So I was reading the noise page of a review of the Sony SLT-A55 on DigitalCameraInfo.com, and came across a pair of interesting charts. The second shows how badly the DMC-G2 (my camera) fares against the competition in terms of image noise (with in-camera noise reduction applied): It's pretty much the noisiest camera across the board, at all ISOs. That's kind of disappointing, but not too surprising. Even though it is a new(er) camera, it uses the last-generation's chip set. But to be fair, the Nikon is actually 1.5 generations old, and it's still the best of the lot. I suspect the new D7000 would make it an even more open-and-shut case. What gets interesting is when they show the first chart, which shows the raw noise with no noise reduction applied: With no noise reduction, the Panasonic is kinda average. It's noisier than the others at low ISOs, but beats the average as you go up. In fact, between 800 and 3200 (which is the top of its range) it beats the older CaNikons handily, and is in the running with the much-praised NEX sensor and the brand new pellicle camera. Even more interesting, perhaps, is to track the curves in the two charts together. The G2 with full noise reduction applied is barely different from the unreduced one. Not a very effective noise reduction system, if looked at in isolation. The others all improve dramatically, especially the CaNikons. That's visibly what gives the D5000 such a good high-ISO performance. On the one hand, it might be easy to just fault the effectiveness of the Panasonic noise reduction system. But I wonder. They seem to be taking Leica as their mentors in lens design... perhaps they're also applying a Leica-minimalist approach to noise reduction. In my own experience, I was at first quite disappointed in the G2's noise level at the lowest ISO, not only compared with the E-P2 I had owned earlier, but even with my little Canon S90. But after a while I found that the noise was fairly easy to kill with Lightroom3. And then I discovered that I often preferred the image with the noise, particularly if I'm reducing the resolution. Here's an image (G2/PL45/f2.8/ISO100) first with noise reduction: And then without: This image is just cropped to square and converted to jpg for uploading, with no other post. (you can compare the two with arrow keys here, or zoom into the no-noise-reduction image at full size here.) The noise is clearly visible in the continuous surface areas, particularly if you zoom into the full size image. To my (admittedly aging) eyes, though, the noisy image is nicer. The noise actually becomes a kind of "grain", that doesn't detract significantly from the feeling of smoothness in the surfaces. I posted an earlier thread, describing my transition from an Olympus E-P2 to a Lumix G2. In that thread, I had originally planned to complain harshly about the image quality of the G2 (particularly in low-ISO RAW images) compared to that of the E-P2, but held my fire after reading Amin's Mirrorless camera shootout, where he measured very similar results between the two cameras. Now I'm glad I did. I think my biggest concern, really, was the sudden appearance of so much low ISO noise. Since it's so easy to knock out with Lightroom3 - when I want to - I've grown to live with it. And I kinda like having the control.