Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) Review

Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) Review

Panasonic has accepted the challenge of its competitors and is sending the Lumix DMC-FZ35 (FZ38 in Europe) bridge camera in the footsteps of the FZ28.

But a lot has happened under the hood: 12-megapixel resolution, a number of new automatic recording functions as well as sophisticated video recording options – the Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) is not only competing for the favor of photographers. Our compact test shows if she succeeds and how the image quality is with a further increased resolution.

Brief assessment


  • Class-related decent image quality
  • Outstandingly many setting options
  • AF as fast as an arrow, very short reaction times
  • Successful integration of photo and video camera in one housing


  • Monitor neither foldable nor swivelable
  • Monitor and video viewfinder with low resolution
  • Confusing menu navigation
  • Cheap plastic housing

Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) Review

Ergonomics and Workmanship Of The Panasonic Lumix FZ35

Lumix FZ series cameras have always looked like a shrunken DSLR. The current Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) remains true to this tradition. At first sight, it is hardly distinguishable from its predecessor model FZ28, which we had taken a closer look at in the past.

On the right, the housing bulges out as usual, forming a handle on which the camera is always held securely in the hand.

At the top, the FZ38 carries a dome that houses an electronic viewfinder (EVF). This helps to determine the image section when the sun shines too much on the rear monitor.

Unfortunately, the EVF’s resolution of about 200,000 pixels is rather coarse and so low that people wearing glasses have no chance to see the entire viewfinder image.

Luckily, there is the monitor as an alternative to the image composition. As with its predecessor, it is sufficiently large, with a size of 2.7 inches (6.9 cm) diagonally, but only consists of a meager 230,000 pixels.

Panasonic has still done without a folding and pivoting mechanism in the FZ35 – after all, the screen is still easy to read even from extreme viewing angles and shines very brightly if desired.

What was annoying in the test, however, was that the camera does not automatically switch between EVF and monitor – Minolta’s Dimages were able to do this years ago thanks to an eye sensor on the viewfinder.

The Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) is also not convincing haptically: The simple plastic housing gives the impression that the camera was designed for a limited lifetime from the start.

The equipment with interfaces is up to date: Under practical hinged lids, the camera offers connection possibilities for an external power supply (the matching power supply unit is an optional extra), an analog video output, a high-speed USB connection to the PC and, now new, an HDMI cable.

A tripod thread made of solid metal is also on board, unfortunately, it is outside the optical axis (which is only a disadvantage for panorama shots).

Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) Review

Otherwise, Panasonic has left many things as they were: The zoom rocker encircles the shutter release button as a rotating ring (very nice: zooming can be done in two steps – fast and coarse or slow and accurate), there are a number of switches and buttons for quick access to important functions (e.g. playback, AE/AF lock, continuous mode), a large dial for setting the recording mode and a small joystick for directly controlling options (such as white balance, ISO sensitivity, exposure mode, image size, etc.) on the monitor.

The ambitious photographer will find further setting options in the depths of the menus. These are divided into several “screen pages”, but the pages cannot be individually accessed. If you want to set your Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) to the point, you have to scroll through the pages.

The recording switch for video recordings is new: Pressing once, the Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) starts video recording, pressing it again ends the recording – this is extremely practical. Panasonic hasn’t changed anything on the on-board flash: it has to be folded out manually before it can take action.

Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) Review

Equipment And Features

The predecessor model FZ28 was already equipped with just about everything a photographer’s heart desires.

The current Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) takes this a step further: scene modes for all conceivable occasions (the number has grown to more than 40), various exposure metering methods, various autofocus modes (e.g. area AF with eleven measuring fields, freely selectable AF field, spot AF etc.) or face recognition (if you have entered the name of a face, the camera recognises the person photographed in other shots).

Ambitious photographers will be pleased that the Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) also knows the exposure method “aperture priority”  that allows full manual exposure control if desired.

The Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) can even record in RAW format and thus supply the dedicated image processor with uncut rough diamonds for further processing on the PC.

But the current Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) is not only aimed at professional photographers.

It also sets out to make the hearts of the occasional video filmmaker beat faster. The videos are recorded in maximum HD resolution (1,280 x 720 pixels), now either in the modern, space-saving AVCHD Lite format or, as before, as Motion JPEG files.

A stereo microphone provides a good sound, zooming is possible during video recording. And there’s more: Both the autofocus and the aperture or exposure can be fixed during video shooting – leaving room for creative experiments or a professional film.

No matter whether you feel like taking moving pictures or just taking pictures: The lens with its impressive focal length range of 27 to 486 millimeters (based on KB format) leaves nothing to be desired in terms of image composition.

It is quite bright in the wide-angle range with a starting aperture of 1:2.8, at the long end it still reaches the largest aperture of 1:4.4. An optical image stabilizer, whose efficiency has been greatly improved again according to Panasonic, also helps against blurred pictures.

Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) Review
Inside the Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) is now a twin CPU “Venus Engine HD”, which provides enormous computing power.

This is particularly noticeable in autofocus: the Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) takes less than 0.4 seconds to focus and release, and when pre-focused it even releases the shutter within around 150 milliseconds.

This makes the Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) faster than some SLR cameras! At full resolution (12 megapixels), the camera shoots 2.3 frames per second; at reduced resolution (3 megapixels), the continuous shooting speed increases to 10 fps. And because the FZ38 only reports a blink of an eye after switching on “clear ship”, it can proudly attach the rating “fully snapshot-capable” to the flag.

Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) Review

Panasonic Lumix FZ35 Image Quality

In terms of features and speed, the Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) is on a par with an entry-level DSLR. So the big question is, “How is she with the picture quality?” The camera delivers very good results in the disciplines “edge darkening” (vignetting) and “distortion”.

The engineers at Panasonic have successfully eliminated these typical imaging errors from the FZ35 (obviously by software). The new bridge camera from Panasonic is also doing well in terms of “sharpness”.

The FZ35 delivers crisp, sharp images (especially at low ISO sensitivity), but doesn’t overdo it when resharpening. This way, there is still a certain amount of leeway for increasing the sharpness of the JPEGs from the camera afterward in an image processing program, just as you like.

The Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) also has the annoying image noise under control: It increases slowly as the ISO sensitivity increases and then reaches its highest value for the time being at ISO 400. With even higher sensitivity, the noise curve drops again – a sign that the internal image processing software of the FZ35 reduces the noise considerably.

It is unavoidable that even the finest image structures are lost with the noise. For example, shots taken at ISO 800 hardly show any noise, but also look smooth and waxy. In relation to the sensor size (1/2.3 inch) and resolution (12 megapixels), the noise behavior of the FZ38 is just fine.

Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) Review

The dynamic range is also no reason for complaints: The input dynamic range up to ISO 800 is on average just under 8.5 f-stops, the output dynamic range provides a good 250 (of 256 possible) tonal value steps.

Depending on the system (small sensor with high resolution) the FZ38 has the highest resolution at open aperture. If the aperture is reduced, diffraction blur reduces the resolution.

The selectable JPEG compression levels are practice-oriented; at lowest compression (= larger files) there is hardly any loss of detail to be feared. So a lot of light without shadows in the image quality? Not quite: In practical use, the exposure metering sometimes proved to be a bit erratic and produced visibly differently exposed photos under the same conditions.

The visual impression of the video recordings is convincing – here the Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) breaks into a domain that was previously reserved for “adult” camcorders.

Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) Review

Conclusions: Is The FZ35 Worth It?

When we tested the predecessor model FZ28 some years ago, we asked whether there was still a future for bridge cameras. The current Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) now answers this question mainly with its very good video capabilities. And so, in our opinion, Panasonic is completely justified in calling the FZ35 a “digital hybrid zoom camera”.

If you are looking for a relatively compact “Mega-Zoom” camera for filming and photography, you will certainly find the FZ35 a joy to use. But the Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) can also score points as a pure photo camera: It reacts as quick as an arrow, offers an enormous focal length range and can be adjusted precisely for almost any photographic challenge.

The picture quality is at the top of the class in terms of class, but due to the system, it cannot compete with an entry-level DSLR. In addition to the “all-round carefree” package, the Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) also lacks a more valuable housing and easier-to-use menus (especially in relation to its price of a good 400 dollars).

Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) Review

Profile For The Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38)

Manufacturer Panasonic
Model Lumix DMC-FZ35
Price approx. 430 dollars
Sensor Resolution 12.7 megapixels
Max. Image resolution 4.000 x 3.000
(aspect ratio) (4:3)
Lens F2.8-4.4/27-486mm
Filter thread 46 mm (via tube adapter)
Viewfinder EVF
Resolution 201.000
Dioptre compensation -4 to +4 dpt.
LCD monitor 2,7″
Resolution 230.000
as Viewfinder yes
Video output Composite, HDMI
Automatic programming yes
Automatic aperture control yes
Automatic timer yes
manual exposure yes
BULB long time exposure
Scene mode programs
Portrait yes
Children/baby yes
Landscape yes
Macro yes
Sports/action yes
More 46 additional scene modes available
Exposure metering Multi-field, centre-weighted Integral, Spot
Flash yes
Flash connection
Remote release
Interval recording
Storage medium SD/SDHC
Video mode
Format Quicktime (MOV) or AVCHD Lite
Codec Motion-JPEG or H.264 (MPEG-4)
Resolution (max.) 1.280 x 720
Frame rate (max.) 30 frames/s
automatically ISO 80-1.600 (upper limit adjustable)
extended ISO 80-6.400 (video only)
manually ISO 80-3,200
White balance
Automatic yes
Sun yes
Clouds yes
Fluorescent lamp
Incandescent lamp yes
Miscellaneous Shadow, flashlight
Manually yes
Number of measurement fields 11
AF auxiliary light yes
Speed approx. 0.3-0.4 s
Languages English
More 21 additional languages available
(Ready for operation)
208 g
Zoom adjustment motorized via ring rocker
One-hand operation
(zoom and shutter release)
Triggering during storage possible.
Battery life approx. 470 pictures according to CIPA
– = “not applicable” or “not available

