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Panasonic Lumix G6 Gordon Laing, June 2013
 
 

Panasonic Lumix G6 vs Canon EOS SL1 100D RAW Noise

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  Panasonic Lumix G6 results
1 Panasonic Lumix G6 Quality JPEG
2 Panasonic Lumix G6 Quality RAW
3 Panasonic Lumix G6 Noise JPEG
4 Panasonic Lumix G6 Noise RAW
5 Panasonic Lumix G6 Sample images

To compare RAW noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Panasonic Lumix G6 and the Canon EOS SL1 / 100D, within a few moments of each other using their RAW modes at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

The Lumix G6 was fitted with the latest Lumix G 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 Mark II kit lens, and the Canon EOS SL1 / 100D with the Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 STM kit lens. Both lenses were adjusted to deliver the same picture height as seen opposite. The narrower 4:3 aspect ratio of the Lumix G6 meant small strips were cropped from either side of the composition compared to the Canon.


The image above was taken with the Panasonic Lumix G6. The camera was set to f5.6 in Aperture priority mode and the sensitivity to the base of 160 ISO; I'd previously confirmed that f5.6 delivered the sharpest result with the new 14-42mm lens. I used the same aperture for the EOS SL1 / 100D, again having pre-determined this to deliver the best results. I disabled Auto Lighting Optimiser and any other contrast enhancers as they can artificially increase noise levels. Both cameras metered exactly the same exposures, so you really are looking at like for like below.

I processed all files in Adobe Camera RAW using identical settings: Sharpening at 70 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, the White Balance set to 5500K and the Process to 2012 with the Adobe Standard profile. 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 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.

The Panasonic features 16 Megapixels across a 4:3 shaped frame, while the Canon features 18 Megapixels across a wider 3:2 aspect ratio frame. For my tests over these four pages I matched the coverage across the short axis (vertically for this composition), so the Lumix G6 cropped a little from the left and right sides of this shot compared to the Canon. As such, both cameras were sharing roughly the same pixel density across the areas evaluated, and hence show similar magnification in the crops. Speaking of which, I took a crop from each image, indicated by the red square in the image above left and reproduced them at 100% below.

With noise reduction turned completely off and sharpening increased, you'll notice a fine sprinkling of textures even at the lowest sensitivities. As with my outdoor resolution comparison the noise texture is fractionally more apparent on the Panasonic crops than the Canon ones, but it's a very close-run thing up to 400 ISO. At 800 ISO and up I'd say the Canon fractionally extends its lead, but I'm not even talking by half a stop.

Indeed I'd say unless you're staring at both sets of images side by side for a long time, you'd be unlikely to tell much difference between them. Apply some more normal settings and they become virtually identical. The bottom line is I think it's fair to say the Lumix G6 shares essentially the same quality as Canon's latest 18 Megapixel APS-C models. The most dedicated pixel-peepers may spot very minor differences under test conditions, but for everyone else there's nothing in it. I should also add that both cameras shared similar capabilities when it came to saturated highlight retrieval, as seen at the bottom of my main review page. It all adds up to good news for the Lumix G6 and Micro Four Thirds in general as it proves this slightly smaller format can keep up with the best-selling APS-C models.

Now that's done it's time to check out a selection of Panasonic Lumix G6 sample images, or skip straight to my verdict.


Panasonic Lumix G6 RAW
 
Canon EOS SL1 / 100D RAW
160 ISO
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
     
1600 ISO
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3200 ISO
3200 ISO
     
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
     
12800 ISO
12800 ISO
     
25600 ISO
25600 ISO


Panasonic Lumix G6 results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise


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