsung HZ35W is worthy of consideration, particularly given its compact size. An Achilles Heel of poor performance keeps this camera in the general realm of static subjects and, although ISO 1,600 can produce decent 4x6-inch prints, we think the best image results happen under bright light conditions.

If you're not interested in geotagging your images and will be happy with a lesser LCD (3-inches but at a resolution of only 230k pixels), then save yourself $70 and go for the HZ30W. Overall, the Samsung HZ35W packs a long zoom into a small package and has decent print quality, but it's slow in the field, which prevents it from getting our highest recommendation, a Dave's Pick, but we still think it's a pretty good digital camera.


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