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DxOmark Publishes Panasonic G3 Sensor Data - Does the G3 Deliver?

Discussion in 'Micro 4/3 News and Rumors' started by Amin Sabet, May 26, 2011.

  1. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    The Panasonic G3 (Amazon pre-order) features a new 16MP sensor, and various in-camera JPEG samples around the web have shown impressive high ISO results. What we didn't know until now was whether the new sensor would deliver the goods at the RAW level when compared with the 12MP sensor used in the G1/G2 and the (effectively) 16MP sensor from the GH2.

    We now have the data from DxOmark to answer these questions, and the answer is that, compared to the earlier 12MP sensor, Panasonic has managed to increase the resolution to 16MP while improving on the overall signal/noise (S/N) performance, tonal range, and dynamic range (DR). The one disappointing aspect is that the improvement to DR at base ISO seems to be very modest.

    Selected data from the DxOmark analysis:

    5761909642_b3d979fdf7_o.

    5761909656_821d6a7316_o.

    Taking into account both S/N and DR, the G3 actually seems to exceed the high ISO ability of the GH2! Hopefully this sensor will be used in all of the new Olympus and Panasonic cameras expected to be announced in June.


    Source: DxOmark via 43 Rumors
     
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  2. thearne3

    thearne3 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    807
    Jan 28, 2010
    Redding, CT USA
    Thanks for the summary, Amin.

    Interesting to note that the rumors are that the Oly cameras will NOT use the same sensor. Rather, Panny is making a sensor to their specs. It would be a terrible shame if, given the option to use the same sensor as the G3, Olympus couldn't do better in some respects.

    I imagine the 'better' will not be measured solely by DxO - type analysis. It will perhaps also include better matching with the software and hardware that make Olympus different from Panny: sensor-based IS and noise management software, for example, may affect design specs for optimal overall performance.

    This is surely an interesting time for m4/3!
     
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  3. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    959
    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Thanks Amin

    I agree that the base ISO DR is disappointing. It's not bad at all, but as someone who shoots in challenging situations (variable light etc) such as street or landscape, this is what I was looking for.

    The high ISO improvement is impressive, but not very helpful to my type of shooting.

    Overall, for my purposes, the sensor is not dramatically better than that of my GF1.

    The camera itself is potentially much more versatile: built in EVF, articulating screen.

    High ISO ability seems to be the marketing thing that megapixels were until recently. It can be very useful indeed, and M4/3 can take effective images up to ISO 3200. But it is not always the more important thing.

    Basically the G3 will give me a high ISO GF1 with fewer direct controls and the EVF/screen flexibility. Makes for a nice camera, but also means I will likely wait for the later Panasonic / Oly and Nex announcements before considering any purchase.

    I find this data interesting and useful, but am really looking forward to real-world reviews, particularly with regard to RAW performance to print.
     
  4. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    It will be interesting to see what Oly does. I've been following the rumors pretty closely. There was a very old comment from an Oly exec that 12MP was enough, a 43 Rumors post that Samsung was offering Oly a sensor, and a Japanese blog post quoting a new/untested source that the upcoming Olys would use a 12MP sensor in three cameras to be released in June. All of it is pretty weak evidence, so I'm expecting to see Oly use this new 16MP Panasonic sensor. Hopefully Panasonic made it available to them early enough to implement in the upcoming models rumored for June announcement.

    On the other hand, if Oly brings out a new and entirely different sensor, that would be great news for the system. Having Oly be dependent on their competitor Pana for sensors doesn't seem optimal for the health of the standard.
     
  5. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Although I've found DxOmark data to be very predictive of real world results, they've made a few key mistakes in the past (messed up on the Pana LX3, for example), and their methods are susceptible to on-chip noise reduction/sharpening. Thus, ultimately, we can only know how these sensors deliver by testing the RAW files in our own respective workflows.

    Ideally a review outfit would provide base ISO RAW files from this type of scene for download but unlike the scene I chose, use a controlled environment with unchanging conditions to allow users to compare different cameras using their own software.
     
  6. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    782
    Feb 2, 2010
    Worcestershire
    I agree. I'm hoping too. I'm beginning to think that the G3 may suit me better than the GH2, which I like in terms of results, but have never been happy with in terms of styling. I'm definitely going to try one anyway.
     
  7. ismailfaruqi

    ismailfaruqi Mu-43 Regular

    33
    Apr 17, 2010
    Osaka, Japan
    Swap G2 with GH1, and voila it shows GH1's sensor that is the boss...
     
  8. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    782
    Feb 2, 2010
    Worcestershire
    But 12MP.

     
  9. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    959
    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    Yes, only 12mp. That may or may not be important to individual users.

