FIRST LOOK: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ35


      In summary

      An advanced digicam with a fast, 18x zoom lens plus support for raw file capture and AVCHD Lite HD video recording capability.Panasonic’s new DMC-FZ35 Lumix camera replaces the popular FZ28 at the top of the super-zoom line-up and offers P, A, S and M shooting modes to please photo enthusiasts, along with AVCHD Lite HD video recording. This ‘First Look’ is based upon a pre-production unit supplied by Panasonic Australia; it will be updated with Imatest results and sample images once a production unit has been supplied. . . [more]

      Full review


      Panasonic’s new DMC-FZ35 Lumix camera replaces the popular FZ28 at the top of the super-zoom line-up and offers P, A, S and M shooting modes to please photo enthusiasts, along with AVCHD Lite HD video recording. This ‘First Look’ is based upon a pre-production unit supplied by Panasonic Australia; it will be updated with Imatest results and sample images once a production unit has been supplied.

      The new model carries on the SLR-like styling of its predecessor, along with the same Leica DC Vario-Elmarit zoom lens. Other familiar features include the joystick controller, which was first seen in the FZ7 model plus much of the control layout and most menu functions.


      Angled front view of the DMC-FZ35 with the pop-up flash raised. (Source: Panasonic.)


      Rear view of the DMC-FZ35. The red Movie button can be seen just below the mode dial. (Source: Panasonic.)


      Top view of the DMC-FZ35 showing the mode dial, stereo microphone grilles and button controls. (Source: Panasonic.)


      The base of the FZ35 showing the metal-lined tripod socket and battery/card compartment. (Source: Panasonic.)
      The record/play slider remains on the upper right corner of the rear panel but the EVF/LCD toggle has been moved to just above the arrow pad and its former position is occupied by the Movie recording button. The LCD monitor is carried over unchanged from the FZ28, as is the pop-up flash. In addition, the specifications for the EVF appear to be the same for both models.

      Sensor and Image Processing
      A new sensor in the FZ35 pushes resolution up from 10 to 12.1 megapixels (effective) without changing the overall chip size. This isn’t necessarily good news, since it means smaller photosites and, therefore, a greater likelihood of noise in high-ISO shots, along with a loss of highlight and/or shadow detail in shots of subjects with an extended brightness range.

      However, the FZ35 also features the latest Venus Engine HD image processor, which boasts twin CPUs (central processing units) that more than double the chip’s processing ability. They also permit parallel data processing to provide an ultra high-speed AF that is twice as fast as the FZ28.

      In addition, the new chip improves camera responsiveness, delivering a 20% cut in start-up time, which is reduced to a claimed 1.2 seconds, although this is only a little faster than previous FZ-series models. Shutter release time lag is reduced to a claimed 0.007 seconds, while in burst shooting mode, the FZ35 can record at roughly 2.3 shots per second with full 12.1-megapixel resolution – although only five shots/burst are possible at standard compression and three in fine mode.

      There’s also a High-speed Burst shooting mode that can record at 10 frames/second – but only at a resolution of 3-megapixels or less. A new Flash Burst mode lets you record a burst of flash shots but bursts are limited to five frames and resolution is 3-megapixels or less.

      The multi-tasking Venus Engine HD chip also underpins the FZ35’s AVCHD Lite video recording capabilities as well as the new Power O.I.S. image stabiliser and advanced Face Recognition capabilities. Power management is also marginally better with a CIPA-rated battery life of up to 470 shots/charge – up from 460 shots/charge in the FZ28.

      Like its predecessor, the FZ35 supports both JPEG and raw file capture for still images in three aspect ratios. Two compression levels are provided for JPEG files. Like its predecessor, the FZ35 changes aspect ratio by cropping the top and bottom of the frame; the horizontal pixel count remains identical for all three aspect ratios. Typical image sizes are shown in the table below.

