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Another IBIS thread: The E-M5 has as good low light performance as full frame in some situations

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by napilopez, Jan 2, 2013.

  1. napilopez

    napilopez Contributing Editor

    826
    Feb 21, 2012
    NYC Area
    Napier Lopez
    In context, of course =P

    I just got my E-M5 a couple of weeks ago, and it has made me realize that the new IBIS really is incredible.

    I find the "up to 5 stops" claim to be completely accurate, since I consistently get about 4 stops better than what I could muster on my G3, in many cases 5. I consider myself to have good technique already, so IBIS coupled with proper shooting form makes for a formidabble combination.

    Yes, people will shout "IBIS doesn't help for sports or moving subjects", but honestly, so? Obviously it doesn't help in all contexts, but judging by the types of images on this website and others, few people are shooting sports at night if they aren't professionals anyway.

    Quite frankly, I'm shocked at how consistently I'm able to take tack sharp photos at 1/8th of a second.

    When I bought my E-M5, I fully expected to start pushing ISOs higher than I ever did with my G3(where 3200 was my max) thanks to the sensor's improved performance. But instead, I've found the opposite! I have auto iso limit set to 1600 because rarely do I need to set the ISO higher than that ever when in bars and such. On the rare occasion I do, I'll just set the iso manually. For static objects, then subject movement doesn't matter, and for most night-time portraits, I can get people to stand still for the short amount of time.

    It also makes the E-M5 a formidabble video machine for the common user. Video frame rates, bitrates and whatnot are obviously important, but no such settings can save a wobbly video. On a lot of handheld GH3 videos, I've rolling shutter rear it's ugly head, or just plain wobbly looking video. The E-M5 has no such issue. As a casual user who's worked with video semi-professionally before, I think I'd the E-M5's IBIS over most of the GH3s feautures(and no, OIS doesn't look nearly as good for video). It almost looks as good as a steadycam rig.

    This video demonstrates how good it is best:
    [ame=http://vimeo.com/46037469]Journey (Olympus OM-D E-M5) on Vimeo[/ame]

    So as I considered to splurge on the great D600 deal, I realized for most of my subjects I would see no improvement in low light performance by moving to a full frame system. I typically shoot with primes at 90mm or less. Most prime lenses in this range for full frame cameras aren't stabilized at all anyway, and any that are aren't stabilized as effectively as the with the OM-D IBIS.

    To put it more simply, if I'm out shooting with an 85mm f1.8 lens on full frame and the 45mm f1.8(90mm equivalent) on my OM-D, I'm going to get better low light results from the Oly most of the time unless I have a tripod with me.

    Of course, if you want low light performance that works well in ANY situation, full frame is still the way to go. But I believe for 75% of shooters, there wouldn't be a substantial difference.
     
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  2. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    I shoot the E-M5 and Nikon D800. In the greater scheme of things, yeah the D800 has better high ISO, but in real world usage, I find the E-M5 makes a better low light camera because of the 5-axis IBIS. You don't need to shoot super high ISO to keep the picture sharp. You can just slap a fast lens and cap the ISO, and shoot at a very low shutter speeds in order to get decent results.
     
  3. gotak

    gotak Mu-43 Regular

    185
    Nov 28, 2012
    Toronto
    The other thing in favour of the E-M5 is the greater DOF. You can shoot wider open and still have enough stuff in focus. Fast primes as a concept for low light is great but in practice on cameras with less DOF per stop it doesn't always pan out. Plus good fast primes are typically a lot cheaper on m43 as well.

    The flip side is of course when people want bokeh but in general the m43 system gets enough bokeh with the right lens for most uses.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  4. napilopez

    napilopez Contributing Editor

    826
    Feb 21, 2012
    NYC Area
    Napier Lopez
    Glad to see I'm not just making stuff up and can at least be somewhat backed up by someone with an FF camera :p

    Although you'll generally get equal performance from equivalent settings across systems(a D4 at 50mm lens at iso 25600 and f3.6 should look very similar to a 25mm lens at 1.8 at iso 6400 on m4/3), when you factor in IBIS, the E-M5 comes on top for static or relatively static(portraits) images.

