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How good are the newer sensors ?

Discussion in 'Panasonic Cameras' started by Dave Reynell, Jun 18, 2014.

  1. Dave Reynell

    Dave Reynell Guest

    For some time I have been toying with the idea of an "upgrade", but then I give the matter some thought, analyse my photographic needs and decide that the gear I have is perfectly adequate for my purposes and produces far better images than my 35mm SLRs ever did.

    What I "have" is a Panasonic Lumix G1 (purchased in May 2009) with it's kit 14~45 and a 20/f1.7. These serve me well, although I do hanker for a 12/2.0 at times. But getting back to the camera body, just how much better is the 16 mp sensor (ignoring all the marketing speak) on the G6, than the 10mp one in my five-year old (and still working perfectly) G1 ?

    My photographic interests are quite simple: I enjoy landscape photography and usually try to record images at the start or end of a day, so the demands on the sensor are not high. I sometimes attempt close-up (not quite macro) photography when taking hikes through local rain-forests (I am a retired forester), but find the 20 a bit limiting, albeit nice and fast, and the "kit" a bit slow in the low sub-canopy light. My latter two comments deal more with the lens than the sensor. I digress !

    I am prepared to step up to a G6 (despite it being assembled in China) but, in all honesty, can someone tell me what the real advantage of such a move would be ?

    Perhaps I should add that I do not live in the United States, where the large market and keen pricing competition make regular upgrades viable (financially speaking).

  2. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    Greater dynamic range, better colors, less noise, and you don't need lab measurements to see the difference.
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  3. Ellsass

    Ellsass Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 15, 2014
    If you can, keep your current camera for a little while so you can try out the new one and then sell whichever body you don’t need.

    I got an EPM2 because it has a better sensor than my GF5, but I ended up hating everything else about it. The photos were better quality (a tad more dynamic range and maybe 10-15% more detail on average if I had to quantify it) but I disliked using the EPM2 so much that I decided to keep the GF5.
  4. Robstar1963

    Robstar1963 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 10, 2011
    Isle of Wight England UK
    Robert (Rob)
    Also consider the G5 which has the same sensor but a few less features
    In my opinion it is a bit better ergonomic ally than the G6 (a little smaller which is better if kit bag space is at a premium) and a bargain at the current clearance prices
    You will definitely see a difference from the G1
    PS made in China is irrelevant imo
  5. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Buy a GH3 : even better sensor, but a touch bigger body.
  6. fortwodriver

    fortwodriver Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Nov 15, 2013
    Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Do you shoot with RAW?

    My wife still uses her G2... She gets better results shooting RAW - it's kind-of extended the life of her camera.

    I constantly look back at (and work with) ten+ year old images from my Nikon D100 - a 6mp digital SLR and I see less of a difference than I thought I would. Sure the image size is smaller but overall the image quality is quite good for relatively ancient digital camera tech. The G1 is newer than that. Over the years, it felt like I was upgrading substantially in image quality. That's doesn't appear to be the case. RAW convertors have become better and more intuitive over time.

    On the other hand, the newest glass is really quite good. You may find shooting RAW and with a lens you covet works well to tide you over until you absolutely feel you need to get a new body.
  7. compute42

    compute42 Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 1, 2014
    I had a G2… Got a GX7 Night and day.
    Wife says, "I thought your old camera was big and silly and the pictures weren't much better than an iPhone. But your new one is awesome, and takes great pictures".

    She's not even mad that I bought an extra couple lenses for the GX7 kit ;-)
  8. GFFPhoto

    GFFPhoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 24, 2013
    You will see a significant difference in dynamic range and noise, and will be able to shoot clean at higher ISOs (so better usability with the kit lens). It a big enough upgrade to where you will see the difference, even if you just view your photos on screens. Also nice are the usability upgrades like being able to use the smartphone app for remote control of the camera or to transfer JPEGs (to then text or email to others, or post online while out in the field), focus peaking, and really good video options (the G6 has outstanding video capabilities... almost as good as the GH3). I'm sure there are other usability upgrades, but I'm not familiar with the G1, so I can't really tell you what they would be.
  9. tuanies

    tuanies Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 13, 2011
    Graham, WA
    Tuan Huynh
    My gains of going from GF1 -> GH2 -> GH3/GX7 have been because of AF and low light performance. The GF1 ISO800 was pretty bad and AF was painfully slow in low light with the 20mm. The GH2 increased AF a bit with usable ISO800 with a little noise reduction in post (40 in Lightroom) (I shoot RAW) or a passable web image at ISO3200 with lots of noise reduction. The AF with the 25mm was worlds better than the 20mm. I didn't think I'd gain much going to the GH3, but it did wow me with how much detail and performance I could pull out of images. The Sony sensor in the GH3 let me pull 2 full stops and shoot virtually in the dark with the 25mm F/1.4. The GX7 I picked up because it looked cool, performance is pretty on par with the GH3 for the most part.

    Here's a sample of my GF1 + 20mm

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    Kassie by tuanies, on Flickr

    GH2 + 20mm

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    Kassy - 4.75 Months by tuanies, on Flickr

    GH2 + 25mm F/1.4

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    Kassy - Chillin' in her recliner by tuanies, on Flickr

    GH3 + 25mm

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    January 03, 2013 by tuanies, on Flickr

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    P1010861 by tuanies, on Flickr

    Non kid pics with the GH3 + 25mm with quite a bit of post processing

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    P1090990 by tuanies, on Flickr

    GX7 + 25mm

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    P1090986_Edit by tuanies, on Flickr

    GX7 + 25mm with just tweaking the perspective a bit

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    P1010506 by tuanies, on Flickr
  10. Itchybiscuit

    Itchybiscuit Photon Mangler

    Dec 10, 2013
    Glasgow, Scotland
    I have both the G2 and the G5.

    I must say that the G5 is head and shoulders above the G2 in terms of image quality with the added bonus of some trick functions like the 'artificial horizon'.

    For £250 at Currys with a 2 year extended warranty at no extra charge, why hesitate? :2thumbs:
  11. MichaelShea

    MichaelShea Mu-43 Regular

    Jan 27, 2011
    Algarve, Portugal
    If you were shooting in the middle of the day instead of the beginning or end, the potential advantages in dynamic range offered by the newer sensors maybe wouldn't be so pronounced. I agree that you would be pleasantly surprised by the G5, as I was, coming as I did from the G1. The G1 is a good camera at the 100 ISO setting, although even there you are losing valuable detail in the highlights as well as shadows. More of those are retained in G5/G6 raw files. Colour is also enhanced to some degree, but Panasonic's colours have never been its strongest suit. Anything higher than 400 ISO is horrible on the G1, but you won't notice noise until maybe 600 or so with the later models. But it seems you won't often need to go much higher than 200 or so anyway.

    The ergonomics and build quality of the G5/G6 are not improvements at all in my opinion. For those you would probably need a GH3 or GH4. At that level and given the type of photography you do, the costs might not be worth it in relation to the benefits. Good luck with whatever you decide.
  12. Fmrvette

    Fmrvette This Space For Rent

    May 26, 2012
    Detroit, Michigan

    May I play Devil's Advocate here?

    If you are satisfied (for the most part) with the results you've gotten from the G1, are familiar with its controls, have a useable workflow in place why not keep the G1 body and acquire the 12mm lens?

    I'm not saying that the G1 hasn't been surpassed by newer cameras (as noted in other posts there would be an increase in useable dynamic range with a camera body upgrade, for one thing) but if you don't have specific areas of displeasure with the G1 to address why upgrade? (As in, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it.")

    Making the assumptions that (a) you are committed to m4/3 for the long term (and thus buying more glass isn't a short term thing), (b) your subject matter isn't up for a near term change (you're not planning on abandoning landscape photos for portraiture or sports photography), and (c) that there really isn't any dislike for the G1 or a sudden attack of G.A.S. making you question the G1's viability - given those assumptions - if it were me I would opt for the 12mm lens and use the G1 until it died. At that point, after the funeral, perhaps look at a camera body upgrade (although given my resistance to change I would, perhaps, look for a slightly used G1 replacement body instead).

