Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ35 review
1/2.33in 16.0-megapixel sensor, 20.0x zoom (24-480mm equivalent), 194g
The TZ35 is Panasonic's cut-price pocket ultra-zoom camera for people who can't stretch to the Panasonic TZ40. There's no Wi-Fi, GPS or 1080-50p video recording, the screen has a lower resolution and it isn't touch-sensitive. Then again, many rival cameras lack these features too and they cost in excess of £200.
At £160, the TZ35 looks pretty promising then. It includes the same 20x zoom as the TZ40, squeezed into the same slim metal body. There's a proper handgrip to hold onto, but no contours on the back for the thumb. The crop of tiny bumps don't really provide much purchase.
The mode dial includes the full complement of priority and manual exposure modes. There's no rear wheel, though, and adjusting exposure settings on the navigation pad is a bit fiddly. The Q.Menu button provides quick access to other key functions, but it's not possible to move the autofocus point around the frame. You could position the subject in the centre of the frame, half-press to focus and then recompose before fully pressing to take the photo, but it's a bit of a faff. The tracking focus mode provides another workaround, but that's a bit of a faff too.
Big zooms are perfect for sports and wildlife photography, so the TZ35's ability to rattle off a photo every 0.8 seconds is extremely welcome for capturing fast-moving subjects. Its responsive autofocus helps here, too, taking as little as 0.2 seconds between pressing the shutter button and taking a photo. The 5fps continuous mode is even more impressive, especially as it can update the autofocus between shots. However, it only lasted for four shots before slowing to 1.1fps. The TZ40's buffer is a little bigger, keeping the top speed going for seven frames.
The TZ40's 1080-50p video mode isn't much of a loss seeing as YouTube and Blu-ray discs don't support this format. The TZ35's 1080-25p videos are more than adequate. It couldn't match the stunning video quality of the Canon SX280 HS, but clips looked clean and attractive and held together well in low light. Autofocus was smooth and responsive, and the zoom motor made only a small impact on the high quality soundtrack. The microphone is mono, but we barely noticed the difference compared to stereo soundtracks of the same scene taken with other cameras.
Photos in bright light were among the best we've seen from a pocket ultra-zoom camera. The lens delivered exceptionally sharp results throughout the zoom range and right into the corners of frames, and there was barely any sign of chromatic aberrations. The 16-megapixel resolution is lower than the TZ40's 18 megapixels, but the result was perceptibly lower noise rather than less detail. This was particularly apparent in brightly lit conditions, where the TZ35's less aggressive noise reduction meant it was able to retain more fine detail than the TZ40.
There's a slight fizz of noise in the shadows here but details are sharp and colours are accurate
It has done a fine job of picking out these subtle textures
Sharp focus helps to deliver great results in telephoto shots
Noise reduction processing has taken a heavy toll on details here but it's good enough for sharing online
The TZ35 often exhibited a slight advantage over the TZ40 when shooting in low light, too. However, it couldn't match the 12-megapixel Canon SX280 HS for low noise. The Canon captured smoother colours and better-defined subtle details in brightly lit shots, and produced attractive photos at ISO 3200, whereas the TZ35's output looked quite scruffy.
So low-light shooting is one reason to consider spending more on the SX280 HS. Then there's the Canon's GPS and Wi-Fi functions, and its outstanding video quality. The Panasonic has the edge for image quality at the long end of the zoom and its superior performance means you can take more photos, increasing your chances of capturing that elusive perfect shot. With a significantly lower price, it's an excellent choice for anyone who feels the Canon is too slow or expensive.