E-m10 exposure/metering a bit on the + side

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by a_hit_of_meth, Oct 8, 2015.

  1. a_hit_of_meth

    a_hit_of_meth Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 7, 2012
    I've had my E-m10 for about three weeks now, only had the time to take it out four or five times since I've been busy and the weather has been generally crappy with lots of rain and haze. I've noticed a tendency for it to overexpose which I don't recall being mentioned in any of the reviews, which I sort of like but it seems to be happening on a lot of my shots forcing me to adjust by -1/3 or -2/3 a lot more than I thought I would have to.

    Maybe I'm used the underexposed look on the E-m5 or GF3 I've mostly been using the past two years but a lot of the images on the E-m10 come out lighter than what I expect. One thing that bothers me is that whites and lighter colors seem to get easily blown out or lose detail even in scenes that don't seem overly complicated metering wise.

    First example with the ground and roof of the shed washed out, looks almost like it was from an old faded photo:
    21414063574_2505f63660_b. P9230032 by Nas Sfsf, on Flickr

    Another, it wasn't even that bright in that area from what I remember:
    21849967079_9bcd85fdb3_b. P9230056 by Nas Sfsf, on Flickr

    Here's another one from a relatively "normal" looking scene but look at the edges of the guy's salmon shirt and shorts turning white. The light is coming in from the left side but it wasn't that bright or strong being an overcast day.
    21414076494_cc1968dc26_b. P9290169 by Nas Sfsf, on Flickr

    I take a lot of similar type shots where the whites and lighter colors start to get blown out but I've never noticed it happening to this extent before. Any input, do you notice the same with your E-m10?

    Jpegs, evaluative metering, gradation normal. I've made sure that I haven't accidentally pressed the AEL button or knocked the front dial to overexpose.
    I sometimes take an additional second or two after half pressing the shutter button to level out and finish composing my shot, which is enough time for the light to change in the interval causing a wrongly exposed image. That did not happen in any of those samples.
  2. siftu

    siftu Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 26, 2015
    Bay Area, CA
    All of these images look to have high DR. Lots of shadow and highlights. Maybe you just exceeded DR. Because you shoot jpeg you could try adjusting your curve. RAW you could easily recover in post. Monitor your histogram and comp as desired.
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  3. manju69

    manju69 Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jul 1, 2011
    Stroud, UK
    This happened to me and there have been at least two threads about it - the details of which I don't have to hand right now. I switched the jpg colour setting (I think it's called this) from "natural" to "I-enhance" and it shifted the whole exposure back to normal. The histogram changed very obviously. Try it out. I left it like this for a few weeks, switched back to natural and all was fine. No ideas what changed in the meantime. Sorry it's not very scientific or exact but I can confirm a number of users have mentioned this issue with their new E-M10.
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  4. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Metering assumes that the world is medium gray. If your scene is darker you have to compensate darkening the scene (and the opposite for bright subjects).
    The first one has a quite dark subject: grass and leaves usually require to compensate around -2/3, then there is the dark shadow below the trees. The second one has the bright path that should balance the green but it takes less then one third of the surface. So overexposure seems reasonable to me. The histogram for these shots should be a lot on the left.
    The third looks quite balanced in terms of brightness (dark cameras, white wall, etc. maybe a little dark) and the exposure looks correct too. Then yes the man is half in the shadows and half lit so this is visible.

    In general I find the metering to be correct and with this I mean that I often have to compensate as much as 2 stops depending on the scene. I often use the Highlight&Shadows mode to see what I'm clipping.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2015
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  5. b_rubenstein

    b_rubenstein Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 20, 2012
    Melbourne, FL
    This is why I have all my cameras set to show high lights and low lights in the finder before I take the picture. This way I can dial in the right amount of compensation before taking the picture.
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  6. Carbonman

    Carbonman Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jul 10, 2014
    Vancouver BC
    I have my rear dial set to exposure compensation and ride exposure wile looking through the EVF. My metering is normally set to Digital ESP. It doesn't matter what metering you use, you still have to evaluate the scene for exposure. Luckily, it's easy to do with EVF cameras.
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  7. a_hit_of_meth

    a_hit_of_meth Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 7, 2012
    That's generally my impression of this as well. I actually like how they come out, it's just brightness of the lighter areas seems excessive. I actually have shots with the -0.3 and .07 which are very obviously underexposed while still leaving the bright areas without much detail.