    I don't think (and this is an opinion, I don't have a G1 / 12mm combination to verify!) that the 12mm is such a terrific lens that putting it on a G1 body would be a mistake. A G6 would (firm grasp of the obvious here) wring more out of it - but you already own a G1. A quick price check of a G6 body (here in the States) shows a near $650 (U.S.) asking price. A 12mm Olympus lens (in silver color) has an asking price of near $800 (U.S.). Assuming the ratio to be similar in South Africa if the $150 difference is acceptable to your budget I would opt for the lens.

    Of course there is the risk that your ancient :) biggrin:)  G1 would die the day after the check clears on the new lens...but those are budgetary concerns, not photographic concerns (as I frequently tell my wife :wink:).

    Just my 2 cents, fully worth half of that (allowing for market fluctuations and inflation).


  13. Dave Reynell

    Dave Reynell Guest

    I seldom shoot RAW.

    I too look back at images I took with my Nikon CP8400 between 2004 and 2012 and, like you, see less difference than I thought I would. I also agree that the newer glass is surprisingly good, I would say this for for my current crop of Panasonic lenses too (14~45 & 20). I will be travelling to the UK later this month, but have decided not to upgrade. Will, as you suggest, wait a few more years.

  14. Djarum

    Djarum Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 15, 2009
    Huntsville, AL, USA
    I know moving from the E-PL2 to the E-PL5 I'm seeing two stops difference in DR and a stop or more in ISO capabilities.
  15. stlokie

    stlokie New to Mu-43

    Jun 19, 2014
    Same here. I moved up from the E-PL1 to the EP-5 and the improvements in image and overall speed are noticeable, and this is coming from someone who isn't a super serious photographer. The low light performance and faster focus speeds are what drove me to upgrade. I'm pretty happy with the results.
  16. agentlossing

    agentlossing Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jun 26, 2013
    Andrew Lossing
    I had a similar experience with my age-old D40, also a 6MP camera. Those old CCD sensors were extremely good at resolving at base ISO, although they got soft and noisy really fast at anything higher than ISO 200, I do wish CCD technology was still being pursued in the consumer camera industry, but we really do have much more versatile sensors than those old ones.
  17. Dave Reynell

    Dave Reynell Guest

    Jim !

    You've triggered my hankering for the Oly 12 again !

    Just when I thought I had convinced myself than $800 was far too much to pay for a lens (out here in South Africa they cost $1 100). BUT, I shall be travelling to Europe next week and we will be in Andorra for ten days (Andorra is a tax-free principality in the Pyrenees, between Spain and France). I'll see what one costs there. I do agree, good glass IS a longer term investment and I am a great fan of 12mm (the old 24mm in 35 terms). For many years I kept a SMC Pentax 24mm/f2.8 lens clipped onto my Pentax SLR, it was my go-to lens. Then my first digital camera (now dead) a Nikon Coolpix 8400 had a zoom-range of 24 to 85 (equiv.) and most of my shooting with this camera was done at the wide end.

    I am most certainly committed to Micro-Four-Thirds so will hang on to the G1 a while longer. It has little quirks, but I live with them happily. Maybe next year I'll do the upgrade - running out of time though. I'm 73 !

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments,

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  18. Dave Reynell

    Dave Reynell Guest


    I found it Interesting to read your comments on the ergonomics of the 5 & 6. Ergonomics are extremely important, but one wouldn't think so when taking a look at the majority of modern digital cameras (excluding the DSLRs). I wouldn't consider the GH's as they are far too expensive, for my needs.

    Build quality ? Well, sadly, we live in a world where cost-cutting results in so many items being "built at the margin" - if you understand what I mean. I wish I could afford a Leica !

    As for the G1's performance, agreed, it is perfectly adequate for my purposes, but...but ..., there are times when one wishes for better. I believe that if one hunts about a bit, a G5 can be had at bargain prices. I'll be in Europe and the U.K. in late June and July so might be tempted !

    Thanks for your input.

  19. Dave Reynell

    Dave Reynell Guest

    My question has been answered and for this I thank you all.

    I do enjoy this forum.

    • Like Like x 1
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