Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Ken McMahon, September 2013
 
 

Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 vs Nikon COOLPIX P520 vs Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Noise JPEG

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  Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 results
1 Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Quality JPEG
2 Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Quality RAW
3 Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Noise JPEG
4 Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Noise RAW
5 Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Sample images

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72, the Nikon COOLPIX P520 and the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings. RAW results will follow on the next page.

The 20-1200mm lens on the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 was zoomed in to 24mm to match the field of view on the COOLPIX P520 and PowerShot SX50 HS at their 24mm maximum wide angle setting.

The cameras were set to Aperture Priority exposure mode with the ISO sensitivity set manually.



The above shot was taken with the Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 in Aperture priority mode. The camera was mounted on a tripod and tonal enhancement features were left on their default settings. The Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 JPEG file measured 6.2MB and, as usual, the crops are taken from the areas marked by the red rectangle.

The aperture on the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 was set to f4 and at its base 100 ISO sensitivity setting it metered an exposure of 1/2s. At its 24mm wide angle setting, the COOLPIX P520 has a maximum aperture of f3 and in Aperture priority mode increments in 1/3EV steps. It's therefore not possible to set f4 so the closest alternative was selected and at f4.2 the COOLPIX P520 selected a shutter speed of 0.6 at 80 ISO. At f4 and 80 ISO, the Powershot SX50 HS metered 0.8s.

The base 100 ISO crop from the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 is not noise-free.The flat colour of the wall has a quite visible graininess and its also present in the text panel where it's rendering the text a little fuzzy. That said, you'd need to be pixel-peeping these crops at 100 percent view to notice it.

At 200 ISO there's a little more noise, but the processing has ramped up to deal with it, resulting in a slight softening of detail. The text, which was barely readable in the 100 ISO crop has suffered a little bit as a consequence. Then at 400 ISO, as you'd expect, there's another increase in noise accompanied by more processing softening the details yet again. Now the edges of the memorial panel are beginning to crumble a little too. Overall though, there's a good balance between noise and processing and, at anything other than 100 percent viewing, 400 ISO produces perfectly acceptable results.

At 800 ISO though, we're into different territory with the combined effects of noise and processing producing a very impressionistic result. 800 ISO images look fine at smaller sizes, but at anything approaching full size the lack of detail is noticeable. And although the 1600 and 3200 ISO images have graduated from the impressionistic to a coarse tapestry look, the FZ70 / FZ72 maintains good white balance and saturation at these high ISO sensitivites making them fine for use at smaller sizes.

The Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 has a base sensitivity of 100 ISO compared with 80 ISO on the COOLPIX P520 and PowerShot SX50 HS. For best quality results and given enough available light, the base ISO sensitivity is what you'd ordinarily be shooting at (it's what's used for my outdoor quality tests). If you compare the 80 and 100 ISO crops for the COOLPIX P520 you'll see that there is a real difference with the 80 ISO crop showing less noise. The same goes for the PowerShot SX50 HS and I mention this just to point out that, for comparison purposes you should compare the base 100 ISO crop from the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 with the 80 ISO crops from the other two models.

So how does the base 100 ISO crop from the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 compare with the 80 ISO crop from the COOLPIX P520? It looks to me like the COOLPIX P520 has lover levels of noise at 80 ISO. That, plus the larger detail produces a better result than the 100 ISO crop from the FZ70 / FZ72. At 100 ISO the noise levels are similar and in fact there's not much to choose between these two all the way up the sensitivity range. The COOLPIX P520 has the advantage of a 6400 ISO and even a mono 12800 ISO setting which is useful for very low light shooting, just don't expect too much in terms of detail.

Compared with the PowerShot SX50 HS there's likewise less noise in the SX50's 80 ISO crop, but the 100 ISO crop too looks cleaner. In fact in the 100 to 400 ISO range the PowerShot SX50 HS produces visibly less noisy images with clearer detail. Beyond that it maintains an advantage, but like the FZ70 / FZ72 the noise makes these settings unsuitable for full-sized reproduction.

I should also mention that the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 has a Hand Held Night Shot mode which takes a fast burst of images at auto ISO and conbines them to produce a low noise resut. I've shown an example of this, shot at 400 ISO at the end of the table. While it can't be compared with the 1600 ISO result from the PowerShot SX50 HS's Handheld NightSene mode, it does produce a less noisy image than the single-shot 400 ISO setting.

To find out how much of a role processing plays in keeping noise at bay in these crops take a look at my Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 RAW noise results page to see just how much noise is present behind the scenes. Or head over to my Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.


Lumix FZ70 / FZ72
 
COOLPIX P520
 
PowerShot SX50 HS

80 ISO Not available

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100 ISO
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200 ISO
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400 ISO
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800 ISO
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1600 ISO
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3200 ISO
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6400 Not available
6400 ISO
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12800 ISO Not available
12800 ISO
12800 ISO Not available
Handheld Night Shot 400 ISO
Handheld NightScene 1600 ISO

Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise


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