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Panasonic Lumix GH4 Gordon Laing, May 2014
 
 

Panasonic Lumix GH4 vs Olympus OMD EM1 Noise JPEG

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  Panasonic Lumix GH4 results
1 Panasonic Lumix GH4 Quality JPEG
2 Panasonic Lumix GH4 Noise JPEG
3 Panasonic Lumix GH4 Sample images

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Panasonic Lumix GH4 and Olympus OMD EM1 within a few moments of each other at each of their ISO sensitivities. My RAW comparison will follow as soon as the GH4 is supported by ACR.

Both cameras were fitted in turn with the same Lumix 25mm f1.4 lens, set to f5.6 in Aperture Priority mode.

The crops below are taken from the area marked by the red rectangle opposite.


For my noise comparison I fitted both cameras in turn with the same lens, the Lumix 25mm f1.4, closed to f5.6 where it performs at its best for the subject distance in the photo. Since the lens was the same, it allows us to compare the sensor and image processor of each camera, and on this page I'm looking at out-of-camera JPEGs using the default settings. Once the GH4 is supported by Adobe Camera RAW, I'll add a RAW comparison.

When comparing photos taken with the GH4 and EM1 from the same position with the same lens, it's interesting to note the GH4 captures a fractionally narrower field of view. This indicates the GH4's active sensor area is actually a fraction smaller than the EM1's. The difference is so small to be almost imperceptible, but I wanted to point it out, as it explains why the areas in the GH4 crops are a little smaller than those from the EM1 crops despite both sharing the same 4608x3456 pixel image resolution.

The first thing you'll notice from the crops below is a repeat of my outdoor resolution tests: the OMD EM1 is applying more contrast and sharpening for a punchier out-of-camera result, while the Lumix GH4 is being more laid-back with its processing for a more subdued result. While the Olympus approach here can deliver more striking output at low ISOs though, it does run the risk of making any noise artefacts more obvious as the sensitivity increases.

And yet as the ISO increases in the sequence below, I'd say the noise becomes more visible on the GH4 first, and while the OMD EM1 is undoubtedly applying noise reduction which is gradually smearing out detail, it's doing a better job at balancing on this tricky tightrope. Look at the 1600 and 3200 ISO crops for example where there's less visible noise on the EM1 crops, yet more detail too. At these sensitivities and especially at 6400 ISO and above, the GH4 is really losing detail to noise, whereas the EM1 is still managing to keep hold of a respectable degree.

Now neither camera is going to be a low light monster thanks to the relatively small surface area of the Micro Four Thirds format. But from the crops below I'd say the OMD EM1 is delivering better-looking output using the default JPEG settings at higher ISOs. I'm not entirely surprised by this as Olympus has one of the best JPEG engines around and it really understands the limitations of its sensor in order to deliver the best possible result.

Is the EM1 actually less noisy than the GH4 though? I suspect they'll be closer than this page suggests when I take the RAW files and process them with the same settings. I think what we're mostly seeing here is a superior JPEG engine from Olympus. But until Adobe supports the GH4 RAW files I'm just speculating, so check back when the update to ACR is available and I'll add my RAW comparisons.

Now check out my Panasonic Lumix GH4 sample images or skip straight to my verdict!


Panasonic Lumix GH4 JPEG
Using Lumix 25mm f1.4 at f5.6
 
Olympus OMD EM1 JPEG
Using Lumix 25mm f1.4 at f5.6
f5.6 100 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6 200 ISO
f5.6 200 ISO
f5.6 400 ISO
f5.6 400 ISO
f5.6 800 ISO
f5.6 800 ISO
     
f5.6 1600 ISO
f5.6 1600 ISO
     
f5.6 3200 ISO
f5.6 3200 ISO
     
f5.6 6400 ISO
f5.6 6400 ISO
     
f5.6 12800 ISO
f5.6 12800 ISO
     
f5.6 25600 ISO
f5.6 25600 ISO

Panasonic Lumix GH4 results : Quality / Noise


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