Canon 600D versus Panasonic GH2 – Which is best?

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This video should give you a really accurate idea of how the cameras compare in video mode. All shots are in 1080/24p.

I really went to great lengths to shoot not just pretty shots but shots which would test various aspects of the camera. There are shots that show the shallow depth of field of the sensor at F2 and what the larger sensor in the 600D looks like against Micro Four Thirds in reality, on the streets.

I shot with deep depth of field round about F11 as well to test the amount of detail resolved by each camera. I also tested dynamic range – you can see that surprisingly the GH2 wins in this regard. The 600D loses not just detail but dynamic range in video mode. In RAW stills mode they are roughly equal in dynamic range. The Canon DSLRs may have had more dynamic range than Micro Four Thirds around the time of the GH1 but with the GH2 the advantage is now a myth.

The dynamic range test under the bridge with the museum in the background was done with optimal picture profile settings for a fair comparison. I adjusted both cameras to get maximum dynamic range, trying my best to expose the shadow detail under the dark bridge and the roof of the museum in bright sunlight behind.

I used a low contrast flat image which protected highlights and did not crush blacks or remove shadow detail. The GH2 was in cinema gamma mode for this, it does make a significant difference what picture profile you use. 600D was in ‘faithful’ mode with the contrast turned all the way down several notches.

Look also how the 600D blows the highlights on the leaves during the tree shot.

To match the field of view on two different sensor sizes my hand was forced with the lens selection. 45mm Contax Zeiss G F2 on the GH2 and 55mm Asahi Pentax 55mm F1.8 on the 600D. That Pentax lens is of special sentimental value for me! It’s what my dad used on his Pentax film camera when I was growing up. He bought it new in the 70’s and now here I am using it on digital.

The Asahi Pentax is a great, sharp, cinematic looking lens but it has a slightly different character to the punchy and contrasty Zeiss. To compensate I often used the Zeiss wide open and the Asahi Pentax slightly stopped down.

  • 55mm on the 600D is equivalent to 88mm (1.6x crop)
  • 45mm on the GH2 is equivalent to 85mm (1.9x crop, since the GH2’s sensor is capable of 16:9 native)

As you can see on the GH2, the depth of field on the bicycles next to the river is not quite as extreme as it is on the 600D but the difference is not really hugely noticeable.

My quibbles about the GH2’s colour compared to the 600D disappear in daylight. It really seems to be down to the way the white balance and sensor work under certain types of light and I feel the GH2 picks up too much green and yellow from electric light sources whilst the 600D deals with that better somehow. I’ll do a lowlight test soon, but they are similar in terms of noise at ISO 1600 and ISO 3200, the GH2 maintaining more detail.

Much as I tried with brick walls, cobbled streets and roof tiles once did I get any rainbows with the 600D. It had aliasing but no moire colour patterns. Maybe they’ve reduced it’s severity with the updated firmware?