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Panasonic Lumix FZ200 Ken McMahon, December 2012
 
 

Panasonic FZ200 vs Canon SX50 HS Noise JPEG

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  Panasonic Lumix FZ200 HS results
1 Lumix FZ200 Quality JPEG
2 Lumix FZ200 Quality RAW
3 Lumix FZ200 Noise JPEG
4 Lumix FZ200 Noise RAW
5 Lumix FZ200 Sample images

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Panasonic Lumix FZ200 and the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS , within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings and at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

Because the zoom on the PowerShot SX50 lacks fine nudge control and zooming in by the smallest amount led to a larger difference, I left both cameras on their wide angle setting - 25mm (equiv) on the FZ200 and 24mm (equiv) on the SX50 HS.

Image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test and all other settings were left on the defaults.


The image above was taken with the Panasonic Lumix FZ200. The camera was set to Aperture priority mode with the aperture set to f4 and the sensitivity to 100 ISO. The Lumix FZ200 metered an exposure of 1.6 seconds at f4. To produce a comparable image on the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS I set exposure compensation to +1EV to produce an exposure of 1 second at f4 at 80 ISO.

I should note that the shutter speed limit in Aperture priority mode on the SX50 HS is 1 second and that the 100 ISO exposure was also 1 second, falling to 0.6s at 200 ISO so, had it been able to, the SX50 HS would most likely have set 1.2s for the 80 ISO exposure. One way around this limitation is to set manual exposure mode which allows you to select shutter speeds up to 15 seconds. But there's a catch. Even in Manual, you can only select exposures longer than a second at the base 80 ISO setting. It's a small thing, but if you do a lot of night shooting and long exposure photography it's worth knowing about.

Turning to the crops, as we saw in the outdoor test shots the Lumix FZ200 has some visble noise at its base 100 ISO setting, in low light at an exposure in excess of a second it's a little worse here than it would be outdoors with a shorter exposures. You don't have to look too hard to see the grainy texture in the wall and if it weren't for the slight noisiness the text in the memorial panel and other fine detail would be a little clearer. That said, I think this is a very respectable result for a compact MOS sensor, it's on a par with the 80 and 100 ISO PowerShot SX50 HS crops, and there's no way you'd spot this at anything less than 100 percent view.

At 200 ISO things are looking a little more granular and the text is a little less readable and the step up to 400 ISO shows a deterioration of about the same amount. Now the text is no longer legible and the once sharp edges of the memorial panel are beginning to crumble a little. $00 ISO still looks pretty good though and I reckon you'd just about get away with full-sized prints and large screen display at this sensitivity setting.

You can't really say the same for 800 ISO, though, and this is the point at which the FZ200's processing really loses the battle with the noise being produced by the sensor. On a positive note though, the FZ200's colour balance and saturation remains strong well up the sensitivity range to 1600 ISO. By now, though, the game is really up and the settings beyond 1600 ISO are more noise than image data. To sum up, I'd say that the FZ200 produces good quality images at the low end of the sensitivity scale despite low level noise. Processing manages the noise well up to 400 ISO with 800 ISO a good bet for smaller than full size display and 1600 ISO for must have emergency shots.

Like the PowerShot SX50 HS, the Lumix FZ200 also has a low-light composite mode. Hand Held Night shot takes a fast sequence with exposure and sensitivity set automatically and combines them into a single shot. In this instance the FZ200 chose 800 ISO which resulted in a shutter speed of 1/8th at f2.8. The camera was still on the tripod for this shot with stabilisation off, but you can shoot hand-held at the wide angle setting with stabilisation on and get sharp results. As you can see from the crop, while it's still noisy, the FZ200's Hand Held Night Shot crop is a visible improvement on the single frame 800 ISO crop.

Compared with the crops from the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS, once again, there's not much to separate these two 12 Megapixel sensors, though in its favour the FZ200 made a better job of the exposure, producing slightly warmer results. At 100 ISO I'd say the FZ200 crop looks slightly clumpier and the text isn't quite so readable. At 200 ISO the Canon SX50 HS crop also looks to be slightly cleaner. From 400 ISO up, the noise looks a little different, but has much the same effect. I think it's fair to say that at the lower ISO settings the SX50 HS has a small noise advantage, but from 400 ISO upwards there's very little, if anything, in it.

To find out how much of a role processing plays in keeping noise at bay in these crops take a look at my Lumix FZ200 RAW noise results page to see just how much noise is present behind the scenes. Or head over to my Lumix FZ200 sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.


Panasonic Lumix FZ200
 
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
80 ISO Not available
80 ISO
     
100 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
     
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
     
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
     
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
     
Handheld Night Shot 800 ISO
Handheld NightScene 1600 ISO


Panasonic Lumix FZ200
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise


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