New Panasonic G3: A close focus on image quality

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Let’s focus on the performance of the new sensor. Please take into consideration that all images and tests have been performed using the beta firmware and JPG engine.

1) Let’s start with the Studio comparison tool from DPreview (Click here). jpg do look very good and can compete very well against the other entry level DSLR’s like the Canon 600d (Rebel T3i). Look at that 3.200 ISO comparison (Click here). I think Panasonic managed to improve the sensor and the imaging processor.

2) Photographyblog (CLick here) shows us the usefulness of the “Intelligent Resolution” feature: “The Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3’s Intelligent Resolution feature identifies outlines, texture areas and soft gradation areas of the image and then automatically optimizes the edges and detailed texture areas while using noise reduction to make the soft gradation areas smoother. There are three available strengths – low, standard and high.” The image samples do prove that the feature seems to work fine.

3) Focus Numerique (Click here) posted a set of ISO samples. But take a look at SLRclub (Click here) where a forum user compared the Focus Numerique G3 results with those from other cameras. (Thanks Piscesen for sending us the link). UPDATE: You can find downloadable RAW files right below the image samples! (Thanks Jennekens)

4) You can find a Noise and Dynamic Range comparison at Techradar (Click here). A bit surprising to see that G3 is not so good a low ISO but much better at mid-high ISO! Look at the curve and you will be surprised!

5) Take a look at Imaging Resource (Click here). You will a couple of hours to analyze all those studio pictures! :)

Here is a list of real world (no studio) image samples: Flickr, Techradar, DPreview, Photographyblog.. So what do you think about the image quality of the new sensor?

Reminder:
Preorder the black,white, red or brown G3 at Amazon US (Click here)
Now preorders in Europe too! At Amazon UK (Click here).
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 14-42mm Lens Kit at Bhphoto (Click here)
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G3 Camera Body at Bhphoto (Click here)

Are you satisfied with the JPG quality (with beta firmware)?

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  • Bizzarrini

    Focus Numerique also had downloadable RAW files, just below the jpg samples…

  • WT21

    Low ISO jpgs on DPR don’t look as good as the competition, though ISO looks better.

  • at

    It handles JPEG in a better way that deliver images which you can differentiate the object from the background more easily without too much over-sharpening although the images are still noisy at high ISO.

  • http://www.milosjanata.com Milos Janata

    Looks like that sensor is good and capable of much more. According the techradar graphs SNR does not improve under ISO 400…
    Did they enfeeble it on purpose?

    btw: at dpreview each area of picture looks different, somewhere it’s better somewhere not

    • Duarte Bruno

      DPREVIEW’s comparometer is focus flawed. It has been since the last 3 cameras I’ve compared.

  • Bob B.

    Woah….lot of info in this post…. Regarding #3 and the link to the SLR Club high ISO comparison…in the lower set of images (with the swatches)…CHECK OUT THE FUJI X100!
    I know it has a APS C sensor…but so do some of the other cameras…but the Fuji image here blows ALL of the competition away. There is simply no comparison. Um…when are they going to make an interchangeable lens version of that camera???????? :-)

    • Bob B.

      Has anyone seen a raw comparison of the G3 to the GH2. I am a little overwhelmed with all this info!!!!! Thanks.

      • Inge-M

        Yes, go on dpreview link on top

  • CRB

    So, the same old bad DR as my former G1….

  • Inge-M

    I guess G3 sensor is the best sensor from Panasonic to now.

    • Vlado

      you mean the best JPG engine …. I don’t see huge progress in RAW

  • Mar

    Wait for DxO to bury it 😉

    • Inge-M

      HeHe 😉 LOL

    • http://www.ericparks.com Eric

      I still can’t figure out why anyone cares about DxO. Why do some people prefer judging a cameras quality by looking at bar charts and graphs instead of sample images?

      • Mr. Reeee

        No kidding.
        It’s like audiophiles. Some listen to the equipment. Some listen to the MUSIC.
        Me? I prefer the music.

  • http://www.43rumors.com/members/elniorg/ Elniorg’s Journeys

    I’m not sure there is such progress in sensor… If you read the techradar review you’ll see that the G3 RAW renderings are far below the competitors’. So okay, good for those who use ooc jpegs but what about the rest of us?

