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Compared to...

Below you will find a studio comparison between the Panasonic DMC-FZ5 and the similarly specified Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z5. We have included samples for the lowest and highest ISO settings for each camera (DMC-FZ5: 80 and 400, DiMAGE Z5: 50 and 320).

Studio scene comparison (DMC-FZ5 @ ISO 400, DiMAGE Z5 @ ISO 320)

  • Panasonic DMC-FZ5: Aperture Priority mode, ISO 400, Default Image Parameters,
    Manual white balance
     
  • Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z5: Manual mode, ISO 320, Default Image Parameters,
    Custom white balance.
     
  • Lighting: Six 18W Full Spectrum (>98 CRI) fluorescent tubes
Panasonic DMC-FZ5
Konica Minolta DiMAGE Z5
ISO 400, F5.0
ISO 320, F5.0
1,913 KB JPEG
2,340 KB JPEG
Noise, std dev: 4.8
Noise, std dev: 3.6

Things get much more interesting at the highest ISO settings (ISO 400 for the Panasonic FZ5, ISO 320 for the Konica Minolta Z5). Athough the DMC-FZ5 has measurably higher luminance noise (this is what we measure for our concise tests), it is easy to see from looking at the crops that the Konica Minolta Z5 has much more color noise - all shadow areas appear very blotchy. Just as bad is the almost total obliteration of fine detail in the Konica Minolta shot due to the huge amount of noise reduction being used.

Five megapixel CCDs are notorious for producing relatively noisy results, yet Panasonic has managed to reduce high ISO noise on the FZ5 considerably compared to the FZ3 (which is only just usable at ISO 400). That said, these tests are in relatively bright light, and you really start to see the noise issue when you shoot in really low light and the noise reduction starts to really krank up. Take a look at the ISO 400 examples in our samples gallery to see just how strong the 'watercolor' effect of high noise reduction can be.

RGB Noise Comparison

Since the images produced by these two competing cameras have such widely different noise characteristics, we've analysed the noise on a per channel basis using a crop taken from our standard studio shot.

Panasonic DMC-FZ5 Konica Minolta Z5
100% crop 100% crop

Red Channel
Noise std. dev: 6.1

Red Channel
Noise std. dev: 14.7

Green Channel
Noise std. dev: 4.2

Green Channel
Noise std. dev: 5.8
Blue Channel
Noise std. dev: 4.5
Blue Channel
Noise std. dev: 6.5

As you can see, the Z5 has considerably more noise - and a larger grain size - in the red and blue channels than the FZ5 (and you can clearly see the noise reduction in action in the red and blue channels on the Panasonic images).

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