Raw comparison (Adobe Camera Raw)

Studio scene comparison (RAW)

For a (more) level playing field for comparison we also shot our studio scene in RAW mode with each camera and converted it using Adobe Camera RAW. Because Adobe Camera RAW applies different levels of sharpening to different cameras (this confirmed) we had to use the following workflow for these conversions:

This is our standard studio scene comparison shot taken from exactly the same tripod position. Lighting: daylight simulation, >98% CRI. Crops are 100%. Ambient temperature was approximately 22°C (~72°F). Camera settings as per previous pages.

In both cases we used our standard workflow (sharpening turned off in the raw converter and applied at an equal level in Photoshop before saving as JPEG):

  • Load RAW file into Adobe Camera RAW (Auto mode disabled) / Capture One
  • Set Sharpness to zero (all other settings default)
  • Open file to Photoshop
  • Apply a Unsharp mask: 80%, Radius 1.0, Threshold 0
  • Save as a TIFF (for cropping) and as a JPEG quality 11 for download

Panasonic GF1 (Raw) vs. Olympus E-P1 (Raw)

Camera settings:

  • Panasonic DMC-GF1: Olympus 50 mm F2 Macro lens (@F6.3), Aperture Priority, ISO 100
    Raw, Manual WB, Default Parameters (Standard), Self-Timer

  • Olympus E-P1: Olympus 50 mm F2 Macro lens (@F6.3), Aperture Priority, ISO 100
    Raw, Manual WB, Default Parameters (Standard), Self-Timer
Panasonic DMC-GF1
Olympus E-P1
4.4 MB JPEG (4000 x 3000)
3.9 MB JPEG (4032 x 3024)

As we've seen with previous Panasonic models, switching to raw mode is like lifting a veil from the output, and even in this quick ACR conversion the true capabilities of the sensor are revealed, with visibly more resolution and none of the demosaicing artefacts or moiré we saw in the camera JPEG. By comparison the Olympus has improved far less, which - as we pointed out when we reviewed the E-P1 - is as much an indication of just how good its JPEGs are as anything else.

Given our experience with every other Olympus and Panasonic camera it comes as no surprise that this raw comparison reveals the GF1 to have a slight resolution advantage over the E-P1 (thanks, presumably, to a slightly lighter low pass filter) - in fact the amount of detail you can capture with this body / lens combination is simply stunning.

If you are a raw shooter there's no doubt that the GF1 can make more use of a good lens (removing the E-P1's superior processing equalizes just about everything else, and from a color and tonality point of view there's no significant difference).