PANASONIC LUMIX DMC-FS35
I am a big fan of digital cameras and have owned several over the last few years. I usually try to upgrade every year, but I have been loyal to the Panasonic Lumix brand for the past three years or so. When my baby son was due, I felt it was an excellent time for an upgrade, so I did an online search to see which would be the best model to buy.
I didn't want to spend more than £150, I wanted more pixels and a bigger zoom than my other models and - being a girl! - I wanted a pretty colour too! The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS35 ticked all these boxes. It has 16 mega pixels, an 8x optical zoom and I bought a red one. A quick search on Kelkoo suggests it is currently available from £94 to £166, so it is well worth shopping around to get the best deal. Amazon UK is selling a violet one for just under £100.
You can search all the technical specifications online, as I don't intend to list them here. My requirements were that it could take really good quality photos that I could print out as 10x8s, if I wanted to. I use my camera for photographing nature a lot, landscapes, scenery and historic buildings, as we go away a lot for weekend breaks and longer holidays within the U.K. and part of the whole travel experience for me is getting artistic photos of important buildings and historic places. A recent family holiday in Whitby meant that I wanted to take atmospheric black and white shots of the famous Whitby Abbey, followed by cute shots in natural colours of my two sons. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS35 allowed me to do this beautifully.
An important aspect of digital cameras for me is the ability to change the colour settings and tones for photos, if I am looking for a specific effect. The basic colour settings are Standard, Natural, Vivid, Black and White, Sepia, Cool and Warm. I have used all of these, but my favourites are Standard, Natural and B/W.
There are really too many features of this camera to explain here, but the best thing to do if you buy this camera is to go through each function and experiment. By doing this, I found a feature which puts a photo frame around your pictures where you can choose the Photo Frame option theme in Scene and this enables you to frame your photos with a standard look, a sparkly hearts one or one saying 'Happy Birthday'. I took a photo of our baby son smiling, while using the Happy Birthday setting and printed it out (10" x 8" size) for my partner's birthday and it looked great.
There are plenty of other Scenes you can choose such as fireworks or snow (both often hard to photograph well) and two settings for photographing babies (called Baby 1 and Baby 2), which are all worth trying. It can be quite hard to remember how to get to a certain option though, especially if you see something to photograph and need to get to the right setting before the moment passes. Using the camera, playing with the options and familiarising yourself with how everything works is the best thing to do, but it does take some time. I have had this camera since January, yet still sometimes forget how to reach a particular setting.
One of the most important settings for me is the picture size, which can easily be changed. This option also explains the use of each size, which I find very helpful. For example, if you use the 4:3 16M setting, this is suitable for printing up to A2 (16" x 20") size, while the smallest 4:3 0.3M setting is suggested for sending as email attachments as it isn't really good enough to print out. I tend to use the 4:3 5M setting, which is fine for 10" x 8" prints. Of course, the size you use determines how many photos you can fit on your SD card and my camera informs me I have the space left for 164 photos at this 5M setting, whereas I would only have space for 75 photos at the 16M size.
A feature I also use regularly is the video camera. Having a new baby provides plenty of scope for filming and I have recorded my son's early babbling and his recent achievement of rolling over by himself. The video is good quality and means you can keep treasured memories forever, without the old hassle of setting up a separate camcorder. As I have family who live away from us, I find it really useful to film my son's milestones and put them up on Facebook, so family and friends can actually see him move and hear his cute baby noises - something which still photographs cannot provide.
The camera itself is the ideal size and weight for me and is sturdy too, as I have dropped it without incurring any damage. I would recommend buying a camera case though, which you can get cheaply (I got mine from Tesco!), to protect your camera from scratches and other damage it may get from being in your bag.
The screen is a good size for viewing your photos and showing others, which is something I also do regularly, as not all the photos get printed, so it is like having a portable photo album on your camera! I do get some printed though and we spent £40 on a photo book from Lulu, which featured photos of our son from birth to six weeks old. I was thrilled with the result! All the photos were ones I had taken on my Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS35 and they came out beautifully.
To sum up, this camera is perfect for my requirements and has enabled me to take some beautiful photos and videos in the five months I have had it. I feel it is very good value for money and it certainly has plenty of features and options which help you make the best of your photographic skills and artistic talents. The only disadvantage I have found is that it is quite complex to access all the options, as you have to remember which buttons to press in which order, but this does get easier the more you use it. It may put off some people from trying all the features though. Apart from this, it is an excellent camera and I thoroughly recommend it.
