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Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 Gordon Laing, October 2006

Outdoor / Resolution / Noise / Noise 2 / Corner sharpness / Fringe & macro / Geometry / Vignetting

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 real-life noise (standard, low and high NR)

Panasonic Lumix LX2 at 8mm f8  

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions we shot this scene using the Panasonic Lumix LX2 at each ISO setting. The test was repeated for the LX2's Low and High Noise Reduction settings.

The image was shot in 16:9, but the zoom adjusted so the vertical field matched previous results for comparative purposes. Due to the high brightness of the scene and requirement to shoot it at up to 3200 ISO, it was necessary to use a neutral density filter. The brightness also forced us to set the aperture to f8.

The image above was taken with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 at 8mm f8 and at 100 ISO; the original measured 4.63MB. The crops are taken from an area just below and to the left of the centre. For the 3200 ISO result we used the LX2's High Sensitivity preset mode.

It's immediately clear from the results below that noise - and noise reduction - are the LX2's biggest problems. Set to the default Standard Noise Reduction setting, speckling is visible even at 100 and 200 ISO, while detail is lost significantly at 400 ISO and above.

The Low Noise Reduction setting reveals fractionally more detail - see the vertical fencing bars in the 200 ISO crop for example - but again results in compromised overall quality at 400 ISO and above.

Switching to High Noise Reduction results in a considerable loss of detail at 200 ISO and above, along with an almost impressionistic effect. This is seen most obviously in the 3200 ISO crop, although to be fair, this uses the LX2's High Sensitivity preset which Panasonic admits should only be used for smaller prints.

That said, noise and loss of detail through noise reduction is a serious issue for the Lumix LX2. Every time a manufacturer increases the resolution of a sensor it claims noise levels have been kept under control, but this is yet another example where the laws of physics beg to differ. And arguing the results look fine on smaller print sizes is surely missing the point of buying a 10 Megapixel product.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2
(standard NR)
Lumix DMC-LX2
(low NR)
Lumix DMC-LX2
(high NR)
Lumix LX2 at 100 ISO (standard NR)   Lumix LX2 at 100 ISO (low NR)   Lumix LX2 at 100 ISO (high NR)
100 ISO, 1/50, f8
100 ISO, 1/50, f8
100 ISO, 1/50, f8
Lumix LX2 at 200 ISO (standard NR)   Lumix LX2 at 200 ISO (low NR)   Lumix LX2 at 200 ISO (high NR)
200 ISO, 1/100, f8
200 ISO, 1/100, f8
200 ISO, 1/100, f8
Lumix LX2 at 400 ISO (standard NR)   Lumix LX2 at 400 ISO (low NR)   Lumix LX2 at 400 ISO (high NR)
400 ISO, 1/200, f8
400 ISO, 1/200, f8
400 ISO, 1/200, f8
Lumix LX2 at 800 ISO (standard NR)   Lumix LX2 at 800 ISO (low NR)   Lumix LX2 at 800 ISO (high NR)
800 ISO, 1/400, f8
800 ISO, 1/400, f8
800 ISO, 1/400, f8
Lumix LX2 at 1600 ISO (standard NR)   Lumix LX2 at 1600 ISO (low NR)   Lumix LX2 at 1600 ISO (high NR)
1600 ISO, 1/800, f8
1600 ISO, 1/800, f8
1600 ISO, 1/800, f8
Lumix LX2 at 3200 ISO High sensitivity preset (standard NR)        
3200 ISO, 1/1600, f8 (High Sensitivity preset)
3200 ISO unavailable outside HS mode
3200 ISO unavailable outside HS mode

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 JPEG versus RAW comparison

To eliminate the effect of Panasonic’s in-camera processing and compression, we took an additional photo with the LX2 set to RAW; this also records a matching JPEG, but with higher compression so we reshot the scene immediately afterwards using the JPEG Fine mode. Noise Reduction was set to Standard. The RAW and JPEG files measured 19.5 and 4.63MB respectively.

The RAW file was processed with Adobe Camera RAW using the default settings (with a slight exposure adjustment to match the JPEG), then transferred to Photoshop with 16-bit tonal depth, before converting to 8-bit then cropping and saving using the same JPEG settings as above.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 JPEG versus RAW
10M Fine JPEG, 100 ISO, 1/50, f8
RAW conversion, 100 ISO, 1/50, f8

Using the Adobe Camera RAW defaults, the processed RAW file from the LX2 is lacking the saturation and sharpness of the in-camera JPEG, although shows a little extra tonal detail which had been smoothed out by the JPEG. We could pretty much match the in-camera example by increasing the saturation and sharpness in ACR, but couldn't produce a result with significantly greater detail or lower noise.

Further tweaking (or alternative RAW software) may coax a better result from the LX2, but common adjustments in ACR showed little benefit over shooting in JPEG.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX2 results continued...

Outdoor / Resolution / Noise / Noise 2 / Corner sharpness / Fringe & macro / Geometry / Vignetting

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All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2017 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

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