After reading many reviews on digital cameras that I thought would provide quality to my standard in given price range, (Canon sx20, Canon sx30, Canon Rebel xs, Pentax k2000 and the Panasonic fz35 and fz40), I decided on the FZ35. Here's my review.
The Canon sx20 and sx30 had too many bad reviews from owners and marginal reviews at Cameralabs.com, citing the cramming of mega pixels and adding more zoom length to the existing sensor of the sx10, which results in images that are less sharp than their predecessor. I was very impressed with the Canon Rebel xs, until I found that the optical image stabilizer was in the lens, not in the camera. That, and the kit lens of 29 to 88 (in 35mm equivalent) was what came for $459. I almost went for the Pentax k2000, which has OIS in the body, was also $459, had the 29 to 88 kit lens, and very good reviews.
It occurred to me that some of the frustration I had during 30 years of film camera use, in formats that ranged from 35mm to medium format, was that either a bag of lenses was necessary in order to have enough range to get an image from very close to very far away, or that the lens I needed for the shot was not on the camera when I needed it, making some situations nearly impossible to capture. Not to mention the hassle of hot-shoe mounted flash units. So, I leaned closer to the super-zoom on the fz35, which is the equivalent of a 27 – 486mm. The Leica lens brought back memories of my old M3.
Reviews of the Panasonic fz35 and fz40 at Cameralabs.com were very impressive. Although, the fz40 suffers from the same problem the Canons had with the cramming of extra zoom and extra mps on the existing fz35 sensor, and the images from the 35 are sharper and have less noise at high ISO. These results were also compared on Amazon.com, where a user had posted images taken of the same scene with both the fz35 and the fz40, and the fz35 simply looked better. Another review on Amazon from a professional photographer from Missouri gave the fz35 very high praise. In the end, it was Amazon’s holiday return policy and the unbelievably attractive $259 price that sold me. And, since Panasonic officially discontinued the fz35, Amazon was one of the few places that had a new one in this price range. Some camera stores had them priced $399.
Upon holding it, the fz35 is about three-fourths the size of a regular 35mm, with only half the weight. It is very comfortable and thumb and fingers seem to fall naturally in place on buttons and switches. The battery comes without a charge, but was 100% after 2 hours. I also purchased a Transcend 8gb class 10 SDHC memory card for about $14.00, necessary because one is not supplied with the camera. Class 10 cards work better and faster, in recording images or video, as well as transferring the data to your computer. Via the USB cable, 100 highest quality jpg images transfer to my PC in about 20 seconds.
Right out of the box, in full Program mode, the fz35 is capable of taking great pictures. However, if you take the time to read the manual (yes, it’s in PDF, not in paper form), which takes about an hour, maybe two hours if you’re not already familiar with photography concepts, the fz35 can produce outstanding high quality results. I’m very glad I bought it. You can get your fz35 on Amazon here.