Panasonic Lumix TZ35 Review - The Panasonic Lumix TZ35 continues the TZ tradition of combining a large zoom in a compact body, making it a popular travel compact
Panasonic Lumix TZ35 Review – Features and Design
The new Panasonic Lumix TZ35 is a blocky-looking compact that combines a 16.1 megapixel High Sensitivity MOS Sensor and 20x optical zoom lens with an equivalent of 24-480mm’s in 35mm term. A clever Intelligent Resolution technology is built into the system that allows you to zoom in to 40x though, as you may have suspected, it’s basically upgraded digital zoom.
To help ensure you’re your pictures remain relatively sharp and shake free a Power Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) really helps, particularly when shooting video, as is seen in the camera’s stablemate – the Panasonic Lumix TZ40.
In terms of photo gadgetry there’s the now omnipresent Intelligent Auto (iA) mode that tries to set the camera settings automatically for subject at hand and it is generally successful in doing just that. However, like many of its counterparts with the same feature, the time taken to “choose” a mode can be a distraction and I suspect, this is the next step forward for such iA systems, speeding up the rate at which it can “recognise” the scene to be photographed.
The TZ35’s Additional controls are, thankfully, on hand in the shape of a full set manual controls including Manual, Aperture and Shutter priority and Program AE modes. Backing these up, should you need them, are a range of scene modes that include 18 choices from the rather good HDR mode to the less successful and novel “through Glass” setting.
There’s more creative shooting “stuff” to play with too within the TZ35’s body such as the Creative Panorama function, Creative Control and Creative Retouch features but the Creative Control provides another 14 colour and enhancement modes that allow you to add a lot of fun stuff to your photos, from a Toy Camera effect, through artistic and High Key modes and selective colour settings.
3D capture and playback is included too (with/on compatible 3D TVs) as is (if you have one) Viera Link technology so you can control compatible Panasonic TVs from the camera as well, which is nice if you need it.
In terms of the Panasonic TZ35’s capture rate, it can shoot at up to 5fps with continuous AF with a 10fps capability when using the high-speed burst mode. The HD Videos are recordable in full 1080p HD – using the AVCHD and MP4 formats – along with optical image stabilisation and zoom control with unfortunately a very slight zoom motor noise evident. Switch on the audio Wind Cut processing in order to reduce the effects on wind noise on your video clips as it can be come intrusive.
The TZ35’s back sports a very nice 3in, 460k-dot TFT LCD display which and as is common across such cameras, has problems with its use in direct, bright lighting conditions. It’s hard to assess the focus points used and it’s harder still to compose accurately in bright conditions but indoors or gloomier surroundings, it’s certainly adequate.
One thing that is very nice to have to hand is a specific High Angle mode (for snapping with the camera held aloft in a crowd, for example) but it is buried within the camera’s otherwise clear if overly complex menus system.
Sensitivity settings run from ISO 100-3200 with boosted (very) High Sensitivity modes of ISO 1600-6400, though these can be looked at as emergency settings since the noise issues are rather problematic for anything other than use on the web or, say, on screen.
The TZ35’s 3cm minimum focusing distance is good for very crisp, frame filling shots of smaller subjects and the camera’s Creative Panorama mode allows you to built sweep-style panoramas but with the added benefit of being able to apply 12 of the cameras 14 Creative Control filters to your panoramas, which certainly adds a nice new spin to them.
Panasonic Lumix TZ35 Review – Handling
The Panasonic Lumix TZ35 has a compact but a little bland body. However when you consider it packs a 20x optical zoom, it’s very small and light indeed, though not to the degree the recently tested Sony WX300, which is marginally smaller still. A plastic, raised grip helps keep you in control of the TZ35 while a small pad of raised plastic dots aids thumb positioning for the rear of the camera.
The TZ35’s top plate houses a rather small mode dial that gets you access to the main cameras shooting controls and also includes dual custom options to enable presetting of camera for oft used modes so that you can get to the correct mode for the shot at hand. The scene and Creative Control modes are also accessed from this dial, so while it houses the meat of the camera settings and is small, it’s deeply knurled edge makes spinning the dial to set a mode easy to do.
