Panasonic GX7 and GH3. Is there any ISO performance difference?

There was much weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth on some of the Olympus forums when it was revealed that the E-M1 (God forbid!!!) had a Panasonic sensor inside it. Amusing as this was, it is of course a total waste of time. As are some of the 'reviews' I've read that attempt to argue that the GX7 has significantly better high ISO performance than the GH3.

So I decided to see for myself how the Sony sensor of the GH3 compares to the Panasonic sensor of the GX7. So out came the cactus plants and the golf ball again plus the sharpest lens I have that will fit on both cameras, my Nikon 85mm f/1.8G. 

I tried three ISO settings 125, 1600 and 6400. Try as I might I could not see any difference whatsoever between the two sensors at the two lower settings. However finally with a lot of pixel peeping and minute examining I did spot what I thought was a difference in the jpgs. at ISO 6400.

The GX7 file is (very) marginally less noisy while being equally sharp. Somewhat more interesting is that the GH3 image is more colour saturated. Both cameras were set to VIVID for the jpgs..

So I thought, lets have a look at the raw files then. And for this I turned off all colour noise reduction and processed them identically as always.

Again the GX7 file is very (VERY) slightly less noisy, but again the GH3 file is more saturated. As I said before this as a result of identical raw processing settings in Photoshop ACR.

So make of this what you want. Incidentally all the raw files I've looked at from the E-M1 are pretty similar to this. 

Now there is no doubt that m4/3, of which ever persuasion, has improved at high ISO performance over the years. But are they now decent low light cameras? Well not really for me. If I was about to shoot at high ISO's I'd take one of my Fuji X cameras every time. Are they good enough for most people? Well as everyone wants different things that's impossible to say and many may be satisfied with this kind of performance but then many won't be. 

Personally I prefer to state yet again that I'm very happy with what m4/3 produces at low ISO's these days. Which I think compares favourably with anything else out there, certainly in terms of 16-18MP cameras . Using my souped-up new ACR processing preset the file below was shot at ISO 125 and it's clean, noise-free and with rich colour. What camera was it taken on? Well I'll keep that a secret because as far as I'm concerned it really doesn't matter.


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