    The main situation I see FF as having a rather indomitable advantage over M4/3 visually is in wide-angle shallow DoF. ISO performance will improve from generation to generation(when M4/3 can give me iso 6400 that looks like iso 800, I hardly think I'll care any more at all about improvements), as will dynamic range(to a lesser extent), but it's hard to imagine a practically sized 12mm f0.7 to match the DoF of a 24mm f1.4 on FF ever being created. Even the current noktons are rather large and they have no AF, electronics, and don't perform as well as glass that would give equivalent results on FF. And I say wide angle because for most telephoto applications I think M4/3's DoF will be "enough" for most people. I generally find I don't care so much about being able to blur a background as much as possible, but rather only if I can blur it "enough" to isolate my subject and make the background not appear busy.
     
  5. brettmaxwell

    brettmaxwell Mu-43 Veteran

    350
    Dec 8, 2012
    I'm an FX Nikon user for my professional work (D3S and D600) and as a new OM-D owner I agree that the IBIS is very impressive. I very much agree that they become about equivalent for handheld with still subjects, but I do find the need to freeze moving subjects much more common than you seem to. For instance, with a cute and wild 1 year old daughter I'm always trying to document, 1/80 is my base shutter speed unless she's sleeping.
     
  6. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    Where the IBIS really shines is stabilizing any lens be it MF or AF. Also works great for long lenses and/or those times when you want to shoot ridiculously slow shutter speeds.
     
  7. napilopez

    napilopez Contributing Editor

    826
    Feb 21, 2012
    NYC Area
    Napier Lopez
    This is certainly true! Again, I just say everything in context =P. Perhaps 75% was too high an estimate, though. Most of my night time subjects I can ask to stay still for a bit, so it's not as much of an issue =P

    Yea indeed, as I said it comes in handy for prime lenses under 90mm equivalent, where I don't think Canon, Nikon, nor Fuji have anything stabilized. Pentax and Sony Alpha use in body sensor stabilization, and NEX has a few stabilizated lenses in that range but from what I can tell not as effective as that of the OM-D.
     
  8. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    I wouldn't say that full frame works in any situation. If you want a slower shutter speed in order to capture motion blur and you don't want to use a tripod or have handshake blur, the E-M5 is going to work out better. Also don't forget that full frame only gives you a high ISO advantage under circumstances in which a more shallow dof than MFT can deliver is acceptable.

    I have a D600 and E-PM2 now, and while the E-PM2 lacks the more effective image stabilization of the E-M5, it AFs a lot better than the Nikon in lowish light, and I find it easier to handhold steady at slower shutter speeds.

    Sent from my Galaxy Note II using Mu-43 App
     
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  9. napilopez

    napilopez Contributing Editor

    826
    Feb 21, 2012
    NYC Area
    Napier Lopez
    Ah, interesting perspective! I hadn't thought of that actually. I should really take advantage of the slow shutter speed for creative purposes. The DoF point is important too.

    The matter of AF is pretty interesting. Unlike most here, I shot with M4/3 before I ever shot a DSLR seriously, and you really come to appreciate the benefits of contrast detect for focusing in low light when your DSLR is hunting a lot.
     
  10. Bravin Neff

    Bravin Neff Mu-43 Regular

    192
    Sep 25, 2011
    Detroit
    Bravin Neff
    Here here.
     
  11. Jonathan F/2

    Jonathan F/2 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 10, 2011
    Los Angeles, CA
    For street shooters, I wouldn't even bother with a DSLR anymore. For blind/hip/low light urban shooting, the E-M5 is much better suited for those situations (or any of the mirrorless offerings). Saying that I still prefer FF DSLRs for many work scenarios. Better battery life, solid C-AF, and much more durable for heavy field use. The GH3 and E-M5 are going towards the right direction though in terms of becoming serious work cameras and I think many working pros are finding them to be valuable companion bodies.
     
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  12. With_Eyes_Unclouded

    With_Eyes_Unclouded Mu-43 All-Pro

    Apr 17, 2012
    Vassilios
    +1 on all of the above! This is what I'm trying to explain to fellow photographers insisting that a FF DSLR is "a must have" for low light shooting.

    I shoot live concerts in clubs consistently and I seldom have to go above ISO 2000. I can shoot at f/2.0 or f/2.8 and still get adequate DOF for what I want to compose. OTOH I can get shallow enough DOF if I want too (and even faster shutter speeds or lower ISO). There are very few fast DSLR lenses with IS (and only Sony has in-body IS). In these conditions, a DSLR shooter should probably have to boost ISO at least 2 stops higher (for the same equivalent aperture), maybee as high as 3 stops.