      Aspect ratio






      4000 x 3000



      4000 x 3000




      3264 x 2448




      2560 x 1920




      2048 x 1536




      1600 x 1200




      640 x 480





      4000 x 2672



      4000 x 2672




      3264 x 2176




      2560 x 1712




      2048 x 1360





      4000 x 2248



      4000 x 2248




      3264 x 1840




      2560 x 1440




      1920 x 1080



      Video capabilities are essentially the same as the DMC-TZ7 and a step up from the previous model. Although the FZ28 offered 720p widescreen capture, it used the QuickTime Motion JPEG format. The FZ35 picks up the more efficient AVCHD Lite codec and also supports stereo sound recording through twin microphone grilles, which are located atop the pop-up flash housing.

      Continuous movie recording is supported for up to 15 minutes – or 2GB. AVCHD Lite video clips are always recorded with a 16:9 aspect ratio, while Motion JPEG clips can be recorded in 16:9 or 4:3 format. Three bit rates are provided for HD video clips and four picture sizes are available for Motion JPEG video clips, all with frame rates of 30 frames/second. Typical recording times are shown in the table below.

      Video format

      Aspect ratio

      Picture Mode

      Picture size

      Bit rate

      Recording time/2GB card

      AVCHD Lite



      1280 x 720

      17 Mbps

      15 minutes


      1280 x 720

      13 Mbps

      20 minutes


      1280 x 720

      9 Mbps

      29 minutes

      Motion JPEG



      1280 x 720


      8 minutes 20 seconds


      848 x 480


      20 minutes 50 seconds



      640 x 480


      21 minutes 40 seconds


      320 x 240


      60 minutes

      n.a. – no bit rate provided for Motion JPEG recordings

      Panasonic has claimed greater energy efficiency for the new Venus Engine HD processor, boasting a CIPA rating of up to 470 shots/charge. It’s not such a big deal when you consider the FZ28 is CIPA-rated for approximately 460 shots/charge. However, both figures are above the average for current digicams.

      The control interface on the FZ35 is much the same as the FZ28’s. The top panel carries the mode dial, power switch, focus and shutter buttons plus the zoom lever. On the rear panel are the LCD monitor, arrow pad and buttons for opening the flash, swapping between the EVF and LCD, AF/AE lock, display and drive/delete functions.

      Also carried over from the FZ28 is the iA (Intelligent Auto) mode, which adds enhanced Face Recognition to the previous AF-Tracking, Face Detection, Intelligent Scene Selector, Intelligent Exposure and Intelligent ISO Control functions. Whereas the previous model was able to detect and track up to 15 faces, the FZ35’s Face Recognition system lets users ‘register’ the faces of key family members and friends in the camera.

      Once this is done, each time a registered face is detected in a scene, the camera will display the person’s name and prioritise focus and exposure so the registered face is rendered bright and in focus. Up to six people’s faces can be registered in the camera, with three face images per person.

      The Power O.I.S. image stabiliser represents an improvement on the previous model’s MEGA O.I.S function and claims to offer twice the shake suppression power. Although still relying on two gyro sensors, it includes correction for low-frequency vibration in addition to the faster camera shake correction. It appears to be particularly effective for shooting at night but should also prove helpful when shooting at full telephoto zoom.

      Selecting the Scene mode on the mode opens a sub-menu with 20 Scene presets, including a new High Dynamic mode that compresses the dynamic range for shooting extended brightness range subjects. This mode also allows users to apply an Art or B&W effect to shots. Examples are shown below.


      Normal shot taken in P mode with no exposure compensation. (Note the blown-out highlights.)


      The same subject captured in the Standard High Dynamic mode.


      The same subject captured in the Art High Dynamic mode, which boosts colour saturation.


      The same subject captured in the B&W High Dynamic mode.

      Other interesting Scene presets include the Film Grain and Pinhole effects, which were provided in the FZ28. The former increases contrast and granularity to create a ‘tone dropout’ effect, while the latter darkens the periphery of the frame and subdues colour saturation. Examples are provided below.


      The Film Grain Scene preset.


