Panasonic Lumix LF1 review - Quality

Quality

Panasonic Lumix LF1 vs LX7 vs TZ35 / ZS25 Quality

 

To compare the real-life performance I shot this scene with the Panasonic Lumix LF1, Lumix LX7 and Lumix TZ35 / ZS25 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings. My RAW comparison between the LF1 and LX7 is on the next page.

The lenses were all adjusted to deliver an equivalent field of view and stabilisation disabled for this tripod-based test. I then put the cameras into Aperture Priority and selected the f-number I’d previously determined to deliver the best quality. Coincidentally this was the same value for all three cameras: f4, although at the chosen focal length, the TZ35 / ZS25 offered f3.9.

As always the red rectangles on the image opposite indicate the areas I’ve cropped for comparison below, where they’re presented at 100%.

  Panasonic Lumix LF1 results
1 Panasonic Lumix LF1 Quality JPEG
2 Panasonic Lumix LF1 Quality RAW
3 Panasonic Lumix LF1 Noise JPEG
4 Panasonic Lumix LF1 Noise RAW
5 Panasonic Lumix LF1 Sample images

In my comparison below you’re looking at results from three Panasonic cameras, each with different resolutions: from left to right there’s the Lumix LF1 with 12 Megapixels, the Lumix LX7 with 10 Megapixels and the Lumix TZ35 / ZS25 with 16 Megapixels. There’s also differences in the sensor sizes with the LF1 and LX7 both employing 1/1.7in sensors which are slightly larger than the 1/2.3in sensor in the TZ35 / ZS25. So with the highest resolution and the smallest sensor, the TZ35 / ZS25 has a much finer pixel-pitch than the others.

There’s also differences in the optical ranges with the LF1, LX7 and TZ35 / ZS25 sporting 7.1x, 3.7x and 20x zooms respectively. And finally, there are differences in the image processing, although since all three are from the same manufacturer and launched within a year of each other this is less of a factor than in other comparisons.

From a quick glance you can see straightaway that the results from the LF1 and LX7 are much crisper and better defined than the TZ35 / ZS25, proving that a higher resolution doesn’t necessarily translate into better quality even under bright conditions at the lowest ISO value.

There’s noticeably less fine detail in the TZ35 / ZS25 crops and it’s most evident in the first two rows showing the weather vane and the tree. This is mostly due to the compromises of packing a 20x super-zoom into a small body, although it doesn’t help that the TZ35 / ZS25 has such a high resolution; had it been 10 or 12 Megapixels, the softness wouldn’t have been as clear. Obviously you can always resize the image down, but what I wanted to prove here is a higher resolution sensor isn’t necessarily going to deliver finer details.

Moving onto the LF1 and LX7, there’s never going to be much difference in potential detail between a 10 and 12 Megapixel sensor, especially if they’re the same size, but you don’t have to look too closely to see the LX7 still enjoys crisper results even with fewer pixels. It’s nowhere near as big a difference as we saw with the TZ35 / ZS25, but it’s quite apparent none-the-less. What you’re getting with the LX7 is a sharper, crisper lens, which is quite simply delivering finer details than the LF1.

So the simple story here is out of the three cameras tested, the Lumix LX7 delivers the best image quality, at least for out-of-camera JPEGs. But it’s important to put it into perspective as the LX7 also has the shortest zoom range and the largest body. As always there’s compromises and priorities you need to weigh-up. I would however say that Lumix LF1 delivers very nice looking images straight from the camera and represents a comfortable step-up in quality over compacts with 1/2.3in sensors like the TZ35 / ZS25. And while it doesn’t boast a huge 20x zoom, there’s nothing shabby about 7.1x and you are getting it in a very slim body with the benefit of a built-in viewfinder.

But what’s happening under the hood? To find out I also shot this scene in RAW with the LF1 and LX7 and you can see the comparison in my Panasonic Lumix LF1 RAW quality page. Alternatively check out my Panasonic Lumix LF1 noise results or skip to my Panasonic Lumix LF1 sample images.

Panasonic Lumix LF1
 
Panasonic Lumix LX7
 
Panasonic Lumix TZ35 / ZS25
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f3.9, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f3.9, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f3.9, 100 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f3.9, 100 ISO

Panasonic Lumix LF1 results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

Panasonic Lumix LF1 vs Lumix LX7 RAW Quality

 

To compare the real-life performance in RAW I shot this scene with the Panasonic Lumix LF1 and Lumix LX7 within a few moments of each other using their RAW modes; note the Lumix TZ35 / ZS25 is not represented in this test as it only records in JPEG. My noise comparison is on the next page.

The lenses were both adjusted to deliver an equivalent field of view and stabilisation disabled for this tripod-based test. I then put the cameras into Aperture Priority and selected the f-number I’d previously determined to deliver the best quality. Coincidentally this was the same value for both cameras: f4.

As always the red squares on the image opposite indicate the areas I’ve cropped for comparison below, where they’re presented at 100%.