    As I say, all cameras should be considered as systems and in practical applications; shooters using the top :43: at this point (OM-D and GH3) will take advantage of either IBIS or lens stabilization for high quality zooms (in the GH3 case, i.e. 12-35mm and 35-100mm).
     
  13. napilopez

    napilopez Contributing Editor

    826
    Feb 21, 2012
    NYC Area
    Napier Lopez
    This. It's really important you choose a camera based on your specific needs, not just general qualities of it's format. For example, I consider the OM-D a better portrait camera than most APS-C DSLRs because the magnify function and nearest eye focus(that feature is ingenious, really) help ensure critical focus. I would say better than FF as well, but the 2 stops extra DoF is very useful sometimes, as well as the color depth on the better sensors.

    It's all contextual. In general I'd consider the OM-D a better stills cam than the GH3, since they should have very similar RAW quality but IBIS has been both shown to be more effective than Power OIS and works with every lens. But if you need longer battery life or find the OM-D's grip or handling uncomfortable, then it is no longer the better stills camera.

    Conversely, the GH3 is technically the better video camera by far, but for my needs the OM-D fares better. This is because I find the smoothness of IBIS to take precedence over bitrate or codecs, particularly in how it greatly minimizes the jello effect of rolling shutter. I also consider the OM-D to produce much better colors by default. For me to get similar results from a GH3 I need either a tripod or a steadicam rig, neither of which I'm willing to carry around with me everywear. The lack of 60p is a shame, but if I ever really need slow mo, I'll just use Twixtor, which works rather amazingly(see: video in the OP). I mostly do casual video, but I like these videos to look nice, and the OM-D does this better.

    An RX1 is a better camera to take on a date than your 1DX and 70-200mm, an Olympus tough camera is better than a Hasselblad to shoot landscapes... underwater. You use what you need for your needs.
     
  14. bpdougd

    bpdougd Mu-43 Rookie

    17
    Dec 12, 2012
    I disagree. So far, in my use, the OM-D has nowhere near the low light/high iso performance of my D700. In my experience, the OM-D is a great camera, especially when considering all-around performance and handling. But it simply cannot compete in difficult, low light circumstances with a modern, full-frame dSLR.
     
  15. napilopez

    napilopez Contributing Editor

    826
    Feb 21, 2012
    NYC Area
    Napier Lopez
    Well, this is where you're making a bit of a faulty comparison, given my original post. I did say the OM-D can match full frame *low light*performance in many situations, but in no way shape or form does it match it's high iso performance. Simply put, my point was that the OM-D allows you to stay at much lower ISOs than you would with a full frame DSLR if you are shooting handheld and your subjects arent moving substantially. An OM-D at ISO 1600 will match or outperform a D700 at iso 6400 regarding IQ, and I often find myself using iso 400 or 800 in situations where I'd need iso 3200 or 6400 on an FF camera to capture the same thing. This is especially true for prime lenses under about 100mm or so where CaNikon have not a single stabilized lens as far as I know, and Sony's IBIS isn't as effective.

    If your subject moves, though, and you're not using this creatively, then the D700 will run *big fat circles around the oly*. If it doesn't try setting your ISO limit to 800 or 1600, and see how well the olympus the oly performs then!
     
  16. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Dara
    You must be doing something right! I find getting sharp images at 1/30 on the 45/1.8 to be at less than 50/50 on the E-M5.
     
  17. bpdougd

    bpdougd Mu-43 Rookie

    17
    Dec 12, 2012
    If you limit yourself to still lifes and relatively static objects, I agree. Lower ISO + longer shutter speed + effective stabilization should = low noise photo. However, that is the case with pretty much all "stabilized" systems. The only variable is how effective the stabilization is, usually an estimate described in f/stops. However, if you are getting results at 400-800 with the OM-D that you feel would take ISO 3200-6400 on a full frame dSLR, then your results are wildly better than mine. Your point regarding the lack of stabilized primes under 100mm is well taken.
     
  18. Bravin Neff

    Bravin Neff Mu-43 Regular

    192
    Sep 25, 2011
    Detroit
    Bravin Neff
    I have been trying to get this same point across, and it is a tough sell but it is totally true. I just sold my D700 of 50K shots that I owned since the summer of 2008, and directly compared it to the OMD.

