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HarjTT Nov 25, 2006 9:34 AM

Jeff over at DCresource posted their review of the FZ50 recently and I was meaning to post a link when I'd seen it but never got around to do so. The review was basically pretty much the same as the FZ30's - great optics, OIS, etc etc. What really got my attention was the studio ISO 800 shot and the difference between the RAW file and PP and the Venus III ISO 800 jpeg. From that comparison I'd say the FZ50's ISO 800 RAW shot is not bad at all - I don;t mind the noise but the watercolour effect and loss of detail from Venus III is a problem that Pana need to fix. In the meantime I'd say RAW + NeatImage would produce some pretty good results and at a decent print size.

Here's the review:

ISO 800 Venus III Original jpeg

RAW Image

RAW + NeatImage

"Do I like the Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ50? Yes, quite a lot. Am I disappointed that Panasonic stuffed a tiny 10 Megapixel sensor into it and then turned the noise reduction to eleven? Very much so. The FZ50 is definitely the best designed ultra zoom out there, and it's a real pleasure to use. It's also the largest and most expensive of the bunch -- in fact, it's even bigger and more expensive than some digital SLRs! If you're a person who doesn't plan on taking a lot of high ISO shots then I can certainly recommend this camera. If you want to shoot at higher sensitivities, be prepared to spend time in Photoshop to get the best results, or perhaps consider a digital SLR (though you'll never get a lens like this on one of those)."



:O :?

Rriley Nov 25, 2006 10:22 AM

thanks Harj

well that says it all really doesnt it
just a few points to add
theres no question that pana have put out some noisy cameras
but theres a point where the story becomes larger than life
like you say, the iso 800 images dont seem as bad as all that

in a recent and highly contested stouch over there at DP that saw a member banned over a discussion comparing canon's S3is and the FZ7, when i checked out a logical test photo comparison, i was amased at how close they were, and so it is with FZ50 too

so it is to this, there are a lot of cameras that do really badly at iso800, but it seems for some, and comparitively speaking, they are unfairly locked into an almost mythical position. i have no doubt that someone will choose to take issue with that analysis, but the way i have come to see it, thats the fact of the matter


HarjTT Nov 25, 2006 12:29 PM

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Hi Riley

After looking at those shots I've been wondering how much better that ISO800 shot would have been if they had kept the sensor at 8MP and if it were possible via a firmware upgrade to give an ISO800 to the FZ30 or would that be a real hardware issue? Those shots just show how much the Venus III is over processing the images and loosing detail. I think Pana should do something about this but I think it won;t be possible without a new camera as the Venus engine is a chip on the camera's motherboard. My solution to noise as always is to turn it into a B&W and pretend its a short Elliot Erwin and the like would have taken!

Hows the LC1 going ?? Any new pics to share mate ?

Here are those sample shots again (I think the original links were removed but not sure how):

The original full size shot:

HarjTT Nov 25, 2006 12:30 PM

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Jpeg 100% crop

HarjTT Nov 25, 2006 12:31 PM

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Raw 100% crop at ISO 800

HarjTT Nov 25, 2006 12:42 PM

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Raw + Neat Image:

Now what an improvement over the original in camera jpeg! Personally i wouldn;t have smoothed it down so much but the Raw + Neat Imaged shot shows how good the FZ50 can be. I hope Steve, Jeff, Dave and Phil now start to do this as a standard part of their testing so that we the consumer can really see what you can do with any camera.

Rriley Nov 25, 2006 12:42 PM

well the venus 3 isnt the noise itself
and my feeling is noise ninja does a better/slighter job
the thing is being able to turn venus3 off
or having a decent raw buffer and LOTS of memory

while iso800 is pretty useless
its just as useless on FZ7, and S3is

so whats the difference?

the lens has resolution unreachable in other bridging cameras


Rriley Nov 25, 2006 1:24 PM

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to illustrate my point here was the comparison review of canon S3is and FZ7


Rriley Nov 25, 2006 1:36 PM

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and to complete

Corpsy Nov 25, 2006 3:19 PM

I have the FZ30 and am not considering the FZ50, but I was definitely curious to see how it compares.

The tests in the review definitely illustrate that the camera has a superior noise reduction engine, but I don't really care for the subjects they use for their still life tests. Items with smooth, untextured surfaces tend to do very well with noise reduction. You really see how good or bad the camera performs when you put in heavily textured items like wood and brick, and have lots of shadows and highlights to scrutinize.

Also, these high ISO tests tend to illustrate how well the camera will perform in good lighting. Similar tests showed the FZ30 performing just below average at ISO 400, but in the real world when you need that ISO to boost lighting, it performs much worse.

As for the FZ50 test photos, it at least appears that you can make usable prints from some ISO 400 shots. However, if you look at some of their real world photos, you'll truly see the effects of noise and noise reduction. I wish the EXIF would say what setting of noise reduction was used, but I have to assume it was at it's default for these photos.

Check this one out:

This was taken at ISO 800. You can see the noise even in the thumbnail.

The real shame is that in ISO 100 photos you can see both the effects of noise and noise reduction in the same photo. Check out the "purple fringing tunnel of doom":

Scroll to the left and you can see colored noise all over the pillar in the shadow area. Scroll to the right and look at the bricks in the shadow area. You can see both colored noise and the smudging and dark pitting of noise reduction.

I realize that I'm getting a bit picky here and the photo would look perfectly fine when scaled down for web viewing and probably even printed relatively large. It's just that when compared to the FZ30 shooting at ISO 80, it looks like you're getting a lower quality image with less effective dynamic range. I completely agree with HarjTT that if they were to simply put that noise reduction engine into an FZ30 without upping the megapixel the FZ50 would have been more impressive. Upping megapixels also means a darker exposure, so comparing the FZ50 at ISO 100 to the FZ30 at ISO 80 is likely a fair comparison.

Doubtless this photo would have turned out better by shooting RAW and cleaning it up manually, but considering that you still can only shoot one RAW every 3 seconds, that the files are 20mb each and that some people don't have the time or know-how to process all their RAW photos, it may be impractical for many people to do so.

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