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G1 vs DSLR image quality?

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by Jonkobeck, Jul 4, 2010.

  1. Jonkobeck

    Jonkobeck Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 4, 2010
    New York City
    I am a new G1 owner. Prior to the G1 i was using a Canon 5D with prime L glass. Great camera, but very heavy. I would leave it in the bag more often then not, due to then weight.

    I do mostly fine art work, and I was very attracted to the G1 for some of it's features and especially size. From the limited amount of time I have been using the G1 it looks to me like it's comparable to my old full frame 5D.

    I was curious what some of the others on here think about this.

    It seems I am meeting more and more so called "pros" who have put down the dslr in favor of this camera
    • Like Like x 1
  2. naturecloseups

    naturecloseups Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 10, 2010
    Jonkobeck, welcome :) 

    Like you, I too renounced my Nikon D200 and D70 to get full-time into MFT. The m4/3 format has some inherent advantages for the kind of work I do (closeups of fauna and flora outdoors) and I was intrigued by the possibility of being able to use a multitude of legacy lenses.

    Though you titled your post "G1 vs DSLR image quality" I'm sure you actually meant "m4/3 vs DX/FX sensor image quality" since the reflex viewing mechanism that typifies DSLRs do not contribute to image quality in any way :) 

    Yes the bigger sensors usually have better low light/high ISO performance and it is easier to get less DoF when you need it. Not sure if you'll miss those features much. You may miss the AF speed once in a while. Since I mostly shoot at lowest possible ISO using available light + fill flash, don't usually use AF and usually need quite a bit of DoF -- I am not missing my DSLRs yet and I doubt I ever will.

    I personally look at m4/3 bodies (and possibly other mirrorless bodies) as digital backs for my prized collection of legacy lenses that can be disposed every 2-3 years to keep up with advances in sensor technologies without getting the feeling I am throwing away too much.

    I have faced some curious questions from many folks asking what were the compelling reasons for my quitting DSLRs cold turkey and getting into m4/3. So far it has not been hard for me to explain but it was very hard for some of them to understand ;-)
    • Like Like x 1
  3. photoSmart42

    photoSmart42 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 12, 2010
    San Diego, CA
    ...is why...

    IQ in light of actually taking a camera with you as opposed to leaving it at home is acceptably less, although in most cases noticeable (less so with the GH1). Larger sensor will, on average, end up providing you with better low-light performance, faster AF, higher frame rates, and increased DR. How much so depends on the implementation on specific cameras, on processing, on the lenses used, etc. IQ on a G1 with premium lenses may, for example, be better than the IQ of an entry-level APS-C DSLR with average lenses.

    Whether or not the difference is worth it against the shavings in weight and the ability to fit a bunch of legacy/MF lenses is a personal choice many people seem to be making in favor of m4/3 cameras, although in many of those cases it's not so much of a swap as it is an addition.
  4. soundimageplus

    soundimageplus Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 2, 2010
    Indeed. I'm one of them. I've been using m4/3 for 18 months or so and my back is very grateful!!
    • Like Like x 1
  5. bilzmale

    bilzmale Mu-43 All-Pro

    I'm another 'full' convert and not regretting it - oh and welcome to the forum.
  6. Brian Mosley

    Brian Mosley Administrator Emeritus

    Dec 15, 2009
    I don't know about IQ compared with your 5D with prime L glass, but m4/3rds certainly gets the shot where the DSLR wouldn't be close to hand... and that makes a huge difference!

    Welcome to the home of m4/3rds - I hope you will stick around :friends:


  7. Pelao

    Pelao Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 3, 2010
    Ontario, Canada
    My experience is along the lines of some of the points made here:
    - many people are more likely to carry the smaller cameras, and therefore have more opportunities to make photographs

    - I would rather have my GF1 with a good lens than a DSLR with an average lens

    - some DSLRs, especially full frame, do offer much better ISO and DR performance. Is it enough to kill M4/3 for you?

