Tag Archives: Lumix

Low light image quality test: Nikon 1 V2 and J1, Lumix GH-2 and GH-4

I tested the low light image quality of the Nikon 1 J1 (electronically the same as the Nikon 1 J2 and the Nikon 1  V1), the Nikon 1 V2, the Lumix GH-2 and the Lumix GH-4.

The Nikon 1 is a 1″ sensor camera with a 10 MP image resolution and the V2 has just over 14 MP. The Nikon 1 is also an interchangeable lens camera.

The Lumix cameras are micro-four thirds sensors. In the 3:2 ratio in which these photos were taken, both have just over 14 MP of image resolution.

The Nikon 1 camera images were shot with the 1 Nikkor 18.5mm lens, at f/1.8 to f/2.5. The cameras were set to Program mode. White balance was set to Auto.

The Lumix cameras were shot with the Lumix 14-42mm kit lens, at 25mm (equivalent to the Nikon 18.5mm lens field of view) at about f/5.6. The cameras were set to Program mode and white balance was set to Auto. I realized afterwards the GH-4 was also set to a “Custom” photo setting that I use to reduce the highlights so it was not quite identical to the GH2.  The 1 Nikkor prime lens is also sharper than the Lumix kit lens.

These are 1:1 extractions of RAW images from Lightroom 5.x. All shots are at ISO 800 as my goal was to test low light situations.  Noise reduction and sharpness setting were what ever the default was at – thus, no attempt was made to clean up the noise. These tests are not laboratory quality – but the kind of tests that us hobbyists do to better understand our gear!

You can click on any photo to see the full size image.

LOWLIGHT EXAMPLES AT ISO 800

Nikon 1 J1

J1-800

Nikon 1 V2

The V2 shows a slightly higher noise grain than does the J1 (V1 equivalent).  However, the J1 is a 10 MP sensor and the image enlargement is not the same. When the J1 is resized to match the V2, the noise grain is closer in appearance to the J1.

Also note that in the smaller sensor J1 and V2, magenta chromatic aberration is apparent at lower left. This is easily fixable in Lightroom.  Also, those faint pink splotches captured in the V2 images were captured to some degree with all the cameras. There is a reflection from something going on – I just never noticed it before.

V2-800

Lumix GH-2

Interesting to see that the GH-2 had a lower exposure selection. Not shown, but an open window to the left of this section of the photo was bright for all of these photos.

There appears to be a very slight bit of chromatic aberration at lower left or at least some slight flaring at the high contrast points.

Lumix800

Lumix GH-4

The GH-4 did better on the auto exposure, white balance and the chromatic aberration. Even though the GH-4 is using the exact same lens as was used on the GH-2 photo above. That implies the GH-4 is doing some image processing on this RAW file that the GH-2 does not do. While there are differences in white balance making the grain harder to see in the GH-2, manually adjusting the exposure in Lightroom showed fairly similar levels of grain.

GH4-800

LOWLIGHT COMPARISON J1 VERSUS V2 AT ISO 1600

J1 ISO 1600 RAW

J1-ISO1600

J1 ISO 1600 RAW processed with LR noise reduction

J1-ISO1600-Processed

V2 ISO 1600 RAW

V2-ISO1600

V2 ISO 1600 RAW processed with LR noise reduction

V2-1600Processed

IMAGE RESOLUTION 1:1

The following is not a fair test. The Nikon 1 cameras used the 18.5mm prime lens while the Lumix used the 14-42mm kit lens. Unfortunately, I do not have a Lumix prime lens (25mm) which is needed to make this test fair.

What this does show is that the Nikon 1 with the prime lens is very sharp – perhaps sharper or at least on par with the 4/3ds camera with the kit lens. Each photo taken with the lowest ISO setting.

Nikon 1 J1 – ISO 100

J1-100

Nikon 1 V2 ISO 160

V2-160

Lumix GH-2 ISO 160

GH2-160

IMAGE RESOLUTION 3:1 ENLARGEMENT

Nikon 1 J1 – 10 MP sensor

J1-100-3

Nikon 1 V2 14+ MP Sensor

Because the J1 has fewer pixels, the 1:1 image above shows a wider area. Still, it is surprising how good the 10 MP image looks compared to the 14+ MP image.

