At first glance, you may take a look at the Panasonic Lumix
DMC-FX35 ($350) and say, "oh good, another ultra-compact camera". And, in many respects,
that's just what it is. What sets the FX35 apart from almost everything else
is its super wide-angle lens, which starts at just 25 mm. Panasonic wisely
made this a 4X zoom, giving you a top end of 100 mm (instead of 75 mm, had
it been 3X).
Why would you want a lens that starts at 25 mm. It's great
for those who take a lot of interior shots, or architectural photos. Also, if
you take a lot of self-portraits, this lens allows you to fit either more people
or more of the background into the photo.
Want a real world example of what a 25 mm looks like? Have a peek at this:
I included three different focal ranges in the example above, each representing common focal lengths on ultra-compact cameras. Most cameras in this class start at 35 mm or greater, though many have started to get closer to 28 mm. The FX35, along with the Samsung NV24 HD, are really in a class of their own, with 25 and 24 mm lenses, respectively.
Other features on the FX35 include optical image stabilization
(which you'll find on all Panasonic cameras), a 2.5" LCD display, tons of point-and-shoot
features, and 720p "high definition" movie mode.
Sound interesting? Then keep reading, our review of the DMC-FX35
starts right now!
What's in the Box?
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX35 has an average bundle. Inside
the box, you'll find:
- The 10.1 effective Megapixel Lumix DMC-FX35 camera
- DMW-BCE10 lithium-ion rechargeable battery
- Battery charger
- Wrist strap
- USB cable
- A/V cable
- CD-ROM featuring PhotoFunStudio,
ArcSoft Media Impression and Panorama Maker, and drivers
- 131 page camera manual (printed)
Most cameras have built-in memory these days, and the DMC-FX35
is no exception. Panasonic supplies a decent amount of built-in memory on the
FX35 -- 50MB to be exact. While that's a lot more than you usually get, it
still holds just nine photos at the highest quality setting. Thus, you'll
want to buy a memory card right away, and you can choose from SD, SDHC, and
MMC media (I'd stick with the first two). I would recommend a 2GB card as a
good starter size. Buying a high speed card is a good idea, though you don't
need to go over-the-top.
The FX35 uses the DMW-BCE10 lithium-ion rechargeable battery
for power. This battery packs 3.6 Wh of energy, which is what most cameras
in this class use. Here's what kind of battery life you can expect:
||Battery life, LCD on
|Canon PowerShot SD870 IS */**
|Casio Exilim EX-Z200 */**
|Fuji FinePix F100fd */**
|GE E1050 *
|Nikon Coolpix S600 */**
|Olympus FE-350 Wide *
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX35 */**
|Samsung NV24 HD */**
|Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W170 */**
* Wide-angle lens
** Has optical image stabilization
Battery life numbers are provided by the manufacturer
While it trails behind the Casio and Sony cameras in terms
of battery life, the FX35's numbers are still about 10% above average for the
group as a whole.
I do want to mention the usual issues about the proprietary
batteries used by the FX35 and all of the other cameras on the above list.
They're expensive (a spare will cost you around $50), and you can't use an
off-the-shelf battery in an emergency. That's one of the tradeoffs that comes
with owning an ultra-compact camera, if you think it's a negative in the first
When it's time to charge the battery, just pop it into the
included charger. It takes approximately two hours for a full charge. This
is my favorite type of charger -- it plugs directly into the wall, with no
power cable needed.
As with all ultra-compact cameras, the FX35 has a built-in
lens cover. As you can see, it's a pretty small camera.
There a just a few accessories available for the Lumix DMC-FX35,
and I've compiled them into the following chart:
||Why you want it
||Take your FX35 up to 40 meters under the sea
|Component video cable
||Allows you to connect to a high definition
||Power the camera without draining your battery
|First one is a hard case, second is a soft
leather case that comes in multiple colors (white, black, brown,
Nothing too exciting there... but that's the case with most
cameras in this class. Let's move on to software now, shall we?
PhotoFunStudio for Windows
Panasonic includes several software applications with the DMC-FX35. First up, we have PhotoFunStudio 2.0, which is a Windows-only application (Mac users can use iPhoto instead). The first way in which you'll probably use this software is for transferring photos off of your camera. I didn't see a way to select which photos were transferred -- it was all or nothing.
Once on the main screen (pictured above), you'll find a familiar thumbnail view of your photos. Photos can be organized, e-mailed, printed, and rotated from this screen. The organization tools are most impressive: you can sort photos by date, scene mode, keyword, and even camera model.
Editing in PhotoFunStudio for Windows
Select "retouch" and you'll get the editing window you see above. Here you can adjust things like brightness, contrast, color, and sharpness. Images can be changed to sepia or black and white, and redeye can be removed with the click of your mouse.
ArcSoft MediaImpression for Mac
Also included is ArcSoft's MediaImpression software, for Mac and Windows. This appears to be a more modern version of the old PhotoImpression software that Panasonic used to give you. MediaImpression can be used to import photos from the camera, with the unique option of removing redeye during import. After that's done, you get the usual thumbnail view.
Easy-Fix Wizard in MediaImpression
The software doesn't appear to have as many editing features as PhotoImpression used to, but it does have a handy Easy Fix wizard, which helps you straighten, crop, remove redeye, add brightness/contrast, sharpen, adjust color, and "make the subject stand out", all with one click. You can also add text, borders, and special effects to your photos. Naturally, there are e-mailing, printing, and archiving options available as well.
ArcSoft Panorama Maker for Mac
Another piece of the ArcSoft suite is Panorama Maker, which helps you combine photos that you've taken side-by-side into a single panorama. It's easy to use, and the results can be really impressive.
Panasonic includes a detailed, though not terribly user-friendly
manual with the DMC-FX35. You should be able to get your question answered,
though the manual's cluttered layout doesn't make finding that information
as easy as I would've liked.
Look and Feel
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX35 is an ultra-compact camera made
almost entirely of metal. The camera has a solid feel, with the one exception
being the plastic cover over the memory card/battery compartment.
The FX35 is easy to hold with one hand, though I often found
my thumb sitting on the exposure compensation button. There aren't too many
buttons on the camera, which allows you to pick up and use the camera without
having to read the manual first.
Images courtesy of Panasonic USA
Like so many ultra-compact cameras, the FX35 comes in multiple
colors. You can choose from navy blue, black, and silver.
Now, here's a look at how the FX35 compares to similar cameras
in terms of size and weight:
(W x H x D, excluding protrusions)
|Canon PowerShot SD870 IS
||3.7 x 2.3 x 1.0 in.
||8.5 cu in.
||155 g |
|Casio Exilim EX-Z200
||3.7 x 2.2 x 0.9 in.
||7.3 cu in.
||119 g |
|Fujifilm FinePix F100fd
||3.8 x 2.3 x 0.9 in.
||7.9 cu in.
||170 g |
||3.6 x 2.2 x 0.9 in.
||7.1 cu in.
||145 g |
|Nikon Coolpix S600
||3.5 x 2.1 x 0.9 in.
||6.6 cu in.
||130 g |
|Olympus FE-350 Wide
||3.8 x 2.2 x 1.0 in.
||8.4 cu in.
||138 g |
|Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX35
||3.7 x 2.0 x 0.9 in.
||6.7 cu in.
||125 g |
||3.9 x 2.4 x 0.7 in.
||6.6 cu in.
||146 g |
|Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W170
||3.7 x 2.3 x 0.9 in.
||7.7 cu in.
||142 g |