"Panasonic colour"

Panasonic GH2 Leica D 14-150mm Zoom
Panasonic GH2 Leica D 14-150mm

In the light of the post on EOSHD yesterday and the numerous threads on forums which compare Panasonic and Olympus colours, there are obviously people who have "issues" with the colour that Panasonic m4/3 cameras produce. In the main this seems to be confined to the jpg output, and from what I see and read, the people who don't particularly like it aren't, in the main, interested in shooting raw. So exactly what is it that they are complaining about?

In some cases its difficult to work this out. The complaints that Andrew Reid at EOSHD made about the GH2 not producing "Canon colours" are different from those who prefer what they perceive as brighter, warmer and more saturated colour that come from Olympus Pen jpgs. So it seems Panasonic is criticised for either too much or too little saturation. Andrew did concede that "Panasonic's colour science is very technically correct" So it seems appropriate to ask - What is the problem?

Panasonic GH2 Leica D 14-150mm Zoom

The problem is colour perception and our response and reaction to it. It is a minefield of personal preference, influenced by the circumstances in which we view it, the equipment we view it on, our own eyes, our own tastes and even the time of day. Every computer screen renders colour slightly differently, and of course we all think ours is right. This problem is further compounced by the "If I like it its right" attitude of many people on the internet. I didn't expect it of Andrew, but he labelled his thread on Dpreview "Improving colour on Micro Four Thirds to be more like Canon" Read that and you can more or less guess whats coming. At this time of writing the thread is progressing in the usual pantomime fashion of "Oh yes it is, Oh no it isn't.........." As usual its ridiculous, unhelpful but fairly entertaining.

Panasonic GH2 Leica D 14-150mm Zoom

So whats the truth of the matter? Well I would suggest there is no truth. While I imagine it is possible to get some objective comparison between the colour rendition of every camera / lens combination and work out which is the most accurate, what would be the point? For that to be any use we would all have to have eyes and computer monitor screens that give identical results. We would also have to view them in identical conditions. Since all of this is plainly impossible and always will be so, there seems little point. If you don't like the colour of your in camera jpgs, then its not that difficult to change it, either in the camera itself or with post-processing. Personally I always shoot raw, as it gives me a lot more options. 

Panasonic GH2 Leica D 14-150mm Zoom

What isn't helpful, is when people make value judgements. (A value judgment is a judgment of the rightness or wrongness of something, or of the usefulness of something, based on a personal view.) I fundementally disagree with Andrew about the look of Panasonic jpgs. and video, and I certainly don't want my still images from my m4/3 cameras looking like they were shot on a Canon, but I'm never going to say I'm right and he's wrong.

In terms of video the following was shot with both a Canon 550D and a GH1. 

Can you tell which of the footage is "technically correct" and which is "emotionally satisfying"?(Andrews words not mine) I can't even remember which camera and lens shot what.

To finish off just a few of the other variables that affect colour rendition and our perception of it.

Atmospheric conditions.
Time of day.
Exposure Time.
Light source.
Reflected light.

I'm not even going to attempt getting into these. 

So whats my opinion on "Panasonic colour"?

Its OK.

Panasonic GH2 Leica D 14-150mm Zoom

Panasonic GH2 Leica D 14-150mm Zoom