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Christmas Gift Guide

Noise

Noise, ISO 1600

Distortion

Sharpness

Sharpness

Color

Bokeh

Creative Controls

Creative controls

Creative controls

Our test shots for the G3 at varying ISO sensitivities look much better than those of the G2 in part due to the much-improved JPEG processing of the Venus Engine FHD over its previous incarnations (since the necessary raw codec isn't available I can't yet tell if the image comes off the sensor cleaner). Photos look good up through ISO 800, with just a little softening from luminance noise reduction kicking in at ISO 1600.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
I was relatively happy with the JPEG/noise reduction results at ISO 1600.

(1/25 sec, f2.8, 17mm lens, spot metering, Kelvin white balance, ISO 1600)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
The in-camera distortion control does pretty well straightening out the curvature of the lines, but it leaves just a smidge of vertical distortion that makes it appear as if the camera wasn't parallel to the wall.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
For shots without fine edges, the level of sharpening looks good, delivering a natural appearance. You can also see how well it does at ISO 400 when not in low light.

(1/100 sec, f9, 15-42mm lens at 39mm, spot metering, AWB, ISO 400)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
Unexpectedly, fine edges such as hair or fur display a lot of aliasing (jaggies) in the standard setting. You can scale back the sharpening, though.

(1/100 sec, f9, 15-42mm lens at 39mm, spot metering, AWB, ISO 400)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
Colors look pleasing and saturated, but the slightly cool auto white balance in daylight shifts the reds, pinks and greens just a little. These were shot in standard color mode.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
The 14-42mm kit lens produces reasonably nice out-of-focus highlights.

(1/200 sec, f5, 14-42mm lens at 31mm, spot metering, AWB, ISO 160)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
I was not impressed with any of Panasonic's creative effects, in part because they're almost completely automatic--you can't adjust the intensity of the effect--and the results are pretty boring. (top Retro, bottom sepia)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
The High Dynamic effect isn't HDR as its name might imply. Then again, I'm not sure what it is. As described in the manual "This is an impressive image effect that adjusts dark areas and bright areas to appropriate brightness, together with enhancements on colours." It looks like it just bumps up the contrast and saturation. (Inset is the straight photo.)
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
The High Key Creative Control isn't really an effect; it just bumps up the exposure in scenes with lots of white/highlights so that they don't look gray or underexposed.
Caption by / Photo by Lori Grunin/CNET
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