      The Pinhole preset.

      The menu style in the new model is unchanged from the white on black with red and yellow highlights found in the FZ28. We don’t think anyone will complain as it’s logically designed and easy to read in most types of lighting. A separate movie mode button has been added and there are a couple of new functions, but the overall content of most menus is unchanged, as can be seen in the list of shooting menu settings below.

      The Record Menu in P Mode:
      Picture Size: 12M, M, 5M, 3M, 2M, 0.3M
      Quality: JPEG Fine or Standard, RAW, RAW+JPEG
      Aspect Ratio: 4:3, 3:2, 16:9
      Intelligent ISO: Off, Max 400, Max 800, Max 1600
      ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
      ISO Limit Set: Auto, 200, 400, 800, 1600
      White Balance: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Flash, Halogen, White Set 1, White Set 2, Set K
      Face Recognition: Off , On, Memory, Set
      AF Mode: Face Detection, Tracking, 11-Area High Speed, 1-Area High Speed, Centre, Spot
      Pre AF: Off, Q-AF, C-AF
      AE\F/AE Lock: AF, AE, AF/AE
      Metering Mode: Evaluative, Centre, Spot
      i.Exposure: Off , Low, Standard, High
      Min. Shutter Speed: 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, 1/8, 1/2, 1/2, 1
      Digital Zoom: Off , On
      Color Effect: Off, B/W, Sepia, Cool, Warm
      Pict. Adjust: Contrast, Sharpness, Saturation, Noise Reduction
      Stabiliser: Off, Auto, Mode 1, Mode 2
      AF Assist Lamp: Off, On
      Flash Synchro: 1st, 2nd
      Red-eye Removal: Off, On
      Conversion: Off, T (tele), C (close)
      Clock Set – Set the time and Date

      The Program Quick Menu settings accessed by pressing the Q. Menu button provide the following adjustments in the P, A, S and M shooting modes:
      Stabiliser: Off, Auto, Mode 1, Mode 2
      Metering Mode: Evaluative, Centre, Spot
      AF Mode: Face Detection, Tracking, 11-Area High Speed, 1-Area High Speed, Centre, Spot
      White Balance: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Flash, Halogen, White Set 1, White Set 2, Set K
      ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600
      i.Exposure: Off , Low, Standard, High
      Aspect Ratio – 4:3, 3:2, 16:9
      Picture Size: 12M, M, 5M, 3M, 2M, 0.3M
      Movie Record Quality – SH, H, L or HD, WGA, VGA, QVGA
      LCD Mode: Off, Auto Power LCD, Power LCD

      When you switch the mode dial setting to the Movie mode, you gain access to many more of the functions from the Rec. menu than were available in the FZ28. Significantly, the FZ35 provides access to the P, A, S and M exposure modes, which allow aperture and shutter speed settings to be controlled for video capture.

      The Color Effect and Pict. Adjust functions are also adjustable in Movie mode, enabling users to create monochrome movie clips with and without colour tints and also adjust contrast, sharpness, saturation and noise levels. The following functions are adjustable in Movie mode:
      Rec Mode: AVCHD Light, Motion JPEG
      Rec Quality: SH, H, L (for AVCHD Lite); HD, WVGA, VGA, QVGA (for Motion JPEG)
      Exposure Mode: P, A, S, M
      Sensitivity: Auto, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400
      ISO Limit Set: Auto, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400
      White Balance: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Flash, Halogen, White Set 1, White Set 2, Set K
      AF Mode: Face Detection, 1-Area
      Continuous AF: Off, On
      AE\F/AE Lock: AF, AE, AF/AE
      Metering Mode: Evaluative, Centre, Spot
      i.Exposure: Off , Low, Standard, High
      Digital Zoom: Off , On
      Color Effect: Off, B/W, Sepia, Cool, Warm
      Pict. Adjust: Contrast, Sharpness, Saturation, Noise Reduction
      Stabiliser: Off, Mode 1
      AF Assist Lamp: Off, On
      Conversion: Off, T (tele), C (close)
      Wind Cut – On or Off

