Friday, June 30, 2023

A second ISO test of the Lumix DC-S5

This is a brief article, because I've already written about the low-light performance of the Lumix S5. You should read that article for all the details. But it was a dark and rainy day, so I figured I'd do another quick comparison of ISO settings, more for my own benefit... but why not share!

I shot a series of still lives in my kitchen with the Contax Zeiss Sonnar 85mm at f/8. I used the Natural profile of the Lumix S5, which has dual native ISO values of 100 and 640 with a maximum of 51,200. These are hand-held photos, so the framing will differ slightly. 

To start, click through to see the next image at full size. Can you guess the ISO?

All images were converted from RAW in Affinity Photo 2, without any development settings. It's important to note that this is quite an artificial workflow. All RAW files need some help with detail enhancement to bring out the best of the image. I will usually also tweak shadow/highlights and exposure as needed. But I did nothing of the sort here. 

Below ISO 1600 I don't see any noise worth talking about in a properly exposed shot. So I started my sequence at 1600 and increased ISO by one stop through to the maximum of 51,200. This gave me six photographs. These are available in full-size in my Flickr album. But to make comparison easy, I produced a strip (below) using 1000 pixel crops from each shot. I chose a region that contains both an in-focus subject (the orange) and a darker region where noise will be more evident.

The final frame in the strip is the same ISO 51,200 shot but with noise reduction applied while developing the RAW file in Affinity Photo. Here I was more aggressive than usual. Removing noise also removes detail, so it's important to maintain a balance between the two qualities. But in this case I push ed the NR to extremes, contenting myself with a softer image. This does indeed look too extreme in the crop.

But now I can reveal that the first image in this article is the same noise-reduced ISO 51,200 shot. At full size it doesn't look bad at all. Here's another version where I made a more considered balance between noise and detail, also applying a LUT and some other adjustments. It's never going to be a good photo because the composition sucks. But it will suffice as a comparison.

You can draw your own conclusions but I am impressed! I don't always mind some noise in a photograph; it depends entirely on the intent. I now know that I can shoot using any available ISO, which has not been the case on any camera I've used previously. When I want a cleaner image I will limit myself to ISO 12,800.

Loving this camera.


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