Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 review - Quality

Quality

Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 vs Nikon COOLPIX P520 vs Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Quality JPEG

To compare real-life performance I shot this scene with the Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72, the Nikon COOLPIX P520 and the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings.

The 20-1200mm lens on the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 was zoomed in to 24mm to match the field of view on the COOLPIX P520 and PowerShot SX50 HS at their 24mm maximum wide angle setting. Further down the page you can see results at approxiamtely 600mm and 1200mm (1000mm on the COOLPIX P520).

Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 results
1Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Quality JPEG
2Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Quality RAW
3Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Noise JPEG
4Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Noise RAW
5Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72. The camera was set to Aperture priority mode and f4 was selected as this produced the best result from the lens. With the sensitivity set to 100 ISO the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 metered an exposure of 1/640. The FZ70 / FZ72 was mounted on a tripod and image stabilisation was disabled. As usual for this test, the cameras were otherwise left on the default settings.

At its 24mm wide angle setting, the COOLPIX P520 has a maximum aperture of f3 and in Aperture priority mode increments in 1/3EV steps. It’s therefore not possible to set f4 so the closest alternative was selected and at f4.2 the COOLPIX P520 selected a shutter speed of 1/640 at 80 ISO. The Powershot SX50 HS metered 1/500 at f4 and 80 ISO.

Looking at the crops from the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72, overall the results are very good. There’s a little bit of noise texture in all the crops which is taking the edge of some of the finer detail but generally the level of detail is good and edges are sharp. In the first crop there’s enough detail to make out the door and windows in the chapel, but not in the stonework. In the second crop the lighthouse isn’t as distinct as it might be and the foreground detail is soft and a little noisy. The third crop from very close to the edge of the frame highlights the shortcomings of the 60x ultra-wide zoom with some evidence of colour fringing, distortion and softer detail. Back near the centre of the frame, though, the final crop shows a much better level of detail with clean lines defining the window frames and balcony dividers. Even on the final crop though, there’s a discernible level of noise which is preventing more detail from being displayed.

Compared with the crops from the Nikon COOLPIX P520 the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 crops show a slightly larger area with smaller details as the COOLPIX P520 has a higher resolution 18 Megapixel sensor. But the COOLPIX P520 crops don’t show any more detail than those from the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72, and in fact the first crop from the COOLPIX P520 looks a little softer, particularly the grassy area in the foreground.The second row of crops looks very similar, but at the edge of the frame the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72’s lens appears to have a slight advantage over the COOLPIX P520’s which looks a little more distorted and blurred. Remember, the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 is zoomed in from its maximum 20mm wide angle here, whereas both the COOLPIX P520 and PowerShot SX50 HS are right up against their wide angle limit. In the fourth crop taken from near the middle of the frame the tables are turned though, and the lens and sensor combination on the COOLPIX P520 produces a slightly sharper result with marninally more detail. It’s a small margin though and generally, there isn’t a great deal of difference between these two models at the wide angle end of the range.

The crops from the 12 Megapixel Canon PowerShot SX50 HS show a larger area with smaller detail than either the 16 Megapixel Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 or the 18 Megapixel COOLPIX P520. They’re also sharper and more detailed. In all of the PowerShot SX50 HS crops edges are more crisply defined and you can make out finer detail, in the chapel stonework of the first crop, The lighthouse and foreground roofs in the second, the less distorted sharper detail of the window, tile and brickwork at the frame edge and pretty much everywhere in the final crop. The SX50 HS’s sensor and lens outperform the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 at this focal length.

Further down the page, I’ve compared results at the mid-range focal length and the maximum telephoto, so read on to see how these three models compare when zoomed in. Alternatively, you can see how the RAW files from the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 compare with those from the PowerShot SX50 HS in my Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 RAW results, or see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Noise results.

 

Lumix FZ70 / FZ72
COOLPIX P520
PowerShot SX50 HS
f4, 100 ISO
f4.2, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4.2, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4.2, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4.2, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO

Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 vs Nikon COOLPIX P520 vs Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Quality at approx 600mm

For this next test I zoomed all three cameras in to an equivalent focal length of around 600mm. With the exposure mode in Aperture priority, each camera was set to the widest available aperture. As usual, the crops are taken from the areas marked by the red rectangles.

