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Old Apr 14, 2006, 12:13 PM   #1
PK1
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I've had the FZ7 for a little over a week now, and I've been intrigued by the High ISO 800/1600 mode. At first it seemed useless, because the resolution in this mode is only a fraction of the normal resolution. But I also noticed that the 800/1600 photos showed excellent contrast and color saturation, even in very low ambient light levels. When printed at a standard 4x6 size, the low light photos look sharp straight out of the camera. I decided to do some comparison shots versus the camera's standard ISO 400. I did several scenes, one of which is shown here. At ISO 1600, the camera metered it a F3.3, 1/10 sec exposure. I made the ISO 1600 shot, then switched the camera to manual and took an ISO 400 frame at the same settings.

Then I took the ISO 400 frame through the applicable post-processing steps to remove noise and normalize the levels. In other words, I was shooting the scene at ISO 400 with the metered exposure for ISO 1600. Some people refer to this as "pushed exposure", and sometimes it gives good results. I then resized the frame (originally shot at 1600 x 1200) to 700 pixels width to represent a reasonable viewing size.

For the high sensitivity mode ISO 1600 frame, I simply resized the image to 700 pixel width, no post processing at all.

The original ISO 400 frame was dark (of course) and covered with noise. After processing, nr, color correction etc (a lot of steps!), I got a properly exposed picture, but still noisy and barely usable. The ISO 1600 shot straight from the camera looks much better. For purposes of this experiment, I think 1/10 second is a reasonable cutoff point for exposure length, because even with image stabilization, that's about the lower limit for handheld shots, and for avoiding (a little bit) movement of the subject.

The verdict? Once you run out of reasonable exposure options, the FZ7's high ISO mode will give you pictures instead of darkness. They are low res, but as compensation, they are ready to use with no postprocessing.

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Old Apr 14, 2006, 12:38 PM   #2
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PK,

Interesting work. I also have an FZ7 and did some testing with the high sensitivity mode. I would definitely use the 800 ISO setting to get a shot that I otherwise would miss out on. But then I also would only print it at the recommended size around 4x6 as you've mentioned. I may not use this mode much, but I'm still glad to have it.

Buy the way, I'm actually surprised at the level of detail in the 1600 image seems fine for small prints to me.

-Brett
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Old Apr 14, 2006, 5:36 PM   #3
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Thanks Brett,

I agree, it's nice to have the option available. I've found that whenever the light level is really low, at shutter speeds about 1/10 sec with fully open lens at ISO 400, the high-sensitivity mode shots always look better in terms of color quality and tonal balance. The ISO 400 shots under these conditions are dull, noisy, and show color casts.
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Old Apr 14, 2006, 7:47 PM   #4
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Agree. The high sensitvity iso800-1600 is much more useful than I thought it would be (I have the fx01), particularly around iso800-1000. It is limited to web, email and 4x6 prints but that takes care of the majorityphotos. By comparison, iso400 is pretty useless in lowlight situations such as this. It can be used with fairly good results if the lighting is sufficient and you want something to print larger than 4x6.

Looking at the overall poor quality and resolutionof the highly processed iso800-1600 shots coming out of the fz7, fx01, and tz1, however,causes one to be that much more appreceaitve of what fuji has done with their 1/1.7" sensor in the f10/11/30 cameras. That high iso quality is the current benchmark for handling lowlight noise levels. Pany can't remain in the grainy dark ages much longer and be successful.
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Old Apr 14, 2006, 7:58 PM   #5
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Your photographs prove that no matter what Panasonic is going to offer in the FZ40, it should have the option of 800-1600 ISO

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Old Apr 14, 2006, 8:09 PM   #6
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Here is another ISO 1600 low light shot. The room was lit by one 60w equiv flourescent bulb, and the exposure was f2.8 @ 1/15 sec. The ISO 400 equivalent exposure would be 1/3 sec. That is low light. This frame was shot at 1280 x 960 res and downsized to 700 x 525 for web posting. I downsized the image and corrected levels and color balance only -- no noise reduction. What surprises me about these dim-light shots is the depth and color accuracy.

PK


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Old Apr 15, 2006, 10:42 AM   #7
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The color is deep and beautiful....I wish I had 800-1600 in my FZ20.

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