A7 users - how does DR compare to the E-M1?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by pdk42, Oct 23, 2015.

  1. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    I've been spending a few days in Tuscany (wonderful place BTW). The afternoon light here in October is just sublime, especially in late afternoon as the sun is sinking. However, I'm finding it extremely hard to control the DR. I've been keeping the exposure just under the clipping level and then bringing up the shadows later in LR. This usually works for me, but the DR is so high in many of the shots I've taken that I'm running out of latitude in LR to bring the shadows up enough. Overexposing of course is worse since once highlights are blown it's game over.

    It's not terminal and I'm managing to get some reasonable shots (see my Flickr for examples), but I'm definitely missing some shots because the camera (E-M1) just won't handle the DR. I realise that I can shoot HDR, but I'm a "raw" guy and it's somewhat of a pain to have to do HDR merges in PP.

    So, here's the question... do any of you have any Sony A7 cameras (of any variety) and can you comment on whether the DR is significantly better than m43 (and the E-M1 in particular)?

    I really don't want to go to dual systems, but if the DR really is significantly better, I may just dip my toe in the water.
     
  2. dornblaser

    dornblaser Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 13, 2012
    Chicago-area
    David Dornblaser
    Your Tuscan pictures are really nice.
     
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  3. TwoWheels

    TwoWheels Mu-43 Top Veteran

    679
    May 28, 2014
    British Columbia
    Evan
    +1
     
  4. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 Top Veteran

    767
    Jun 4, 2014
    Maryland
    Loren
    I can't answer your question about the A7, but I would encourage you to try HDR. It works really well and the interface on the E-M1 is very convenient, whether you want to pp RAW files later on, or go with HDR 1 to process an in-camera HDR JPEG. Sometimes, the scene is worth the extra effort; or sometimes, JPEG is not evil.

    Agree on the pics. Very lovely place!
     
  5. nstelemark

    nstelemark Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 28, 2013
    Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada
    Larry
    FWIW DXOMark gives the A7 a solid 1.5 stops more DR.
     
  6. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    Paul,
    Olympus cameras always had the capability to merge 2-3 RAW frame into one new RAW file to extend DR even from the old E-PL1. You will need a tripod and a remote release to get good quality. Use DXO Optics Pro to convert these OOC merged RAW with PRIME NR on into TIFF and edit away. Prime gives you about 1 stop less noise and merged RAW will give you same as full frame DR 2 stops or more. I use this a lot especially in those situations you faced.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2015
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  7. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Short version: yes. I can push and pull the A7r files a good bit more than the E-M1 files. I can have a peek to see if I have similar shots from both cams (I travel with both in the bag more often than not) if you like, although the framing will be very different (ultra wide zoom on the Sony and usually telephoto on the Oly)
     
  8. Turbofrog

    Turbofrog Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 21, 2014
    The A7r does have a much better sensor than the A7/A7 II, though. And it's not just resolution. Though I guess I'm basing it mainly on ISO performance, where the A7 underperforms. DR at base ISO it might do well...
     
  9. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 Top Veteran

    767
    Jun 4, 2014
    Maryland
    Loren
    Actually, I've shot almost all of my HDRs (and there have been hundreds) hand-held with almost inexplicably good results. The IBIS helps, of course, but I also I think that the merging process doesn't try to superimpose everything. I even have accidentally done HDR from a moving car and it worked. It handles hand-held like it's nothing.
     
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  10. bigboysdad

    bigboysdad Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 25, 2013
    Sydney/ London
    I don't have an A7. However, we all know with m43 that more care, preparation and effort is sometimes required before and after the shot when compared to FF. Looking at your photo stream, I just think that your composition and PP skills are more than sufficient to handle your DR issues not to warrant dropping $3k on a new system & lenses. I'm not saying you shouldn't dip your toe, just not for that reason.
     
  11. 50orsohours

    50orsohours Mu-43 All-Pro

    Oct 13, 2013
    Portland Oregon
    I shoot raw and do HDR all the time - so easy to merge them in LR. Can't help you with the A7 cameras, but BobbyTan on FM sold his A7II and continued wit the EM-1. However He found a great price on the A7RII recently and it is becoming his main camera, although he is keeping the EM-1 for telephoto duties. He loves the resolution, but haven't mentioned DR differences as a weakness of the EM-1, but we all know that the best sensor in the business is much better than the sensor in the EM-1. Good luck with what ever you decide to do. It is a win win situation after all.
     
  12. Clint

    Clint Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 22, 2013
    San Diego area, CA
    Clint
    No camera can yet handle the wide dynamic range Mother Nature provides, hence in lies a photographers issue as long as photography has existed. The Sony will provide a little more dynamic range but is not an end all solution. Less costly means:

    Try lowing your ISO, you should get a slight increase in Dynamic Range.

