Panasonic Lumix TZ35 / ZS25 verdict
Panasonic's Lumix TZ35 / ZS25 is a good pocket super-zoom for those who don't need the bells and whistles of the flagship TZ40 / ZS30. Both cameras share exactly the same 20x optical zoom range, but by dispensing with the extensive feature-set of its counterpart, the TZ35 / ZS25 can come in at a lower price point - indeed lower than many rivals with a similar 20x range.
So while the TZ35 / ZS25 lacks the Wifi, GPS and touchscreen of the TZ40 / ZS30, along with its faster continuous shooting, 1080p and slow motion movie modes, it still sports a capable set of features that will satisfy many owners. It still offers Full HD video, even if it's 'only' 1080i, along with full exposure control if you want it and the same bunch of creative effects.
But as Panasonic giveth and taketh away in the feature department to create its latest pair of travel-zooms, it's useful to remind yourself about last year's models. The TZ35 / ZS25 replaces the TZ25 / ZS15 and essentially extends the zoom from 16x to 20x, boosts the resolution from 12 to 16 Megapixels and slightly slims the body. All are good upgrades to the core capabilities, but interestingly the new model actually lacks many of the continuous shooting modes of its predecessor in order to provide greater differentiation with the TZ40 / ZS30. For me though the one to really keep an eye on is last year's flagship, the TZ30 / ZS20, which has a broader feature-set than the TZ35 / ZS25 and may cost in the same ball park if you shop around. Here's some brief feature comparisons to help before my final verdict.
Compared to Panasonic Lumix TZ40 / ZS30
The Lumix TZ35 / ZS25 shares the same 20x optical zoom range as its pricier sibling, but lacks many of its features. The screen is the same size, but the TZ40 / ZS30's is touch-sensitive and sports double the resolution (920k dots vs 460k). Both cameras offer Full HD 1080 video, but it's progressive on the TZ40 / ZS30 rather than interlaced, and it also offers the choice of two slow motion options. Then there's the headline features of built-in GPS and Wifi with NFC for easy connections, all present on the TZ40 / ZS30, but absent on the cheaper model. Even the continuous shooting is better with 10fps at the full resolution compared to just 3 Megapixels, plus additional 40 and 60fps options.
Like previous generations the flagship model also boasts a higher resolution sensor, in this case 18 vs 16 Megapixel. Although ironically the lower resolution sensor has sometimes given the cheaper model a quality advantage in the past, but judging from my results this year only pixel-peepers are likely to notice any difference.
But the message remains much the same as before: if you want the big zoom in a small package and don't need the frills, then the TZ35 / ZS25 will deliver it in a cheaper package than the flagship model. But if you're a gadget fanatic who loves the latest technologies, then it's worth spending the extra on the TZ40 / ZS30. Ultimately the flagship model won't give you better photo quality, nor a longer zoom range, but it's hard to think of a feature that Panasonic's left out.
See my Panasonic Lumix TZ40 / ZS30 review for more details.
Compared to Panasonic Lumix TZ30 / ZS20
The Lumix TZ30 / ZS20 was the flagship model in 2012, superseded by the new TZ40 / ZS30. But the older model remains on sale while stocks last, and if you shop around you may find it for a similar price to the TZ35 / ZS25. Both cameras share the same 20x optical zoom range, similar bodies and much the same exposure modes, but the TZ30 / ZS20 offers a number of key benefits.
The Lumix TZ30 / ZS20 may share the same sized screen as the TZ35 / ZS25 with the same 460k resolution, but on the former it's touch sensitive which lets you tap wherever you'd like the camera to focus. This is invaluable, especially when it comes to positioning the single AF area modes.
Both cameras film Full HD video, but on the TZ30 / ZS20 it's progressive rather than interlaced, and recorded with stereo, not mono sound. Both cameras can shoot at 10fps, but on the TZ30 / ZS30 it's at the full resolution rather than 3 Megapixels on the TZ35 / ZS25; the TZ30 / ZS20 also offers faster 40 and 60fps modes at reduced resolutions, along with a High Speed Video mode which shoots QVGA at 220fps.
In addition the TZ30 / ZS20 features a built-in GPS with a landmark database and on-screen mapping. The sensor resolution is slightly lower on the TZ30 / ZS20, with 14 Megapixels versus 16 on the newer model, but to be honest you'll hardly notice any difference, and if you do, it may well be in the favour of the older model.