Other kit on the top plate includes a dedicated video record button, the on/off switch and a rather too sensitive shutter button with its encompassing zoom rocker control.
Manual shooting modes
As well as the large screen on the rear of the TZ35, a small four-way joins a display toggle control the quick menu and playback and for me, the camera’s best control, the exposure button.
This button is the key to Manual shooting when either of the Aperture or Shutter priority or Manual modes are selected from the top plate dial, and at a press it allows you to change the aperture and shutter (or both together in full manual control), depending which mode you’re in, with an accompanying exposure indicator that shows either over or under exposure on the display.
In other words it makes the use of the manual shooting options a breeze. Throw in the fact that you actually
have a full range of control over the lens apertures and it makes depth of field control (almost) a realistic proposition bearing in mind the small size of the camera’s sensor.
Other modes controlled on the TZ35’s four-way dial are the exposure compensation (married to the above manual control this adds loads of lovely manual control in difficult lighting using the auto modes) the self-timer, flash and macro focus modes, all can be adjusted from here.
Panasonic Lumix TZ35 Review – Performance and Image Quality
The TZ35’s responsiveness shows the time from switch on to first photo is about two seconds, so only modest. But the shutter response is very good and shot to shot times are well under a second. Turn on the flash and this stretches to a lengthy two seconds but the fast frame rate speed of 5fps is a tad ambitious as I could only get about 4fps. I got nowhere near the 10fps mode only around 8fps on my Sandisk Extreme III SDHC card.
In the high speed burst and flash burst modes, the resolution drops to 3-megapixels and the flash burst modes suffers a dramatic drop in speed after four shots as the flash recycle time starts to extend.
Colour and skin tones
The Panasonic Lumix TZ35 produces vibrant and crisply colourful images that have good exposure. Skin tones are good within portraits (there’s a neat Skin enhancing mode to play with too if you want it) and red-eye is not evident in my portraits with flash. Of particular note are the camera’s reproduction of the blues and greens in landscapes
The TZ35’s lens performance if good with good detail at both ends of the zooms focal length range but I noticed some very slight corner softening.
As is common on all such cameras, purple fringing is there but actually remains well controlled and is most evident, as is always the case, in higher contrast areas of a shot. The minimum focusing distance of 3cm provides a close up performance that can produce some stunning macro pictures and is a string point of this compact model.
The sensitivity range on offer and the camera’s image noise keeps to a well-trodden path for similar compacts; it’s very low at ISO 100 to 400, there’s a small but noticeable increase as sensitivities reach ISO 800 where images lose critical sharpness. At ISO 1600 and even more so at ISO 3200 the detail loss is exacerbated by the odd smearing in some darker areas in many higher contrast photos.
The Panasonic Lumix TZ35 currently costs a penny shy of £300 and this looks pricey when compared with some of the other broadly similar models. The Nikon Coolpix S9300 is a contender for your cash and currently costs half of the TZ35’s £300 (around £150) while the Sony Cyber-shot HX20V (at £275) and the Samsung Galaxy Camera (that costs almost 400 quid at £390) are two options with similar spec but slightly cheaper and slightly pricier costs respectively.
Panasonic Lumix TZ35 Review – Verdict
The Panasonic Lumix TZ35 is a remarkably versatile compact camera thanks to a full suite of manual controls a host of useful automated features plus the nice sharp lens.
Having a 20x optical zoom lens packed into such a very compact body that can focus down to 3cm means you have here a camera that is (almost) an ideal travel camera. It’s only an ‘almost ideal’ because it’s shy of a couple of features that could, if executed properly, make it a nigh on perfect travel compact. These include Raw capture and an electronic viewfinder.
Otherwise the Panasonic Lumix Z35 is a superb little long zoom compact that combines (almost) the best of a more advanced, larger camera with the benefits of a point and shoot “snapper”.
Panasonic Lumix TZ35 Review – Sample Image Gallery
These are just a few sample images captured with the Panasonic Lumix TZ35. For a full selection of images, head on over to the Panasonic Lumix TZ35 review sample image gallery.