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Sony Cyber-shot RX100 Ken McMahon, October 2012
 
 

Sony RX100 vs Panasonic LX7 vs Canon G1 X RAW noise

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  Sony CyberShot RX100 results
1 Sony RX100 Quality
2 Sony RX100 RAW Quality
3 Sony RX100 Noise
4 Sony RX100 RAW Noise
5 Sony RX100 Sample images

To compare RAW noise levels under real-life conditions , I shot this scene with the Sony Cyber-shot RX100, the Panasonic Lumix LX7, and the Canon PowerShot G1 X within a few moments of each other using their RAW modes at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

The zoom settings on the cameras were adjusted to provide an aproximately equal vertical field of view. The cameras were set to Aperture Priority exposure mode with the ISO senstivity set manually.

On this page you'll see noise reduction turned off completely to reveal what's happening behind the scenes.


The RAW files were processed 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. 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 will be much higher 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.

With no noise reduction applied, the crops for the RX100 look reasonably noise free at the base 80 ISO setting and at the slightly higher 100 ISO mark. At 200 ISO there's some visible graininess overall and at 400 ISO you can begin to see some colour noise as well. But these crops are designed to show how the sensor handles noise when the in-camera processing is not there to do its job. In a sense this is what the camera has to work with to produce the result you see in the in-camera JPEG, and, up to 400 ISO at least, it doesn't have to do a huge amount of work.

At 800 ISO though, both the brightness and colour noise are becoming quite severe and it's credit to Sony's software engineering that they can pull a clean and detailed JPEG image from this fairly noisy data. At 1600 ISO the job of sorting the wheat from the chaff - the real image data from noise - without compromising image quality becomes a great deal more difficult and this is where you begin to see clumping and edge detail breaking up on the JPEGs. At the higher ISO settings colour noise is as much of a problem as luminance noise, if not more so, but even at 3200 ISO there's still a good deal of fine detail in the crop and the text is still just about readable.

From a comparative standpoint, you'd expect the RX100's larger sensor to produce a better result than the Panasonic Lumix LX7 and you'd be correct. The LX7 starts off well, but even at 200 ISO it's showing marginally more noise than the RX100 and by 1600 ISO I'd say there's about a stop difference between them. So despite it's higher resolution, the RX100's larger sensor maintains its noise performance advantage. Bear in mind the caveat I mentioned on the High ISO noise page, though. The LX7 has a brighter lens, so when zoomed in you'd need to shoot at 400 ISO on the RX100 when shooting at 100 ISO on the LX7.

Finally, the Canon PowerShot G1 X has a larger sensor than the RX100 and, at 14.3 Megapixels a lower resolution too. In this case, there's no arguing with the Physics and from a comparison of these 100 percent crops the G1 X exhibits lower noise throughout the range.

Now head over to my Sony RX100 sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.


Sony Cyber-shot RX100
 
Panasonic Lumix LX7
 
Canon PowerShot G1 X
80 ISO
80 ISO
80 ISO Not available
100 ISO
100 ISO
100 ISO
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 Not Available
12800 ISO Not Available
12800 ISO

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 results : Quality / RAW vs JPEG / Noise
/ RAW Noise


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