V2-160-3

J1 ISO 100 Resized

With the images reset to roughly equal sizes, the greater resolution of the V2 becomes apparent. Here, the J1’s 10 MP image is enlarged to match that of the higher resolution V2. Bear in mind that these are really bad case/low light situations too.

J1-100-3-equal

V2 ISO 160 

If you look carefully, you can see slightly more detail on the ceramic cup, at left, and you can see more detail in the writing on the spice container in the middle.

V2-160-3-equal

J1 3:1 on the Creole seasoning container

J1-equal

V2 3:1 on the Creole seasoning container

While the resolution improvement in the V2 is visible, it does not have nearly as much visual impact as you would expect in going from 10 MP to 14 MP. Note the word “Original” in the yellow band area – the word “Original” is readable in the 14 MP version but not so well in the 10 MP version. Still … not a lot of difference, is there?

V2-equal

Lumix GH-4 ISO 400 3:1

Even at ISO 400, the GH-4 looks slightly better than the Nikon 1 V2 at ISO 160  (above). I did not shoot this test photo at ISO 200 (or using the expanded ISO setting on the GH-4, I could go as low as 100 – but there is apparently no improvement in image quality at that setting).

GH4-400-3

I did not shoot the test photo with the GH-2.

Conclusions

Small sensor cameras are doing better and better as each new product is announced.

The Nikon 1 J1 is already up to the J5 generation with 20+ MP and a better low light sensor. The V2 is presently up to the V3, with the V4 rumored to appear soon (and assumed to be similar to the J5 sensor).

The Lumix GH-2 is now up to the GH-4 generation.

In well lit areas, the Nikon 1 V2 appears to hold its own very well against the larger 4/3d sensor (the GH-2 and V2 are roughly comparable in that they were both sold around the same time). I have generally avoided shooting at ISO 800 and have probably never shot at ISO 1600! However, after these tests, I am comfortable that I can get decent results on any of these cameras at ISO 1600.

In low light, the larger sensor of the GH-2 and the GH-4 cuts the noise. You can probably shoot the GH4 at an ISO setting double that of the V2, for the same noise level. Not a big surprise.

The 4/3ds sensor also has noticeably wider dynamic range but none of these tests demonstrate that feature.

None of these cameras compete directly with full frame sensor cameras and their better low light capability. But then, they cost a tiny fraction of the cost of the full frame camera. If you are not shooting extreme low light situations, the smaller sensors may be entirely fine – which is the case for me.

I did these tests because I am thinking I may carry only the Nikon 1 V2 on some future trips. Not only is the camera small, but the lenses are small too and weigh very little compared to larger formats.

In the real world where most of us post photos to FB or Flickr, the image resolution we look at with this detailed pixel peeping just does not matter. These photos will all look fine on line.

As long as I am not shooting a lot of low light situations, there is not a big difference in image quality and I can usually control for the slightly narrower dynamic range of the 1″ sensor by shooting RAW and if necessary, using exposure compensation to control for bright highlights and dark shadows.

Red tulips, yellow daffodils and more!

Click any image to click through to Flickr for larger sizes including the original full size uploads.

Photo taken with Nikon 1 V2 and Nikkor 30-110mm lens.

Red tulip

 

Photo taken with Nikon 1 V2 and Nikkor 30-110mm lens, with -0.7 ev exposure compensation.

Yellow daffodils in the setting sun

 

Photo taken with Panasonic Lumix GH-2 and Lumix 20mm f/1.7 lens.

Closeup of Rose, Lumix GH-2

 

Photo taken with Olympus XZ-2 “point n shoot”!

Bleeding heart flowers and rain drops

 

Spring flowers

It is that time of the year now. Blossoms and flowers. Click on any photo for larger sizes at Flickr.

Nikon 1 V2, 1 Nikkor 30-110mm lens. Outside the public library building.

Blossoms outside the library

 

 

Nikon 1 V2, Minolta 50mm f/1.4 lens at f/4.0. Outside the public library building.

