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Noise in Lumix cameras

Epicuros 11 11 Greece
19 Jan 2016 6:37AM
My main line of camera equipment is Cannon EOS but I had a Lumix DMC FZ28 to carry around. I noticed that this camera has a lot of noise. I gave this away and purchased the newer model FZ100 which seems to have even more noise than FZ28. I found twao identical photos the left hnd one made by FX28 (left) at ISO 100 and the right hand one made by EOS 450D @ ISO 800. Both hand-held. The noise in the Panasonic made photo is terribly higher, although the resolution of the two cameras are too much different (10Mp in Panasonic and 12 Mp in Canon). In my current FX100 the noise level is even higher, although resolution is 14.1 Mp. Is there a reason for this difference in quality? Anyone have made similar observations?

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19 Jan 2016 8:21AM
The difference is largely down to sensor size. The Lumix has a tiny 1/2.33" sensor (actual dimensions of 6.08 x 4.56 mm and sensor area of 27.72mm2) this is about 18% smaller than that of the Canon which also has higher resolution and better noise control at higher ISOs. To get your two equal sized images above you will also have enlarged the smaller pixels of the Lumix to get the same crop - this will have enlarged both pixels and noise so giving a false impression.

However, are you seeing a problem that is only there on screen when zoomed to full size? Do both images look OK at normal viewing size and especially as prints? I regularly make prints of images taken at ISO 3200 (on an Oly PEN) which show no evidence of the noise that is clearly visible at 100% on my monitor.
19 Jan 2016 8:43AM
Digital camera noise is a popular topic, and with little effort you will find all-from sensor theory to practival advice on the NET. One of good sources is Cambridge in colour site, Google for it. Practical side of things is very simple though - the worse the light conditions the more sensor size matters. ISO value is secondary to that - as you already noticed in same light ISO800 from larger sensor camera looks cleaner than ISO100 from small sensor one.
The conclusion is twofold:
1. Know your camera limits;
2.Figure out what your reasonable expectations are given the conditions.
As a rule of thumb, I usually do not use compact sensor cameras in conditions where obtaining sharp image requires ISO over 200. Here I mean shutter speed value, not noise level. In bad light ISO100 image from compact will be both not sharp and noisy - while DSLR ISO100 image will be "clean", but still a bit fuzzy because of motion blur. ISO800 off DSLR will be a good solution for this case.
Epicuros 11 11 Greece
19 Jan 2016 12:05PM
Thank you both for your explanations. In actual fact I thought that a pixel had the same dimensions, no matter what camera make, therefore that equall pixel counts would produce equal size sensors. If sensor size is the core of the problem I think I should do some search for a different camera make. I thought image quality differences between DSLRs and "bridge" cameras would not be that great!
Epicuros 11 11 Greece
19 Jan 2016 12:19PM
Sorry Saxon_image, I forgot to answer your question: No, the images do not look the same when they are in "normal" size on the screen, at 25%. There is a vast quality difference between the two shots. I have not done any prints for this particular subject, but have made prints of other subjects, shot under various conditions (inlcuding flash lighting") and they all look quite poor, as compared to prints from a Canon camera ( I am currently using 5D MKII). Unfortunately Canon and other reputable makers do not offer bridge cameras (or compacts) with such large zoom range, hence my decision for a Lumix.
ChrisV Plus
13 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
19 Jan 2016 12:21PM

Quote:Thank you both for your explanations. In actual fact I thought that a pixel had the same dimensions, no matter what camera make, therefore that equall pixel counts would produce equal size sensors. If sensor size is the core of the problem I think I should do some search for a different camera make. I thought image quality differences between DSLRs and "bridge" cameras would not be that great!

No it's huge - in most cases. That will apply especially when you have very powerful zooms - that's because it's easier to do long telephoto when projecting onto a very small area - the lens can still be very compact.

This really has relatively little to do with the make of the camera and an awful lot to do with the size of the sensor. I imagine that SaxonImage above actually meant that the Panasonic sensor is 18% of the size of the Canon's [not 18% smaller].

When we're talking about pixels here, we actually mean sensels [that's the individual light receptor on the sensor]. When camera pixels are discussed we talk about 'pixel pitch' [measured in tiny micro-measurements]. But the upshot is that if you have the same pixel count in different cameras and the sensor size of one is around 18% the size of the other, the sensels/pixel pitch is also going to be typically under one fifth [this can vary simply because of the efficiency with which the pixels are stacked - it's not 100%].

Once the signal drops [ie the light is worse and you raise the iso level] very small sensors struggle to get enough of a good signal - so its effect is noise from the random/poor samples.

