GX1: Photographer Insecurity Syndrome

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by greenarcher02, Mar 11, 2012.

  1. greenarcher02

    greenarcher02 Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 13, 2012
    Manila, Philippines
    I got my GX1 with 14mm/14-42mm kit 2 months ago and I'm loving it so far. Except today

    This weekend I took some landscape shots (using the 14-42mm lens) of pine trees and mountains. It was a sunrise shot, and everything was well lit. I noticed that the pine trees turned out to be "mushy". In fact, everything seems generally soft, much to my disappointment, mostly at f22. So soft I think they're almost unusable, even when processed a bit.

    I only took JPEGs and I think they would have been better if I also took some RAW shots and processed them myself.

    I compared them to D90 shots taken at the same time and... well.. I almost had the impulse to throw away my GX1. The colors on the D90 were better, although they were taken on vivid mode and I used natural so I guess that's a factor? But honestly, even the color-rendering is disappointing.

    I don't have the straight-from-the-camera D90 samples here's the post-processed stuff my BF uploaded on FB. I'll ask him if he can send me straight-from-camera samples.

    D90 by winlati, on Flickr

    here are my shots.

    P1040697 by winlati, on Flickr

    P1040695 by winlati, on Flickr

    P1040693 by winlati, on Flickr

    P1040691 by winlati, on Flickr

    P1040689 by winlati, on Flickr

    I know, the D90 one is post-processed but I've tried post-processing mine, they don't even come close. In fact, every photo he took looks much better, even with the same settings and all. They're just too soft or desaturated or just generally dull. Anyone has any idea why this is? Is it the lens? Or the GX1 JPEG engine failing miserably?

    Kinda disheartening that I can't even hold up to a DSLR and a somewhat much more experienced DSLR-user. To be fair he was teaching me how to do stuff but still, I failed miserably.
  2. krugorg

    krugorg Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 18, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    I think this is a quick fix - you were stopped down way too much for micro four thirds. Lens diffraction kicks in, I believe, at f8 and you start losing sharpness as you go beyond that. The diffraction point is different depending on the lens' focal length, but you hit it before you would with a DSLR because of the smaller sensor.

    For example, when doing landscapes on my E-P3, I am usually at f5.6 with my 12mm Oly lens.
    • Like Like x 3
  3. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin .

    Oct 9, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    At a pinch, f/11 is about the smallest aperture I'd ever consider using on a Micro 4/3 camera to avoid softness through diffraction. You'll find that Micro 4/3 lenses tend to be at their sharpest at a wider aperture than a DSLR lens. It seems you are instinctively stopping down to maximise depth of field, but f/22 is excessive. Trying playing around with a depth of field calculator and you'll see how deep your dof is even at large apertures where the lens will be sharpest.

    Online Depth of Field Calculator

    For example, your 14mm prime is sharpest in the centre at f/4, and sharpest at the edges at f/5.6. At those apertures you could get everything from a few metres away to infinity in focus.

    P.S. Even you buddy with the D90 probably shouldn't be using f/22 either.
    • Like Like x 6
  4. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    Real Name:
    Want to thank krugorg and Luckypenguin for bringing this lens diffraction and aperture issue to light for me. I'm going to change how I shoot product photography based on this, to get sharper images.
  5. greenarcher02

    greenarcher02 Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 13, 2012
    Manila, Philippines
    Now that you mention it, I don't think he did. He just told me to stop down to "make everything sharp". You're right, by instinct I thought f22 would be better to minimize DoF.

    Too bad I won't be able to go back to this place anytime soon.

    Thanks everyone! I know better know than to just stop down to death.

    As for the colors... his greens are so green. Photo style and jpeg engine perhaps? Maybe I should shoot RAW from now on.
  6. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Real Name:

    You used the kit lens, I assume the 14-42X variety that comes with the GX1 ??

    This lens has been getting an absolute thrashing from several (many) forum members as it is showing extremely poor sharpness at either of the 2 focal extremes, and in fact, many members are returning/selling theirs and reverting back to the original 14-45 kit lens that is a far more popular and superior chunk of glass. As far as I could tell, most of your shots were taken at the 14mm wide end.....Next time, use your 14mm f2.5 pancake instead and shoot within the aperture ranges suggested above. I have no doubt your results will be clearly better...the 14mm is a really good lens, as is your camera.