Spring time blossoms

 

Lumix GH-2, Minolta 50mm f/1.4 lens at f/2.0.  This photo taken during summer of 2014, outside city hall.Flowers at City Hall, Summer 2014

 

Lumix GH-2, Olympus 9-18mm wide angle lens. Photo taken at Zion National Park in April of 2014.Flowers #2, Zion National Park, Utah

Nikon 1 J1, 1 Nikkor 30-110mm lens. Taken March 12, 2015, in my front yard.Close up of spring flowers

Online 3D Photo Web Sites

The following web sites are more than just Flickr – they provide online 3D editing tools. You typically upload two images, a side by side 3D image or an MPO file – and then make alignment and other changes “in the cloud”. Once done, your finished 3D image can be stored in your online photo gallery and viewed in multiple formats, as selected by the viewer – such as side by side cross eyed views or anaglyph.

  • Phereo.com
  • Dualfoto.com
  • 3dMedia.com (uses offline composition software, web site does not display photos on my NVidia GPU – because I do not have a stereo monitor)
  • This list is to be continued …
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Fujifilm W3, Lumix 3D1 and Toshiba Z100 3D cameras all appear to be “discontinued” but…

In the last two weeks, many 3D cameras have been marked as discontinued or their price has been slashed, suggesting they are being discontinued, or their availability has been sharply curtailed.

It is likely that vendors are clearing out inventory the week before Christmas in anticipation of announcing new 3D cameras at the 2013 International Consumer Electronics Show during the 2nd week of January.

B&H Photo has marked the Fujifilm Finepix 3D W3 camera as “discontinued”; Walmart.com says the same thing. I own this camera and find it a lot of fun for shooting quick 3D stills. A lot easier than my dual camera setups!

Amazon has marked the dual lens, dual camera 3D Toshiba video camera down to $159.95; B&H was at $149.95Toshiba Camileo Z100 3D Digital Camcorder Camileo Z100

That is a remarkable price for a stereoscopic 3D video camera recording dual video channels (at 960×1080) – and amazingly, the Z100 includes an external mic input too. Main drawback is lack of image stabilization to control for shaky handheld shots.

The Panasonic Lumix 3D1, which was carried by Amazon itself until a few weeks ago, is now only carried by resellers: Panasonic digital cameras Lumix 3D shooting black DMC-3D1-K. And B&H Photo lists this camera as “discontinued”.

My guess: We will see many new 3D cameras at the 2013 CES!

I plan to be at CES and will be filing reports on cameras, especially micro-four thirds systems, 3D photo and video cameras, and tablet computing devices. Some of my camera items will appear here and at least one other web site. More info as we get closer to CES!

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Fujifilm 3D W3, Lumix 3D1, Toshiba Z100, Sony Bloggie 3D specifications

A comparison of inexpensive, consumer level 3D cameras in terms of the specifications that matter for 3D photography and video. There are other cameras besides these but these are affordable and available from many vendors. Another day I will look in to specifications of higher end cameras, such as the Sony TD10/TD20 3D video cameras.

Update: Since posting this item it appears that most of these cameras are in the process of being discontinued and you can find some great half price deals right now. It is likely that new 3D cameras will be introduced in a few weeks at the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show.

Fujifilm W3 Lumix 3D1 Toshiba Camileo Z100
Stereobase 6.5 cm 3.0 cm 3.0 cm
Focal length 35-105mm 35mm equivalent 25-100mm 35mm equivalent Fixed lens, 4x digital zoom in 3D, 35mm equivalent unknown
Stills 2x 10.0 MP Sensor3D Resolution
7.2 MP in 16:9 ratio
8.9 MP in 3:2 ratio
10.0 MP in 4:3 ratio

Stills recorded in full size side by side MPO format

2x 12 MP Sensor3D Resolution
6 MP @ 16:9
8 MP @ 4:3

Stills recorded as full size
Side-by-Side MPO files

2x 5 MP sensor3D Resolution
4 MP @ 16:9
(2D 5M 2592 x 1944, and an “interpolated” 16 MP 4608×3456)

Stills recorded in  full side-by-side JPEG

Video Video
1280×720/24p
MP4 encoding3D HD Resolution
two separate video streams recorded as 1280×720/24p for left
1280×720/24p for rightEncoding
AVCHD or MJPEG
3D-AVI format
Video
1,920×1,080/30F
in either AVCHD or MP4. Sensor is progressive but video is encoded as 1080i – end result is basically the same as 30p.
1280×720/30p
1280×720/60pEncoding
AVCHD or MP43D Resolution
960 x 1080 for left
960 x 1080 for right
Video
1920×1080/30p
720/60p
MP4 encoding,3D file format is one half side-by-side formatmeaning 960×1080 for each halfFeatures external mic input plug
LCD Glasses free 3D 2D only Glasses free 3D
Image stabilization No, CCD imager Yes, CMOS imager No, CMOS
Battery user replaceable user replaceable user replaceable