If this weren't the case very few people would bother spending a lot of money on large sensor cameras and even larger [and vastly expensive] lenses. I know I wouldn't!
Epicuros 11 11 Greece
19 Jan 2016 12:34PM
Thanks ChrisV. Sounds reasonable. I just had not done much homework with regard to sensors and pixels. If I knew I would probably never buy Lumix cameras, or any bridge at that matter (they are not cheap...).
ChrisV Plus
13 2.3k 26 United Kingdom
19 Jan 2016 12:46PM
They're OK in good light and the Panasonic Z1000 is probably one of the best ever made - that's because it has a [relatively] short zoom range projected onto a large [for the type of camera] 1" type sensor. But they're never going to compete with larger sensors and dedicated lenses [laws of physics say no!]

I use mainly MFT cameras myself and the one I currently use most is the Panasonic GX8. Its sensor size is 50% of that of the 5DII I also own [but now rarely use]. Whilst the pixel count is almost identical [20mp vs 21mp], the Panasonic is a much newer design and its sensor is more efficient. The 5DII can still offer slightly cleaner images at equivalent high ISOs, but the difference is less than 1 stop - and that can be more than offset by using faster [that is larger aperture] lenses with combined sensor/lens stabilisation.

Actually in terms of image noise, Canon in sticking with its own sensor development now seems to be dropping behind its main rivals a bit.
lemmy 12 2.8k United Kingdom
19 Jan 2016 12:50PM

Quote:Canon in sticking with its own sensor development now seems to be dropping behind its main rivals a bit.
Duck! Smile
mr2cameras 5 36 United Kingdom
19 Jan 2016 5:07PM
I'm in a similar situation; I have a Canon 600D as my main camera and a Fujifilm S3280 as my bridge. I've now almost given up using the Fuji because I tend to come back with better shots off the Canon and kit lens than if I use the Fuji. I also find myself dissatisfied with indoor results - even at ISO 200 it seems horribly noisy.
StrayCat 15 19.1k 3 Canada
19 Jan 2016 6:30PM
Try a camera with a 1" sensor, I find it's not much different than M4/3.......imo.Wink Also, it's hard for us to tell, but the right image looks like it has been de-noised, maybe take a look at your camera settings, both cameras. I wouldn't overdo noise reduction in-camera, in fact I leave it at zero, shoot RAW, and deal with it in Lightroom.

I could point you toward a member's portfolio that contains my favourite shots of butterflies and insects, consistently, every day, but I won't. That person is using a Panasonic small sensor point and shoot. I wish I could do near as well, with any camera.Smile
lemmy 12 2.8k United Kingdom
19 Jan 2016 7:49PM
Bigger will always be better - witness how a medium format will beat a full frame in the iQ stakes. Digital sensors are at a very similar stage of development across the industry nowadays so the bigger the better in principle.

The salient point is, how much image quality do you need or want? For all my needs, MFT fills the bill as a good balance between bulk (main advantage being in the lenses) and image quality. But since I make images mainly for sale, editorial and stock purposes, I simply don't need the image quality that a keen enthusiast or amateur would. I do need a good choice of fast and high quality lenses and camera bodies, though.

Many of my newspaper and magazine friends are retiring now and the first thing they seem to do is to flog all their MF and FF equipment and buy either Fuji or MFT. After a lifetime hauling massive equipment around, it's nice to escape the back twisting bulk and weight of FF gear. The number who have back problems is quite worrying, often to do with the twisting of the spine, in fact.

With proper use smaller formats, even compacts, can produce eye popping image quality but the automation of photography nowadays has led many people never to develop these skills, preferring to blame poor results on the camera. If you can't get excellent IQ for a 2048pixel wide web image or a 10x8 print from a modern compact, even at 1600 ISO, it ain't the camera, it's the photographer.
Chris_L 5 5.3k United Kingdom
20 Jan 2016 12:01AM
I find my GX7 and GH4 very noisy once the ISO is turned up a bit and it's exaggerated in Lr if there's sharpening of 25 or more applied - the noise gets sharpened - For higher ISO stuff in Lr I apply some sharpening but use a mask so it ignores a lot of noise and just sharpens edges. I add Noise Reduction as a last resort.

You can set defaults for any camera at any ISO in Lr, super handy, and you only really see it when you pixel peep. I always pixel peep, I like to go to 100% and pan around looking for alternate compositions (by cropping).
Epicuros 11 11 Greece
30 Jan 2016 8:42AM
I thank you all for your advice and comments. It feels better to know that I didn't just happen to buy a poor copy or a poor model. I gather that most bridge cameras find it difficult to deal with noise. I have decided to stick with my Lumix and use it just in case I need a quick shot for practical purposes (e.g. to record a vehicle's plate number or equipment's serial number, etc.). I would be reluctant to use it for a shot that is intended to have an artistic value. Thanks again.
Chris_L 5 5.3k United Kingdom
31 Jan 2016 2:11PM
Use in good light, expose to the right and keep the ISO below 400 and it will be fine. Also apply smart noise reduction in post pro.

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