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Panasonic Lumix GH3 Ken McMahon, February 2013
 
 

Panasonic Lumix GH3 vs Oympus OMD EM5 vs Sony NEX-6 quality RAW

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To compare real-life RAW performance when zoomed out I shot this scene with the Panasonic Lumix GH3, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and the Sony Alpha NEX-6 within a few moments of each other using their RAW modes.

The Lumix GH3 was fitted with the Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f2.8, the OM-D E-M5 with the M. Zuiko 12-50mm f3.5-6.3 and the NEX-6 with the E PZ 16-50mm f3.5-5.6 OSS.

The lenses were all set to their maximum wide angle - an equivalent of 24mm in each case. The cameras were set to Aperture Priority exposure mode with the ISO senstivity set manually. I tested at all aperture settings and chose the sharpest results.

  Panasonic Lumix GH3 results
1 Lumix GH3 Quality JPEG
2 Lumix GH3 Quality RAW
3 Lumix GH3 Noise JPEG
4 Lumix GH3 Noise RAW
5 Lumix GH3 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Panasonic Lumix GH3. The Lumix GH3 was mounted on a tripod and the stabilisation was disabled. Aperture priority mode was selected and with the aperture set to f4 and the sensitivity to 200 ISO the camera metered an exposure of 1/500. The Olympus OM-D E-M5 set to the same 200 ISO sensitivity metered 1/400 at f4 and the NEX-6 at its 100 ISO base sensitivity metered 1/500 at f4. The GH3 JPEG file measured 8.46Mb and, as usual, the crops are taken from the area marked by the red rectangle.

I processed both 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 5500K 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.

Even a casual glance down the first row of crops from the Lumix GH3 tells you that the JPEG results on the previous page really only hint at the quality of the results this sensor and lens combination is capable of. All the crops show a high level of detail with crisp clean edges and a minimal level of noise. These crops are very good news for those who plan to shoot RAW and do their own processing. The only minor downside is a very slight softness to the edge detail in the third crop.

Interestingly, the RAW crops from the Olympus OM-D E-M5 are slightly harder with more contrasty edge detail, a difference I noted in the JPEG files. This comparison confirms that the difference is not, as I originally suspected due to a different approach to processing, but in the way the sensor and lens combination is recording the image detail. I suspect the lens plays a bigger part than the sensor, but if you want to know more check out our upcoming Lumix G X Vario 12-35mm f2.8 lens test. The crops from the Sony NEX-6 look to be on a par with those from the Lumix GH3, though the RAW file shows a lot of distortion and vignetting from the 16-50mm kit lens that is corrected in-camera for the JPEGs. If you're doing your own processing you'll need to bear this in mind.

Now see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my Panasonic Lumix GH3 Noise results.

 

Panasonic Lumix GH3
 
Olympus OM-D E-M5
 
Sony NEX-6
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO


Panasonic Lumix GH3
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise


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