GH2 vs GF1 ISO Test at same Shutter Speed and Aperture

Started Dec 18, 2010 | Discussions
viztyger
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GH2 vs GF1 ISO Test at same Shutter Speed and Aperture
Dec 18, 2010

I've done a head to head comparison of image quality between my new GH2 and the GF1. I chose a night scene that contains fine detail and is representative of the kind of lighting I would switch to higher sensitivities for.

As usual, both cameras were mounted on a tripod, were released using the self timer and used the same Leica 45mm f/2.8 lens with OIS switched off. They're taken from the same spot within minutes of one another.

The RAW files were processed in Lightroom 3 with low sharpening and chroma noise reduction, but no luminance NR. I exported them at 4000 x 3000 pixel to make comparisons easier.

It immediately became apparent that the GH2's ISO sensitivities are in fact less sensitive than those of the GF1. Set to the same shutter speed and aperture, the GH2 usually chose a 1/3 stop higher sensitivity - sometimes 2/3 stop. In other words to get an image of approximately the same brightness at F5.6 and 1/5s, would require ISO 1600 on the GF1 and ISO 2000 or ISO 2500 on the GH2. That's the basis for comparing the crops below.

I've posted all the RAW files, so you can see if you come to the same conclusions. Feel free to process them and post your results. They're all listed individually at the bottom of the following blog entry:
http://www.bmupix.com/journal/2010/12/18/gh2-image-quality.html

If anyone is interested in other sensitivities, just let me know and I'll try to add those. I shot the whole range with both cameras.

GH2 First Impressions:
http://www.bmupix.com/journal/2010/12/17/gh2-first-impressions.html

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EXR
EXR
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Re: GH2 vs GF1 ISO Test at same Shutter Speed and Aperture
In reply to viztyger, Dec 18, 2010

Nice (and one of the very few accurate) comparison.

It seems to confirm the other tests, there is a significant improvement compared to the old 12MP-sensor.

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ashatron
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Re: GH2 vs GF1 ISO Test at same Shutter Speed and Aperture
In reply to EXR, Dec 18, 2010

Excellent!

Thanks a lot for a comparison that takes into account the shutter speed needed for the same exposure on different cameras, VERY useful.

Knowing high iso noise is one think but knowing the shutter and iso and exposure gives a much more real-life practical test.

Thanks

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ashatron
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Re: GH2 vs GF1 ISO Test at same Shutter Speed and Aperture
In reply to ashatron, Dec 18, 2010

Overall how are you feeling about the GH2?

I too have a GF1 and im looking at getting a GH2.

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viztyger
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Re: GH2 vs GF1 ISO Test at same Shutter Speed and Aperture
In reply to ashatron, Dec 18, 2010

ashatron wrote:

Excellent!

Thanks a lot for a comparison that takes into account the shutter speed needed for the same exposure on different cameras, VERY useful.

Knowing high iso noise is one think but knowing the shutter and iso and exposure gives a much more real-life practical test.

Thanks. That was my aim. I choose a specific shutter speed and aperture combination that suits the subject and the ISO follows from that. Not to say that I don't consider the effects of image degradation at higher sensitivities, but cameras need to be compared at the same aperture and shutter speed. Otherwise there is no basis for comparison.

Thanks

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viztyger
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Re: GH2 vs GF1 ISO Test at same Shutter Speed and Aperture
In reply to ashatron, Dec 18, 2010

ashatron wrote:

Overall how are you feeling about the GH2?

The GH2 offers a more refined user interface compared to the GF1. Panasonic has tweaked a lot of little things like the color of the composition grid (more neutral), auto ISO behavior, degree of customizability, as well as various icons and menus. Individually they're not that significant, but taken together the camera feels more sophisticated. That impression is also reinforced by the more serious looking finish and rubberized (elastomer) grip - which I hope is more durable than the soft coating of my former G1.

But the biggest difference between the GF1 and the GH2 are the features it shares with the G1/2. Those are the high resolution EVF and the articulated screen. Both of those are an enormous aid for composing photos. The GH2 weighs less than 100g more than the GF1, but it's much more versatile because of these features. The GH2 is also much better balanced with larger/heavier lenses like my 100-300/4.0-5.6 or the Nokton 25/0.95.

I too have a GF1 and im looking at getting a GH2.

As far as I'm concerned it's a very good camera. I'm happy to answer any specific questions you may have.

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viztyger
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Re: GH2 vs GF1 ISO Test at same Shutter Speed and Aperture
In reply to EXR, Dec 18, 2010

EXR wrote:

Nice (and one of the very few accurate) comparison.