    • thom

      i agree – raw’s are somewhat disappointing.. looks like it’s really difficult to improve the sensor or panasonic just doesn’t give a shit and prefers to spend r&d money on the rendering engine – the jpgs look a lot better but im only shooting raw so for me low light performance and dynamic range of the actual sensor are more important.. was actually looking to upgrade my gf1 at some point but looking at these i don’t really see any reason to do so..

  • Boooo!

    Well, it’s a shame that the sensor is worse than the one they made three years ago, but what can you do…

  • Agent00soul

    From the DPR samples I would say the E-PL2 beats the G3 up to 1600 ISO. At 3200 the G3 is sligthly better.
    Let’s hope Olympus will apply their JPEG processing to the new sensor. Then we might see some useful improvements.

  • http://www.43rumors.com/members/dummy00001/ Dummy00001

    > You can find a Noise and Dynamic Range comparison at Techradar

    Nice boost of DR.

    But… Seems that people who shoot RAW would have to do the fine processing themselves?

    As an amateur, I want cameras to shoot good RAW. The mistakes I make rarely can be corrected in the JPEG – shooting RAW to me plays important part of making camera easier to use. And in my case, I have to tweak exposure and WB quite often as I do not always timely notice that lighting has changed or I have to change metering.

  • http://www.ericparks.com Eric

    DPR’s images look pretty damn good to me. If those are JPEG samples I can’t wait to see what I can do with it in RAW. I also hope Olympus get’s their hands on this sensor. If Panasonic can make it look this good Olympus should be able to knock it out of the park.

  • MJ

    Looks good to me, but not for me.

  • http://dailycamerarumors.com DCR

    The Touch Pinpoint AF Feature sounds interesting, wonder with what the competition will follow

  • grzybu

    I’ve downloaded sample RAW files from imaging-resource.com and they look really good for ISO 1600-3200.
    Also using comparometer from imaging-resource.com site shows how good G3 image quality is. Compare DETAIL level (not noise level) with NEX5, D7000 or even K5 and G3 looks very good.
    I prefer more details with more noise than small noise without details. I can always remove noise along with details by myself 😉
    For me G3 definitely looks like upgrade from G1.

    • Inge-M

      Upgrade from GH2 also 😉

      • http://www.43rumors.com/members/upnorthjeeper/ Jeremiah

        Sorry you are very wrong, this NOT an upgrade of the GH2… That said it could serve as a great camera for my girlfriend.

        • Inge-M

          Sorry, i talk only by sensor quality :-)

  • FMJ

    any words on the video capability?

    @ Admin: any pics of the back or side? size comparison with G2?

    • http://www.43rumors.com/members/agrivar/ Winston Loo

      all you ask is in the dpreview preview.. go look

  • http://gakuranman.com Michael

    This is fantastic news all around. New sensor technology keeping up with the GH-2, improved AF and a whole host of other things. I myself will be holding off for the next high-end Olympus I think. I think there’s a good chance we’ll see the same if not better sensor technology in their line, and hopefully some of that gorgeous PEN retro style to nail it down tight. If they combine the features of the EP-2 and EPL-2 together and improve it across the board, I think I’ll have my next camera for a good few years! I just wonder what they’ll do with the built in flash and EVF. I’m on the fence whether I want a built in EVF hump or not (but the option of using one like the great VF-2 is essential). Built in flash is a must simply for the wireless flash trigger.

    And then hopefully we’ll get a nice portrait prime to round off the m43 system. Fingers crossed on those summer announcements eh?!

    • http://www.43rumors.com/members/n1k0/ NiKo

      Oly, give me a Pen pro with improved sensor, 1080p and built in vf-2 in left corner without enlarging the whole package much and I’d be happy for years too :)

      • http://www.43rumors.com/members/elniorg/ Elniorg’s Journeys

        Count me in… 😛

      • Ahem

        That’s the holy grail of cameras for me as well (don’t care about video, though) and throw in a killer low ISO – hope it surfaces soon!

  • http://www.43rumors.com/members/angry/ Angry Olympus Owner

    I like it, alot, looks good, but why no G3???
    Why would they just put G???

  • http://43Rumours Carlos

    Improved ISO performance is ok but what I really want is better dynamic range (& the results for this don’t look great at low ISO). Dynamic range will get worse by increasing pixel count for a fixed sensor size (smaller pixels) – noise reduction won’t affect it so all those fancy hardware and processing improvements won’t help!

