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.

Sailboats with spinnakers at Rolex Cup

Photo credits: Gavril Margittai.

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October 07, 2015


I think it's a course that need running-in each other, both the people and camera and other things.

October 07, 2015


When I began my adventure with Dreamstime, I had a Panasonic FZ100 (smaller than m4/3 sensor) bridge camera and quickly found that it just didn't cut it.
It wasn't long before I moved to the Panasonic G3.
I shot Dreamstime for quite a long while with that camera knowing full well that at ISO 800 it was touch and go scenario for acceptance due to noise. Over 800, forget it.
Before long, I'd made enough to get the G6 and found I could pretty much get most of my ISO 800 images accepted.
It comes down to understanding the limits of your camera, how to use it, working within those limits, learning about light, gaining knowledge of diffraction, learning the sweet spot on lenses and how to use lightroom/photoshop to correct if needed ect.
For me, micro four thirds works and I've built a collection of nice lenses for it over time.
The size and weight of the camera and lenses make it easy for me to carry five lenses and a body easily which I expect would be a much larger burden in a larger format camera.
A couple of weeks ago, I broke my G6 and replaced it with the GX8. So many damned features on it that I just LOVE!
At 20 mp, and due to smaller photosites on the sensor, I do notice a tiny amount of noise at 400. But I shoot raw and it is so minor, and so easy to clean up in Lightroom it isn't an issue at all even at 800. Now 1600 is the ISO at which it's touch and go (mostly go). 3200 and up, well, that's reserved for those gotta have it, don't have my flash handy, personal or artsy-fartsy b&W shots that don't get sent Dreamstime.
Like has already been said here, just determine what it is you're trying to do with the camera and buy for that (and your budget).
Although we'd all like to own 35x24 sensor cameras and all the goodies for them, in reality almost any micro four thirds/apc sensor can do the job. It just depends what you want.
For most all typical shooting scenarios, that GH3 should do you just fine.

October 06, 2015


There are so many things that can affect camera noise.

Are you shooting JPEG or Raw? If JPEG, switch over to raw. Make sure you are NOT shooting in a fully automatic mode. Try the Av settings. You'll have to experiment to which works best. I now shoot with a Canon 7D II and use an F stop of 7.1 almost exclusively. Every camera is different so try using a different setting (s) until you find which is best.

If you have that ability to do so, reduce your ISO to 200 or less. It may limit you on some shots, but it's better than noise. Turn off in camera sharpening and noise reduction. The can sometimes have to opposite of the desired affect.

Make sure your photo processing software is up to date. Some newer cameras work better with newer software.Here shows some tests and their photos look fine for the most part: If the link didn't make it, go to dpreview. dot com and look your camera up.

October 06, 2015


I guess I can revert to the GH1 camera whenever I do stock, Nothing wrong with the old camera. Or I can downsize the pictures to be 12 Mpixels. I would feel silly with both options. Working with ISO 200 is probably an even more important factor.

October 06, 2015


Hi Gavril,
I've thought about the GH series but the noise has always held me back.
I am a Canon 60D user and I shoot stills and will also be shooting video footage, it has an APSC sensor (larger than the micro four thirds) of the GH series.
I've been thinking about switching to a camera with 4k video. (this is to ensure strong future stock sales in videos). The GH4 , G7 etc offer this at a fraction of the cost of some other systems. The only thing holding me back however is the noise issue, because of that smaller sensor.

With stock photography, even pics taken at ISO 400 can be rejected. At the moment, the only solution would be to invest thousands in a Sony A7 series body, or buy a second camera like the G7 primarily for video and keep my 60D for stills until a Canon 4K DSLR comes along. Whenever that will be...

October 06, 2015


I think the important thing when buying is that the camera meets your needs. Ask yourself : Is the increased noise going to be a problem for the photographs I take ?

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