 

 

Sony Bloggie 3D
Stereobase 2.0 cm
Focal length 16:9 stills and video: 47mm (35mm camera equivalent)
4:3 41mm (35mm equivalent)
Stills 2x 5.15 MP sensor
(3.1 MP @ 16:9)
(5 MP S 4:3)3D
2 MP (1920x1080x)Encoded as full size MPO side by side images
Video 1080
720/60p
720/30p
3D: 1080/30p onlyEncoding
MP4Encoded in half size side-by-side 3D format for 960 x 1080 resolution per side
LCD Glasses free 3D
Image stabilization Yes, CMOS imager
Battery internal, not replaceable

An interesting observation – some of these cameras have 1920×1080 image sensors but actually cut the image in half when encoded into video. The reality is they are not 1920×1080 but 960 x 1080 x 2.

In addition, the frame rate offers additional temporal resolution.

Let’s compare the image quality in terms of actual resolution, as well as resolution in time by calculating a “mega pixels per minute” rate:

  • Fujifilm W3: 1280 x 720 x 2 x 24 fps = 44.2 MP/minute
  • Lumix 3D1: 960 x 1080 x 2 x 30 fps = 62 MP / minute
  • Toshiba Z100: 960 x 1080 x 2 x 30 fps = 62 MP / minute
  • Sony Bloggie 3D: 960 x 1080 x 2 x 30 fps = 62 MP / minute
  • Generic 1280 x 720 x 30 fps = 55 MP / minute
  • Generic 1280 x 720 x 60 fps = 110 MP / minute

Interestingly, depending on many factors, your highest image quality might come from 720 x 60 fps because it delivers more potential information to your eyes over time.

Shooting 3D with my two Kodak Playsport Zx3 cameras, I think the 720/60p dual camera view looks on par with the 1080p/30p view. But that is also because after editing and 3D processing, the output of a 1080p video often ends up as a 960x1080p side by side video (as needed, for example, to upload to Youtube).

Figuring out which is best can get complicated!

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Perhaps my best 3D depth photo so far

Photograph of the “fishing pond” at the 2012 Spokane Valley Fest. Photographed using two Lumix GH-2 cameras, 14-42mm lens on the 14mm end. I really like how all the “clutter” creates very nice depth in this photo, plus the camera alignment was decent at the time of the shoot 🙂

Use red/cyan glasses for viewing this stereoscopic anaglyph image. Click on the image for a full size photo.

[singlepic id=160 w=640 h=480 float=]

 

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Morning Glory in #3D, Yellowstone National Park

This is a red/cyan stereoscopic anaglyph still frame from an HD 3D video. Equipment used was two Canon Vixia HF M301 consumer camcorders on a homemade mount.

 

I also photographed this as a 3D still image using two Lumix GH-2 cameras. However – notice the problem? The reflection in the pool really messes with the eyes in this 3D image. I think this means we need to be very careful about reflections, whether in water, or bouncing off of cars and windows.

 

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3D video of Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Geyser eruption

3D video of Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Geyser eruption – YouTube.

This is a “fake” 3D video created from a 2D video shot from the overlook several hundred feet above the geyser basin.

This video was created by time shifting a 2D video to produce separate left and right images – creating a very nice effect of the steam cloud coming out of the screen at the viewer.

To  create this effect, the one 2D video was dragged to both the “left” track and the “right” track in Magix Movie Edit MX Plus. Then, using the Stereo 3D effects tools, click on the “Shift Frames” – or + options. For this video, the right track was shifted 5 frames to the left. This has the effect of moving the steam cloud forward or towards the viewer.

Because the steam cloud is constantly moving, by shifting one copy of the video sequence off by 5 frames, the left eye sees the original and the right eyes sees the original but shifted by 5 frames when the steam has moved slightly. This, in turn, is similar to having recorded a separate left and right video image. But instead, I cheated used only 1 camera.

This was shot on a single, handheld Lumix GH-2 with a 45-200mm zoom lens. My tripod was simultaneously in use shooting a time lapse sequence using a Canon SX1 which I have not yet processed.

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