There is nothing more confusing than shopping for a camera. At least, in my opinion. I hope this review helps you decide whether to opt for this little Lumix or not!
Lets start with the technical bits:
Camera Effective Pixels: 16.1 Megapixels
Sensor Size / Total Pixels / Filter: 1/2.33-inch / 16.6 Total Megapixels / Primary Color Filter
Aperture: F3.3 - 5.9/ 2-Step (F3.3 - 10 (W) / F5.9 - 18 (T))
Optical Zoom: 8x
Focal Length: f=5-40mm (28-224mm in 35mm equiv.)
Extra Optical Zoom (EZ): 10.1x (4:3 / 10M), 14.4x (4:3 / 5M), 18x(4:3 / under 3M)
Intelligent Zoom: 10x
Lens: LEICA DC VARIO-ELMAR
Optical Image Stabiliser: MEGA O.I.S.
Focusing Area: Normal: Wide 50 cm - infinity / Tele 200 cm - infinity, Macro / Intelligent AUTO / Motion Picture: Wide 5 cm - infinity / Tele 100cm - infinity
Focus Range Display: Yes
AF Assist Lamp: Yes
Focus: Normal / Macro, Zoom Macro, Quick AF (Always On), AF Tracking
AF Metering: Face / AF Tracking / 11 pt / 1pt
Shutter Speed: Still, approx. 8 - 1/1600 sec, Starry Sky Mode: 15, 30, 60sec.
Shutter Interval: Approx. 1.1 sec
Unlimited consecutive shooting: 1.5 frames/sec
Motion Picture Recording
4:3: VGA: 640 x 480 pixels, 30fps (Motion JPEG)
16:9: HD Movie 1280x720 pixels, 24fps (Motion JPEG)
Exposure: Program AE
Exposure Compensation: 1/3 EV step, +/-2 EV
Backlight Compensation: Yes (only in Intelligent AUTO mode)
Light Metering: Intelligent Multiple
ISO Sensitivity: I.ISO / 100 / 200 / 400 / 800 / 1600, High Sensitivity mode (ISO 1600-6400)
Aspect Ratio: 4:3 / 3:2 / 16:9
Still Picture Recording: 4:3, 4608x3456(16M) / 3648x2736(10M EZ) / 2560x1920(5M EZ) / 2048X1536(3M EZ) / 640X480(0.3M EZ)
3:2, 4608 x 3072 (14M)
16:9: 4608 x 2592 (12M)
Composition Guide line: Yes (1 pattern)
Auto Review: 1sec, 2sec, Hold, Off
Easy Zoom: Yes
Macro Zoom: Yes
Orientation Detector: Yes
Scene Mode Help Screen: Yes
Self Timer: 2sec / 10sec
Calendar Display: Yes
Playback Motion Picture: Yes
Slideshow Mode: All / Category / Favorites
Travel Date / World Time: Yes / Yes
LCD Monitor: 6.7cm (2.7") TFT Screen LCD Display (230K dots)
Field of View: approx. 100%
Built-in-Flash: Auto, Auto/Red-eye Reduction, Slow Sync./Red-eye Reduction, Forced On, Forced Off
Recording Media: Built-in Memory, SD Memory Card, SDHC Memory Card, SDXC Memory Card
Built-in-Memory: approx. 70MB
Microphone / Speaker: Mono / Yes
Interface: AV Output (PAL), USB2.0 High speed
Power: Li-ion Battery Pack (3.6V, Minimum: 660mAh) (Included)
Battery life (approx.): 250 pictures (CIPA Standard)
Now that's out of the way, lets talk user friendliness.
I'm technically minded when it comes to computers and phones, but a bit of an all round novice when it comes to cameras - basically, I was after a simple point and shoot compact with great auto settings. Being able to work well in low light conditions was a must too. The Panasonic Lumix FS35 ticks all those boxes for me.
Those in the know say that a Leica lens is the best you can get. I can't vouch for that, but I can see that this camera offers superb picture quality.
The build of it is a little chunkier than most of today's compacts, which are usually much slighter. However, I actually prefer this - it's much easier to hold, without getting your fingers in the way of the flash! It does have quite a plastic-y feel to it though, and the battery door is pretty flimsy.
It starts up very swiftly, and there's no waiting around after you've taken a picture, as with other cameras i've tried. Infact, before opting for this I made a terrible mistake in buying a little Nikon Coolpix. It felt cheap and flimsy, the flash was far too bright even when the settings were tweaked, picture quality was relatively poor, and terrible in lower light settings.. An all round damp squib. In constrast, the Lumix offers everything i need. It has a great wealth of individual settings to play with, perfect for both novice (*raises hand sheepishly*) and expert and yet at the same time, the auto setting is more than adequate at capturing the perfect snapshot. The Macro setting is brilliant, i've yet to experienced a blurred photo, and even in pitch darkness i still get a brilliant picture to show off at the end of it.