As before, the area and size of the detail in these crops varies because of the different sensor resolutions with the 18 Megapixel Nikon COOLPIX P520 showing the smallest area with the largest detail, followed by the 16 Megapixel Lumix FZ70 / FZ72, then the 12 Megapixel PowerShot SX50 HS.

Two things strike me about these mid-range crops taken at around the 600mm focal length. The first is that the crops from the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 look better and are more consistent than those taken from the wide angle image. The second crop, taken from close to the frame edge has none of the distortion and bluriness of the one from the 24mm crop and generally the level of detail and sharpness is good, though there’s still a noticeable texture in these crops.

The second thing is there’s less difference between the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 crops and those from the COOLPIX P520 and PowerShot SX50 HS. In the first crop, the FZ70 / FZ72 comes off worst, with both the other models producing a more detailed image, but there’s very little to chose between the three of them in the second and third crops (the PowerShot SX50 HS does slightly better in the second crop, but worse in the third). In the final crop all three would be evenly matched, but the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 is let down by a clumpiness that covers the crop but is most visible in the top half.

Lumix FZ70 / FZ72
COOLPIX P520
PowerShot SX50 HS
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.4, 80 ISO
f5.6, 80 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.4, 80 ISO
f5.6, 80 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.4, 80 ISO
f5.6, 80 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.4, 80 ISO
f5.6, 80 ISO

Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 vs Nikon COOLPIX P520 vs Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Quality at approx 1200mm

For this final test I zoomed all three cameras in to their maximum focal length – 1200m on the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 and PowerShot SX50 HS, 1000mm on the COOLPIX P520. Again, the exposure was left in Aperture priority mode and set to the widest available aperture – f5.9 on the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 and COOLPIX P520 and f6.5 on the SX50 HS. As usual, the crops are taken from the areas marked by the red rectangles.

These crops appear in order from left to right across the frame, so the first and last are from the frame edges with the middle two closer to the centre. Interestingly, the first crop from the FZ70 / FZ72 is markedly better than either the COOLPIX P 520 or the PowerShot SX50 HS. There are a couple of holes or screws in the metal rail that are more detailed and the edge of the rail and the white frame behind it are more cleanly defined.

The edges are cleaner in the second crop from the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 as well, but here the clumpiness is once again in evidence. The same goes for the third crop – sharper edges, but more clumpy grain from the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72. In the final crop the FZ70 / FZ72 doesn’t have the advantage it had in the first one and it’s actually quite difficult to see much of a space between these three crops in terms of quality.

It’s always interesting to see how the performance of a camera varies at different focal lengths and what these three sets of results show is that the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72’s lens performs better at the longer focal lengths than the wide angle ones. That’s good news if you plan on doing a lot of shooting in the mid to long 600-1200mm range and if you don’t, why would you be considering a camera with a 60x zoom lens? At the wide angle setting, the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 produces results of a similar quality to the COOLPIX P520, but both are outclassed by the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS.

Lumix FZ70 / FZ72
COOLPIX P520
PowerShot SX50 HS
f5.9, 100 ISO
f5.9, 80 ISO
f6.5, 80 ISO
f5.9, 100 ISO
f5.9, 80 ISO
f6.5, 80 ISO
f5.9, 100 ISO
f5.9, 80 ISO
f6.5, 80 ISO
f5.9, 100 ISO
f5.9, 80 ISO
f6.5, 80 ISO

 


Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 vs Nikon COOLPIX P520 vs Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Quality RAW

To compare real-life RAW performance I shot this scene with the Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 and the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings. The Nikon COOLPIX P520 doesn’t have a RAW shooting mode.

The 20-1200mm lens on the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 was zoomed in to 24mm to match the field of view on the PowerShot SX50 HS at its 24mm maximum wide angle setting.

Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 results
1Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Quality JPEG
2Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Quality RAW
3Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Noise JPEG
4Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Noise RAW
5Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72. The camera was set to Aperture priority mode and f4 was selected as this produced the best result from the lens. With the sensitivity set to 100 ISO the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 metered an exposure of 1/640. The FZ70 / FZ72 was mounted on a tripod and image stabilisation was disabled. As usual for this test, the cameras were otherwise left on the default settings. At its 24mm wide angle setting the Powershot SX50 HS metered 1/500 at f4 and 80 ISO.

