can I get similar JPEG image quality from using third party programs? And if so, how? (I have Adobe CS5 Suite.)
My three step guide to ok pictures from the 18mp sensor:
1. shoot raw (not exceeding iso 800, max iso 1600), expose to the right avoiding highlight clipping
2. import into adobe raw 7.x (Lightroom 4 or updated PS) and use PV2012, recover highlights up to -100 ... 0,5 ev of dynamic range gained!
3. denoise only so much that your *final* output size shows the noise you can live with