The quality of this camera just speaks for itself, I will never buy anything but a Panasonic camera.
Small enough to fit into your pocket, the Lumix DMC-FS35 is a surprisingly small and compact camera for the features that it has. An 8x zoom lens and 16 mega pixels are just two reasons that there are for purchasing this camera. It is very user friendly, meaning it is a perfect first camera, but is also great for more experiences photographers as well. It has a 2.7 inch LCD screen and, because of the high number of mega pixels, you are able to decrease the amount of mega pixels used in a photo to have a higher zoom. You can actually get a massive 18x zoom if you cut the number of mega pixels down to just 3! The camera also has image stabilization, which means you can get much clearer, crisper images. If you upload a lot of photos to social networking sites, Panasonic have made it easy to upload pictures and videos to Facebook and Youtube using the Lumix Image Uploader. This is a great camera and these are just some of the many great features that you get when you purchase it.
I bought this camera in August 2011 for around £130. My old camera was getting on a bit at around 5 years old and I was going on a Safari to Kenya so wanted a decent camera to take some good photos.
My main priority was for a good zoom but for a reasonable price. After reading several reviews on different cameras I settled for this one, my budget was around £100 but I thought it would be worth going over budget for this camera, I was right.
The camera itself is very compact and lightweight with a decent sized screen. the controls are easy to use with good sized buttons and an easy to use zoom feature, which is very good and exactly what I wanted. The camera offers users a "scenes" mode which change the way the photos are taken. These scenes include starry sky (taking pictures in the dark), pets (taking pictures of moving animals!), food (self explanatory) ect, there are around 20 scenes in all that you can fiddle around with. This allows you to get the best pictures with various subjects/light levels. In the non- scene modes the camera identifies what you are trying to take a photo of and can adjust itself accordingly to get the best shot
The video mode as also very good, giving very good sound and picture although you cant seem to zoom in and out once you have started recording. Also the playback mode is very good, allowing you to delete or view any photos/videos you have taken.
The camera has a rechargeable battery which lasts a good amount of time between charges, I prefer this as cameras tend to eat AA batteries and you can never find any when you need them ect so a thumbs up for that.
All and all I'd say this is an excellent camera at a really good price, I would definitely recommend it!
Purchased this camera in February 2011 for £110 on Amazon and what a great investment it was.
The camera is quite small and easily fits in the pocket, comes with an optical zoom lens that retracts into the camera when turned off and provides upto 8x optical zoom, the camera I have is black with the lens casing being silver. There is a button on the top to take the pictures which has a slideable menu around the top to select different settings.
The advantages of this product are numerous. Firstly the picture quality is great, it has a high quality lens and is 16 megapixel and with a variety of different settings the pictures I have taken have been fantastic quality. Secondly its very portable being small. Thirdly the intelligent auto setting is fantastic if you are not an experienced photographer as if you select it and hold down the picture button halfway it will quickly adjust the settings of the camera to take the best picture in the environment, this is fantastic if you need to take a picture quickly as I have done if I've seen something while moving quickly. The screen is large so you can see exactly what you are taking a picture of. Another big positive is that the camera takes full HD video.
The main downside for me is that when taking a video you have to set the zoom level before you start recording and cannot zoom in while you are recording which is a fairly large design flaw.
Overall this is a fantastic camera for the money, at just over £100 you really can't go wrong with the quality and I would be happy with the quality if I had paid twice as much.
We purchased the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS35 in early September, after our Canon Ixus started making strange noises. We didn't spend a huge amount of time researching the camera - we considered a couple of alternatives such as upgrading to the latest version of the Canon Ixus (which we had been happy with until its untimely demise) - but the main deciding factor behind our purchase was that friends had a previous version of the Panasonic Lumix and were very happy with it. We were also attracted by some of the features promised by the Panasonic Lumix FS35, namely the 16.1 megapixel resolution, the 8x optical zoom, the optical image stabilizer and the Leica lens.