    I would say that there are some other points, such as your own taste set against the aesthetics of the images. Only you can judge this. I enjoy my GF1 immensely, but I still prefer the look and feel of my 5D / prime images overall. Having both leaves me well equipped for the various opportunities I meet.

    So I fit into the category of my M4/3 camera being a wonderful addition to my toolkit.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Grant

    Grant Mu-43 Veteran

    First off I love my GF1 it is a great camera, there is no doubt in my mind about that. It is small, compact, and light and I carry it every where. The 20 mm f1.7 is an exceptionally good lens by any standard.

    I also shoot with a Nikon D300 and I bought the Panasonic GF1 to complement my system. I wanted a something that would be as good as my D300 yet extremely portable, a camera that I would carry all the time not just when I was making a point of going on a shoot.

    When I got the GF1 I did some extensive comparison testing with it. I tested every shot with the GF1 against similar shots with my D300 as not fully convinced about its worth. In a very short time I came to trust my GF1.

    So what did I find out? While the quality of the images are exceptional from the GF1 the resolution is marginally better with my D300. The dynamic range of my GF1 is very good but I shoot at 14 bit depth with my Nikon. Low light shooting with the GF1 is not in the same league as my dSLR and this may be a deal breaker for some. This doesn’t bother me as I remember how Tri-X was and digital is so much better. Those are the technical down sides but the up side is even with those lows the image quality you can expect get from the Panasonic is wonderful good.

    That being said no camera does everything well or we would not need different types of cameras. The strength of the µ43 is it size to quality ratio, the strength of the dSLR is the versatility and ease of use. I am glad I have both and didn’t have to pick one over the other.

    The Nikon is my work camera and the Panasonic is my walk about camera both do different jobs and both do those jobs very well.
    • Like Like x 3
  9. Jonkobeck

    Jonkobeck Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 4, 2010
    New York City
    For what its worth, Brooks Jensen who is a fine art photographer and also the editor of Lenswork Brooks Jensen Arts - Home Page recently made the switch from large format film to digital, using the Panasonic G1. He says that the IQ of the G1 is just as good as his large format film work, providing it's a low iso and you don't enlarge much. I found that very interesting.
    • Like Like x 2
  10. Jonkobeck

    Jonkobeck Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 4, 2010
    New York City
    I remember a few years back when the Nikon Coolpix 8800 was introduced it was something like an 8 x 9 mm sensor with 8 mp and I was very impressed with the IQ of that camera.
    The pan g1 has a much bigger sensor with a third more megapixels.
  11. pete_t

    pete_t Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 24, 2010
    I've switched from a Canon 1Ds Mk3 and L glass to a GF1 and Panasonic and Panasonic/Leica lenses. There is a difference in image quality - but it is only normally visible in much larger prints, difficult or low light conditions or fast moving subjects.

    Given I rarely print larger than A3 and most of my images are seen only on screen, my subjects move at glacial speed (mostly landscapes!) and they need some light for me to see them I don't have any problem.

    And the difference with my back is quite noticeable. I slipped a disc in my lower back two years ago and had to stop carrying the camera for a while. Now the whole kit weighs less than the 1Ds and one big Canon L lens meaning I carry it with me much more and for much longer distances.

    If you want to find weaknesses in m4/3 image quality you will be able to find them if you want to, but my view after using it for many months now is that for all normal purposes (i.e. looking at images on screen and for sensible sized prints) you will struggle to tell the difference.
    • Like Like x 2
  12. slau

    slau Mu-43 Regular Subscribing Member

    Jan 26, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    If my life depends on the success of the project, or the project involves fast moving subjects or heavy bracketing, I will use my Canon 1DMk3 + L glasses.

    If my project demands absolutely quality, large prints and does not involves with fast moving subjects, I use my 1DsMk3 with L glasses.

    Anything else, I will not hesitate to use my GH1 with 14-140+20f1.7 lenses.