      The setup menu in the FZ35 is much the same as its predecessor, with only a couple of new additions: It contains the following entries:
      Clock Set: Set the time and date
      World Time: Set Home and Destination time zones
      Travel Date: Set date of travel
      Beep: Set beep level, tone, shutter volume, tone
      Volume: Speaker volume control (0 to 6 levels)
      Cust. Set Mem.: Up to 4 current camera settings can be registered as custom settings.
      Fn Button Set: Assign [REC] Mode Menu to down arrow pad button.
      Monitor: Adjust the monitor/EVF brightness by +/- 3 steps
      LCD Mode: Off, Auto Power LCD, Power LCD, High Angle
      Display Size: Standard, Large
      Guide Line: Set Rec. Info (On/Off) and grid pattern
      Histogram: Off , On
      Rec Area: Off , On (outlines the video recording area)
      Highlight: Off , On (displays blinking alert for white saturated areas)
      MF Assist: Off, MF1, MF2 (Centre of screen is enlarged.)
      Economy: Power save (Off, 2 min, 5 min, 10 min); Auto LCD Off (Off, 15 sec. 30 sec.
      Play on LCD: Off , On (Switches to playback on LCD.)
      Auto Review: Off, 1 sec, 2 sec, Hold, Zoom
      Zoom Resume: Off , On (Records the zoom position when the camera is turned off.)
      No. Reset: Reset file numbering counter to 0001
      Reset: Reset to factory defaults
      USB Mode: Select on Connection, PictBridge, PC
      Video Out: NTSC, PAL
      TV Aspect: 16:9, 4:3
      HDMI Mode: Auto, 1080i, 720p, 576p
      VIERA Link: Off , On
      Scene Menu: Off , Auto
      Menu Resume: Off , On
      Version Disp.: Firmware version
      Format: Re-format memory (internal or card)
      Language: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese
      Demo Mode: Stabiliser Demo, Auto Demo
      Playback and Software
      Playback settings are essentially unchanged from the FZ28. Moving the slider to the Play setting changes the menu display to provide the following playback modes:
      Mode Settings:
      Normal Play: Plays last image
      Slide Show: All, Picture Only, Motion Pic. Only, Category Selection
      Mode Play: Picture, AVCHD Lite, Motion JPEG
      Category Play: Face recognition, Portrait, Scenery, Night Scenery, Events, Baby, Pet, Food, Travel Date, Motion picture
      Playback Menu:
      Calendar: Select images via date taken (one month displayed at a time)
      Title Edit: Single, Multi
      Text Stamp: Single, Multi
      Resize: Single, Multi
      Trimming: For cropping images in-camera
      Levelling: For adjusting the tilt of the image to level the subject
      Aspect Conversion: 4:3, 3:2, 16:9
      Rotate Disp.: Turn auto rotate on or off
      Favorite: Off , On or Cancel
      Print Set: Single, Multi or Cancel
      Protect: Single, Multi or Cancel
      Audio Dub: Add a short audio clip to an image
      Face Rec. Edit: Replace, delete
      Copy: Internal to SD and SD to Internal
      Both still images and AVCHD Lite video clips can be played back directly on a Panasonic Viera HD TV or Blu-ray Disc Recorder/Player. You simply slip the SD/SDHC card from the camera into the Viera Image Viewer (SDHC/SD card slot) and select the files you wish to play. An optional Mini HDMI cable can be used to connect the camera to an HD TV set, enabling users to take advantage of the camera’s playback functions, including slideshows and calendar displays.

      The software bundle includes PHOTOfunSTUDIO 4.0 HD Edition for acquiring and viewing images and AVCHD Lite video clips, along with ArcSoft Panorama Maker and ArcSoft MediaImpression and the QuickTime viewer. We’ve covered these applications in our review of the DMC-FT1. Motion pictures can be uploaded directly to YouTube using the built-in YouTube uploader.
      For viewing and editing raw files produced by the FZ35, Panasonic includes Ichikawa Soft Laboratory’s Silkypix Developer Studio, which we looked at in our review of the Lumix DMC-LX3. You get Version 3.0 SE with the FZ35, but its user interface is essentially unchanged from earlier versions.

