Panasonic DMC-GF1 Review
Panasonic GF1 Noise Reduction
The Panasonic GF1's 5 levels of noise-reduction settings allow you quite a bit of flexibility in choosing how you want to make the trade-off between subject detail and noise level. The GF1 applies NR to its JPEGs at all ISOs, so we've included crops at all ISOs in the tables below. The combination of shooting with NR turned down to the lowest setting (-2) and using a good noise-filtering program after the fact can produce very clean images with lots of fine detail in them. RAW images with no NR or sharpening are also shown for comparison.
See for yourself how the noise reduction works under daylight-balanced lighting. Click on any of the crops below to see the corresponding full-sized image.
The above crops show the effects of three (-2, 0 and +2) of the Panasonic GF1's five levels of noise reduction available, under the studio HMI lighting we use to simulate daylight. A RAW image with no NR or sharpening applied (the lack of sharpening is why it's soft-looking) is also included for comparison. To our eyes, the default (0) level of noise reduction strikes a good balance between noise and subtle subject detail, although the red fabric swatch presents a real challenge, as it does for virtually all cameras we test. Cranking the noise reduction setting up to +2 produces very smooth-looking images, while still maintaining good detail in areas of high local contrast (as seen in the circular scale), but a lot of detail is lost in areas of subtle contrast (the red fabric swatch is a particularly challenging subject, and the detail loss there is worse than you'd find in most real-world examples). At the other end of the scale, the -2 noise reduction setting leaves a lot of noise in the image, but also leaves the subject detail largely undisturbed: Use this setting if you have good third-party noise reduction software; with appropriate processing, the result could be quite good. You should be able to do even better working from the RAW files.
Note: For details, test results, and analysis of the many tests done with this camera, please click on the tabs at the beginning of the review or below.