    I have a few more similar to the last pic with a bit of contrast, people on the street with the sun to one side totally whiting out parts of their cheeks and sides of their faces on the side where the light is coming from. All these scenes look nicely exposed and I can't imagine lowering the ev just to balance out the lighter bits will improve the overall image anyways.

    I actually read those posts sometime in the last 10 days or so. Helped a lot and led me to testing the gradation first, hoping it would help with what I'm seeing. I intended to try out your suggestion but couldn't immediately find the settings on the camera and just didn't have time to do it but I'll try again over the weekend.
  8. CWRailman

    CWRailman Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 2, 2015
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    You did not mention what metering mode you are using. Are you using a native lens. It looks like you ran the jpg file through some sort of software. What are you using?

    The first two shots are bright sunlight so a -2/3 exposure compensation would be a good setting to increase color depth.
  9. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    How much you want to underexpose depends on how much you can recover. With RAW at base ISO you can recover a lot, being careful not to clip what you do not want. With JPEG is better to decide upfront what to clip playing safe like "if I'm going to loose something I'd prefer the shadows".

    Highlights recording is one of the weak spots of digital sensors vs film but this is true for all digital cameras.

    Anyway there is no clipping in the third image. There is also no dark clipping anywhere so here a -1/3 or -2/3 could have been a safer choice, especially for PP. And would have probably given you smoother highlights rendering. This is the "tone map", even this is a slightly dark scene (assuming exposure was quite close):


    (red dots are on squares in the middle of the histogram)

    If you shoot jpeg you could try the different gradations to control the DR:


    or the "highlights and shadows" in-camera control to push down the highlights.

    To save time you can take a few RAW shots, open these with OV3 and quickly try different settings there. When you find your perfect combo you can set it on the camera.

    Somewhere in the settings you can also set a base metering correction.
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  10. Fred S

    Fred S Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 20, 2012
    Fred S
    Same problem here
    I use my histogram . I dial in the compensation and shoot to the left.
    I band aid fix for now
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  11. gary0319

    gary0319 Mu-43 Veteran

    Nov 26, 2014
    Sarasota FL
    When in an area with deep shadows and bright skies (Cypress swamps with bright sun coming though the canopy) I usually use a -3 highlights on the curves. Actually, most times I just leave the curves at -3 highlights.
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  12. a_hit_of_meth

    a_hit_of_meth Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 7, 2012
    Thanks guys, I've been busy lately, had some free time earlier today but it was raining.

    I looked through some similar shots taken with my E-m5 in similar situations and saw the same thing, just not as noticeable. The whites on the E-m10 just seem a lot brighter for some reason.

    Evaluative metering, 14-42 ez lens used in the photos but I've also seen it with the 14-140 I tried the other day when i was testing the gradation settings. These are Jpegs straight out of the camera. With the first two shots I expected the meter to underexpose instead of overexpose because of how bright the scene was.

    What about the edges of his shirt and pants. The rest of the image seems nicely balanced to me, the edges of his shirt turning white is distracting. It wasn't even that bright that day. -0.3 ev or more wouldn't help much to get the color back and would only serve to darken the rest of the scene, especially the concentration of blacks in the middle.

    I usually prefer to use the stock in camera settings with minimal adjustments of my own since I don't always trust my own judgement with these settings. Before I get to that I just need to look into this a bit more to get a better understanding of what is causing this.

    I've only taken around 500 shots so far which is low for me, I usually get over 1k in the first week with a new body. Maybe I just need extra time to get used to the color and the way it meters and not keep comparing it to my other gear.
  13. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    It's possible, but it's not exactly a strict comparison.

    The amount of light does not matter for metering (otherwise all pictures taken at noon would get a wrong exposure). What matters is the reflectance of the subjects i.e. how much light they reflect into the camera (depends on the color and glossy-ness of the surfaces). A black dog under very strong light will reflect less light then a white dog under the same light.

    Try this: in A mode, fixed ISO shoot a uniformly lit completely white subject filling the whole frame (paper is ideal) and then a completely black one. Now add more light and take two more shots. Think about what you expect then compare the four pictures.