      In Use
      Although these comments relate to the pre-production camera which was used to record the sample images (below), they provide pointers to features that will be worthy of examination when we receive the production-quality unit and can conduct our standard battery of objective tests.

      Pictures taken with the sample camera were generally well-exposed and contained natural-looking colours with plenty of detail. However, blown-out highlights were common in shots taken in sunny conditions unless the High Dynamic scene mode was used. This setting provided very good dynamic range correction but flattened contrast and introduced a slight yellow cast in our test shots (shown above).

      Digital zoom shots were sharp and less artefact-affected than we commonly see with long-zoom digicams, indicating effective image processing and a conservative approach to the digital zoom range. Close-up shots were very impressive, both with the standard Macro mode and with Macro Zoom.

      Long exposures at night were also outstanding, particularly when recorded with the Starry Sky scene mode, which is the only way you can achieve exposures longer than eight seconds. The default ISO setting is 80 in this mode. Long exposures taken at ISO 1600 were blotchy and slightly soft. The built-in flash on the sample camera proved capable of illuminating an average-sized room at all ISO settings and flash shots showed little apparent noise right up to ISO 1600.

      One of the most impressive features of the sample camera was its image stabilisation system, which enabled us to use shutter speeds as slow as 1/2 second with the camera hand-held. Admittedly two thirds of shots taken with such a slow shutter speed were blurred; but having the remaining 30% sharp and usable was quite satisfying.

      Unfortunately, shooting moving subjects was compromised by relatively slow data processing times (which may be unique to the sample camera). Although we measured an average capture lag of 0.3 seconds, which is good, it took almost three seconds to process each JPEG image and almost four seconds for each raw file. A RAW+JPEG pair took 4.6 seconds on average to process. When you’re tracking a moving subject, these lag times can mean you only have one or two chances to capture a shot.

      Shifting to continuous shooting mode made little difference to the camera’s ability to record moving subjects – unless you’re prepared to accept lower resolution and forego most manual controls. In the normal Burst mode, we could only record three consecutive JPEG shots at full resolution and Fine quality and we measured 0.4 seconds between each shot. Continuous shooting was blocked in the sample camera for both raw and RAW+JPEG capture.

      Selecting the HiSpeed Burst mode in the Scene menu enabled the camera to record a burst of 11 frames at 2048 x 1536 pixel resolution in 1.3 seconds. It took 1.4 seconds to process this burst. However, we had no control over the ISO setting, lens aperture or shutter speed used; nor of the compression level (which defaulted to standard).

      We were unable to playback any of the AVCHD Lite videos we shot with the sample camera through the software supplied with the camera. However, QuickTime video clips with VGA resolution looked much better than we expected – and certainly better than most of the clips we’ve seen to date from small-sensor digicams. Audio quality was also very good and the wind cut filter handled outdoor recording competently, providing soundtracks with surprising clarity in moderately windy conditions.

      Overall, in the FZ35, Panasonic has produced a worthwhile upgrade without sacrificing the best features of the FZ28, which remains among the most competent ultra-zoom cameras on the market. The improvements to video capture (notably the new codec and improved functionality) and image stabilisation are well worth the price of the upgrade. The High Dynamic scene mode could probably do with further refinement and we’d like to have seen a higher-resolution LCD monitor (although the EVF is pretty good for its type).



      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.


      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.


      4.8mm focal length, ISO 80, 1/80 second at f/8.


      86.4mm focal length, ISO 80, 1/250 second at f/8.


      Digital zoom: 86.4mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/320 second at f/8.


      Digital zoom: 86.4mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/125 second at f/5.6.


      Moderate backlighting, wide angle: 4.8mm focal length, ISO 80, 1/180 second at f/6.3.


