Having recently purchased and a Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX3, I find that the (approximately 12 MB file-size) RW2 image files that it produces definitely appear to contain less detail (spatial-frequency) information than the (approximately 20 MB file size) RAW image files that my Panasonic DMC-FZ50 produces. This observation is drawn from photographing the same subject under similar lighting conditions with (virtually) the same parameter settings in each of the two cameras. I believe that the differences are due to more than the larger (and likely higher quality) Leica lens system in the FZ50 (relative to the smaller Leica lens system on the LX3). These differences have been noted when using the latest Shortcut Software Silkypix DS 3.021 SE available.
Having evaluated DxO Optics Pro 6.11 (which is presently able to post-process my FZ30 JPGs, and will in the near future support the LX3 camera body as well), I am rather impressed with it's capabilities so far, and I am hoping that DxO Optics pro 6.x (may) be able to produce improved results with LX3 RW2 image files (although their user interface presently lacks the visual "color-wheel" display of the status of fine color adjustment that Silkypix presently offers). However, spatial-frequency information lost (thanks to Panasonic) cannot (via any algorithm) be magically resurrected ... And that is the core problem that prompts me to attempt to raise the issue among fellow consumers who value and use "raw" format.
I have scoured the internet for any/all data regarding this issue, finding precious little (other than what is presented below). There seems to be no other person on the planet who may be more appropriate to chat about this issue, with, odklizec, as your history of (from the FZ50/LX2 Firmware Update Request petition for the agreeably wretched Lumix Venus III JPGs produced to your posts surrounding issues of Panasonic appearing to apply pre-raw Noise reduction on the LX2) seems to qualify you (as well as "Amin" at Serious Compacts) as the primary whistle-blowers on these dubious and proprietary practices surrounding Panasonic's pre-raw processing of RW2 image files (on the LX2, as well as potentially on their other camera models which produce RW2 image files - such as the LX3).
While I feel like I may well be "hauling coal to Newcastle" (as they say) regarding this issue (of Panasonic degrading potential RAW image file quality by smearing details beyond the user's control) - it appears that no one (that I can find) in the 3 years that the LX3 has existed has attempted to note and confront Panasonic with these issues (perhaps because their marketing and technical support divisions present such a towering and stoic brick wall of proprietary corporatism). Rather than laboriously repeat the story of what I am up to (which can be read in the most recent entries to the comments section for the Serious Compacts article entitled "Keeping RAW Raw") located at:http://www.seriouscompacts.com/2007/05/ ... w-raw.html
I will here (briefly) summarize my recent findings and activities.
Panasonic (themselves) re-posts a CNET review of the LX3 at:http://panasonic.com.ph/web/cid/MainCont/1823
published by CNET's Leonard Goh on August 26 2008 at:http://asia.cnet.com/reviews/digitalcam ... 0-4,00.htm
and at:http://www.cnet.com.au/panasonic-lumix- ... 290909.htm
in which Leonard Goh reports finding that reducing the user-controllable settings "NR" and "SHARPNESS" in the LX3 "Film Modes" had a positive effect upon the image quality of LX3 RW2 files when processed with Silkypix. Mr Goh states:
"In the Film Mode settings, we reduced the noise reduction and sharpness level to -2, and then processed the RAW image in SilkyPix to TIFF format. After which, we opened the processed file in another image-editing software and tweaked the image from there. The result was significantly better than what we would have achieved if we had relied solely on SilkyPix."
Upon my contacting Senior CNET Digital Imaging Editor Lori Grunin (who authored a later February 9 2009 CNET review of the DMC-LX3 at:http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-cameras ... txt%3bpage
she expressed that she was a surprised as me to learn of Leonard Goh's findings, stating in communications with me that such was "news to her". She then forwarded my inquiry emailed to her on to Leonard Goh, who responded to me and confirmed his earlier findings, stating:
"During my tests then, I did discover that by applying sharpening and noise reduction in-camera did somewhat return better RAW files, but I am not sure if the latest firmware still exhibited such traits."
(I guess) the good news is that it appears that the user has some (though perhaps marginal) ability to adjust, and thus reduce, the (apparent) Noise reduction as well Sharpening that seems to be going on in the LX3 prior to recording a RW2 image file. The bad news is that this is happening at all. And, this practice may (possibly, also) be occurring on any/all of the other Panasonic camera models that generate ".RW2" image files ... This seems like an important issue and concern. To paraphrase CNET's Lori Grunin - "It's NEWS to me!", indeed!
I responded to Lori Grunin and Leonard Goh with the following statement:
"Your CNET review of the LX3 is dated Aug 26, 2008. The LX3 firmware Version 1.1 was not available until Dec 15th, 2008. You must have been evaluating unit(s) with the original 1.0 firmware.
This web-page does a nice job of listing all of the issues publicly stated by Panasonic to have been addressed by all versions of the LX3 firmware updates since the time of your review:http://www.lx3-photography.com/search/l ... 20FIRMWARE
Note that there exists no mention of any changes to the LX3 firmware at any time that would either modify or affect the behavior that you have reported."
I've requested that Senior CNET Digital Imaging Editor Lori Grunin, who can be contacted (via CNET web-based email) at:http://www.cnet.com/profile/lgrunin/
follow up on this important issue by requesting that Panasonic disclose their practices to CNET - as they surely would choose to remain stoic and silent if queried by mere earthlings such as myself, Amin at Serious Compacts, or yourself ... Your historical experience with the FZ50/LX2 firmware modification request petition does not bode well for actions taken on the part of mere consumers.
However, CNET (should they elect to utilize their own influence, as opposed to play subservient lackey to the juggernaut known as Panasonic) has (I believe, or at least hope) an opportunity to extract (for once) some factual data from Panasonic as to what they are "pre-baking" into the "RW2 cake" in the LX3 (and possibly other camera models these days). After all, (it seems to me) that since Panasonic proudly re-posts Leonard Goh's "smoking gun" findings THEMSELVES, it would seem that (in doing so) Panasonic has freely chosen to invite further scrutiny into what they have (effectively) made into their very own marketing statements (by re-publishing Leonard Goh's findings themselves). It will be interesting to see what does (or does not) transpire at this point. Stay tuned!
BTW - odklizec, your daughter Lucia (and the images that you posted of her at:http://www.shortcutinc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=280
are beautiful! The wonder of a child transcends anything that our machines can represent to the heart. The machines become a secondary blessing allowing us to record glimpses of the magical "dream-time" of the first 2 years. While I like to take nature shots of a lush and dear creek that winds through urban Seattle, and the flowers that bloom along the way in the Spring and Summer months - my all-time favorite subject (and source of photographic and spiritual joy), was being lucky enough to capture many glimpses of the "dream-time" of my very dear little friend Kendra as an infant and toddler discovering everything in the world anew for the very first time. Our machines can only bear witness to such wonders of Nature!