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Raw and Raw Conversion

Supplied software

The DMC-G2 is supplied with a Software CD containing:

  • PHOTOfunStudio Viewer 3.1 HD Edition (Windows) - A photo browser / editor with some basic workflow functionality (also includes a tray icon automatic import tool). While PHOTOfunStudio Viewer was able to view GF1 RAW files it couldn't convert them to JPEG and wasn't able to display all exposure information (i.e. it clearly didn't fully support the GF1). This latest version of the software also offers some HD video editing.
      
  • SilkyPix Developer Studio 3.1 SE (Windows / Mac OS X) - SilkyPix is a RAW conversion application developed by Ichikawa Soft Laboratory which is probably better known in Japan. SilkyPix provides a wide range of advanced RAW conversion options including adjustable noise reduction, lens aberration correction and rotation / perspective correction.

As with other Lumix models the GF2 ships with a special (fully featured) edition of SILKYPIX, a rather quirky, though surprisingly well-featured, raw development application for Windows and Mac. The (on-screen) manual is very comprehensive, but doesn't really explain the features very well, and first-time users may find themselves overwhelmed by the sheer volume of options on offer. This isn't helped by the slightly dodgy translations and the plethora of sliders with names that don't really indicate what they actually do. But there is lots here to get stuck into, and the default settings produce perfectly acceptable results.

But after some experimentation and adapting you'll discover that the SILKYPIX can produce far superior results - and can be fine-tuned to produce output that suits your own needs / tastes. In fact there's easily as much tweaking on offer than you get with Adobe Camera Raw, and compared to what you get with most cameras it's hard to complain.

You can save parameter sets (for some reason you put them in the 'cloakroom', but hey ho) once you've found out what works for you, which combined with batch processing and extensive output options (TIFF or JPEG), takes some of the grind out of the business of developing large numbers of raw files.

SILKYPIX has a comprehensive feature set, though the lack of any meaningful documentation (and occasionally incomprehensible menu options) mean it can take a while to really feel comfortable and to find your way around. Most options have plenty of presets to allow you to start getting good results without too much fine tuning. once you're comfortable with the options, you can save your own favoured settings as additional presets, to speed up your processing.
The level of control can be a little overwhelming - for instance, in addition to the White Balance tools on the left-hand toolbar, there's also a White Balance Adjustment palette. The two don't appear to interact, which can be confusing. And, once you're really familiar with the software there are some very fine-level controls over functions such as noise reduction and sharpening. It's not the most approachable software but it's very powerful once you understand it.

RAW conversion

As is normal in our digital SLR reviews we like to compare the supplied RAW conversion software and, at the very least, Adobe Camera Raw.

  • SilkyPix - SilkyPix Developer Studio 3.1 (Default settings)
  • ACR - Adobe Camera RAW 6.3 (Adobe Standard Profile)

Color reproduction

Place your mouse over the label below the image to see the color from a GretagMacbeth ColorChecker chart produced using a the supplied RAW converter and ACR. Unusually there's quite a difference between the default color output produced by SilkyPix and the in-camera JPEG - in fact with the deeper blues and overall higher saturation it looks a lot more like ACR.

Panasonic DMC GF2 Compare to:  
      
      
      
      
ColorBlack & WhiteExpressiveRetro
PureElegantCinemaMonochrome
Dynamic ArtSilhouette

Sharpness and Detail

Panasonic is one of the handful of manufacturers that supplies Silkypix as the bundled Raw converter. As is usually the case in such situations, this leads to images with a very different default processing look to those of the JPEG files coming from the camera. With the default sharpening applied (and the software offers some pretty sophisticated control), the Silkypix images are slightly softer than the camera's output. Adobe Camera Raw meanwhile, appears to be better able to differentiate between fine low-contrast detail than either of the other two. It is then applying rather a lot of sharpening, resulting in a very finely detailed image.

SilkyPix Developer Studio -> TIFF (Default settings, manual WB)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crops
JPEG out of camera, High quality setting (all settings default)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crop
Adobe ACR 6.3 RAW ->JPEG (Default settings, manual WB)
ISO 100 studio scene 100% crops

Resolution

It's immediately apparent not just that the camera's JPEG engine is doing well with this high-contrast target but also that it's working hard to suppress moiré. Adobe Camera Raw isn't really getting any additional resolution out of the files but is generating a lot of false color. Silkypix, by comparison, is managing to render more apparent resolution but again at the cost of quite obvious moiré. As we saw in our standard test shot (above), these results with black and white test subject don't always translate perfectly to the resultls of shooting more common, lower-contrast subjects.

JPEG from camera Adobe Camera Raw 6.3 (RAW)
 
SilkyPix (RAW)  

Real world advantages

As with most cameras, editing the images in a good Raw editor does more than providing the opportunity to specify the processing parameters at your own leisure, rather than having to set them up correctly in the camera before you take the shot. It also gives access to the considerable processing power of your computer which allows the use of potentially more sopisticated demosaicing, sharpening and noise reduction algorithms. Here we take a look at what can very easily be attained by processing from Raw.

In the first example, the camera is rendering the fine, low contrast detail of the tree's foliage rather indistinctly, and even the higher-contrast detail in the background looks somewhat crude. Converting from raw using Adobe Camera Raw with careful sharpening results in a more subtle, realistic look to both regions of the image.

JPEG from Camera
(default sharpening)
ACR 6.3 conversion
(Sharpening 40, radius 0.8)
100% crop 100% crop

Another benefit of being able to dictate the processing after you've shot is the additional control you gain over the type of noise reduction you can apply. Rather than the five pre-baked options that the camera offers (-2 through to +2), you can tailor the noise reduction to suit the subject and your tastes. Here we've allowed a little luminance noise to remain in the image but have suppressed most of the chroma noise, which results in the retention of more detail than the camera managed by itself.

JPEG from Camera
(default NR)
ACR 6.3 conversion
(Luminance NR 48, Luminance Detail 26)
100% crop 100% crop

RAW files for download

Here we provide RAW files, both from the review and the sample shots we take, to allow you to apply your own workflow techniques and see whether your experiences match ours.

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