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Olympus STYLUS 1 Gordon Laing, February 2014
 
 

Sony RX10 vs Olympus STYLUS 1 vs Panasonic Lumix FZ200 Noise RAW

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  Olympus STYLUS 1 results
1 Olympus STYLUS 1 Quality at wide angle
2 Olympus STYLUS 1 Quality at 50mm
3 Olympus STYLUS 1 Quality at 100mm
4 Olympus STYLUS 1 Quality at 200mm
5 Olympus STYLUS 1 Quality at 300mm
6 Panasonic FZ200 Quality at 600mm
7 Olympus STYLUS 1 noise
8 Olympus STYLUS 1 RAW noise

To compare RAW noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Sony Cyber-shot RX10, Olympus OMD STYLUS 1 and Panasonic Lumix FZ200 within a few moments of each other using their RAW modes at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

I matched the vertical field of view on each camera and set them at an aperture previously determined to deliver the sharpest results.

All RAW files were processed using Adobe Camera RAW using the same settings for white balance, sharpening (50 / 0.5 / 36 / 10), and noise reduction (all disabled).



In my second noise comparison I'll take a look at the RAW output from each camera processed using Adobe Camera RAW, using the same settings: sharpness of 50 / 0.5 / 36 / 10 and all noise reduction turned off. You wouldn't normally sharpen images this much nor apply zero noise reduction, but it's a useful technique for seeing exactly what's going on behind the scenes. As always I matched the vertical field of view and have reproduced crops at 1:1 for comparison below. The STYLUS 1 and FZ200 crops show the same area as both share the same 12 Megapixel resolution, while the RX10 crops show a smaller area due to its higher 20 megapixel resolution.

All three cameras were set to f4 here and used the same shutter speeds, so the crops are directly comparable. Sometimes it's important to factor in differences in maximum apertures too if they allow one camera to use lower ISOs than another, but with all three sharing maximum apertures of f2.8, each ISO value below is directly comparable.

Below you're looking at crops from three cameras with different sized sensors: 1in type for the RX10, 1/1.7in type for the STYLUS 1 and 1/2.3in type for the FZ200. These descriptions don't really explain their relative sizes, but you can see how they literally measure-up in the diagram below, where it's clear the RX10's sensor has roughly 2.7 times the surface area of the STYLUS 1's sensor and roughly four times the surface area of the FZ200's sensor. You'd therefore assume in this test that the RX10 will have the least noise, followed by the STYLUS 1, leaving the FZ200 in last place.

 
Sensor sizes compared, Olympus STYLUS 1 indicated in red
Sensor sizes
 

The first row shows what we'd expect: the cleanest result from the RX10, a slightly noisier one from the STYLUS 1 and a noisier one still from the FZ200. Likewise at 200 ISO, although I'd still say all three are recording a decent amount of detail. The higher resolution RX10 is resolving most detail, but the STYLUS 1 and FZ200 are roughly similar.

At 400 ISO and up, the order continues but the gaps widen. At this point you'd have to apply more noise reduction to the FZ200, resulting in potentially softer images than the STYLUS 1. Meanwhile the RX10 remains comfortably cleaner than either of them as expected.

At 1600 ISO there's visible chroma noise on all three, but again it's the smaller sensors of the STYLUS 1 and especially the FZ200 which are suffering most. At 3200 ISO it's arguably game-over for the FZ200, at least when viewed 1:1, but the STYLUS 1 is just clinging on a little longer. The RX10 at 3200 ISO is noisy, but usable. At 6400 ISO, all three have lost a lot of detail from noise, and I'd say it's too late for the STYLUS 1 now, although again the RX10 bravely hangs onto more detail.

Looking at the RAW noise levels, I'd say the STYLUS 1 enjoys around a one stop advantage over the FZ200 from 400 ISO upwards. I'd say the gap is wider between the RX10 and STYLUS 1, definitely more than one stop and approaching two stops at times. This is pretty much what you'd expect. The STYLUS 1 only has a slightly larger sensor than the FZ200 and this is reflected in its noise levels which are only a little better. Meanwhile the RX10 has a comfortably larger sensor than the STYLUS 1, so its noise performance is more decisive. And again this is before taking downsampling into consideration which would give the RX10 over two stops advantage over the STYLUS 1.

Bottom line? If you shoot at 100 or 200 ISO, all three deliver respectable results. If you regularly shoot up to 1600 ISO, the STYLUS 1 will give you slightly cleaner results than the FZ200, but not by a massive amount. If you shoot at this level and want noticeably cleaner results then you'll need to spend the extra on the RX10 and carry its heavier weight. You kinda saw that coming, didn't you?

Well done for making it this far! Now check out my sample images or skip straight to my verdict on all three cameras!


Sony Cyber-shot RX10 RAW
 
Olympus STYLUS 1 RAW
 
Panasonic Lumix FZ200 RAW

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12800 ISOO not available


Olympus STYLUS 1 results : Quality / At 50mm / At 100mm / At 200mm / At 300mm / At 600mm / Noise / RAW Noise


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