Panasonic Lumix FZ150 Gordon Laing, October 2011

Panasonic Lumix FZ150 quality, RAW vs JPEG

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To compare real-life RAW performance on the Panasonic Lumix FZ150, I shot this scene using RAW plus Fine JPEG mode at the camera's base sensitivity of 100 ISO.

The aperture was set to f4 in Aperture priority mode to maximise sharpness and minimise diffraction.

The image opposite was taken with the Panasonic Lumix FZ150 at 100 ISO with an exposure of 1/1000 and the lens set to 6.5mm f4; the original Large Fine JPEG measured 4.09MB and the RAW 14.26MB. The crops below are taken from the areas marked with the red squares and presented here at 100%.

  Panasonic Lumix FZ150 results
1 Panasonic FZ150 Resolution
2 Panasonic FZ150 RAW vs JPEG
3 Panasonic FZ150 Noise
4 Panasonic FZ150 Handheld Night Shot
5 Panasonic FZ150 Firmware 0.2 vs 1.0
6 Panasonic FZ150 Sample images

I processed the RAW file using the supplied SILKYPIX Developer Studio SE software using the default settings. At the development page, I set the Unsharp Mask amount to 100.

Panasonic's FZ150 is one of the few super-zoom cameras to offer RAW recording capabilities (another being the Fujifilm HS20). RAW is not available on the Canon or Sony models, nor Panasonic's cheaper FZ47 / FZ48. This makes it a key advantage for models like the FZ150 and HS20, so what can you expect in practice?

At first glance, there's not a great deal of difference between a JPEG straight from the camera and a RAW file processed with the SilkyPIX defaults. One thing worth noting from the first row is evidence of minor coloured fringing on the converted RAW file. I'd actually expected to see more as I deliberately ensured all lens corrections were turned-off for my RAW conversion. Judging from the terrible fringing on super-zooms which perform no correction, I have to assume there's still some applied in the background somewhere even for RAW files. If that's not the case and the RAW image you see here is uncorrected, then it's extremely impressive optical performance.

Pixel-peeping the other crops reveals some differences in processing styles, with the SilkyPIX defaults actually going a bit over-the-top on bright colours like reds, yellows and blues, but otherwise they're quite similar results.

So if the image quality is similar, what are the benefits of shooting in RAW? In no particular order, there's the chance of easily adjusting the white balance, sharpening and contrast, amongst other settings. Then there's the ability to save the processed file with less JPEG compression, or as a TIFF, thereby avoiding lossy compression altogether. Arguably the biggest advantage though regards the promise of a higher tonal range to work with and the potential to retrieve detail in blown highlight areas. This is something that's enjoyed by cameras with big sensors when shooting in RAW, but what about a small sensor model like the FZ150? Are blown highlights forever irretrievable? Scroll down to find out as I think you'll be impressed.

Otherwise, skip straight to my Panasonic FZ150 noise results.


Panasonic Lumix FZ150
(JPEG using in-camera defaults)
Panasonic Lumix FZ150
(RAW processed with SilkyPix and Unsharp Mask at 100)
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 100 ISO



Panasonic FZ150 RAW highlight retrieval

The composition here includes some very bright highlight areas with detail in the snowy mountain top lost on the original JPEG. When I tried adjusting the exposure, levels or curves on the JPEG, I couldn't retrieve any detail. It had saturated the image and was forever lost.

To see if any detail could be retrieved in this area from the RAW file I made two conversions in SilkyPIX: the first, as used for the crops above, was with the exposure bias set to 0. The second was made with the exposure bias set to -2EV, and to illustrate the difference, I've made a large 100% crop from both processed files below showing the snowy mountain ridge.

You can immediately see how the second version has retrieved a great deal of tonal detail from the file which was saturated on the original. It's an impressive performance from a relatively tiny sensor, and a key advantage the FZ150 has over its rivals. To be fair, maybe the FZ47 / FZ48's sensor is also capable of similar highlight retrieval, but without a RAW option, we'll never know.

Now let's see how the quality compares across the sensitivity range in my Panasonic FZ150 noise results.

Panasonic Lumix FZ150
(RAW file processed with 0 EV exposure bias)

f4, 100 ISO
Panasonic Lumix FZ150
(RAW file processed with -2EV exposure bias)

f4, 100 ISO

Panasonic Lumix FZ150 results : Real-life resolution / RAW vs JPEG / High ISO Noise
/ Handheld Night Shot / Firmware 0.2 vs 1.0

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