Panasonic Lumix GX7 Gordon Laing, October 2013

Panasonic Lumix GX7 vs Olympus OMD EM5 Quality

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To compare real-life performance I shot this scene with the Panasonic Lumix GX7 and Olympus OMD EM5, within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings; my RAW quality comparison is on the next page.

I fitted each camera in turn with the same Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f1.8 lens to eliminate the optics from the comparison, and set the aperture to f4 as pre-determined to deliver the sharpest results. Both cameras were set to their base sensitivities of 200 ISO and shared the same exposure.

Image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test and all other settings were left on the defaults.

  Panasonic Lumix GX7 results
1 Panasonic Lumix GX7 Quality JPEG
2 Panasonic Lumix GX7 Quality RAW
3 Panasonic Lumix GX7 Noise JPEG
4 Panasonic Lumix GX7 Noise RAW
5 Panasonic Lumix GX7 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Panasonic Lumix GX7 fitted with the Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f1.8; I selected this lens as it delivers excellent results, allowing us to look beyond kit lens issues and instead concentrate on the actual sensor and processing quality. The lens aperture was set to f4 in Aperture Priority mode and the sensitivity to the base of 200 ISO. The Olympus OMD EM5 was fitted with the same lens moments later, where it metered exactly the same exposure. Both cameras were using their default settings for picture styles, contrast enhancements and lens corrections; you're basically looking at out-of-camera JPEGs below, although I have a second comparison using RAW files on the next page.

A quick glance at the crops below reveals what we've seen many times before: punchy images from Olympus and slightly subdued ones from Panasonic. Indeed without looking too closely, many would assume the OMD EM5 was delivering a superior result, but most of what you're looking at below is simply down to a different approach to image processing using the default settings. Olympus is applying greater contrast and sharpening than Panasonic by default on in-camera JPEGs.

The extra sharpening is at first seductive, undoubtedly bringing out the finest details and making its rival look soft in comparison, but with this bite comes some inevitable haloing, and in the case of the greater contrast, slightly less subtle highlight tones. Take a look at the final row of crops and you may notice more tonal detail in the bright highlights on the Panasonic GX7 sample, especially on the wall of the boat in the lower right corner and the mooring post. Which you prefer is entirely personal and both cameras provide plenty of opportunity to tweak the settings if desired - allowing less cooked output from the Olympus and crisper results from the Panasonic. But in terms of actual detail recorded, the crops from both cameras are very similar.

Interestingly this crop also reveals some chromatic aberration on the Olympus OMD EM5 which isn't present on the Panasonic GX7; clearly the latter is performing some digital correction on Olympus lenses as well as Panasonic ones, which is a nice surprise.

But once again this is all about in-camera JPEG processing. If you shoot RAW, it's possible to not only adjust the contrast, sharpness and saturation as desired, but also apply lens corrections. And that's what I'll do on the next page, applying the same settings to both cameras to compare how much detail is present in the files. See my Panasonic Lumix GX7 RAW quality results.


Panasonic Lumix GX7 JPEG
with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f1.8

Olympus OMD EM5 JPEG
with Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f1.8
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO

Panasonic Lumix GX7 results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

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