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M4/3 System                                                                   
(18th March 2017)
Panasonic GX8: 20Mp at High ISO Example...

Amazed at Feather Detail on a 20Mp M4/3 camera at ISO3200.

Trying to photograph a small bird recently in very poor light recently, I had to push my GX8 to ISO3200 and was truly amazed at the result ...

Of late my interest has leant towards photographing nature and it appears that nothing shows up lack of detail more than photographing birds. Loss of resolution due to any of the following; a soft lens, slight miss-focus, smearing due to high ISO noise reduction, poor stabilisation, or simply not enough pixels to resolve the fine soft feather detail, can all leave an otherwise excellent image containing feathers looking like a cheap water colour painting.

GX8 @ ISO3200 out of camera unprocessed jpg - whole image downsized.
(Click photo for larger Image)

The early evening light was appalling, being both dark and overcast. This shot was taken
handheld at ISO3200 using the Panasonic 100-400 lens set at 350mm.
       
GX8 @ ISO3200 out of camera unprocessed jpg - Full Size Crop.
(Click photo for larger Image)

The image is dull, but the detail and lack of noise from the GX8's 20Mp sensor, prompted
further thoughts as to might be obtained with a little processing from RAW.
       

RAW Power...

I was so surprised by the lack of noise and impressed by the feather detail from the above out of camera jpg, and from an image shot in such appalling light that a Nikon user beside me said let's call it a day, I thought I would have a play and see what sort of result could be extracted from the RAW file and whether I could in fact better the in camera jpg engine. Frankly I was amazed at the benefit a few minutes with Lightroom could bring. Below is the result ...

Click for larger photo
GX8 @ ISO3200, converted from RAW. (Click photo for larger Image)
Frankly I was stunned at how well this 20Mp micro Panasonic 4/3 sensor produced
 this much fine feather detail, in such poor light, and at such high ISO.
       

Progress or Not...

Camera forums frequently abound with derogatory statements about how poor M4/3 cameras are at high ISO because of sensor noise. Some so called M4/3 fans moan there has been little progress of late and frequently say the increase from 16Mp to 20Mp was a waste of time and produces more noise with no other improvement. However have I got news for you... that has not been my experience when photographing indoor action sport such as roller-derby or when photographing birds.

I have now been an M4/3 user for around 8 years and although I initially used the original 12Mp Panasonic G1 alongside my 24Mp Sony DSLR, however since Panasonic introduced the 16Mp GX7 with all its wonderful features, the DSLR has quietly sat in its case. I was fully aware that I had to be more careful when composing as the loss of pixels and thus resolution was certainly noticeable, but for the commercial work I have been doing 16Mp was far more than adequate.

However when it comes to my hobby I am ultra critical and the Panasonic 20Mp sensor as implemented in the GX8 has proved to be a marvel of modern engineering.


 Article Adrian Harris