In this Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 review, Ian Burley tests the company's fifth-generation mirrorless, 16-million-pixel CSC, which has an articulated capacitive touchscreen, OLED EVF, Wi-Fi and NFC, plus improved low-light autofocus
Panasonic Lumix DMC-G6 review: Noise, resolution and sensitivity
Image: Although colour and luminance noise are controlled well at high sensitivities, there is a significant loss of detail
The standard ISO sensitivity range offered by the Lumix DMC-G6 is 160-12,800, with an extension to 25,600 when needed. With the current trend towards using fast prime lenses, it’s worth noting that a minimum ISO speed of 160 and a maximum shutter speed of 1/4000sec could force the user to stop their lens down in bright light. Some cameras are now offering ISO range extension options downwards to ISO 100 and even ISO 50, but not the G6.
If there is enough contrast in the subject being photographed, then smooth results with adequate detail retention can be recorded in JPEGs up to and including ISO 3200. At ISO 6400, artefacts caused by the noise processing start to appear, although there is still useful detail preserved. By ISO 12,800, noise grain is quite evident and dark areas that should be black have a blue tinge. The highest ISO 25,600 setting – which is only available if the ISO range extension option is set in the camera’s menu – should only really be used in emergencies, but can produce images that will stand a small or medium-sized print, as long as you don’t look too closely at it. Using the silent electronic shutter option limits the range to ISO 160-1600, which is a shame because places where camera noises are forbidden are often not well lit.
G6 raw files respond adequately to post-processing. JPEGs are heavily processed, with lens-specific geometric and chromatic aberrations automatically corrected. Consequently, they look very smooth at 100% compared to raw files, even after some raw-file smoothing is applied. They also retain fine details. Chroma noise is only a problem at very high ISOs and Adobe Camera Raw, for example, deals with this effectively.
These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart, captured using the 14-42mm kit lens set to 25mm and f/5.6 . We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately. The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution is at the specified sensitivity setting.