  • http://www.43rumors.com/members/ulli/ ulli

    pixelpeeping :-)

  • http://www.to-lo.net Tobias

    nicht schlecht, bei ISO 6400 JPG schlägt die G3 im dpreview vergleich stellenweise die Canon50D und GH2. Das ist schon bemerkenswert. Interessant ist aber, dass bei verschiedenen Bildbereichen die Ergebnisse sehr unterschiedlich ausfallen.

  • http://www.43rumors.com/members/nicofoto/ Nico

    At this point i’m considering this camera as an upgrade for my gf1…Tiny, *decent* IQ, built in EVF, and in a sensible price range…

    • Mr. Reeee

      Yes. I was considering getting a GF2 for my girlfriend, but the G3 looks MUCH more compelling and a better bargain given the EVF, articulated LCD, much better IQ, faster AF, etc., etc..

      The picture-in-picture focusing sounds like an interesting concept. I use manual focus lenses quite a bit with my GH2 and find myself popping in and out of zoom focus to keep my bearings. This would be especially important when shifting the focus point off-center when composing an image. Maybe the GH2 will get this as an option in a firmware update? Please?

  • Chris K.

    Buy! (If I can! :) Although I would like dials, I shoot much with my Nokton so dials don’t help a heck of a lot beyond shutter speed & exposure compensation (although an ISO control would be killer.)

    Certainly compares with the GH2 and E-PL2 on JPEG quality, grats to Pana on a consumer-price m43 winner.

  • DonParrot

    Where is the sense in sacrificing low-ISO performance for high-ISO performance. I’ll never get it.

    • Boooo!

      Unfortunately, almost all reviews are centered on high ISO performance. To be honest, I think if you had a sensor with 20 stops of dynamic range at ISO 100, but which couldn’t do clean ISO 1600, it would be completely crapped on by the reviewers.

      • DonParrot

        I fear you hit the bull’s eye with this assessment.

      • Nick clark

        I think that’s just a product of market reaction. For years people (consumers) were grumbling about wanting better high-ISO. Then the D3s comes out with ISO1xx,xxx and suddenly the consumers are bitching about who would ever shoot a black canary in a mineshaft…

        People will never be satisfied.

      • http://www.43rumors.com/members/nseika/ Seika

        As a novice in camera technology, long time I thought the low ISO is somewhat a conquered land. It will be generally the same between sensor and probably get benefit as technology got better (quality goes up) so the challenge to be watched for is the high ISO, which will be handy when it gets dark with those more affordable slow lenses. For brighter places… well, the low ISO is “supposedly, inherently good”
        Means, I just recently realized low ISO could get worse to get that high ISO.

        So… at least in my opinion, the attitude by more common consumers is that they thought they had their back covered safe in the low ISO side, better focus on choosing the high ISO.

        Auhoritative review sites should starts bashing the camera for bad DR to hurt sales if the companies don’t start shifting the focus 😀

  • http://www.43rumors.com/members/barwickgreen/ Rupert Brun

    I’m not the least bit surprised the low ISO jpg performance is worse than from the G1 / G2. I posted back in December that I had compared GH1 with GH2 and found the same – the newer camera performed better at higher ISO but worse at base ISO, and I take most of my pictures at 100 ISO so for me the new camera performed worse – I took it back for a refund. When will the marketing people catch up with the market and understand that we want better dynamic range and noise performance, not more and more pointless pixels!

    • Mr. Reeee

      +1!

    • TR

      +2

    • http://www.milosjanata.com Milos Janata

      +3!

      • Ahem

        +4

        • Sam

          + Velvia 50

    • Miroslav

      “When will the marketing people catch up with the market and understand that we want better dynamic range and noise performance, not more and more pointless pixels!”

      Completely wrong. The marketing people do not target us, people who read reviews and websites like this. The people they target know nothing about dynamic range and noise, they rarely find about it afterwards, they even never care to compare its pictures with another camera. The people they target use a camera like you or me use an air conditioner – always in one of the two modes, clean it regularly, buy a new one after the old one breaks. And then, they buy the shiniest camera with most megapixels, let’s call it “NEX”, for example, or the big black one with the most megapixels, let’s call it “Rebel”, for example.

