Compared to...

Below you will find a studio comparison between the Panasonic FZ3 and the similarly specified Canon PowerShot S1 IS. We have included samples for the lowest and highest ISO settings for each camera (FZ3: 80 and 400, S1 IS: 50 and 400).

*note: We didn't have an S1 IS on hand, however we have used a shot from a previous session, taken under identical conditions (thus the slightly different position of the items in the shot).

Studio scene comparison (FZ3 @ ISO 80, S1 IS @ ISO 50)

  • Panasonic DMC-FZ3: Aperture Priority mode, ISO 80, Default Image Parameters,
    Manual white balance, +0.3 EV compensation
  • Canon PowerShot S1 IS: Aperture Priority mode, ISO 50, Default Image Parameters,
    Manual white balance, +0.3 EV compensation
  • Lighting: Two 800W studio lamps with dichroic daylight filters bounced off the ceiling
Panasonic DMC-FZ3
Canon PowerShot S1 IS
ISO 80, 0.4 sec, F5.2
ISO 50, 0.3 (1/3) sec, F4.5
1,432 KB JPEG
1,340 KB JPEG
Noise, std dev: 2.3
Noise, std dev: 1.9

Despite similarities in the color and tonal range between the two cameras there are important differences when you start to look a little closer. For one thing the FZ3 has produced a very slightly warmer tone, but the Canon S1 has marginally more saturated reds. Although the FZ3 has slightly higher noise levels, the images still look very clean, and it certainly appears the difference is down to more aggressive noise reduction on Canon's part. When it comes to fine detail - and edge to edge sharpness - the Panasonic FZ3 is a clear winner. The sharpness of the FZ3's result appears to be in the most part down to simply better optics (there is no evidence of over-sharpening). In fact I would say Panasonic has set the defaults on the FZ3 to produce the optimum sharpness and detail without noise becoming too intrusive.