Panasonic GF3 High ISO RAW
Panasonic GF3 High ISO RAW Image Quality
We look at RAW files converted with dcraw, an excellent freeware raw converter. dcraw usually offers timely support for the latest cameras, but more importantly, it does not apply any noise-reduction, sharpening or other corrections such as geometric distortion correction to the output files as some other converters do. There will always be differences between RAW converters, in terms of the sort of demosaicing algorithms they use (the processes by which they convert the separate Red, Green, and Blue data sets to an array of full-color RGB pixels), but dcraw seems to use a fairly generic algorithm that delivers good sharpness with relatively few artifacts, and can be counted on to not apply any noise reduction if you don't want it to.
See for yourself how the Panasonic GF3's high ISO RAW files compare to those from other recent, Micro Four Thirds cameras. Click on any of the crops below to see the corresponding full-sized image.
Apart from differences in saturation and white balance (which could be due to the RAW converter), it appears that the Panasonic GF3's RAW files are very similar to the GF2's in terms of noise and detail, though the GF3 seems to do a bit better in the red channel. What's interesting here is the G3's RAW files don't appear to be much cleaner despite being a newer generation and its better JPEG performance, however its extra resolution (16 megapixels vs 12 for the GF2/GF3) does really make a difference. The Olympus E-PL2 appears to be producing the cleanest files of this group.
Below are crops compared to a couple of compact APS-C models.
Here, the Fuji X100 comes out on top in terms of noise performance, while the Sony NEX-5 bests the Panasonic GF3 in both resolution and noise, but that's no surprise.