* Appearance *
Visually, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS35 is a lovely camera. It is black with a large silver lens on the front. Once switched on the lens pops out and extends / retracts depending on the level of zoom that you require.The back has a very large LCD screen (2.7 inches) which makes it easy both to line up a photograph ahead of capturing the shot and to view the results afterwards. I really like the LCD screen as it brings up sharp images and it is easy to 'zoom' in while viewing the photographs to check for the kind of facial expressions which make you want to delete a photo before you upload it. I feel that it is a very stylish model which manages to look good while feeling a bit more like a 'traditional' camera that some of the smaller digital models. The flash is a thin light along the top of the camera to the left of the lens and is positioned in a location that makes it difficult to accidentally block it with your finger.
* Basic Performance *
Essentially, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS35 is a point and shoot digital camera, although it is a mid-range model which possesses a few additional features. My basic requirements from a camera are that it is simple to use, takes good clear photographs, has an effective flash and can cope with relatively fast moving subjects (essential with two small children who don't tend to stay still for long) and this camera definitely fulfils all of those criteria. Image sharpness is very good on this camera - it is particularly good when shooting outside in good light and the definition of facial features is excellent. When taking photos inside, the flash is effective and warms up quickly, enabling you to capture those special moments without having to wait an age for the flash to work. In terms of image quality, I feel that the flash works well to illuminate subjects in the foreground, but it won't necessarily provide the same quality to background images. As most of my indoor shots tend to be of people, rather than views, this doesn't matter to me.
The camera has several different modes - the easiest, and the one that I use most, is 'Intelligent Auto' . This is where the camera attempts to predict what type of photograph you are going to take and adapts its settings accordingly to ensure that it has the optimum settings for the shot. To be completely honest, I don't really understand how it does this, but I have been very satisfied with the results so far. The battery life of the camera is very good - we have taken a lot of photos in the two months since we bought the camera and have only had to charge it up once. Charging the battery is a very straightforward process as you simply remove the battery from the camera, slot it into the charger and plug the charger into the mains.
* Additional Features*
Zoom - The camera has an 8x optical zoom feature which I have found creates clear, sharp photos. There is also the possibility of zooming still further, up to 18x but this involves reducing the resolution right down to 3MP - I have not felt the need to do this. Using the normal zoom is very simple as you simply flick the dial on the top of the camera until you reach the ideal level of zoom. I have found that this captures my subjects well, and enables me to take pictures of the kids when they don't know I'm photographing them - ideal for capturing their 'real' expressions instead of the 'cheese' faces that they employ when a camera is pointed at their faces.
Modes - There are several modes on this camera in addition to the 'Intelligent Auto' mode outlined above. 'Scene Mode' has a range of pre-set settings including 'Transform Mode' which enables you to capture an image with the effect of stretching or slimming, a 'Portrait' mode to enable you to enhance skin tone in photographs, a 'Sports Mode' which uses a faster shutter speed to improve your chances of capturing that sporting success and settings for 'Fireworks' and 'Snow'. 'Motion Picture' mode allows you to shoot home movies with audio. I haven't had the chance to really play around with the modes, other than several family shots using the 'Portrait Mode'. I think if you are into your photography then these could be an exciting addition but, for me, I'm happy sticking with the tried and tested method of 'point and shoot' (with the added help from the 'Intelligent Auto') - besides, the kids don't stay still long enough for me to be messing around with the settings.
Lumix Image Uploader - This makes it easier to share photos with friends and family. According to the blurb, all you have to do is mark the photos you want to share with a tick and connect the camera to a PC. You can then follow the simple instructions to upload your photos, allowing you to add comment and notify your friends via e-mail . Facebook can be used for photos and YouTube for movies. I haven't actually tried this yet - I have put photos from the camera on to Facebook but have done it the old-fashioned way.
* Price *
The RRP for the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS35 is £199.99 although it is currently available on Amazon for £107. We have the black version but it is also available in blue, red and purple. I feel that it is worth the money at the full RRP but is a bargain at the current Amazon price.
* Final Thoughts *
I have been really pleased with the performance of this camera and the quality of the photographs that I have captured on it, and I would definitely recommend it. Like all digital point and shoot cameras, it is not necessarily one for the professionals, or those who take their photography seriously, but if you want a camera that will capture the highs and lows of family life then this is a great product. I am giving it the full five stars because I enjoy using it so much and I have been so happy with the results.
** Update, September 2012 - Much as I loved this camera, ours developed a fault within a year of purchase so that the lens would no longer open. Initially we blamed the children's desire to see the photos every five minutes on holiday, but it was diagnosed as a technical issue which, although fixable, was going to cost a similar amount to a replacement camera to repair. We decided that we would be better off purchasing a new camera - just hope this one's successor lasts a bit longer.
* Review also published on Ciao as Brownie_Queen