Here you can see a generated GretagMacbeth ColorChecker chart, place your mouse over any of the labels below it to see the color reproduction in that mode. Select a camera/setting combination from the 'Compared to' drop-down to see comparative boxes inside each patch.
Generally speaking there's very little difference in the color response (hue) of modern DLSRs - the visual difference is down to different default saturation and tone curve. The G1 has relatively muted colors and contrast compared to many entry-level cameras at its default 'standard' setting, but there's plenty of different 'looks' to play with using the Film Modes.
|Panasonic DMC-G1||Compare to:|
|Nostalgic||Vibrant||Standard B&W||Dynamic B&W|
|Smooth B&W||Adobe RGB|
Artificial light White Balance
It's probably fair to say that auto white balance in artificial light is not one of the G1's strengths (though to be fair it's hardly on its own in this respect - few DSLRs excel in this area). In incandescent light the G1s auto white balance is already slightly struggling and surprisingly the results get worse when you use the incandescent preset. The auto mode also delivers sub-standard results under fluorescent light and there is no Fluo white balance preset. On the plus side it should be mentioned that the G1's manual white balance system (complete with two custom presets and a two-axis WB fine tune system) is one of the most sophisticated you'll find in any camera in this class. So, if you take the time to adjust white balance manually, you can achieve perfect results.
|Incandescent - Auto WB
Red: 5.1%, Blue: -7.3%, Average
|Incandescent - Incandescent preset WB
Red: 9.0%, Blue: -14.2%, Poor
|Fluorescent - Auto WB
Red: 8.6%, Blue: -21.0%, Poor
Long Exposure noise reduction / Night shots
Our usual 30 second exposure test produced produced exactly one hot pixel from the Panasonic G1. However, the optional long exposure noise reduction got rid of it efficiently. So, if you're taking images at very long shutter speeds it's worth activating this feature.
|Noise reduction Off||Noise reduction On|
|ISO 100, 30 sec, F16||ISO 100, 30 sec, F16|
The G1's built-in pop-up unit does a perfectly decent job. Flash images are usually well exposed and show neutral colors. There is also an AF illuminator lamp on the front of the body to aid the focus in low light.
Intelligent exposure adjustment
Like most 'serious' cameras these days the G1 one comes with a dynamic range enhancement feature, the Panasonic variant is called Intelligent Exposure Adjustment. You can switch this feature completely off or apply it in three levels (Low, Standard, High). The effect is fairly subtle, even at the 'High' setting. Interestingly while most similar features on other cameras aim at increasing the level of highlight detail Panasonic is much more concerned about the shadow areas in your image. Intelligent exposure slightly increases sensitivity (even if you have set it to a fixed value) and then modifies the tone curve to lift the shadows.
This is exactly what's happening in our sample shot which we shot at ISO 100. When Intelligent Exposure is set to 'High' the G1 increases ISO to 160 at the same shutter speed and aperture and also adapts the tone curve. In the resulting image the shadow areas have been lifted but the highlight areas look virtually identical to the standard shot, so don't expect to reduce blown highlights by activating Intelligent Exposure.
|Intelligent exposure off||Intelligent exposure high|
|ISO 100, 1/125 sec, F4||ISO 160, 1/125 sec, F4|
Overall Image Quality / Specifics
If you've read through our range of test reports on the previous pages it won't surprise you that this section will be kept fairly brief. There simply aren't any major image quality issues to report on.
In good light the Panasonic produces consistently high image quality out of the box, there's not really a need to play with any of the parameters. At the camera's standard JPEG settings G1 images show natural tones and colors and hardly any artifacts. Image detail is impressive indeed. The G1 pulls visibly more detail out of a scene than the conventional Four Thirds DSLRs that we have tested before and is on par with the very best in the entry level DSLR bracket such as the Canon 450D. Shooting in RAW will get you even more detail and generally clean output. To get the best per pixel sharpness you'll need to switch to raw mode, but this is true for most SLRs in this sector of the market.
At higher sensitivities things get naturally a bit more difficult. The Panasonic Four Thirds sensor produces quite a bit of noise (as our RAW noise test revealed) but this is fairly effectively counteracted by Panasonic's noise reduction algorithms. In lower light the G1 cannot quite keep up with the best entry-level APS-C DSLRs but produces images that show an appealing balance between noise reduction and detail retention. At ISO 1600 noise starts to kick in much more aggressively, although the output is still perfectly usable at album print size, the maximum setting should be reserved for emergency occasions.
The G1's metering was generally very reliable with only the occasional tendency to a very slight over exposure, especially in contrejour situations. No metering system out there is absolutely perfect though and whenever necessary this is easily fixed with a tad of negative exposure compensation.
The only other small issue we should probably mention is that the G1 tends to clip highlights a little earlier than most DSLR that feature an APS-C sized sensor. The smaller photosites of the Four Thirds sensor have a slight dynamic range disadvantage to start with but this is slightly exacerbated by the G1's very steep tone curve. Again, this is nothing you need to worry about too much, just make sure you expose extra carefully in high contrast situations and/or shoot in RAW so you get a little extra headroom to play with - and the option to use a tone curve with a more gentle roll off.