    Also, not sure if you shot handheld or not...but if you really want to maximise your results, I'd say just about any landscape shot will benefit from the stability of a tripod.

    Please report back how you go.

    Good luck.
  7. greenarcher02

    greenarcher02 Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 13, 2012
    Manila, Philippines
    I'm using the 'old'/'regular' 14-42mm, not the X one. Not sure though if it's a better lens.

    Oh, yeah, but I was interchanging landscape and portrait shots, so I was also using the 42mm end quite a bit too. And it was so windy I didn't dare to try to change lenses every few minutes or so.

    I shot them handheld.

    What's the best program for RAW images? I'm starting to dislike Panasonic's JPEG engine because of this.
  8. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Real Name:
    Lightroom for PC peeps...Aperture for the Mac pack.

    Panny on camera JPEGs aren't universally loved, but can be tweaked.
    Panasonic RAW on the other hand is smashing.

    FWIW.....once I started shooting RAW and saw for myself the power you can have after the shot, I stopped shooting JPEG that very moment.
  9. Iconindustries

    Iconindustries Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I recommend Aperture or Lightroom. If you run windoze, Lightroom is the go and if you run osx you have the option to use either Aperture or Lightroom.

    By all means shoot in raw, you'll be amazed how much more you can pull out of an image. Don't get caught up in the jpeg vs raw argument- the best way is to try it yourself.

    All the best,
  10. Iconindustries

    Iconindustries Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Doh, you beat me to it Joe:)
    • Like Like x 1
  11. greenarcher02

    greenarcher02 Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 13, 2012
    Manila, Philippines
    Hmmm.. I tried taking RAW pictures once, and I found it a hassle. I used Silkypix. And I had no idea what I should be doing.

    I took my food shots on RAW today. I'll get Lightroom later and check what I can do with them. I use Windows 8 consumer preview, does Lightroom 4 run ok on that?

    I can only tweak so much. Maybe I can save some of these JPEGs.

    Thanks so much for all your help!
  12. yottavirus

    yottavirus Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 13, 2011
    I see too often, even with 5d2 users, people stopping down to f/22 for whatever reason, whether maximum depth of field or slower shutter speed.

    Image sharpness is heavily affected by diffraction; the smaller the sensor and aperture, the softer it will be. In simpler terms, diffraction occurs when the iris (aperture) is small enough for the light to 'bend' around the obstacle (aperture blades), causing blur.

    Generally, fullframe sensors are diffraction limited by f/11, aps-c at f/8, m43 at 5.6 and so on. Diffraction is also affected by the pixel density of the sensor, which is relatively high on m43 cameras.

    Other things that have affected your image are lens flare, bad light or bad subject (in terms of vibrance) and possibly a dirty/oily lens.

    Lens flare decreases contrast by adding more light unevenly across the frame. This can also decrease perceived sharpness and saturation.

    Your subject isn't particularly vibrant itself. If you look at the d90's image, the greens and yellows have been boosted by a lot. In comparison, the gx1's image has a magenta tint. Try using the scenery setting with -2 or -1 saturation.

    To fix your problems: 1, use a moderate aperture when shooting for maximum depth of field, such as f/5.6 or f/8. I would not recommend going smaller than f/8.
    2, do not shoot into the sun if you can. If you can't, either use a lens hood or try to block some of the stray light with your hands. Vulnerability to flare depends heavily on the lens, so you may be limited to those two solutions.
    3, try different jpeg settings on your camera. Do not take the names of the settings as much more than a guide for soccer mums. Try using the standard or scenery modes and tweaking the saturation and contrast from there. Remember, higher does not always mean better.
    • Like Like x 3
  13. CPWarner

    CPWarner Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 24, 2010
    Real Name:
    While I agree with the fact that one needs to consider diffraction limits, one certainly can go beyond f/8 with micro 4/3. I would strongly recommend that you set up test shots incrementally increasing the aperture. Review the shots on a computer to see where you feel diffraction effects become an issue. Having done that, I have seen that f/11 shows virtually no effects on some of my lenses but f/16 does. I have enlarged images from my Panasonic 7-14 taken at f/11 to 24" x 30" and they are very sharp. So f/8 is very conservative in my opinion.
  14. greenarcher02

    greenarcher02 Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 13, 2012
    Manila, Philippines
    Thank you everyone for your input.