  Panasonic Lumix LF1 results
1 Panasonic Lumix LF1 Quality JPEG
2 Panasonic Lumix LF1 Quality RAW
3 Panasonic Lumix LF1 Noise JPEG
4 Panasonic Lumix LF1 Noise RAW
5 Panasonic Lumix LF1 Sample images

In my comparison below you can see how the Lumix LF1 compares against the Lumix LX7 when both cameras are set to RAW. 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, the White Balance set to 5500K 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.

With a slightly higher resolution, the LF1 crops show a slightly smaller area in the crops, but as we saw on the previous page, there’s no additional detail; indeed the LX7 crops remain crisper and better defined, thanks to what are quite clearly superior optics.

You’ll also notice some jagged edges in the LF1 crops which weren’t present on the in-camera JPEGs. I suspect this is down to Adobe Camera RAW’s processing, especially with my unusually high degree of sharpening applied. Maybe the LF1 responds better to other RAW converters or certainly with less sharpening applied. I should note though the conversions were made using a final version of ACR which fully supported the LF1, and not a Beta version. I’ll try the LF1’s RAW files in other converters in the future to see if better results can be delivered.

In the meantime though it’s hard to argue with the quality from the LX7 here and on the previous page. Despite ‘only’ having 10 Megapixels, it delivers the crispest details here, proving the importance of quality optics. Although again as I noted on the previous page, the LX7 is also larger than the LF1 and has a shorter zoom range, not to mention no built-in viewfinder. These are all things you have to weigh-up.

Now let’s see how they compare at higher sensitivities in my Panasonic Lumix LF1 noise results. Alternatively skip to my Panasonic Lumix LF1 sample images.

 

Panasonic Lumix LF1 RAW
 
Panasonic Lumix LX7 RAW
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO
f4, 80 ISO

Panasonic Lumix LF1 results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

Panasonic Lumix LF1 vs Lumix LX7 RAW Noise

 
  Panasonic Lumix LF1 results
1 Panasonic Lumix LF1 Quality JPEG
2 Panasonic Lumix LF1 Quality RAW
3 Panasonic Lumix LF1 Noise JPEG
4 Panasonic Lumix LF1 Noise RAW
5 Panasonic Lumix LF1 Sample images

To compare RAW noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Panasonic Lumix LF1 and Lumix LX7 within a few moments of each other using their RAW modes at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

The lenses were both adjusted to deliver an equivalent field of view and stabilisation disabled for this tripod-based test. I then put the cameras into Aperture Priority and selected the f-number I’d previously determined to deliver the best quality. Coincidentally this was the same value for both cameras: f4.

As always the red square on the image opposite indicates the area I’ve cropped for comparison below, where they’re presented at 100%.

In my comparison below you can see how the Lumix LF1 compares against the Lumix LX7 when both cameras are set to RAW. I processed all files in Adobe Camera RAW using identical settings: Sharpening at 70 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, the White Balance set to 3650K 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 at higher ISOs will be much greater than you’re used to seeing in many 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.

Once again what you’re looking at below are two cameras which share the same 1/1.7in sensor size, but slightly different resolutions: 12 Megapixels on the LF1 and 10 Megapixels on the LX7. Obviously they also have different lenses, but with the crops coming from near the center of the frame, and the same processing applied to both models, we’re really comparing the sensors here.

I’ll keep it brief here: I’d say between 80 and 800 ISO, both the LF1 and LX7 share very similar noise characteristics, not to mention similar degrees of real life detail. The two extra Megapixels of the LF1 aren’t delivering finer details, and the two fewer Megapixels of the LX7 aren’t delivering lower noise. Interestingly on the previous page I reckoned the LX7 enjoyed a minor edge up to 800 ISO, but when comparing their RAW files with the same processing settings, they’re much closer.

At 1600 ISO upwards, pixel-peepers might notice fractionally higher evidence of chroma noise on the LF1, but not enough to choose one over the other – and besides at this point neither camera is delivering much detail to work with.

So once again when it comes to actual noise levels and detail recorded by their sensors throughout their sensitivity ranges I’d rank the Lumix LF1 and LX7 on a similar level – as you should expect given their identical sensor size and similar resolutions. But the more important story in my tests is that the LX7 can resolve finer details overall thanks to a sharper lens, something that’s particularly evident in my outdoor results at the start of this section. So you’ll have to weigh-up whether the longer zoom range, built-in viewfinder and smaller body of the LF1, not to mention its wireless connectivity, is worth having over the ultimately sharper results from the LX7. But as I’ve said before, even though the LX7 delivers crisper results, the Lumix LF1 is still capable of very respectable image quality, and you’ll see more examples in my Panasonic Lumix LF1 sample images.

