DMC-GF3 and Lightroom 4.1 RAW processing, severe posterization and black clipping

Started Jul 24, 2012 | Discussions thread
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Roger Nordin
Roger Nordin Senior Member • Posts: 1,649
DMC-GF3 and Lightroom 4.1 RAW processing, severe posterization and black clipping


While (im)patiently waiting for my silver OM-D E-M5 w/12-50 kit lens to arrive, I have been keeping an eye out for deals on lenses I like to add. One of them is the 14/2.5 pancake, and when a shop here in Sweden decided to dump their price on the DMC-GF3 w 14/2.5 package well below the price of the 14/2.5 lens alone, I went for it. Even I didn't like the GF3, I could easly sell it since its brand new with warrantly. Even if it doesn't generate much money it's money back on the lens I got with the deal.

Either way, I really wanted to like this camera! I still want. It fits wonderfully nice in the hand, it even allows RAW capture in "intelligent auto" mode, ideal for my wife or handing the camera to someone else to take a photo. But, I just cannot come to terms with the image quality. Yes, I knew from the beginning it's the old sensor, and that it's way surpassed by the 16Mpixel sensor of Panasonic, and that in turn is surpassed by the OM-D E-M5, approaching the quality I am getting from my 3 year old EOS 7D today. The latter is what really got me to consider micro43. But I just could not expect it to be so bad..! It's like travelling back 10 years in time. I just have to ask you here, I am missing something really basic here?!

Look at the cirlcled area, it is showing severe posterization. Even outside this area, there is plenty of noise. This is base ISO 160. It was shot with +1EV, exposed to the right, with highlights clipping (though in the recoverable range). I could not really have pushed the exposure further. I am also observing that even though I am pushing the shadows +50 in Lightroom, there are still areas with black clipping. Trying to up the black level does not really produce any more detail. It is as if the dark areas of the GF3 RAW file 1) does not contain that many bits of information, 2) clips to absolute zero black level very early. Its as if the RAW file only had 8 bits depth or something like that, or the distribution of the information is shifted way to the highlight side, leaving very little range for the blacks.

Since I can easily push shadows like this on ISO800 and even ISO1600 files on my DMC-LX5 RAW files, I am actually totally baffled here. I must be doing something really wrong. It cannot be this bad, really?! Yes, the LX5 files generates noise when pushing the shadows, granted - but there is no such posterization going on for sure, and the noise is fine graded and not that objectionable. It cleans up very nice with Lightrooms quite basic NR. The blotchy areas of the GF3 files would require some heavy handed post processing - or just accept no detail in dark areas and clip them to black, hiding the noise. Please advise.

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 Roger Nordin's gear list:Roger Nordin's gear list
Olympus OM-D E-M5 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM1 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GM5 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX8 Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM +10 more
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