High ISO and the Lumix G7

Today’s Post by Joe Farace

After living with the Panasonic Lumix G7 for some time, carrying it with me everywhere (and yes, the serial number is starting to wear off, even with careful usage) I have some additional impressions I would like to add over my First Look.

I have not warmed up to the G7’s ergonomics; the more angular shape of the G7 does not feel as good to my hands as does my personal Lumix G5 and G7 that have more comfortable, to me anyway, curves. And while the G7 is more than a capable picture talker and I love the new 4K Photo setting, I miss the little toggle for changing exposure compensation, although from recent on-line battles over the usefulness of this particular feature (vs. RAW capture) rage on, I prefer a single control rather than pressing a button and rotating a control wheel.

ISO.comparo

But the big buzz about the Lumix G7 was its high ISO capability so before I returned the camera I ran a little test. Mary kindly agreed to shooting this test using the above setup and only the light from a table lamp. The Lumix G7 with the 14-140mm lens was mounted on a tripod and I shot in one stop brackets from ISO 800 to ISO 25,600.

Using techniques that I mentioned in a previous post where I suggested that reader find the ISO “sweet spot” for their particular camera, here’s what I found when viewing full size on a crispy 5K iMac screen:

  • ISO 25,600 (top) noticeably noisy, which reduced sharpness somewhat but I’d use it when I absolutely, positively need to shoot under extreme conditions.
  • ISO 12,800 (next) less noisy but sharp and probably too noisy for perfectionists, but a useful low light setting.
  • ISO 6400 (next) Amazingly less noisy, less than grain in normally processed Kodak Tri-X or even Fujicolor 800 film
  • ISO 800 (bottom) simply spectacular, sharp crisp non-noisy image

ALcoverDepending on the lighting conditions I would not hesitate to use any of these ISO settings including thos in between when shooting low light photographs.

Joe Farace is co-author, along with Barry Staver, of the out-of-print book Better Available Light Digital Photography” that can be found in used book stores, eBay and occasionally on Amazon.