Panasonic Lumix LF1 RAW
 
Panasonic Lumix LX7 RAW
80 ISO
80 ISO
     
100 ISO
100 ISO
     
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
     
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
     
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
     
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
     
12800 ISO
12800 ISO not available in RAW

Panasonic Lumix LF1 results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

Panasonic Lumix LF1 vs LX7 vs TZ35 / ZS25 Noise

 
  Panasonic Lumix LF1 results
1 Panasonic Lumix LF1 Quality JPEG
2 Panasonic Lumix LF1 Quality RAW
3 Panasonic Lumix LF1 Noise JPEG
4 Panasonic Lumix LF1 Noise RAW
5 Panasonic Lumix LF1 Sample images

To compare noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Panasonic Lumix LF1, Lumix LX7 and Lumix TZ35 / ZS25 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings. My RAW comparison between the LF1 and LX7 is on the next page.

The lenses were all adjusted to deliver an equivalent field of view and stabilisation disabled for this tripod-based test. I then put the cameras into Aperture Priority and selected the f-number I’d previously determined to deliver the best quality. Coincidentally this was the same value for all three cameras: f4, although at the chosen focal length, the TZ35 / ZS25 offered f3.9.

As always the red rectangle on the image opposite indicates the area I’ve cropped for comparison below, where they’re presented at 100%.

In my comparison below you’re looking at results from three Panasonic cameras, each with different resolutions: from left to right there’s the Lumix LF1 with 12 Megapixels, the Lumix LX7 with 10 Megapixels and the Lumix TZ35 / ZS25 with 16 Megapixels. There’s also differences in the sensor sizes with the LF1 and LX7 both employing 1/1.7in sensors which are slightly larger than the 1/2.3in sensor in the TZ35 / ZS25. So with the highest resolution and the smallest sensor, the TZ35 / ZS25 has a much finer pixel-pitch than the others.

There’s also differences in the optical ranges with the LF1, LX7 and TZ35 / ZS25 sporting 7.1x, 3.7x and 20x zooms respectively. And finally, there are differences in the image processing, although since all three are from the same manufacturer and launched within a year of each other this is less of a factor than in other comparisons.

A quick note before starting – I selected a manual white balance setting on all three cameras for consistency here, although in retrospect I went a little far towards the cool end, hence the slightly blue cast. The actual noise levels and processing artefacts remain comparable though, so let’s get on!

The Lumix LF1 and LX7 both offer an 80 ISO setting, so kick-off the comparison with very clean, detailed results. I’d say there’s little to choose between them here, but the extra 2 Megapixels of the LF1 certainly aren’t resolving any more detail.

At 100 ISO the TZ35 / ZS25 joins in with a result that’s visibly a little noisier than the LF1 and LX7, and which, despite having a higher resolution, actually contains less detail. We also saw this in my outdoor comparison and proves the combination of a bigger zoom range and a smaller sensor can compromise overall quality, and that increasing the resolution will do nothing to help. Meanwhile pixel-peepers may notice the LF1 has a fraction more noise than the LX7.

At 200 ISO, there’s a bigger difference opening up between the LF1 and LX7 in terms of noise, although the actual degree of detail remains similar. Meanwhile the TZ35 / ZS25 is already noticeably noisier and lacking finer details.

At 400 ISO the story continues with the LX7 still delivering slightly cleaner results than the LF1, but both cameras ultimately delivering similar amounts of detail, while the TZ35/ ZS25 is beginning to suffer.

At 800 and 1600 ISO you can begin to see a different processing strategy between the LF1 and the LX7 with the former allowing more noise to show through, but the latter applying greater processing to smear it out. Again there’s not a lot to choose between them, but both are enjoying greater definition than the TZ35 / ZS25 thanks to their slightly bigger sensors.

At 3200 ISO though it really is game over for all three cameras. The TZ35 / ZS25 bows out at this point, leaving the LF1 and LX7 to foolishly continue onto 12800 ISO at which point you’re really looking at a mess. I should note the LF1 offers 12800 at the full resolution compared to a reduced resolution on the LX7, but honestly, would you use either at this point?

So what can we conclude from this test? I’d say in terms of noise levels, the Lumix LF1 and Lumix LX7 perform similarly although the latter enjoys a minor edge. Meanwhile both visibly out-perform the TZ35 / ZS25, proving even a slightly larger sensor can deliver superior results – but of course for noticeably cleaner images you’ll need a bigger sensor still.

When it comes to the LF1 and LX7 though are we seeing different noise levels due to their slightly different resolutions, or is it more down to processing. The only way to find out is to shoot in RAW, turn off the noise reduction and bump up the sharpening. So to discover what’s really happening behind the scenes, check out my Panasonic Lumix LF1 RAW noise results, or if you’ve already seen enough, skip to my Panasonic Lumix LF1 sample images.

Panasonic Lumix LF1
 
Panasonic Lumix LX7
 
Panasonic Lumix TZ35 / ZS25

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 Not available
12800 ISO
12800 ISO
12800 ISO Not available
Handheld Night Shot 400 ISO
Handheld Night Shot 400 ISO
Handheld Night Shot 500 ISO

Panasonic Lumix LF1 results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

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