Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS35 £139.99
21st Jan 2012 | 14:39
A slim 16.1MP compact camera with a 28mm Leica lens
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS35 sits in the middle of Panasonic's compact camera range, featuring an 8x optical zoom wide-angle Leica lens, a 16.1 megapixel CCD sensor and 720p HD video recording.
The camera also features Panasonic's Intelligent Resolution technology, which promises to enhance sharpness for crisp photos.
Modes are fairly simple, with the option to choose from intelligent Auto (iA), Normal and a variety of scene modes.
As you would expect from a mid-range compact camera, there are only a few manual controls on the Panasonic FS35. But those that can be found include ISO sensitivity, white balance, AF mode and exposure compensation.
A few creative effects are included, such as Pin Hole, High Dynamic and Film Grain, while colour modes, such as Black and White and Sepia, are also available.
Along with the Panasonic Lumix FS37, which was announced at the same time, the camera uses intelligent zoom, meaning the optical zoom ratio can be extended by 1.3x to create an effective 10x zoom lens.
An interesting feature of the Panasonic Lumix FS35 is the ability to upload stills to Facebook and videos to YouTube automatically by connecting the camera to a computer.
Priced at £139.99 in the UK or $149 in the US, where it's called the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH25, the Panasonic Lumix FS35 sits below cameras such as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX90 and above the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS18.
Build quality and handling
Considering the size of the zoom the Panasonic Lumix FS35 is packing, the camera's a relatively small offering, fitting neatly into a pocket or bag at 99.2 x 56.5 x 27.8mm.
It's also very light, at 152g, which on the one hand means it'll go unnoticed, but also means it doesn't feel like the sturdiest of cameras, with the plastic construction giving it a bit of a cheap feel.
Buttons on the camera are few and far between, with the top plate featuring an on/off toggle, the shutter release and an extra button for the Intelligent Zoom.
On the back, buttons are spaced out and laid out well, with a specific button for changing the modes and another for quickly accessing commonly used settings proving handy.
It's worth noting that settings, such as ISO sensitivity, can only be changed when shooting in Normal Picture mode. When using Intelligent Auto, only very basic settings, such as image size, can be altered.
To view images, the toggle needs to be switched from record to playback, which can be a little frustrating at times if you accidentally leave it switched on and need to quickly grab a picture.
It's a shame that there's no dedicated button on the Panasonic Lumix FS35 for video recording. As it is, you need to hit the mode button and choose Motion Picture to activate the video mode, pressing the shutter release to start filming.
The menu is relatively simple to navigate, but you may find yourself delving into it to change settings very occasionally, with those most frequently used available from the useful Quick Menu.
Many modern compact cameras come equipped with huge screens, pushing past the 3-inch barrier. A lot of these compacts have removed the buttons in favour of a touchscreen, so have more room to play with.
By comparison, the Panasonic Lumix FS35's 2.7-inch 230,000-dot intelligent screen can feel a little small.
However, it's worth noting that some people prefer actual buttons, and the camera copes well in bright sunlight, automatically adjusting the screen to cope with the lighting conditions.
Considering the price point of the Panasonic Lumix FS35, we were pretty impressed with the results from this camera. Colours are represented well, without being overly bright, while sharpness is good and images are crisp.
The autofocus, while not the quickest we've used, works well in most situations, locking onto subjects with ease in bright conditions and only having trouble in very dark circumstances.
Noise is controlled well, even at the higher end of the sensitivity scale, which goes up to ISO 1600.
While images shot at ISO 800 and ISO 1600 do have a noticeable drop in quality, the photos are still more than useable, and would certainly be preferable to not getting the image at all.
For a lens with such a lengthy zoom, which is housed inside a compact body, the widest aperture of f/3.3 is fairly decent and helps when shooting images without flash in low light conditions.
It's a shame the choice of fun filters isn't a bit better, with those available feeling rather uninspired compared to popular modes such as Miniature, found on rival cameras.
Macro images, which can be shot via the dedicated mode or automatically detected when shooting in iAuto mode, are crisp and provide a good level of detail, with vibrant colours.
Chromatic aberration seems to be minimal, which is pleasing to see.
The camera is equipped with Mega O.I.S. (Optical Image Stabilisation) which seemed to do its job well on most occasions, especially at the furthest end of the telephoto scale, which can sometimes suffer from blur caused by hand shake.
Image quality and resolution
As part of our image quality testing for the Panasonic FS35, we've shot our resolution chart.
If you view our crops of the resolution chart's central section at 100% (or Actual Pixels) you will see that, for example, at ISO 100 the FS 35 is capable of resolving up to around 24 (line widths per picture height x100) in its highest quality JPEG files.
See a full explanation of what our resolution charts mean, and how to read them please click here.
Examining images of the chart taken at each sensitivity setting reveals the following resolution scores in line widths per picture height x100:
ISO 100, score: 24 (see full image)
ISO 200, score: 24 (see full image)
ISO 400, score: 22 (see full image)
ISO 800, score: 20 (see full image)
ISO 1600, score: 16 (see full image)
Noise and dynamic range
We shoot a specially designed chart in carefully controlled conditions and the resulting images are analysed using DXO Analyzer software to generate the data to produce the graphs below.
A high signal to noise ratio (SNR) indicates a cleaner and better quality image.
For more more details on how to interpret our test data, check out our full explanation of our noise and dynamic range tests.
JPEG Signal to Noise Ratio
JPEG images from the Panasonic FS 35 show that it compares well against the Nikon Coolpix S6200and Canon PowerShot A3200 IS. The results also show that noise is handled well across the entire sensitivity range.
JPEG dynamic range
This chart shows that the Panasonic FS 35 compares closely with the Canon PowerShot A3200 IS for dynamic range results across the sensitivity range. These show that at all sensitivities a good tonal graduation can be captured in both the shadows and highlight areas of an image.
Our analysis shows that the Panasonic FS35's results compare well against the comparison cameras for dynamic range. The signal to noise ratio results show that, although beaten across the greater part of the sensitivity range by the Nikon S6200 and Samsung PL120, it still produces respectable results that keep noise in check.
Noise and dynamic range
Full ISO 100 image, see the cropped (100%) versions below.
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS35 is a simple camera that will appeal to the every day user. It's not packed with a raft of features, but it does have an impressive 8x optical zoom in a sleek body, which is sure to appeal to holiday makers.
Images from the Panasonic FS35 are bright and sharp. The camera also seems to cope fairly well In low-light situations, which is a bit of an added bonus for a camera of this price and type.
The range of art filters is a disappointment, and it would have been nice to see a few more fun features on this camera. It's also a shame there's no dedicated video record button that we find on many other compacts these days, and the screen is a little on the small side.
If you're looking for a no-frills camera that will still deliver good quality images, then the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS35 is a good choice to make.
With an easy to navigate menu system and few features to choose from, most of the control will lay with the camera, leaving you to concentrate on composition and getting great family snaps.