Panasonic Lumix GF6 Ken McMahon, August 2013
 
 

Panasonic Lumix GF6 vs Olympus EP5 vs Fujifilm XM1 Noise RAW

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  Panasonic Lumix GF6 results
1 Panasonic Lumix GF6 Quality JPEG
2 Panasonic Lumix GF6 Quality RAW
3 Panasonic Lumix GF6 Noise JPEG
4 Panasonic Lumix GF6 Noise RAW
5 Panasonic Lumix GF6 Sample images

To compare RAW noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Panasonic Lumix GF6, the Olympus PEN E-P5, and the Fujifilm X-M1 within a few moments of each other using their RAW modes at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

The Lumix GF6 and the PEN E-P5 were fitted with their respective kit lenses and the Fujifilm X-M1 was fitted with the new Fujinon 16-50mm f3.5-5.6 OIS kit lens

For the Lumix GF6 and the PEN E-P5 the lens was set to its 14mm (28mm equivalent) wide angle setting. At its wide angle setting, the 16-50mm Fujinon lens has an equivalent focal length of 24mm and the X-M1 sensor has a 3:2 aspect ratio compared with 4:3 on the Micro Four Thirds models. I zoomed in marginally with the X-M1 to produce an equivalent vertical field of view.

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



The above shot was taken with the Panasonic Lumix GF6 in Aperture priority mode. The Lumix GF6 RAW file measured 19.8Mb and, as usual, the crops are taken from the areas marked by the red rectangle. At 160 ISO the Panasonic Lumix GF6 selected 1/5 at f5.6. At its 200 ISO base sensitivity the PEN E-P5 metered an exposure of 1/6 at f5.6. I applied -.67EV to the Fujifilm X-M1 to produce an equivalent exposure of 1/6 at f5.6 at 200 ISO. Note the Sun begain to creep into the frame when I was shooting my final shots with the X-M1, hence the illuminated portion to the left side, but it's still possible to look beyond that to other areas of the frame for a fair comparison with the other models. If I get the chance to try all three models at the same time again in the future, I'll reshoot this test.

I processed the files from the Lumix GF6 amd PEN E-P5 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 4300K. 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 time of testing the Fujifilm X-M1 RAW format wasn't supported by Adobe Photoshop Camera RAW 8.1.0.43, so I processed the M-M1's RAF RAW file in the supplied Raw File Converter application. I tried as far as possible to produce similar results to the Camera RAW processed files, setting sharpness to exagerrated, turning off all noise reduction, setting the white balance to 4300K and developing the results to a .tif file. While the resulting crops provide a useful idea of what the X-M1 RAW file can produce, it's not intended for comparison with the Camera RAW processed files. So, other than noting that the Fujifilm X-M1 is confined to its non-extended 200-6400 ISO range for RAW shooting, I'll confine my comments to the Panasonic Lumix GF6 and Olympus PEN E-P5. I'll update the X-M1 crops when Camera RAW support becomes available in Adobe Photoshop Camera RAW.

As with the outdoor RAW results, there's little difference between the Lumix GF6 and PEN E-P5 crops, at the lower end of the sensitivity range at least. Up to 800 ISO there are slight quality differences in the crops but the overall levels of noise and the detail recorded looks very similar. At 1600 ISO the Lumix GF6 crop looks to have marginally more colour noise in it than the PEN E-P5 crop and the same is true at 3200 ISO. The colour noise in the GF6 crops gets progressively worse from 3200 ISO up, whereas the E-P5's sensor manages to keep a lid on it more effectively.

Noise is always going to be a major problem at sensitivities of 3200 ISO and above. But if you do a lot of very low light work and consistently find yourself in the upper regions of your camera's sensitivity range, for RAW shooting the E-P5 has the advantage here.

Now head over to my Panasonic Lumix GF6 sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.


Panasonic Lumix GF6 RAW
 
Olympus PEN E-P5 RAW
 
Fujifilm X-M1 RAW

160 ISO

100 ISO
100 ISO Not available in RAW
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
3200 ISO
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
12800 ISO
12800 ISO
12800 ISO not available in RAW
25600 ISO
25600 ISO
25600 ISO Not available in RAW

Panasonic Lumix GF6 results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise


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