    The right sleeve is light pink not pure white (255). This is what I see in Darktable with clipping warnings enabled:


    You can see some "black dust" (highlight clipping) on the sleeve, on the background guy arm and more on the silver cameras lenses. I also placed the "histogram target" on the sleeve and its position on the histogram is shown on the right.

    I'm looking right now at a white lamp on my desk: the lit side is white, the other side is dark gray. I can look around and find a lot of examples where the objects around me do not have their "proper" color or mixed colors, even if we are not used to notice it.
    I'm wondering if this was also the case with the man shirt: direct side light vs diffuse light. But I wasn't there and I cannot tell if this is the reason or if it is the E-M10 "fault".

    Our eyes are more sensitive to the middle tones. There are many details/shades in that sleeve that we are not able to see:


    Even if the scene was not outside the camera DR an important detail in the picture got in an extreme "zone" and looks flat (I think is flatness more then brightness that looks unusual).

    Underexposing would move the sleeve into a more "readable" zone. Then you can selectively rise the exposure of the rest of the scene to the current level. From the first screenshot you can see that there is no "white dust" in the dark zones, you could probably compensate more then a stop before getting significant clippings in the shadows (where nobody usually cares).
    Or better, in camera or in PP, you can push down the highlights:


    Shooting RAW I usually just trust the camera orange/blue warnings, compensate a little and fix later. Sometimes I compensate one stop more/less just to see where I have more "space" and if there is something in the scene that is too close to the "tone" borders (like in this case).
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2015
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  14. a_hit_of_meth

    a_hit_of_meth Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 7, 2012

    Thanks for taking the time with all that. As usual I'm probably just overreacting to something which I usually do in the first week or so having a new toy, trying to spot anything wrong with it while still in that return window...

    From what I remember there was little direct light that day but it should be noted my vision has been fading noticeably over the past two years. I often need 20 minutes or so to transition from being outdoors to be able to properly look at a computer screen once indoors without feeling nauseous, so it's diffiuclt to compare what I remember from what I see on screen.
    Hopefully I'll have more time to spend with the camera later this week to try some of the "fixes" others have suggested fir this as well, since I generally don't like to bother with PP and I'm too lazy to have to do it with the amount of the images I've seen this happening with on my E-m10.
  15. a_hit_of_meth

    a_hit_of_meth Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 7, 2012
    I've finally had time last friday and on this monday to take my camera out again since my last post. I thought maybe after a while I will have adjust to my new camera's colors and exposure but it seems I'm noticing it even more.
    I really like the results, I generally don't mind the slight overexposure, it's just the whites and lighter colors sometimes seem to be too easily blown out or faded.

    I've tried the on camera curves as suggested but that did little to help with what I was looking for. Exposure compensation by -0.3 sometimes helps but not always. Slight overexposure is not the problem for me, it's the lighter colors in the scene that sometimes end up losing detail.

    Here are some quick samples to see if you agree with what I am talking about:
    First shot is camera metering, the second with highlights turned down by somewhere between -3 to -5, the third one is normal curves -3ev on an overcast day.

    22581672590_e31cd9a07b_b. PB030653 by Nas Sfsf, on Flickr

    22769609065_8e667698e4_b. PB030654 by Nas Sfsf, on Flickr

    22780824901_50ef5e602b_b. PB030655 by Nas Sfsf, on Flickr

    Another example.
    22770051425_3c0df138d2_b. PB030610 by Nas Sfsf, on Flickr
  16. JanW

    JanW Mu-43 Regular

    To overcome this I use picture mode 1, i-enhance. This removes the flatness of the images.
    At first I found the i-enhance effect to be too strong.
    But in the first menu page (shooting menu 1) there is an option "picture mode". When selecting this you can adjust the effect of i-enhance. I chose one step lower than default.
    Don't have my camera with me so I can't check the description of it.
    If you still find the color saturation too high you can also turn down the saturation for the i-enhance picture mode in the same menu.

    I really like the jpeg output I get with i-enhance. If you're reluctant to change settings remember that these settings only affect the i-enhance picture mode.
    If you select picture mode 3 (Natural) again everything is the same as you are using now.

