Newer camera but more noise
I recently upgraded my venerable Panasonic GH1 m43 camera with a newer one, the GH3 which was on sale. There is a GH4 out and also a GX8 and G7 but there are only small improvements in the field of stills. So I went for the GH3 which is supposedly a more professional camera with more buttons and weather sealing.
I am happy in general with the new camera, more features, better focusing modes, faster etc. There is one thing I never thought will show up. The GH3 is more noisy. Let me explain. The m43 system cameras from Panasonic and Olympus have all standard size sensor with a diagonal of 1.33" which is not particularly big. So noise issues show especially at higher ISO. Nothing new here.
The surprise came because one would expect a newer camera to be less noisy. Especially a so called "professional" one. I could not believe my eyes.
Then I understood. The GH3 has 18 million pixels (16 million used) while the GH1 has only 12 million. The sensor being the same overall size it results that each photo site must be smaller. When checking for noise everybody is looking at 100% zoom. Even DT recommends to check your photos at 100% magnification. So what happens when one does that with a 16Mpixel image? One zooms in more and the noise is more visible... This will probably never show on a print. The GH3 with its newer sensor and more resolution will create better prints. But when the reviewers will poke around my submissions using 100% magnification they will see more noise.
I checked on the web about this and sure enough I found on DxOMark . They were comparing GH1 with GH2 and not GH3 but the same conclusion holds as the GH2 is also 16 Mpixel camera. The photo site of the GH1 is 4.3u while for the GH2 is 3.6u
They say loud and clear that the GH1 is better from noise perspective.
So this makes me a bit sad. On the other hand there are other improvements from ease of use perspective and other. It even has a wifi connection and one can use a smartphone to control it from a distance. Long list of improvements. All except the noise.
Photo credits: Gavril Margittai.
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