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Panasonic Lumix FZ150 Gordon Laing, October 2011
 
 

Panasonic Lumix FZ150 vs Lumix FZ47 / FZ48 vs Sony Cyber-shot HX100V Noise

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  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

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions we shot this scene with the Panasonic Lumix FZ150, FZ47 / FZ48 and the Sony Cyber-shot HX100V within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

All three cameras were set to Program exposure mode and the lenses adjusted to deliver the same field of view. The ISO sensitivity was set manually, apart from in the final row of crops where each camera was set to their respective low-light / high sensitivity scene presets, where coincidentally all automatically selected the same speed of 2000 ISO.

Note the firmware for the FZ150 tested here was v0.2, but Panasonic was happy for this to be evaluated as final. I have since updated my FZ150 sample with v1.0 and made a comparison on my FZ150 v0.2 vs v1.0 noise page.

The image above was taken with the Panasonic Lumix FZ150 with the lens set to 6.8mm (38mm equivalent) and the aperture set to f3.1 in Program mode. The FZ150 was set to its minimum sensitivity of 100 ISO, where at f3.1 it metered an exposure of 1/5 and generated a JPEG measuring 4.84MB. The crops below are taken from the area marked with the red rectangle and reproduced at 100%.

To remind ourselves, the two Panasonic FZ super-zooms both share 12 Megapixel resolution, so what you're looking at is the impact of different sensor technology (CMOS on the FZ150 and CCD on the FZ47 / FZ48) and different default processing styles. Meanwhile Sony is playing the numbers game with its HX100V boasting nothing less than 16 Megapixels; this higher resolution is responsible for the smaller area in its crops when viewed at 100% below.

This is arguably the page all potential FZ150 buyers want to see, as the earlier FZ100 may have had a great feature-set, but was let down by disappointing image quality, especially at high sensitivities. So the question here is whether Panasonic has banished its noisy demons from the FZ150, and how it compares to the CCD-equipped FZ47 / FZ48 and higher resolution Sony HX100V.

All three cameras kick-off at 100 ISO, where they deliver fairly clean images with lots of detail, although as also seen on the first results page, there's not a great deal of visible advantage to the Sony's four extra Megapixels here. As we go through the sequence, keep an eye not just on detail and noise, but also subtle tonal range, as seen on the peachy-white flower in the upper middle of the image.

At 200 ISO, pixel-peepers will notice a smattering of noise textures in the background of the FZ47 / FZ48 image that's preset to a lesser extent on the FZ150 and HX100V. At 400 ISO, all three cameras are now showing some subtle noise textures, although interestingly the colour has shifted on the FZ47 / FZ48 and its noise reduction appears to have increased a little. Notice how subtle tonal details on the flower petals are becoming harder to see on the FZ47 / FZ48 and to a lesser extent the Sony HX100V, whereas the FZ150 is managing to hold onto them better at this point.

At 800 ISO, all three take a noticeable turn for the worse, but of the group, the FZ47 / FZ48 is arguably the mushiest and the HX100V the one with the most visible noise; meanwhile the FZ150 is far from perfect, but has the preferred result here - just.

1600 ISO is the highest sensitivity for the FZ47 / FZ48 at its 12 Megapixel resolution, and that's probably for the bets as the image has lost a lot of detail and saturation at this point. Meanwhile the Sony HX100V is exhibiting higher noise than the FZ150, and while the Panasonic isn't looking fantastic at this point, it is again the best of the bunch. Likewise at 3200 ISO where there's slightly less noise and slightly more tonal detail recorded on the FZ150.

Both Panasonics offer a High Sensitivity mode at reduced resolution and an automatic sensitivity, with both going for 1600 ISO for this scene; interestingly the FZ47 / FZ48 delivers the better-looking scaled-down image here.

So across the standard range of single exposure captures, I'd say the FZ150 enjoys a small but noticeable edge over both the FZ47 / FZ48 and the Sony HX100V. It's hardly night and day, but it is there. Crucially though the important thing is how much better the FZ150 is than its predecessor. One year earlier we were lamenting the quality beyond the lowest ISOs, whereas now we're saying it's actually a little better than its biggest rival and cheaper sibling across the entire ISO range. This is major progress and proves the FZ150 delivers great quality to go with its powerful feature-set.

All three cameras here also offer composite modes which take a quick burst of images before combining them into one to reduce noise. I've pictured an example from the Sony HX100V at the bottom of this page, taken at an automatically-selected sensitivity of 500 ISO, but for the two Panasonics I've created a brand new page comparing their quality. So to see how they get on, take a look at my Panasonic FZ150 Handheld Night Shot results.

Alternatively head on over to my Panasonic FZ150 sample images for more real-life examples, or skip to the chase and check out my verdict.


Panasonic Lumix FZ150
 
Panasonic Lumix FZ47 / FZ48
 
Sony Cyber-shot HX100V
100 ISO
100 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
         
3200 ISO
3200 ISO not available at full resolution
3200 ISO
         
1600 ISO (High Sens scene mode)
1600 ISO (High Sens scene mode)
500 ISO (Handheld Twilight mode)


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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