  • calxn

    I think Panasonic targeted their demographics pretty well. Most of their customers shoot jpeg and want better hi-ISO, regardless of what tricks are applied. Truthfully, I believe this is the unfortunate direction of the future. More companies will eventually use selective edge sharpening and aggressive noise reduction in selective parts of the photo. I’m pretty sure that when Sony’s and Canon’s sensors max out on raw performance, the cameras using those sensors will start applying tricks like the one Panasonic is applying. Thankfully, there’s still more potential in APS-C and FF sensors, before they have to resort to that.

    Having had good hi-iso since 6 cameras ago, I actually do not find it that useful. Knowing the dynamic range curve of these sensors, I really cringe when I go above ISO 400 on my Nikons. Sure the images will look good enough, but post processing headroom suffers. For me, dynamic range and the ability to control DOF is much more important than hi-ISO. For others, the reverse may be true. To each, his own.

    • http://www.43rumors.com/members/n1k0/ NiKo

      > Having had good hi-iso since 6 cameras ago, I actually do not find it that useful

      AMEN. We had pixel peeps, now we got ISO ones :p

  • DonParrot

    The problem is – IMHO – that this high-ISO race is just a markting tool as the MP race. Probably started some years ago by the competition to destroy FT’s chances on the market. I think that more than 98 percent of the camera users shoot 95 percent of theie pictures – or even more – in the low-ISO area. Nonetheless, the only thing they care about is the high-ISO performance. It’s just like Boooo! said. We are just experiencing this in the German DSLR forum. Nearly all the people in the G3-thread say they’re delighted about the high-ISO performance – and the two or three comments saying that the low-ISO performance has suffered don’t interest them at all! It’s really strange. And even stranger that the testers are doing exactly the same.
    Will I ever understand mankind? Probably not.

  • amalric

    Worse performance at base ISO, better at higher ISO, is a v. technical issue few understand, but DxO wrote a paper about it.

    As you raise rthe Megapixel count S/N ratio and resolution increase, but also base noise. So the sweet spot of the camera, S/N, shifts, say to 600 ISO. That is also the reason why we see ISO 100 disappearing as base sensitivity.

    It is as if new models were revved up.

    The solution from makers is to implement better in camera denoising algorithms. This was an issue that was addressed correctly by Oly, and which allowed to decrease the AA filter, thus increasing resolution.

    All in all it’s a difficult balancing act that a maker must achieve when increasing Megapixels. That’s also one of the reasons to wait for the second or the third iteration of a new sensor.

    • http://www.milosjanata.com Milos Janata

      Hmm interesting.. I still believe that pana decided to criple G2’s base ISO to guard GH2 as a flagship. Need to see more raw samples first

  • Bob B.

    I have decided to just keep shooting with my GF1. I want to purchase a SLR stile body with an articulating screen..but until there is a “real” change with the sensor I am not going to purchase one of these cameras.
    Better off picking up another lens with the money I would spend on a spare body at this point.

  • http://www.43rumors.com/members/joseph/ Joseph

    The JPEG comparison photos on DPReview is interesting. The G3 has no advantage if you compare it with E-PL1 from ISO200 to ISO1600, given that the G3 is already using a newer generation Live-MOS with a higher resolution. Of course the G3 is superior starting from ISO3200 onwards.

    So, here are two ideas in my mind: (1) that shows how much Olympus can do by using the same sensor to deliver more details when compare to Panasonic and other APS-C system, that’s also why (2) Panasonic is not willing to sell their latest Live-MOS to Olympus who can deliver nearly the same IQ using last generation of sensor, showing that the way Olympus process images is already one generation ahead.

    • Inge-M

      Reason for Olynpus not use multi aspect sensor, is straight like reason, so Mercedes A-series not come by V12 engine, if Olympus use a big and more weight multi aspect sensor to GH2, need Olympus build much new inside in camera, and maybe cost over 3.000,-$.
      The is only Panasonic marketing in Espan so believe reason for,
      why reason is for Olympus not use GH2 sensor on E-5 :-(

  • smelly alvin

    You guys are funny. You complain and moan about everything. Not good enough at this, not small enough, too many pixels, not enough DR, not enough IQ, too expensive, ugly, etc, etc. The fact is that there will be no further inovation in digital cameras until the underlying technology can be changed. For years, its all been about refinement and packaging, and now, panasonic is trying to differentiate themselves by trying to improve the interaction with the device. To the new generation, this will be seen as a welcome thing. They like clean gadgets – regardless if this offers improvment or not.