At the time of writing, support for the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 RAW file format was not available in Adobe Photoshop, so for this comparison I’ve processed the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 images in SilkyPix Developer Studio 5 for Panasonic. All the application settings were left on the default settings with the exception of noise and sharpening. Sharpening was set to Pure detail mode with Outline emphasis set to 100, Detail emphasis to 75 and False outline control to 40. All noise reduction and noise cancellation controls were set to zero. I processed the PowerShot SX50 HS files in Adobe Camera RAW using the following 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.

The use of different RAW processing applications makes it impossible to make comparisons between these two sets of crops, but it is possible to draw some conclusions form the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 RAW files processed using Silkypix. The absence of noise reduction and noise cancellation has resulted in crops with quite a high degreee of noise and, while the high level of sharpening has resulted in sharper edges, the clumpiness is also exagerrated.

All the same, it ought to be possible to squeeze a slighly better result from the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72’s RAW files than the in-camera JPEG processing delivers and the RAW option is a welcome inclusion.

Now see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Noise results.

 

Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO


Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 vs Nikon COOLPIX P520 vs Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Noise RAW

Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 results
1Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Quality JPEG
2Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Quality RAW
3Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Noise JPEG
4Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Noise RAW
5Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Sample images

To compare RAW noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 and the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS within a few moments of each other using their RAW modes at each of their ISO sensitivity settings. The Nikon COOLPIX P520 doesn’t have a RAW shooting mode.

The 20-1200mm lens on the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 was zoomed in to 24mm to match the field of view on the PowerShot SX50 HS at its 24mm maximum wide angle setting.

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

The above shot was taken with the Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 in Aperture priority mode. The camera was mounted on a tripod and tonal enhancement features were left on their default settings. The Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 RAW file measured 19.9MB and, as usual, the crops are taken from the areas marked by the red rectangle. The aperture on the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 was set to f4 and at its base 100 ISO sensitivity setting it metered an exposure of 1/2s. The Powershot SX50 HS metered 0.8s at f4 and 80 ISO.

At the time of writing, support for the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 RAW file format was not available in Adobe Photoshop, so for this comparison I’ve processed the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 images in SilkyPix Developer Studio 5 for Panasonic. All the application settings were left on the default settings with the exception of noise and sharpening. Sharpening was set to Pure detail mode with Outline emphasis set to 100, Detail emphasis to 75 and False outline control to 40. All noise reduction and noise cancellation controls were set to zero. To reduce distracting colour balance differences between the crops I set the white balance in Silkypix to 4350K to match the PowerShot SX50 HS processing.

I processed the PowerShot SX50 HS files in Adobe Camera RAW using the following 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.

While the use of two different applications to process the RAW files rules out a comparison between these two models it is possible to draw some conclusions from the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 RAW crops. With the absence of noise processing, even the base 100 crop from the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 looks quite noisy. The clumpiness is more evident than in the JPEGs and there’s a speckling of colour noise across the crop. The noise increases in a fairly linear manner with each 1EV step up the sensitivity scale, but starting at a relatively high level at the base ISO sensitivity means noise levels quickly become difficult to manage. Of course they’re not being managed here at all, and it’s only fair to point out that the Silkypix sharpening algorithm applied with higher than normal settings isn’t helping. That said, whatever RAW processing software you’re using it looks like managing noise levels from the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 is going to be a challenge.

Now head over to my Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.

 

Lumix FZ70 / FZ72
PowerShot SX50 HS
f4 80 ISO Not available
f4 80 ISO
f4 100 ISO
f4 100 ISO
f4 200 ISO
f4 200 ISO
f4 400 ISO
f4 400 ISO
f4 800 ISO
f4 800 ISO
f4 1600 ISO
f4 1600 ISO
f4 3200 ISO
f4 3200 ISO
6400 ISO Not available
f4 6400 ISO

Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 vs Nikon COOLPIX P520 vs Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Noise JPEG

Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 results
1Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Quality JPEG
2Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Quality RAW
3Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Noise JPEG
4Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Noise RAW
5Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 Sample images

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72, the Nikon COOLPIX P520 and the Canon PowerShot SX50 HS within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings. RAW results will follow on the next page.

The 20-1200mm lens on the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 was zoomed in to 24mm to match the field of view on the COOLPIX P520 and PowerShot SX50 HS at their 24mm maximum wide angle setting.