    For sunsets, wait a few moments longer and see if the EV range will compress enough to get a shot you want.

    Use ND filters to help control the highlights – one of the reasons ND filters are still very good purpose outside of software.

    Use a polarizer, sometimes they can help reduce significant areas of brightness or specific colors to keep from clipping them.

    Bracket your shots – process accordingly.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2015
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  13. Serhan

    Serhan Mu-43 Top Veteran

    533
    May 7, 2011
    NYC
    When I shot my RX1 vs EM-5 two years ago side by side at sunrise, I managed to match the dynamic range with partial sun behind the clouds, but the noise was worse with EM-5 in the shadows. So it is not just the dynamic range, but also the noise difference when you push the images esp if you print big...
     
  14. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Canada
    David
    I have done that as well but I never quite like the output though as it doesn't seem to look natural some of the times. I liked the blended ISO Low and ISO 200 using the multiexposure 2f (2frames) with Autogain On, then run it through DXO Prime and I get really good results. It's limited to tripod use with a remote release (I use an iPod touch with WIFI); short of like what you have to do with the E-M5 Mark II using Hi-Res mode. Hoping E-M1 Mark II has a 4 shot mode to extend DR and lower noise handheld. :dance2:

    Anyhow; I've shot with the D810, the D750, D600 and the D4s and Df and while they do provide better DR by about 2 stops or slightly more, their strengths are in the clean shadow recovery. While I like to own a full frame body, I'm not yet ready to do so until I get to see what the E-M1 Mark II could do what I hope it could.
     
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2015
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  15. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 Top Veteran

    767
    Jun 4, 2014
    Maryland
    Loren
    I get my best results using a three-frame +\-3 bracket with RAW and process it with Photomatix Pro. But, I've gotten plenty of good JPEGs with HDR 1 as well. I have felt that some of the in-camera results look a little washed out, especially if the scene's dynamic range wasn't that bad to begin with, but the colors dress up in post well enough. HDR 2 is more aggressive, and it only yields good results when the lighting is really bad, like shooting straight up into trees with the sun overhead. But I've never felt mine weren't sharp enough. In fact, I've marveled that hand-held HDR can be as sharp as it is.

    Like you, I'm holding off on any thoughts of full frame until not just the E-M1Mk II, which is part of it, but also Oly's upcoming fast primes. Because I like the results I get with HDR, I've never felt defeated by dynamic range. My interests are better noise/low light performance and shallower depth of field when I want it (which is not often at all). But I think a new Oly body and some excellent fast primes could mitigate those issues well enough that I won't need to spend the money on full frame.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2015
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  16. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Thanks for replies all. Just a quick question on the E-M1's HDR modes.... Which HDR mode gives a merged raw?
     
  17. wjiang

    wjiang Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Are you using ACR or LR? The latest versions let you merge a set of raws into an HDR DNG raw for further normal raw workflow processing. I find this gives better control than any auto-HDR merge in camera.
     
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  18. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Lorenzo
    I suppose no one does, here there is a nice comparison: http://thrumikesviewfinder.blogspot.it/2013/10/hdr-with-olympus-om-d-e-m1-is-much.html

    I used it a few times and I didn't like the results but I never bothered to process it later. After this thread I'll try again.

    Like bikerhiker said the different amount of noise in the shadows make for a bigger practical DR difference then the technical 1.5 stops difference.
     
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  19. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 Top Veteran

    767
    Jun 4, 2014
    Maryland
    Loren
    If you shoot in RAW, and hit the HDR button, and cycle to any of the options past HDR 1 and 2, any of those will give you multiple, exposure bracketed RAW files which can then be merged in post. The in-camera HDR processing modes (HDR 1 and 2) only produce a JPEG. HDR 1 is a very subtle effect, and HDR 2 is more aggressive.

    I do not agree that noise in the shadows are any more of a problem than with any other shot. In fact, noise would/should be less than just shooting a single image and trying to draw the shadows out in post, since the exposure of the shadows would be more technically correct (assuming the low bracket was exposed correctly). If anyone is experiencing noise, I would suggest that might be a product of the post processing software, especially if it is applying any tone mapping as well, which oftentimes will add grain to an image. Following are a few examples of hand-held HDR (various modes) taken with the E-M1...

    EDIT: Oops, I meant to reply to pdk42's question. Sorry Wjiang.
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2015
  20. Lcrunyon

    Lcrunyon Mu-43 Top Veteran

    767
    Jun 4, 2014
    Maryland
    Loren
    Here are some that were originally RAW images (they're now JPEGs) I pulled off my Flickr page. They were from Japan in 2014, the first real HDR I did. This batch was processed to not have any (or very light) tone mapping.

    image.

    image.
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2015
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