    If there was a way to improve DR to match film, provide clean high ISO and low ISO and keep a small sensor, wouldnt it have already been done? Clearly this isnt a simple ‘marketing’ thing. Sure, s/w can try to be clever and sure as fabrication methods improve, these sensors get better at noise isolation, etc, but ultimately, they are clearly running up against some fundemental physical issues which are not simply resolved by some dude in a pretty suit and white teeth saying “lets do it”.

  • andrew

    I’m fairly impressed with G3 so far as these previews read.
    I still prefer Olympus EPxxx because of size and IS.
    But if Olympus does not match or better this Pana model in the near future then I’ll definitely be buying Pana.

    • http://www.43rumors.com/members/barwickgreen/ Rupert Brun

      “If there was a way to improve DR to match film, provide clean high ISO and low ISO and keep a small sensor, wouldnt it have already been done?”

      There is a way to do it. Throw the current technology into a 12MP sensor! Bu the marketroids obviously think it wouldn’t sell, even though it would produed better pictures.

  • George

    yeah yeah just better rendering jpgs engine. sorry but almost no improvement over sensor. look at raw files… still way worse than competitor…

    I laugh people who are saying this is an upgrade to GF1 and G2. this is G3 IT IS OF COURSE AN UPDATE.

    • Inge-M

      The big difference from G3 to GH2 sensor in RAW is noise.
      For exsempel on ISO 200 there GH2 have 35 level, have G3 40, and for ISO 400 GH2 have 33 level there G3 have 37 level, difference from G3 to GH2 sensor is clear up to ISO 6400. 😉

  • Tom

    Well,
    for me the G3 looks def. better then EPL2. On every ISO step. Maybe base level doesnt look as good, but, really but, thats pretty much pixelpeeping. You wont see any differance in real-life…

    And up from ISO400, G3 kicks ass. It has exceptional low chroma noise, very low luminance noise, on par with NEX-5/D5100, yes, a bit less of details, but still lots of more details then EPL2, and, imo, GH2.

    ANd consider: its a pre version. I guess the main focus on this version was JPEG.
    When looking at the techradar charts, its a bit surprising that the G3 has the same DR from 160 up to 400, whereas every other competitor looses DR every ISO Step. And from ISO800, DR is nearly the same as for NEX-5.
    Not only base DR matters, but also from higher ISOs, and here, G3 absolutely is a big step towards the Sony Sensor.

  • http://www.milosjanata.com Milos Janata

    And one more thing. At base ISO they remove high frequency noise but not the low-mid frequency noise, So we can see those big color flakes – look at Dpreview

  • Tom

    btw, a very interessting comment on RAW Perf. on dpreview forum:
    Pelao:
    One thing I noted – the G3 RAW files being compared here are converted to TIFF, and are not from the same RAW converter as the other cameras.
    bloodycape:
    I think what they are saying is since Adobe and others don’t have official support for the G3 in their software converting RAW to JPG may require a work around. Which in return, may produces less accurate results vs native RAW conversion would offer, but I could be wrong.
    So lets just sit and wait :-)

  • napalm

    at first I thought this camera was not interesting. but after reading the previews, it seems a very capable entry-level camera. it seems a good choice for those wanting to join m4/3. it kinda reminds me of the Oly e620 on 4/3

  • Inge-M

    I believe Panasonic G3, will be a classical camera in future. 😉

  • darnell

    G3 is nice, but…..,
    I want to wait on gh2’s replacement (gh3?) so that I can have ext. Audio option. How long to wait is a problem for me as I’m still using the g1. I’d like to integrate some decent video use in the 4/3rd’s market. I would hope that there will be bigger differences in the G3 & GH3 than just an ext. Audio option, ie. Sensor, Venus Engine Pro version, high ISO performance over noise, & better low-light shots.

  • Pixie

    The image quality of the G3 absolutely is a step up from previous 12mp micro 4/3 cameras. Less noise and higher resolution. I don’t understand the people here that say that the G3 is not better of even worse then the old 12mp sensor! Are you blind? Guess what Olympus is using in the new OM-D E-M5. I think the Panasonic G3 is an excelent camera and I prefer it over the GF1, GX1 and all of the Olympus offerings.

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