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Noise levels and Fine detail in the real world Compared to Panasonic LX3

No camera exists in a vacuum, and it is so in the case of the G10. During this review the G10 is compared to the G9, the Nikon P6000, and the Panasonic LX3. On this page the G10 will be compared in more detail with the LX3 in terms of fine detail and ISO noise in the real world.

The G10 has increased resolution, compared to the G9, and is now up to 14.7 MP. The LX3 on the other hand has kept the sensor resolution to a more modest 10.1 MP (effective). How have these two different approaches affected image quality?

In all the comparisons on this page the same two photographs are used, both shot in JPEG. Overall, the G10 has a lot more sharpening applied than the LX3.

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Canon G10 ISO 80 Panasonic LX3 ISO 80

ISO noise in the real world

While it is possible to compare ISO noise levels in the studio under controlled, (and well lit) conditions, it is also important to look at real world situations to get a more complete idea of overall image quality. Below is a low contrast detail comparison between the LX3 and G10, both shot in the same lighting conditions at around the same time.

100% Crops
Canon G10 ISO 80 Panasonic LX3 ISO 80

Here in the two sky crops you can see that even at base ISO the G10 has more noise in the image than the LX3. In the ISO noise tests on the previous page of this review, and also on the compare pages later in this review you can see that the LX3 performs better than the G10 as the ISO sensitivities move up.

Flat colour detail

With so many megapixels in such a small sensor as the G10, you may expect that you might have a choice of either fine detail or increased noise. Below is a crop of the same area of Tower Bridge with the G10 and the LX3. With almost 50% more pixels compared to the LX3, you would expect that there would be more fine detail resolved with the G10.

100% Crops
Canon G10 ISO 80 Panasonic LX3 ISO 80

Instead of being able to resolve more fine detail in flat colour areas than the LX3, the G10 actually resolves less due to noise reduction used in camera. Below is a crop from another part of the same image showing foliage.

100% Crops
Canon G10 ISO 80 Panasonic LX3 ISO 80

While the LX3 is not fantastic at resolving these trees, the G10 does a marginally worse job, with many more pixels to use.

100% Crops
Canon G10 ISO 80 Panasonic LX3 ISO 80

Here in on the brickwork of Tower Bridge again you can see the LX3 producing more fine detail than the G10. Keep in mind that this is cropped from the same image where the G10 was producing more noise in the sky than the LX3.

Chromatic Aberrations

From the same image again here are two crops from a boat closer to the edge of the frame.

100% Crops
Canon G10 ISO 80 Panasonic LX3 ISO 80

The LX3 is noticeably better in dealing with CA than the G10. The LX3 is performing lens correction (for CA and possibly distortion), this more than the difference in resolution and sharpening makes this part of the image look softer in the LX3 crop.

If the LX3 had not existed, and the G10 was only compared to the Nikon P6000 then we would be happy to say that it was an improvement over the G9, and that it produced great detail and noise for a compact. But with the LX3, Panasonic has shown that it is possible to do better with a small sensor compact. What could Canon have achieved had they taken are more conservative approach to sensor resolution? If only we could take a LX3 sensor and put it in a G10 body.

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Comments

cgarrard

Still a fantastic camera, and how wrong the conclusion was about how popular the G10 would be :). It's certainly not easy to predict camera sales or popularity, however, the G10 offered so much right I can't see how the conclusion could be anything other than highly recommended. Having owned the G10 before, twice, I still crave using it despite the fact that I've owned the G11,12, 15, and now 16 since. Although the G16 is infinitely better in many respects, the G10 remains the kind of camera that challenges the photographer to do everything right - and when he/she does, it rewards you with fantastic image quality.

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