So by now it should be clear the TZ30 / ZS20 is a far better featured camera than the TZ35 / ZS25, while sharing the same core capabilities. Indeed there's nothing the TZ35 / ZS25 can do that the older model can't, other than squeeze an extra 2 Megapixel into the tiny sensor.
So at this point it boils down to price. If the TZ30 / ZS20 is sold for more than the TZ35 / ZS25 where you live, then you'll need to decide if it's worth spending the extra for the additional features, or indeed going all the way to the latest TZ40 / ZS30. If however they're closely priced, then I would definitely say it's worth going for the TZ30 / ZS20 over the TZ35 / ZS25. Once again they share the same 20x range, body and shooting modes, but as a flagship model - even from a year earlier - the TZ30 / ZS20 is simply better-featured.
See my Panasonic Lumix TZ30 / ZS20 review for more details.
Compared to Canon PowerShot SX280 HS
Canon is a major rival in the pocket super-zoom market and its latest model is the PowerShot SX280 HS. This typically comes in at a price between the TZ35 / ZS25 and the top-end TZ40 / ZS30, so it's worth comparing their feature-sets to see which suits you best.
Both the SX280 HS and TZ35 / ZS25 share essentially the same 20x optical ranges, along with manual controls and 3in 460k screens that aren't touch-sensitive. The biggest differences between them are that the SX280 HS has a lower resolution of 12 Megapixels compared to 16, along built-in GPS and Wifi. GPS tags your images with location information, and Wifi allows you to transfer images wirelessly to devices as well as social services.
The lower resolution of the Canon may seem like a disadvantage, but in my tests it actually delivered slightly better quality - not enough for you to choose one over the other unless you're a pixel-peeper though. So it really boils down to whether you think it's worth spending the extra on the SX280 SH to have GPS and Wifi, although again it's important to factor-in last year's Lumix TZ30 / ZS20 which may not have Wifi, but it does have GPS and a touch-screen.
See my Canon PowerShot SX280 HS review for more details.
Panasonic Lumix TZ35 / ZS25 final verdict
For many years Panasonic has offered two different versions of its travel zoom: a feature-packed flagship model and a simpler version which skips the bells and whistles to come in at a lower price point. It's a clever approach which allows you to choose which feature-set suits you best, and saving money if you don't need all the gadgets.
On previous generations, the two versions would often sport different optical ranges, but for 2013, Panasonic has equipped both with the same 20x range, along with much the same body, shooting modes and creative effects. In these respects they share the same core capabilities, to which the flagship TZ40 / ZS30 adds Wifi, GPS, a touchscreen, built-in mapping, faster continuous shooting and 1080p video with stereo sound.
Both are good, solid options, so the choice boils down to either paying the extra for the feature-packed TZ40 / ZS30, or saving some cash for the simpler TZ35 / ZS25. Well, that's the choice Panasonic would like you to make anyway as it carefully balances the feature-sets for each generation. But with only one year separating each generation, the previous models may actually offer a compelling alternative. For example in some regions, last year's flagship may cost roughly the same as this year's budget model, but with only a year between the older model could deliver a broader feature-set.
That's exactly what's happened here. The pricing and feature-set of TZ35 / ZS25 makes sense when compared to Panasonic's 2013 models and comes Recommended if you don't need the extras of the TZ40 / ZS30, but it's well worth keeping an eye on the price of last year's TZ30 / ZS20 while stocks last. At the time of writing, the TZ30 / ZS20 was discounted to a similar point as the new TZ35 / ZS25 in some regions, yet offered a touch-screen, GPS, 1080p video and faster continuous shooting in addition to the same 20x zoom range. Of course stocks of the older TZ30 / ZS20 will run dry, and as they do its price may actually rise and become uncompetitive, but if you can find it for roughly the same as the TZ35 / ZS25, I'd say it represents a better bet.
Broad 20x optical zoom covers every situation in slim body.
1080i video with zooming and continuous AF.
Miniature mode can be easily applied to 1080i movies.
Panorama mode can capture 360 degree arcs.
Modest continuous shooting, only 5fps at max resolution.
No built-in GPS or Wifi.
Last year's TZ30 / ZS20 out-features it, so compare prices.
(relative to 2013 super-zooms)
18 / 20
16 / 20
15 / 20
15 / 20
16 / 20