      Flare: 86.4mm focal length, ISO 160, 1/125 second at f/4.4.


      Moving subject: 34.2mm focal length, ISO 80, 1/250 second at f/5.6. Sport mode.


      Hand-held night shot: 9.2mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/2 second at f/3.2.


      Long exposure in Starry Sky mode: 5.8mm focal length, ISO 80, 60 seconds at f/3.


      Long exposure in S mode: ISO 1600, 5.8mm focal length, 2.5 seconds at f/3.


      Flash exposure at ISO 80: 20.8mm focal length, 1/40 second at f/5.6.


      Flash exposure at ISO 1600: 20.8mm focal length, 1/40 second at f/5.6.


      Macro mode: 4.8mm focal length, ISO 80, 1/125 second at f/4.


      Macro zoom mode: 4.8mm focal length, ISO 80, 1/200 second at f/5.6.


      4:3 aspect ratio: 8.7mm focal length, ISO 80, 1/125 second at f/8.


      3:2 aspect ratio: 8.7mm focal length, ISO 80, 1/125 second at f/8.


      16:9 aspect ratio: 8.7mm focal length, ISO 80, 1/125 second at f/8.


      A still frame from one of the VGA video clips we recorded with the sample camera.





      Image sensor: 6.13 x 4.6 mm CCD with 12.7 million photosites (12.1 megapixels effective)
      Lens: Leica DC Vario-Elmarit 4.8-86.4mm f/2.8-4.4 zoom (27-486mm in 35mm format)
      Zoom ratio: 18x optical, up to 4x digital
      Image formats: Stills – JPEG (Exif 2.21), Raw; Movies – AVCHD Lite, QuickTime Motion JPEG
      Image Sizes: Stills – 4:3 aspect: 4000 x 3000, 3264 x 2448, 2560 x 1920, 2048 x 1536, 1600 x 1200, 640 x 480; 3:2 aspect: 4000 x 2672, 3264 x 2176, 2560 x 1712, 2048 x 1360; 16:9 aspect: 4000 x 2248, 3264 x 1840, 2560 x 1440, 1920 x 1080; Movies – 1280 x 720, 848 x 480, 640 x 480, 320 x 240 all at 30 fps
      Shutter speed range: 1/2000 to 8 seconds (Starry Sky mode: 15, 30, 60 seconds)
      Self-timer: 2 and 10 second delays
      Image Stabilisation: Power O.I.S (Auto, Mode 1, Mode 2)
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 2EV in 1/3 EV steps
      Focus system/range: TTL AF; range 30 cm to infinity; macro to 1 cm
      Exposure metering/control: Intelligent Multiple, Spot, Centre-weighted metering
      Shooting modes: Intelligent Auto, P, A, S and M, Sports mode, Portrait mode, Night Portrait mode, Scenery mode, SCN, Creative Movie Mode, Close-up mode, My Colour Mode, Custom
      ISO range: Auto, ISO 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 (ISO 1600-6400 in High Sensitivity mode)
      White balance: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Halogen, White Set 1/2, Colour temperature setting, Flash
      Flash modes/range (ISO auto): Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Slow Sync., Red-eye Reduction, Forced On/Off; range: 0.3 to 8.5 metres
      Sequence shooting: full resolution: 2.3 frames/second; max. 5 frames; Hi-speed burst mode max. 10 fps at VGA resolution
      Storage Media: 40MB internal memory plus SD/SDHC expansion slot
      Viewfinder: Colour LCD viewfinder with approx. 201,000 dots plus dioptre adjustment (-4 to +4 dpt)
      LCD monitor: 2.7-inch TFT LCD with 230,000 dots
      Power supply: 7.2V, 710mAh Lithium-ion battery pack; CIPA rated for 470 shots/charge
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 117.6 x 75.8 x 88.9 mm
      Weight: 367 grams (without battery and card)

      RRP: $769Distributor: Panasonic Australia; 132 600;





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