Got an FX35 yesterday - early impressions & pics

Started Mar 6, 2008 | Discussions thread
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Keith Schmidt
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Got an FX35 yesterday - early impressions & pics
Mar 6, 2008

So, I ordered an FX35 from Amazon earlier this week, and it arrived yesterday afternoon. I currently own a Canon SD870, which I'm fairly happy with. What interested me in the FX35 was the extra wide angle (25-100mm), slightly smaller size, and the HD video (supposedly with zoom).

I quickly discovered that the zoom does not work in movie mode, despite claims to the contrary on Panasonic's product page for the FX35 (the manual does get it right, for what it's worth).

From a size standpoint, the FX35 is smaller than the SD870 - it's slightly thinner, and is noticeably less tall. They're identical in length. When you're looking to slip the camera in a pants pocket, every little bit helps, so the size is very nice.

Build quality seems OK, although it doesn't have the same high quality feel as the TZ3 did. I was hoping this camera would be a mini TZ5, but it doesn't really live up to that standard from a build standpoint, and now that I've confirmed there's no zoom in movie mode, it falls short in that respect too.

AF speed is pretty quick, and it seems to lock on more quickly, and more often, than the Canon SD870 does.

Distortion is noticeably less on the FX35, despite it being 3mm wider. There is a bit of sharpness falloff in the corners, but it's not as big as you might expect.

Operation is quick for the most part. The quick menu is nice, and overall it's a pretty easy camera to figure out. I haven't gone through the manual yet, but already am able to find my way around the camera.

The LCD is pretty good, but I like the larger, brighter LCD of the SD870 better. I haven't tried the FX35 outdoors in bright light yet, so can't say how well the power mode or high angle work yet, but holding it in some bright light coming in through the windows this morning, it's not quite up to the level of the SD870 in this regard (easily the best LCD I've used for viewing in bright sunlight).

The intelligent Auto mode seems to work well, and seems pretty judicious in choosing higher ISO speeds. It also is nice that it recognizes close focus to go into macro mode, and is capable of doing the same for other "scenes" (portraits, etc).

On the other hand, the intelligent exposure mode (available in the Manual mode) doesn't work this way - so far, it seems too eager to go to ISO 400. I can take a shot in intelligent exposure mode, and it chooses ISO 400 and a shutter speed of 1/500, then take the exact same shot in iAuto, and it chooses ISO 100 or 160, and a shutter speed around 1/100 or 1/125.

Much like the TZ3, it's a camera that doesn't seem to hold up to 100% viewing, but when viewed at normal sizes, the pictures are pretty impressive, especially considering its small size and unusual wide zoom range. One thing that I think will hurt impressions of this camera is the playback zoom. You're viewing at 100% somewhere around 4x in playback mode, but the camera lets you go to 8x and even 16x, which of course makes things look terrible.

I'll post some pics in the next post.
--
Keith
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 Keith Schmidt's gear list:Keith Schmidt's gear list
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