Test subjects

Getting serious about taking my Panasonic Lumix FZ200 out for a test run, I continued to notice that the images appeared noisy or grainy when inspected closely with zoom or cropping.  

The focal range and lens on this camera is fantastic, but I often like to crop images when identifying wildlife, for example bird watching.



Other users have noticed this grit, attributing some of the effects to aggressive in-camera JPEG processing by Panasonic.  As a "bridge" camera with DSLR-like features, herein lies the compromise.  

I can get f2.8 aperture across the entire 24x zoom range, allowing in more light even for long distance shots.  But although DSLR's might offer a much higher quality result, they don't come at the portability or price-point of the FZ200.  Realistically, the overall results right out of the camera can be quite good, not leaving too much to complain about.

The FZ200 is the first non-DSLR camera to offer RAW data capture, so I decided to migrate to this more data-rich starting point and dive deeper into post-processing using Adobe Lightroom.  RAW format captures all native data from the sensor and records it in a large file, while most cameras process this information on the fly to record a smaller JPEG file.  


I enjoy data processing (old habits die hard) and already do a good deal of it with settings like exposure, highlights/shadows, contrast, tone-curves and white balance, the latter being especially important for underwater photos.  

My new challenge will be to understand and master noise suppression features like sharpening and luminance.  The goal is to bring out the details to look crisp, while minimizing artifacts like fuzzy edges or "fake" looking smoothness.  

I am currently comparing Panasonic's in-camera JPEG with my RAW file processing in Lightroom results.   I like to learn by trial and error, so my first few results were interesting... and I still have a lot to learn.  

Camera JPEG vs. RAW processing



P1000448-2 P1000448-3

I tend to like my colors better and have noticed that Panasonic's leans more strongly in green/yellow tinges.  Some of my noise suppression was comparable, while in others the Panasonic "magic formula" seemed to produce a more "contrasty" photo.  Not expecting to beat their collective expertise overnight, I'll continue to refine my processing skills.

Wildlife of all shapes & sizes never ceases to entertain me and there are willing test subjects always to be found.  It's also fun to let the eyes and mind wander a bit to see what there is to see...

© M&M 2016