Brief assessment


  • Class-related decent image quality
  • Outstandingly many setting options
  • AF as fast as an arrow, very short reaction times
  • Successful integration of photo and video camera in one housing


  • Monitor neither foldable nor swivelable
  • Monitor and video viewfinder with low resolution
  • Confusing menu navigation
  • Cheap plastic housing

Panasonic Lumix FZ35 (FZ38) Datasheet


Sensor CCD sensor 1/2.3″ 6.2 x 4.6 mm (crop factor 5.6
)12.7 megapixels (physical), 12.1 megapixels (effective)
Pixelpitch 1.5 µm
Photo resolution
4.000 x 3.000 pixels (4:3)
3.264 x 2.448 pixels (4:3)
2.560 x 1.440 pixels (16:9)
2.048 x 1.536 pixels (4:3)
640 x 480 pixels (4:3)
Image formats JPG, RAW
Color depth
Metadata Exif (version 2.21), DCF standard
Video resolution
1.280 x 720 (16:9) 30 p
848 x 480 (16:9) 30 p
640 x 480 (4:3) 30 p
Video format
MOV (Codec Motion JPEG)
MOV (codec n.a.)


Focal length 27 to 486 mm (35mm equivalent
digital zoom
Sharpness range 30 cm to infinity (wide angle) 200 cm to infinity (telephoto)
Macro area 1 cm (wide angle) 100 cm (telephoto)
Aperture F2.8 to F8 (wide angle) F4.4 to F8 (telephoto)
Autofocus yes
Autofocus functions Single AF, Continuous AF, Manual, AF Assist Light
Filter thread 55mm

Viewfinder and Display

Display 2.7″ TFT LCD monitor with 230,000 pixels
Video finder Video viewfinder available

Exposure Of The Panasonic Lumix FZ35

Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement, spot measurement
Exposure times 1/2,000 to 1 s (Automatic) 1/2,000 to 60 s (Manual)
Exposure control Programmed automatic, Shutter priority, Aperture priority, Manual
Exposure bracketing function Bracketing function with a maximum of 3 shots, 1/3 to 1 EV increments
Exposure Compensation -2.0 to +2.0 EV with step size of 1/3 EV
Photosensitivity ISO 100 to ISO 1,600 (manual)
Remote access non-existent
Scene modes Baby, various scene programs, fireworks, candlelight, landscape, aerial view, night portrait, party, portrait, sunset, food, sports, starry sky, beach/snow, and animals
White balance Clouds, Sun, Shadow, Flash, Manual
Continuous shooting Continuous shooting function max. 2.3 fps at the highest resolution and max. 3 stored photos, max. 5 photos in standard mode
Self-timer Self-timer with 2 s interval, special features: or 10 s (optional)

Flashgun Of The Panasonic Lumix FZ35

Flash built-in flash (hinged)
Flash range 0.3 to 8.5 m at wide angle1
.0 to 5.4 m at teleflash range
at ISO auto
Flash functions Auto, fill-in flash, flash on, flash off, slow sync, red-eye reduction

Equipment And Features

Image stabilizer optical image stabilizer
Internal memory yes (40 MByte)
Power supply unit Power supply connection
Power supply 1 x lithium-ion (Li-Ion) battery470
pictures according to CIPA standard
Playback functions Image index
Face recognition Face recognition
Grille can be faded in during recording yes
Connections Data interfaces: USBUSB type
: USB 2.0 High SpeedVideo output
: yes (HDMI output Micro (Type D))
Supported direct printing methods PictBridge
Tripod thread 1/4″
Special features and miscellaneous Face Detection Optical
Image Stabilizer O.I.S.
High Iso Mode (1,600 to 6,400)
World Time FunctionTravel Time Function

Size and weight

Weight 412 g (ready for operation)
Dimensions W x H x D 118 x 76 x 89 mm


standard accessory (Li-Ion) battery chargerBattery chargerVideo connection cableUSB connection cableLens cap

, lens hoodRiser strapImage editing software

PHOTOfun Studio 4Panorama software
Arcsoft PanoramaMaker

additional accessories Panasonic DMW-LMC UV filterPower supply
DMW-AC7PPRemovable memory cardCamera bag
USB 2.0 High Speed

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