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  17. CWRailman

    CWRailman Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 2, 2015
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    There are few to no shadows in these images. It appears that you are shooting on cloudy days and under such lighting conditions the flat colors and lack of contrast that you are achieving is quite normal. Without a bright light source colors become flat and do not look enriched. Try shooting out of doors on a sunny day to see what you get. Though we do not have many here in Arizona, when shooting on cloudy days that do not produce enriched colors or much contrast I compensate by using a negative exposure compensation and or bumping up the contrast. Though I shoot JPG, I actually do the contrast adjustments in PP.

    In both cases, it looks like you metered on the dark trees. The camera meters that area as 16% grey and adjusts the exposure which results in exposing the light areas. In such conditions when there is no strong sun light I try and compensate by metering on something that is close to a 16% grey card such as the concrete or the structure. I NEVER use one of the multi zone metering methods which for my liking never seems to get things right, but rather have always relied on one of the spot or center priority metering modes. Point the camera at the concrete, press the shutter half way to lock the exposure, or use the exposure lock, then move the camera up and compose your image. You will see a big difference such as the blue on the car looking rich and not so flat as it should but no matter what you do, you will not be able to achieve detail in the some of those reflective areas such as the front of the car.

    By the way, there are many videos on You Tube that give tips for shooting on cloudy days.
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  18. derelict

    derelict Mu-43 Regular

    May 5, 2015
    Have you adjusted your white balance to force the camera into a closer metering setting?
  19. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    I think the third version (-0.3 ev) of the car shot has the technically correct exposure: tires are black, numbers on the plate and the car on the left too, the leaves in the shadows are dark, concrete is gray, the tractor is not super sun-faded, etc.
    Two thirds of the frame are filled with dark or black subjects, concrete is medium/bright, cars colours are dark, there is only a little bright area on the right.

    The tree picture also has dark subjects in about 50% of the frame (based on the overexposed shot).


    (a quick ways to see this is to look at a small version of the picture with squinted eyes).

    The default metering on Oly cameras is probably a little center biased (see here) so it's measuring the tree mostly (I suppose, otherwise the sky should compensate a little).
    There is also some clipping on the white roofs: the sky is often a problem, but earthly things should be hard to clip except for specular highlights. Here the highlight&shadows mode should have given a live warning about this.

    I'd see it more like this:


    If you want the overexposed look I think you should do it in post pushing the middle tones and keeping the bright parts. Otherwise you are easily going to loose the highlights. The curve correction helped, check the bright stuff on the right.

    Tricks like metering on the palm of the hand can be useful for a quick reality check. Or you could spot meter on the concrete and place it at +1/3(?). The foliage at -2/3(?). The darkest shadows at -2+2/3(?).
    If you are in A priority and fixed ISO all of these options should obviously give you the same shutter speed.

    This is a nice article on metering complex subjects: http://blog.mingthein.com/2013/01/04/metering-part-two/
    A good book, but boring after the first chapters, is Perfect Exposure by Freeman.
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  20. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    I agree with what everyone has said above about metering and exposure compensation but there's one thing no one has commented on. The OP has changed cameras. His EM10 is giving different results to his E-M5 and GF3.

    My first M43 camera was an E-P3 and then I got an E-M5 9 months later. Different camera, different sensor, my pictures did not look the same even though I was shooting exactly the same way as I did with the E-P3.

    The E-M5 had a newer sensor with more dynamic range. I think Olympus had also tweaked their meter programming in order to use that extra dynamic range to give more benefit in the highlight area so you wouldn't clip highlights as easily as you could with the E-P3. What that did was also produce a slight shift in how light/dark a mid-grey tone was captured. You have to expect that the meter may behave a bit differently with a new camera and a newer sensor.

    In this case the OP also shoots JPEG and there has probably been some changes in the JPEG rendering engine between the E-M5 and the E-M10, and it will definitely be a different engine to the GF3. That's going to have an impact too.

    Bottom line: new camera so you need to learn how the meter and the JPEG conversion work in it. It is going to produce slightly different results to older cameras, you just have to learn how it works and adjust your approach to suit.

    Everything above about metering modes and exposure compensation, etc, is still correct but the camera is behaving slightly differently to your previous cameras. You had to learn how to get the best out of the GF3, and you probably had to adjust what you were doing slightly with the E-M5 when you got it. There may not be as big a difference between the E-M10 and the E-M5 as there probably was between the E-M5 and the GF3 but there is probably a difference and you just have to adjust to it. I've come to accept that's something you have to live with when you get a new camera.
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