    I'll be cautious when stopping down from now on.

    As for the colors... I think they're the result of the GX1's poor AWB and JPEG engine. I did some(a lot of) tweaking in PS and I was able to make the photos look better.

    Anawangin Cove by winlati, on Flickr
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Bhupinder2002

    Bhupinder2002 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    I hate Panny for this all
    This is what my EPL2 offers me ..

    P3044579. P9263720. P9263604. PC2406321.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. panyuser

    panyuser Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 22, 2011
    • Like Like x 1
  17. sprinke

    sprinke Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 5, 2011
    Pasadena, CA
    Real Name:
    I'm surprised no one has suggested using a polarizing filter to help cut haze? Is that not appropriate in the OP's situation?
  18. dre_tech

    dre_tech Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 31, 2012
    Stop down is generally 3-4 clicks (about a stop) from your maximum aperture. The higher f-number would maximize your DoF, or minimize what's not in focus, I assume you just wrote it backwards. :wink:

    Photo 689 that you're comparing to the D90 was not a great case, since the sun was flaring on the right and you can see the ghosting it generated towards the left (that semicircle), besides it's at f22. In the other shots you've stopped down just the right amount, I see f7.1 & f8 and it's not too sharp. I would also lower the ISO down to 160 in bright light, btw.

    To me some of these photos are overexposed: the D90 one, 693, 697. I like 695 and 691 in terms of exposure. Your WB is not going to be as precise as mid-range or newest DSLRs, I can tell you from my GX1. I wouldn't try to overexpose to get the greens to be brighter. Easier to do at home with software that's easy to learn, like Lightroom.

    Don't get disappointed. If you're traveling somewhere and you're not sure you're getting your pictures spot on, you can do a couple of things.
    1. Shoot RAW + Jpeg.
    2. Shoot with exposure bracketing at 1 exposure intervals.

    White balance you can either set on the spot (WB - White set 1 - up arrow - point the box at something truly white and press the set button) or can be corrected at home quickly. I've had photos at night with lots of snow where AWB was not even close.

    As others said, don't go over f/11, if you need to close your aperture more, first lower the ISO to 160, then go beyond f/11.

    You might have gotten the part with the poor sharpness at the short end from somewhere else, maybe it could be from the manual zoom kit lens. :wink:

    The PZ is soft at 42mm, not really soft at 14mm, it's more of a "kit sharpness".

    +1 on using the 14mm pancake when you want to shoot at that focal length, use the zoom from 17mm.

    Not trying to be picky, but you should be aware that Aperture doesn't support GX1 raw files yet.

    I have both Aperture and LR, and with LR's new price of $149 or $99 if you buy an Oly lens with it, I'd go for Lightroom which you can use on both mac/pc.

    Oh, and greenarcher02, the difference in detail captured by the GX1 in RAW vs Panasonic's JPEG's is quite staggering to me.

    P1000089 by DreMigia, on Flickr

    P1000089lr4-100 by DreMigia, on Flickr

    Logged in to Flickr you can see my full size images, and the difference in details especially on the panels of the ArtScience Museum on the left side. I know I lost the blue of the sky, still getting used to LR and haven't finished the photo.
    • Like Like x 2
  19. Old Picker

    Old Picker Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 19, 2012
    Cwmbran Wales UK
    Are we saying (advising) that it is a great idea to buy Aperture (I am a Mac User)?
    What advantages do Aperture have over Elements 9? As you can see, I'm a pure novice at this. I'm glad I joined this forum.
  20. unkabin

    unkabin Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 17, 2011
    Aperture and Lightroom are all about developing. They have a simple (comparatively) workflow. The range of what they do is narrower than Elements, but they do what they do--developing and cataloguing photos--very well. Once you get one, I suspect that your Elements will largely gather dust.