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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX35 - Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX35
For all its technical sophistication the FX35 is still a fairly brisk performer. It starts up in around 2.5 seconds, which while not breaking any records is still quite respectable. In single-shot mode it can sustain one shot every 1.7 seconds, which is also reasonably quick, while in long-period continuous shooting it more than doubles that speed, shooting every 0.7 seconds.
The autofocus system is fast and reliable, and works extremely well in low light. It has a good AF assist lamp, and can focus in total darkness at a range of around three metres. If it fails to focus an on-screen display tells you the safe in-focus area so you can at least guess if your shot will be sharp.
Image quality is also very good, with a lot of credit going to the superb lens, which provides excellent sharpness almost right across the frame, blurring only a little in the far corners at wide angle. Despite its exceptionally short focal length the lens also produces very little wide-angle distortion, producing almost perfectly straight parallel lines.
Exposure metering is accurate and consistent, and dynamic range too is better than average for a 10MP ultra compact, although it did tend to slightly over-expose highlights, leaving some high-contrast shots with blown-out bright spots.
Image noise is the only real problem, as it frequently is for Panasonic cameras, and even this isn't too severe. Images at 400 ISO show significant loss of detail due to noise reduction, and 800 and 1600 are progressively even worse. However colour reproduction remains consistent, and image quality at lower ISO settings is superb.
The Panasonic FX35 demonstrates just how much technology can be squeezed into even the tiniest camera bodies. It combines terrific build quality and aesthetic design with a class-leading wide-angle lens, decent performance, exceptionally good low light performance. Only the slightly annoying high-ISO noise prevents it scoring 10/10 in this area. If you are looking for a feature-packed luxury compact with wide zoom and image stabilisation then the FX35 is one of the best on the market.