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Panasonic LUMIX G / GF / GH / GX Series
4K and AVCHD on a Micro Four Thirds system camera with interchangeable lenses.


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Old October 12th, 2009, 09:14 AM   #1
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Micro 4/3rds in low light

Since the GF1 was announced recenly I've been thinking I might jump on the micro 4/3rds bandwagon. I'm currently shooting with a Sony FX7 with an SR1 as a b-cam and I might add a GF1 when its Available in Aus, just to test the waters and start collecting lenses etc, with the hope that down the track Panasonic will release something epic and I'll just be able to swap out the bodies and have a great system.

I've been doing a bit a searching on the forum to see how the GH1 performs in low light (I'm guessing the GF1 would be almost identical) but having trouble finding good information. Most of the samples and discussions seem to be comparing it against the 5DmkII, a slightly uneven comprison, so it always comes out second best.

I was wondering if anyone can give any insight into the low light capabilities of 4/3rds cameras in video mode compared to current video cameras. How does the GH1, with say an f2.8 lens, compare to somthing like the Canon HV20? What about against the FX1000? What about if you put an f1.4 prime onto the GH1? How does it compare then? Or, going in the other direction, how does the GH1 compare when using the f4 kit lens?

If i find out the GH1/GF1 will absolutely smoke the FX7 in low light then the GF1 will be a no brainer purchase for me - with the f1.7 Pancake lens, most likely.

Thanks,
John
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Old October 12th, 2009, 12:24 PM   #2
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Sure adding a faster lens will let more light into the sensor, of course that is true of any camera. I guess it depends on what you are willing to accept for low light quality, and where it will be shown. I have played a little with the GH1 in low & ultra low light situations using high ISO and was not real happy with the results. But then again realistically I never shoot like that, as I light all of my commercial projects. If you give this camera enough light it will produce very beautiful images.
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Old October 12th, 2009, 06:21 PM   #3
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Cheers Davivd. I have read from others that the image becomes unsatisfactory above ISO of 800. At this level, how sensitive is the GH1 with a lens at around f2.8, compared to standard 1/3" CMOS cameras or 3CCD 1/3" cameras
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Old October 13th, 2009, 07:45 AM   #4
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In my opinion it's much better in low light than a 1/3" camera.
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Old October 15th, 2009, 07:18 PM   #5
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Low light

Comparing to my Sony HVR-A1u, the Panasonic GH-1 is awesome. The Sony gains-up pretty bad and becomes pretty coarse, while the Panny's picture is very "clean." I am convinced compared to the smaller camcorders, the DSLR's will manage better in low light.

I am sure a single opinion is not what you want to hear, but there's a decent review of this and other cameras here.

Panasonic Lumix GH1 Digital Camera Review - Panasonic DSLR - Digital Camera Reviews, Ratings of Digital Cameras & Comparisons of Popular Cameras - DigitalCameraInfo.com

One observation I think you may appreciate, the GH-1 scores lower, but seems to do a very good job in low light by providing nice color saturation and relatively smooth look. The overall effect is very natural and generally the photo turns out to be brighter than the subject viewed with the naked eye.
That said, we cannot ignore the physics involved. If low light is critical, then the full frame sensor and bright lens is the way to go.

This is a "dumbed down" still from the GH-1. 1/25th @ f4, 14mm (28mm @35mm equiv). ISO 1600. So about as bad as it gets handheld in low light. The room was very dim, this photo brings out things I really didn't even see. Original was 12M raw, this is 400k, so pls make allowances. I am very happy with my GH1 in this aspect.
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Micro 4/3rds in low light-090930-1010669.jpg  

Last edited by James Harring; October 15th, 2009 at 07:20 PM. Reason: add file size info
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Old October 16th, 2009, 10:49 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Harring View Post
This is a "dumbed down" still from the GH-1. 1/25th @ f4, 14mm (28mm @35mm equiv). ISO 1600.
Quickie question James: Is the lens the 14-140mm kit lens?
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Old October 16th, 2009, 11:03 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Wiley View Post
Most of the samples and discussions seem to be comparing it against the 5DmkII, a slightly uneven comprison, so it always comes out second best.
I keep looking for a comparison of the Panasonic DMC-GH1 vs. the Pentax K-7.
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Old October 19th, 2009, 06:18 PM   #8
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Kit lens

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Koehler View Post
Quickie question James: Is the lens the 14-140mm kit lens?

Yes the 14-140 is the lens that ships with the camera.

From my experience, it seems the focusing system could use some more work. I am not certain if it is just this particular camera, the lens or the body, but the overall image is not as tack sharp as I would like. Strangely, shooting video looks really sharp. I'd be interested in hearing if others share my concern. I am using the latest firmware and on a tripod, with image stab both on/off.

Since this thread started with low light concerns: DxOLabs.com has test bench measurements on many cameras.
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Old October 19th, 2009, 11:42 PM   #9
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vs K7?

I sold my K7 as soon as I got the GH1, so have no direct samples to offer here, but the quality of the video, in general is way better on the GH1, the K7 is limited to 30P at 720, in MJPEG, or that other funky non-standard size which I can't remember right now. But just in terms of noise or low-light, the K7 didn't perform as well as the K20D or the K10D, so no noticeable improvement in that area by getting the K7 over the GH1.
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Old October 20th, 2009, 12:28 AM   #10
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Yes the 14-140 is the lens that ships with the camera.
Thank you James. My interest in asking is because it means the picture demonstrates the ability of the lens+camera at the near extreme (14mm) the lens is capable of. A nice worse case sceneraio.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Carrell View Post
I sold my K7 as soon as I got the GH1, so have no direct samples to offer here, but the quality of the video, in general is way better on the GH1...
Thank you Brian. My interest in Pentax is fueled by having an assortment of Pentax K-mount glass. I am well aware of the formats in which the two cameras shoot and believe the 1536x1024 format of the Pentax is a bad mistake. I am more interested in opinions of the lowlight+noise characteristics of the two camera's.
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Old October 21st, 2009, 09:31 PM   #11
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My baby (f/1.7 lens) was delivered today.
The white balance might have been off in a few clips and I assume it was off in this clip so I took it offline. I don't want to spread misleading examples.

Last edited by Paulo Teixeira; October 21st, 2009 at 11:15 PM.
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Old October 22nd, 2009, 10:57 PM   #12
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I went to Boston again to take some more night clips and here is the biggest of the 3 that I recently uploaded.
It should hopefully start converting. This one seems to want to take it’s time and it’s the best example. The other 2 are already online by the way.

Last edited by Paulo Teixeira; October 23rd, 2009 at 03:27 AM.
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Old October 28th, 2009, 07:32 PM   #13
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The last several lowlight videos that I uploaded all have an ISO of 100 including this one.

Last edited by Paulo Teixeira; October 28th, 2009 at 10:40 PM.
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