    Yes, there are definitely difference in image quality between the cameras. Is it worth the extra effort to carry the DSLR system? It depends on a lot of your personal preferences, the targeted usage of the images and how critical of the shooting is. I do have beautiful prints up to 17X22 with my GH1. I have been going on photo expeditions with my three cameras, shooting side-by-side, and I am very happy with my set up right now. If you only view the images on screen, not involving fast moving subjects and heavy bracketing, don't waste money on DSLR and the GH1 is more than capable to do the job.
  13. grum

    grum Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 2, 2010
    The main thing is the high ISO performance - if you want to shoot gigs or weddings a DSLR is clearly going to win. The AF is also not as good for fast moving subjects etc

    But for 90% of instances there really isn't much difference. Also I and potential subjects are much less conscious of the camera as opposed to a big DSLR. The only advantage at times of a big camera and lens is that people will take you more seriously as a pro.
  14. DownUnderDog

    DownUnderDog Mu-43 Regular

    Hi Jonkobeck,
    I'm like you and went from Canon 1d bodies and L series lenses to a Panasonic G1 with three lenses. The total Pano kit weighs less than the 1d body on its own. I read of the Mu43 enthusiasts who don't have EVF, but I just adore having a viewfinder in the G1. It keeps me remembering my 40+ year career as a photo journalist.
    • Like Like x 2
  15. Iconindustries

    Iconindustries Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    G'day Jonkobeck. Great to see ya on here and I extend a warm welcome from Oz land. I'm Intrigued by your username:)  do you have a story behind it?

    Having no background in big DSLR cameras makes me wonder what the contributing factor that makes them heavy. Is it the batteries or the lens or something else?

  16. Jonkobeck

    Jonkobeck Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 4, 2010
    New York City
    Well, my username jonkobeck stands for my real name, Jon kobeck :)  :) 
    • Like Like x 1
  17. pete_t

    pete_t Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 24, 2010
    Its all to do with the very design of the m4/3 concept and the sensor size and architecture. Very briefly the absence of a mirror in m4/3rds (that is part of a conventional DSLR) means that the back of the lens can be much closer to the sensor within the camera body. This means lenses can be significantly smaller than normal, therefore making them much lighter.

    Conversely, the greater distance required in a DSLR to accommodate the mirror means the lenses are larger to get an equivalent angle of view making them heavier (glass being the heaviest bit, but the housing isn't exactly light on a big lens either). A bigger lens requires a larger camera body, hence more weight.

    For more on the m4/3 design, have a look at Four Thirds | Micro Four Thirds | Benefits of Micro Four Thirds
    • Like Like x 1
  18. Toonman

    Toonman Mu-43 Regular

    Jul 19, 2010
    HI, a new member here. I have just bought a G1 (after cashback just £300!) I have reached the G1 via Nikon DSLRs and finally The Olympus E series.
    I noticed when I switched from Dx sensors to 4/3rd ones a slight drop in quality. I can now match it but have to work smarter to do it. I travel a lot in my work and private life and can see the G1 being a great camera. I used to leave my DSLRs at home and take a compact, now I don't have to.
    • Like Like x 1
  19. chalkdust

    chalkdust Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 29, 2009
    McKinney, Texas
    I am not a professional photographer. The short answer is that the IQ of 4/3rds is better than good enough.
    • Like Like x 1
  20. G1 User

    G1 User Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 20, 2010
    I have a G1 and 17mm.... it has plenty of IQ for all, a Wedding PRO may use it for candid and that kind of secondary imaging camera, but, not the main ceremony. Although, It could be used, A FF or higher end APS-C DSLR can deliver a file with better IQ overall. Now, I have both, And although, the G1 can deliver nice and detailed files...above ISO 500... The DSLR will be cleaner and better for enlargements. BUT... the G1 ISO 400-640 is really good for the 4/3 sensor. And usable..Just not as clean in the smaller details, but very acceptable for most of us family and hobbyist camera geeks.

    I find ISO 100-500 very usable, no hesitation for me. Wish the "Auto ISO" would allow 1/3 increments as my ISO settings.

    ISO 320

    ISO 400

    ISO 100
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