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Panasonic Lumix G5 Ken McMahon, January 2013
 
 

Panasonic Lumix G5 vs Sony NEX-6 Noise RAW

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  Panasonic Lumix G5 results
1 Lumix G5 Quality JPEG
2 Lumix G5 Quality RAW
3 Lumix G5 Noise JPEG
4 Lumix G5 Noise RAW
5 Lumix G5 Sample images

To compare RAW noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Panasonic Lumix G5 and the Sony Alpha NEX-6, within a few moments of each other using their best quality settings, and at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

The 16-50mm f3.5-5.6 power zoom on the NEX-6 was zoomed in to 19mm to produce an equivalent vertical field of view with the 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 power zoom on the Lumix G5 and an equivalent focal length of 28mm for both lenses.

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 G5 with the PZ 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens. The sensitivity was manually set to 160 ISO and the Lumix G5 was set to Aperture priority exposure mode with the aperture set to f4. The metering selected an exposure of 1/3s. To achieve a better exposure more closely matched to the Lumix G5, I applied 1.3EV exposure compensation on the NEX-6, resulting in a shutter speed of half a second at f4 at its base 100 ISO sensitivity.

I processed both sets of files in Adobe Camera RAW using identical settings: Sharpening at 70 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, and the Process to 2012 with the Adobe Standard profile. To further reduce any distracting visual differences between the crops I also set custom white balance to 4500K and tint to 0. These settings were chosen to reveal the differences in sensor quality and isolate them from in-camera processing. The high degree of sharpening with a small radius enhances the finest details without causing undesirable artefacts, while the zero noise reduction unveils what's really going on behind the scenes - as such the visible noise levels at higher ISOs will be much greater than you're used to seeing in many of my comparisons, but again it's an approach that's designed to show the actual detail that's being recorded before you start work on processing and cleaning it up if desired.

At the base 100 ISO sensitivity the Lumix G5 crop has a slightly granular texture but the detail appears clearer and sharper than in the 100 ISO crop from the Sony NEX-6. Where it was hard to see a difference between the 100 and 200 ISO JPEGS, here the difference is marked, with an increase in granularity that's already beginning to affect the edge detail. It's the same at 400 and 800 ISO with a very discernible linear increase in the noise at each level. The noise pattern is small and very regular, though, and there doesn't appear to be much colour noise. These factors may be contributing to the success with which Panasonic is able to deal with it in-camera.

Beyond 800 ISO, though, there's just too much noise for any amount of processing to hide and, though the in-camera results at 1600 ISO are good, beyond that it gets difficult to separate the noise from the recorded image data. Practicaly speaking that means while it should be relatively straightforward to achieve improved results from RAW files at the base 160 ISO setting, at sensitivity settings above that it will quickly become a challenge to squeeze more detail from these files and deal effectively with the noise at the same time.

Interestingly, the comparison with crops from the Sony NEX-6 shows less of a difference than the JPEGs on the previous page. Certainly up to 800 ISO it's hard to say there's a difference in the overall noise levels. The Lumix G5 crops actually look to be sharper with more detail than those from the NEX-6. It's too close to call at 1600 ISO, but I think past that point the G5 crops look slightly noisier.

So, if you're processing RAW files, there's very little to recommend one over the other, but Hand-held Twilight mode and the option to add the Multi Frame Noise Reduction App put the NEX out in front when it comes to low-light performance.

Now head over to my Panasonic Lumix G5 sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions, or head straight for my Verdict.


Panasonic Lumix G5
 
Sony NEX-6
     
160 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
     
12800 ISO
12800 ISO
     
25600 ISO Not available
25600 ISO


Panasonic Lumix G5
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise


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