    Again though, these numbers are just one aspect of the information a serious user might want to consider. Interesting stuff, especially in light of upcoming releases from Panasonic, Oly and Sony.
     
  10. ismailfaruqi

    ismailfaruqi Mu-43 Regular

    33
    Apr 17, 2010
    Osaka, Japan
    Yes... But a D3S is also 12MP.
     
  11. Narnian

    Narnian Nobody in particular ...

    Aug 6, 2010
    Midlothian, VA
    Richard Elliott
    At how many pixels do we reach the resolving power of the lenses?
     
  12. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    A switch from 12MP to 16MP is only a 15% increase in resolution.
     
  13. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I think the GH1 is another example of where DxOmark may not fall exactly in line with practical experience. Many experienced photographers (Michael Reichmann being a notable example) have found that the GH2 actually provides better image quality than the GH1. My own impression is that the GH2 has similar image quality to the GH1 but without the susceptibility to banding that the GH1 (perhaps not all copies of the GH1, but many) has. DxOmark doesn't take banding into effect, nor several other issues which affect image quality (aliasing, resolution, etc), so it has it's limitations.
     
  14. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    It's a good question to which I don't know the answer other than to say that with most of the native lenses, we aren't there yet.
     
  15. MaxElmar

    MaxElmar Mu-43 Regular

    61
    May 18, 2011
    New Jersey, USA
    Yes, and a Ferrari 458 has the same number of wheels as a Toyota Yaris.
     
  16. David Tait

    David Tait Mu-43 Regular

    73
    Apr 29, 2011
    Interesting! It seems that even with improvements this 16mp sensor only matches that of the EP-2. So there seems little point in using something that does not better the existing sensor.
    This info just confuses the EP-3 sensor situation. If Olympus can improve the 12mp sensor just by little, it looks like it will be better than the Panasonic 16mp.

    The EP-3 specs are a cause of frustration. So many rumors and counter rumors,. I'll be glad when Olympus get around to putting their cards on the table. At the moment, it looks like "better the devil you know". That said, it seems so many forum users are keenly awaiting the arrival of the EP-3. But, with so many wish list features being requested, I feel some of us are going to be let down.

    An improved noise reduction factor in the 12mp sensor will do me just fine. I dont need 16mp, unless it is a superior sensor.
     
  17. addieleman

    addieleman Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 5, 2010
    The Netherlands
    Ad
    I was actually considering selling my GH2 and buy a G3 instead because video is not important to me.

    However, the low-ISO noise level and especially the dynamic range of the G3 is a dealbreaker. I'm not impressed by the GH2's noise level at ISO 160 already and I certainly don't want anything worse in terms of dynamic range. I'll wait for the "pro" Pen if that's what's in the works.
     
  18. iliakoltsov

    iliakoltsov Mu-43 Regular

    195
    Aug 7, 2010
    Paris
    DXO mark is a good guideline but it has 1 fault it takes into account only the sensor , as we know Lenses ar probably the most important part. As an example DXO is grading very highly the NEX 5 ( the sensor is exceptional) on the other hand if you use it with the standard kit i would rather go to M4/3.

    What is shocking me that the upgrade is very little in terms of sensor quality:
    http://www.dxomark.com/index.php/Ca...nglet)/0/(brand)/Panasonic/(brand2)/Panasonic

    Panasonic just caught up on Olympus but i would not shout that this sensor is fantastic, its good but if you see what the competition does you would understand why the competition is selling more.
     
  19. MaxElmar

    MaxElmar Mu-43 Regular

    61
    May 18, 2011
    New Jersey, USA
    Ridiculous comparisons to D3s aside (not you David), I agree. Overall sensor quality, but esp. S/N should trump the need for more pixels. But we'll probably get a little of both. :rolleyes:
     
  20. Art

    Art Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 13, 2011
    San Francisco, CA
    Sensor is not everything, there are also some connectors, AA filter, processor, etc. I believe Nikon is able to achieve substantially better results with Sony sensors than Sony themselves. E.g., Samsung's sensor may also be not that bad if the right guys get to use it. I don't care which sensor Olympus is going to use for their upcoming camera, I just don't want any shadow noise at base ISO and we do need noiseless ISO800&1600! I also hope for base ISO100 instead of 200. G3 seems like a good choice. I'd have to wait for real life tests and see if Panasonic indeed has dramatically improved their jpeg engine for the first time. The only thing I don't understand is why they made EVF so huge. It'd be much better if it would just extend forward in which case it wouldn't change the overall dimensions because the lens also protrudes. I know DSLRs have quite large viewfinders but those are optical ones! With EVF, there should be no physical limitations.