I hope it's accurate

It seems to confirm the other tests, there is a significant improvement compared to the old 12MP-sensor.

It looks that way, at least for this specific comparison.

Interesting would be a comparison with the GH2 which also has an improved sensor.
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Thanks!
In reply to viztyger, Dec 18, 2010

A very carefully controlled and well thought out test - so rare these days!

I shoot landscapes at base ISO (tripod mounted) so I'm curious about the GH2 dynamic range/shadow noise. This appeared to be one place the GH1 didn't do so well, it measured with better DR/shadow noise than the G1/GF1 by about a stop but it turned out many cameras would have pattern noise in the shadows which while measuring better didn't look so good! Anyway, if you are in a measuring mood at some point and are interested in doing such a comparison I'd be interested - but I also completely understand you probably are more interested in taking pictures!

Thanks again for sharing your very useful results!
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Bass Lake Dan
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Re: Thanks!
In reply to kenw, Dec 18, 2010

These are very useful results! Keep this kind of testing coming. I hope you have more in the pipeline.

I think I am one of many m4/3 users with a GF1 that is looking seriously at the GH2. We were sort of left in disbelief by Panasonic when we realized that they decided to dumb down the GF series in some sort of misguided marketing move. The GF2 is a disappointment to many of us that are "serious amateurs” (or whatever you want to call this user group ??) So a lot of us want to know what exactly (in real world terms) is up with the GH2. When the prices come down after the initial frenzy, there are many of us that might well consider a GH2 body.

Thanks for your work. Keep at it !

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hifi
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Re: GH2 vs GF1 ISO Test at same Shutter Speed and Aperture
In reply to viztyger, Dec 18, 2010

Thanks for doing this test and for your review. The issue with auto ISO and min. shutter speed for using manual lenses should be addressed. I would love if Pany added this with a firmware update. I am considering the GH2 as an upgrade over my G1.

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Jonas B
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Re: GH2 vs GF1 ISO Test at same Shutter Speed and Aperture
In reply to viztyger, Dec 18, 2010

viztyger wrote:

I've done a head to head comparison of image quality between my new GH2 and the GF1. (...)

Thank you for all the images Björn!

Higher base ISO noise?... and; wth is that around the street lamps in the images? How come there are so much more reflections around the street lamps in the GH2 images? Did Panasonic change something in the stack of glass on the top of the sensor? Nice it is not.

I guess it's visible only when the constrast is extreme, or in most night city scape images. Ouch. It reminds me, also if different, about the problem with the Sony A55 images.

Oh why? I just decided to save up for a GH2.

Jonas

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viztyger
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Re: GH2 vs GF1 ISO Test at same Shutter Speed and Aperture
In reply to Jonas B, Dec 18, 2010

Jonas B wrote:

viztyger wrote:
Thank you for all the images Björn!

Higher base ISO noise?... and; wth is that around the street lamps in the images? How come there are so much more reflections around the street lamps in the GH2 images? Did Panasonic change something in the stack of glass on the top of the sensor? Nice it is not.

Jonas, you have very sharp eyes. That double halo to the lower right of the street lamps completely escaped my attention.

I guess it's visible only when the contrast is extreme, or in most night city scape images. Ouch. It reminds me, also if different, about the problem with the Sony A55 images.

It's not always visible. Here's a 100% crop with similar street lamps taken with the Nokton. I don't see the effect here, or am I missing something?

Oh why? I just decided to save up for a GH2.

I'll have to work a little harder to produce a set that convinces you otherwise

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viztyger
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Re: Thanks!
In reply to Bass Lake Dan, Dec 18, 2010

Bass Lake Dan wrote:

These are very useful results! Keep this kind of testing coming. I hope you have more in the pipeline.

I'll try to do a daylight test, but it can be tricky to find a day with consistent light between shots. But first there's a flight across the ocean for a Christmas vacation.

I think I am one of many m4/3 users with a GF1 that is looking seriously at the GH2. We were sort of left in disbelief by Panasonic when we realized that they decided to dumb down the GF series in some sort of misguided marketing move. The GF2 is a disappointment to many of us that are "serious amateurs” (or whatever you want to call this user group ??)

How about a picky photographer

I wouldn't worry too much about the dumbing down of the GF series. Panasonic presumably knows exactly what they're doing and are now targeting amateurs and (here I have to hunt for the right word again) advanced photographers with separate models.

So a lot of us want to know what exactly (in real world terms) is up with the GH2. When the prices come down after the initial frenzy, there are many of us that might well consider a GH2 body.

