Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dynamic Range of LX100 & GM1

A friend who is really keen to purchase the latest Lumix LX100 asked me if it's dynamic range is as wide as the GM1.

Afterall, he concluded, the LX100 "crop" the 16MP sensor to 12 but the GM1 utilises the full 16MP M43 surface!

So, in real life; the little GM1 should have WIDER dynamic range than the much larger (physically) LX100?

Smaller but better dynamic range? The little GM1, right and the latest LX100
Guess what?  I CANNOT give a confirm answer to my friend's question!  The reasons being, of the two days I was loan the LX, I do not have the time to compare the dynamic range of the two cameras.  And now I cannot repeat the test because I do not have the LX100 any more :(
For those who do not understand what dynamic range is and why a wide range is important, please Google "dynamic range of digital camera" and read one of the 3.9 million hits ;)

For those who just want to take pictures and not bother about technicalities, in short a camera with a large dynamic range are able to capture more shadow detail and highlight detail at the same time.

A digital camera with a wider dynamic range will capture more details and information in the shadow and highlight area.

Wide dynamic range will allow you to RECOVER details in OVEREXPOSED and UNDEREXPOSED images more effectively.

To provide a honest answer to what my friend asked, I scrutinised all the shots I did during that 2 sessions with the Lumix LX100.

I discover that on the Sunday afternoon when we were in the Te Papa museum, I was shooting with the LX100 and Le General was clicking away with my GM1.

Out of all our shots, there are a few that are of similar angles and  exposures, perfect for my comparison!

The horizontal shot was taken by my wife with the GM1, I wish she has a vertical one like mine (bottom).  Both were extracted from RAW file with no correction.  Both shots looked good, except there seems to be a bit more colour saturation in the LX shot

Let us see what happen when I try to crank up the shadow detail...

Both pictures were adjusted in ACR's settings of Fill Light (shadow) and Recovery (highlight) of 85%.

Visually, the LX100 look better! There are more shadow detail than the one from GM1!

What about noise in the shadow area?

Looking at the two extreme blow-up, I don't have to tell you which one is better!

Both are quite "noisy" but that is expected from an underexposed image area being lightened.  I was amazed by the LX100's resolution and detail! I attributed that to the incredibly good zoom lens on the LX!

I want one!!!

Here is another example...

Untouched RAW files from the two cameras.

Both images after same settings adjustments in ACR.

The Itsy-bitsy GM1 came back with a vengeance!  See how good it is?  The resolution from the kit lens is, sometimes; hard to believe!

This is my answer to my friend...

Famous Last Words..

I suspect that both the GM1 and LX100 are using the same type of sensors.  Looking at my test, the LX seems not worst off even though it only use 12MP surface of the 16MP sensor.

On contrary, the LX100 seems to resolve slightly more detail in the shadow area, I attribute this to it's incredibly good zoom lens.

Of course, the little GM1 has a trump card of being able to change lens, it would be interesting to see the results if it is wearing a bright f1.7 lens!


mityvisionz said...

Brilliant write up on the comparison of the two siblings .... end of the day ... maybe the price will dictate which model to get ..... there's plus and minus in each of them ....

JC said...

Another good write up. Thanks for sharing.

Netbooker said...

DR has nothing to do with sensor size - it's the size of the pixels on the sensor that count. Which will obviously be the same for these two cameras.

(Think about it - how could DR depend on sensor size? It's the possible range in variation for each sensor pixel, which wouldn't change even if every pixel but one was masked.)