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

The above shot was taken with the Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 in Aperture priority mode. The camera was mounted on a tripod and tonal enhancement features were left on their default settings. The Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 JPEG file measured 6.2MB and, as usual, the crops are taken from the areas marked by the red rectangle.

The aperture on the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 was set to f4 and at its base 100 ISO sensitivity setting it metered an exposure of 1/2s. At its 24mm wide angle setting, the COOLPIX P520 has a maximum aperture of f3 and in Aperture priority mode increments in 1/3EV steps. It’s therefore not possible to set f4 so the closest alternative was selected and at f4.2 the COOLPIX P520 selected a shutter speed of 0.6 at 80 ISO. At f4 and 80 ISO, the Powershot SX50 HS metered 0.8s.

The base 100 ISO crop from the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 is not noise-free.The flat colour of the wall has a quite visible graininess and its also present in the text panel where it’s rendering the text a little fuzzy. That said, you’d need to be pixel-peeping these crops at 100 percent view to notice it.

At 200 ISO there’s a little more noise, but the processing has ramped up to deal with it, resulting in a slight softening of detail. The text, which was barely readable in the 100 ISO crop has suffered a little bit as a consequence. Then at 400 ISO, as you’d expect, there’s another increase in noise accompanied by more processing softening the details yet again. Now the edges of the memorial panel are beginning to crumble a little too. Overall though, there’s a good balance between noise and processing and, at anything other than 100 percent viewing, 400 ISO produces perfectly acceptable results.

At 800 ISO though, we’re into different territory with the combined effects of noise and processing producing a very impressionistic result. 800 ISO images look fine at smaller sizes, but at anything approaching full size the lack of detail is noticeable. And although the 1600 and 3200 ISO images have graduated from the impressionistic to a coarse tapestry look, the FZ70 / FZ72 maintains good white balance and saturation at these high ISO sensitivites making them fine for use at smaller sizes.

The Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 has a base sensitivity of 100 ISO compared with 80 ISO on the COOLPIX P520 and PowerShot SX50 HS. For best quality results and given enough available light, the base ISO sensitivity is what you’d ordinarily be shooting at (it’s what’s used for my outdoor quality tests). If you compare the 80 and 100 ISO crops for the COOLPIX P520 you’ll see that there is a real difference with the 80 ISO crop showing less noise. The same goes for the PowerShot SX50 HS and I mention this just to point out that, for comparison purposes you should compare the base 100 ISO crop from the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 with the 80 ISO crops from the other two models.

So how does the base 100 ISO crop from the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 compare with the 80 ISO crop from the COOLPIX P520? It looks to me like the COOLPIX P520 has lover levels of noise at 80 ISO. That, plus the larger detail produces a better result than the 100 ISO crop from the FZ70 / FZ72. At 100 ISO the noise levels are similar and in fact there’s not much to choose between these two all the way up the sensitivity range. The COOLPIX P520 has the advantage of a 6400 ISO and even a mono 12800 ISO setting which is useful for very low light shooting, just don’t expect too much in terms of detail.

Compared with the PowerShot SX50 HS there’s likewise less noise in the SX50’s 80 ISO crop, but the 100 ISO crop too looks cleaner. In fact in the 100 to 400 ISO range the PowerShot SX50 HS produces visibly less noisy images with clearer detail. Beyond that it maintains an advantage, but like the FZ70 / FZ72 the noise makes these settings unsuitable for full-sized reproduction.

I should also mention that the Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 has a Hand Held Night Shot mode which takes a fast burst of images at auto ISO and conbines them to produce a low noise resut. I’ve shown an example of this, shot at 400 ISO at the end of the table. While it can’t be compared with the 1600 ISO result from the PowerShot SX50 HS’s Handheld NightSene mode, it does produce a less noisy image than the single-shot 400 ISO setting.

To find out how much of a role processing plays in keeping noise at bay in these crops take a look at my Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 RAW noise results page to see just how much noise is present behind the scenes. Or head over to my Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.

 

Lumix FZ70 / FZ72
COOLPIX P520
PowerShot SX50 HS

80 ISO Not available

80 ISO
80 ISO
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 Not available
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
12800 ISO Not available
12800 ISO
12800 ISO Not available
Handheld Night Shot 400 ISO
Handheld NightScene 1600 ISO

Panasonic Lumix FZ70 / FZ72 results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

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