    Let’s think about it for a second. Many people make a fetish about ultra-shallow DOF, thinking that the larger FF sensor gives an advantage here. And that is true: if you think one eyelash being in focus while the other 95% of the frame might as well have been shot by a 4 MP sensor instead of 30+ MP, and you don’t think this has been overdone to death then maybe a Nikon D800 stuck at f1.4 is what you should be shooting because you won’t get that image on the OMD.

    On the other hand, the not-ridiculously-shallow-DOF disadvantage becomes an advantage on the other side of the exposure: the DOF of an image that arrives on the OMD’s sensor when shot on a lens wide open, say at f2, is the same as what the D800 is getting shooting at f4+. That means the OMD has got a much higher shutter speed or his ISO is set 2 or 3 stops lower -- for the same shot. That is a serious advantage that goes a long way negating the FF camera’s native high-ISO advantage.

    It works with flash, too. The typical indoor family/birthday-party type of shot requires ISO 400 to 800 on a FF camera with his lens at f5.6 or thereabout, with the flash bouncing off the ceiling. This is a good balance of DOF (f5.6) with the flash putting out most of its power but careful not to go over (ISO 400-800). Meanwhile OMD-Man has got his lens set at f2.8 for the same DOF. So he either lowers his ISO to the bottom or his flash works way less hard, giving him lightning fast recharge for the next shot. My OMD at f2.8 and ISO200, with FL600R on top, can go bang-bang-bang with full flash recharge in between much faster than my D700 could at ISO 400 and f5.6 with the SB600 on top. I needed to go to ISO1600 with the D700 in order to go bang-bang-bang at the same speed, and now the ambient exposure is creeping in when you intentionally wanted it not to.

    Tell me that’s not a serious advantage when you can’t perfectly predict when birthday girl’s breath will hit the candles on the cake, in order to capture the woosh. You know what I’m talking about!
     
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  19. Bravin Neff

    Bravin Neff Mu-43 Regular

    192
    Sep 25, 2011
    Detroit
    Bravin Neff
    You're missing one crucial aspect: the differences in DOF between FF and m43. The m43 camera gets the same DOF (and hence the same frame) as the FF camera when his lens is 2-3 stops faster. This means his shutter speed is correspondingly higher or his ISO is lower. This is where you can negate the FF's high ISO advantage with the m43's lower ISO setting, again, for the same frame/image.I mention this in my previous post.
     
  20. HappyFish

    HappyFish Mu-43 Top Veteran

    983
    Sep 8, 2012
    Chad

    the OMD at 1600 is better than the D700 at 6400 ? cant agree with that ? I can agree about equal which ya kinda said :)

    maybe as the dial goes but the OMD is about 2/3 over rated on ISO
    the D700 at 6400 is a touch cleaner than the OMD at 3200
    real world when we shoot them along side each other and in tests from other places even show this
    take away that 2/3 stop and you are down to about 2000 on the OMD being equal to the D700 at 6400 and so close it does not matter I would say equal

    so your idea above you dont gain anything you end up about the same spot ? cause the IBIS just balances out the higher shutter speed you could be using with FF so it becomes a mute point !
    now if you have things moving lead goes to FF ! (which you said)

    the one advantage that IBIS has is that its easier for people to use then to take longer to develop proper techniques of shooting which purely come with time so I do agree in that sense it can help or be a advantage but that is a user issue not a camera issue :)

    if the quality was not their with the OMD I wold not be using it I know that :) but the advantage IMHO that it has is very good IBIS making it EASIER not better than FF and its much smaller and lighter and lugging gear all day that is a huge advantage and the size is less of a OH LOOK a camera guy !!!

    the size and ability to shoot people without hiding behind a huge camera is true in every part of photographer where people are aware of you

    why most studios use cable release and can see the people


    fact is OMD is a great camera and many pros myself included are picking them up and using them
    some are even replacing FF gear %100 most like me are using them along side and say its a % 75-90 camera still mainly do to focus in low light moving objects
    those that can overcome that obstacle its a %100 camera

    even when I shoot with one of my buddies on his 700s he can grab my OMD or Canon and put out great photos cause he is a great photographer
    he loves the OMD but knows it has weakness and for weddings in the ceremony it has pros of being quiet but cons of even walking down the aisle in a dark church is not a %100 for sure going to grab the shot
    at the reception the grand entrance and bouquet toss are near impossible to nail with the OMD
    but the tilt screen is a great bonus when doing high or low shots or candids of folks