I guess I got sucked into the initial frenzy.

Thanks for your work. Keep at it !

You're welcome.

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viztyger
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Re: Thanks!
In reply to kenw, Dec 18, 2010

kenw wrote:

A very carefully controlled and well thought out test - so rare these days!

I wonder what that says about me

I shoot landscapes at base ISO (tripod mounted) so I'm curious about the GH2 dynamic range/shadow noise. This appeared to be one place the GH1 didn't do so well, it measured with better DR/shadow noise than the G1/GF1 by about a stop but it turned out many cameras would have pattern noise in the shadows which while measuring better didn't look so good! Anyway, if you are in a measuring mood at some point and are interested in doing such a comparison I'd be interested - but I also completely understand you probably are more interested in taking pictures!

Thanks again for sharing your very useful results!

Ken, that's an interesting suggestion to look at dynamic range and shadow noise. Can you show me an example or describe the type of image you are after?

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Jonas B
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Re: GH2 vs GF1 ISO Test at same Shutter Speed and Aperture
In reply to viztyger, Dec 19, 2010

viztyger wrote:

Jonas B wrote:

viztyger wrote:
Thank you for all the images Björn!

Higher base ISO noise?... and; wth is that around the street lamps in the images? How come there are so much more reflections around the street lamps in the GH2 images? Did Panasonic change something in the stack of glass on the top of the sensor? Nice it is not.

Jonas, you have very sharp eyes. That double halo to the lower right of the street lamps completely escaped my attention.

I guess it's visible only when the contrast is extreme, or in most night city scape images. Ouch. It reminds me, also if different, about the problem with the Sony A55 images.

It's not always visible. Here's a 100% crop with similar street lamps taken with the Nokton. I don't see the effect here, or am I missing something?

(image)

That's a 100% crops? It's pretty nice! I have seen that in other GH2 images as well; the 100% crops are looking better than I'm used to see from the Panasonic sensors.

The double and ugly reflection isn't obvious, or visible at all here, I don't know. When looking at your set of high ISO comparison images it seems to me as the refection is going in the direction from the center and towards the edge of the image. Look at "delta lloyd" for example and the the street lamps again.

I don't know what part of the last image we are looking at.If it is somewhere close to the center that may explain why we don't see anything. Maybe somebody else has a better explanation.

Oh why? I just decided to save up for a GH2.

I'll have to work a little harder to produce a set that convinces you otherwise

Haha. Yes you will. I hold you responsible for me buying the CV25
Now there is no camera to go with it?

Cheers,

Jonas

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Jonas B
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sort of bump [nt]
In reply to Jonas B, Dec 20, 2010
n/t
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armanius
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Re: GH2 vs GF1 ISO Test at same Shutter Speed and Aperture
In reply to viztyger, Dec 20, 2010

Thanks for the test Bjorn! Been looking forward to some testing like this all over the net.

I have an EP2, but have been testing out a NEX3, and wondering if I should make a switch given that the NEX's high ISO IQ looks better than the EP2. The GH2 might be a compelling reason to stick w/ m4/3 (other than the fact that I have tons of 4/3 lenses as well).

Thanks Bjorn!

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Re: GH2 vs GF1 ISO Test at same Shutter Speed and Aperture
In reply to ashatron, Dec 20, 2010

Greetings,

Same here.

Thanks for posting the comparison.

Regards.

ashatron wrote:

Overall how are you feeling about the GH2?

I too have a GF1 and im looking at getting a GH2.

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Re: GH2 vs GF1 ISO Test at same Shutter Speed and Aperture
In reply to viztyger, Dec 20, 2010

viztyger wrote:

In other words to get an image of approximately the same brightness at F5.6 and 1/5s, would require ISO 1600 on the GF1 and ISO 2000 or ISO 2500 on the GH2.

Are you sure?

The way you wrote this it makes it seem that the GF1 only needs iso1600 where the GH2 needs iso 2500.

That makes the GH2 crappier.

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jimboyvr
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Re: GH2 vs GF1 ISO Test at same Shutter Speed and Aperture
In reply to armanius, Dec 20, 2010

armanius wrote:

Thanks for the test Bjorn! Been looking forward to some testing like this all over the net.

I have an EP2, but have been testing out a NEX3, and wondering if I should make a switch given that the NEX's high ISO IQ looks better than the EP2. The GH2 might be a compelling reason to stick w/ m4/3 (other than the fact that I have tons of 4/3 lenses as well).

Thanks Bjorn!

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Armanius
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Nex has a physically bigger sensor so above iso 1600 it will look better.

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