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Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30 / FH20 Ken McMahon, July 2010

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30 / FH20 results: Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30 / FH20 vs Fujifilm FinePix JZ300 High ISO Noise

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To compare noise levels under real-life conditions we shot this scene with the the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30 / FH20 and the Fujifilm FinePix JZ300

The lenses on both cameras were set to approximate the same field of view and ISO was manually set.

The above shot was taken with the the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30 / FH20 in Normal Picture mode with the lens at a wide angle setting of 5mm (28mm). The exposure was 0.8 seconds at f3.3. The crops are taken from the area marked with the red square and presented below at 100%.

These crops from the Panasonic Lumix FS30 / FH20 will be pretty reassuring for anyone who likes to take pictures in low-light conditions without flash. Our central crop is taken from part of the scene that doesn't get much light (one of the reasons we chose it) and, even when the exposure is correct, it can be difficult to see detail in the shadows, particularly at lower ISO settings and longer exposures. There's no such problem with the FS30 / FH20 though and in the 80 and 100 ISO crops you can see good detail, but no noise, in the wood panelling and the stone column on the left.

The 200 ISO crop also shows very good detail, there is now some discernable noise, but nothing like enough to warrant worrying about making everyday use of the 200 ISO sensitivity setting. The watershed comes at the 400 ISO setting where it looks like Panasonic has been over-zealous with its noise reduction algorithm. Overall, things are looking a little smeared and blurry and it's particularly noticeable in the stone column. The colour balance is also starting to wander and look a touch on the green side.

At 800 and 1600 ISO there's the kind of marked deterioration you'd expect, but in both instances it's the noise suppression, rather than noise itself which is most noticeable. Whether you prefer this or a less processed, noisy high ISO image is down to personal preference, but it does preclude anyone so inclined from using their own noise reduction techniques using image editing software.

Compared with the Fujifilm FinePix JZ300 we think the Panasonic Lumix FS30 / FH20 makes a better job of handling noise, particularly at the lower end of the ISO sensitivity scale. For one thing, the slowest shutter speed of just 1/4 second in the FinePix JZ300's Program mode has resulted in the first two shots being under-exposed - the 100 ISO one badly so. This makes it difficult to judge, but we'd say the FS30 / FH20 has a clear advantage up to 200 ISO. Arguably, the 400 ISO setting is the one point at which the Fujifilm crop looks better, beyond that it's simply a question of which style of image degradation you prefer - smooth or lumpy.

Now head over to our Panasonic FS30 / FH20 gallery to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30 / FH200
Fujifilm FinePix JZ30
80 ISO
100 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
3200 ISO Not manually available
3200 ISO (3 Megapixels)

Panasonic Lumix DMC-FS30 / FH20 results: Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise

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