E-M10 @ ISO 800

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Der@, Dec 5, 2015.

  1. Der@

    Der@ Mu-43 Regular

    May 29, 2013
    I've been struggling a bit with my E-M10 in low light conditions. Below there is an interior shot of a friend of mine at just ISO 800 taken with the Oly 25mm at f/1.8. Its literally unprocessed (shot in RAW) to show the amount of grainy noise (please correct me if its not) that I found really hard to get rid of. Is this acceptable at this ISO?
    Since I've got the E-M10 I've moved to Lightroom to process my images but before I was using OV3 for my E-PM1 shots. OV3 does a very good job with the 12mpx files (denoising them) but almost nothing to the 16mpx ones. I'm starting to think that there is something I'm missing here because I don't believe the camera sensor is somehow damaged.
    I'll appreciate your comments and ideas.

  2. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 25, 2012
    The lighting isn't the best, but that does seem a little noisy for a m4/3 sensor.

    What are your default sharping and noise reduction settings like? Do you add clarity by defaut?
    Is that a 100% crop?

    If you have heavy default sharpening/clarity and that is a 100% crop, it's not too surprising to see a little noise.
  3. TNcasual

    TNcasual Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Dec 2, 2014
    Knoxville, TN
    Is this a crop? Something seem to be going on. I just looked at a few of my images with ISO 800, 1250, 2500 and I don't see that amount of noise.
  4. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Sharpening and noise do not match well. Default denoise settings in Lightroom are not very good, there are a few threads around, like this for example:

    how to Improve 2 stop Better High iso and color rendition from our OMD

    I suppose it is a 100% crop. Looks quite bad, more like 3200. There is no chroma noise in the picture so I assume some default processing already happened.

    Otherwise you could share the RAW file to better see what we can get.
  5. RAH

    RAH Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Dec 1, 2013
    New Hampshire
    I think the key here is that it is "unprocessed (shot in RAW)." I mean, it is my understanding that even at 800, a RAW image will be kind of noisy, just as such shots are usually pretty low in contrast and need a fair amount of boosting to have any kind of pop.
  6. Der@

    Der@ Mu-43 Regular

    May 29, 2013
    Thanks you all.

    Everything is at LR default values.
    Clarity = 0
    Sharpening / Amount = 25
    NR / Luminance = 0

    It's a 100% crop but somehow the image here seems more like 150%.

    Yes. See above, please.

    Yes, Chroma Noise is not an issue.

    There is a link below to the ORF file. If you don't mind take a look at it I'll be very happy.

    You're right. A RAW file has always to be processed.

    In fact, with NR / Luminance set to 25 in LR the things get better.

    But in OV3 I just can't set Sharpen to 1 without adding a lot of ugly artifacts to the image.

    Here is a link to the image processed in OV3:
    MEO Cloud - om10_iso800_ov3.jpg

    Here is a link to the RAW file:
    MEO Cloud - M10N0639.ORF

    If you have the time please use it like a post processing challenging so I can compare the results to the better ones I'm getting.

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2015
  7. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 All-Pro

    Dec 24, 2013
    Here are some things I noticed when I opened up your RAW file.

    1, The image is slightly underexposed.
    2, The person's face is lacking light
    3, The person's face isn't even sharp to begin with (out of focus/camera movement)
    4, White balance isn't properly set (best to use custom WB)

    Unfortunately, all of these are operator error, not the camera. To fix your image, you need to address all 4 of them.

    I have managed to play with your RAW file and got the noise down significantly and regaining some lost detail. Unfortunately due to the out of focus face of your subject matter, sharpening it up will increase noise. So I did selectively sharpening to mitigate noise issues.

    Hope this helps.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  8. Der@

    Der@ Mu-43 Regular

    May 29, 2013
    Thanks bikerhiker for your time and honest opinion.

    Better to improve my skills and/or get a decent flashlight to shoot in such bad light conditions.

    I was trying to get a good photo from a mediocre exposure.

    Shooting RAW and using fast glass don't automatically fix all other variables.

    Always learning!
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2015
  9. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    I've uploaded two version, first one from Darktable, the other from Rawtherapee:

    View attachment 448945

    View attachment 448946

    I tried to process these as little as possible, just WB, brightened a little, sharpening and denoise.

    The hard part is to find a reasonable balance between sharpening amount/threshold and denoise.

    From the exif the focus point seems to be on the standing man face, but if I had to guess I'd place it's more on the left arm of the sitting man (about 35cm DoF) as I also see some kind of micro blur that complicates things. This is more visible in the second export, more natural but much softer.

    The OV3 version you posted does not seem so bad, it's just dark: it's not wax faced and I do not see that many artifacts, maybe fine tuning sharpness can help (and we are talking of 100% view).
  10. siftu

    siftu Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 26, 2015
    Bay Area, CA
    I would have to agree with bikerhiker a bit here. I think the camera over compensated for the lit up wall on the left and thus underexposed your subject. You would have to comp up to get the subjects face exposed correctly, lucky you have a live view lcd/evf. Maybe just moving around a bit would help too. Also don't use the default LR processing. It's awful on these cameras, you at least need to use the sharpening mask to around 40 or above. The presets Klorenzo linked are a great start. I didn't put this through OV3 but make sure you select NR=OFF to get the most detail, it also does apply NR. Here it is with some very minimal processing in DxO. You can get iso 3200 images like this with ease if you expose correctly.

  11. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    This is quite impressive. It it the standard denoise or the prime denoise?
  12. siftu

    siftu Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 26, 2015
    Bay Area, CA
    This was with prime NR on about 25

    After a tweak or two I came up with this using DxO. The WB is much easier to correct in LR which I didn't do. Normally I wouldn't flinch about using iso 800 or 1600. I dropped the prime NR to 20 on this and did some WB tweaks

    Last edited: Dec 5, 2015
  13. siftu

    siftu Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 26, 2015
    Bay Area, CA
    I looks like DT still struggles with highlight recover, is that true? I never tried RT. I liked many things in DT (2 year user) but highlight recovery and NR were the two things I think it didn't do well.
  14. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Here I did no recovery at all, I think it can recover quite well, but it easily creates bright halos around recovered areas if you do it too much. There is some transition problem from recovered to untouched zones. Like this:


    Radius and compress change this but I never really got the exact meaning of these controls and usually do not solve.

    Noise reduction can be good or ugly depending on the subject: on the blue sweater was horrible, and I was unable to keep the small texture in the jacket. And often, at ISO 3200+ chroma denoise leaves back some ugly blobs impossible to remove. I liked the "wavelet" denoise but disappeared a few releases ago.
    BTW release 2.0 is due in a few weeks.
  15. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    People tend to think that the image they see when they open a RAW file in OV3 or in LR is the image after RAW conversion and that they then edit the converted image. That isn't the case. What you see when you open the file is the RAW data with some initial processing applied. That processing is a combination of the application's own default settings and any user defaults. Application default settings vary from application to application, some show you a more "processed" version than others. OV3 takes a lot of its default processing from the camera's settings for things like picture mode, saturation, contrast, sharpening etc while LR largely camera settings. What you see when you open a file in LR is going to be very different to what you see when you open the same file in OV3.

    Noise in an image is one area where there can be a big difference between applications. The noise in the actual image file is determined by the sensor, the ISO setting, and by exposure. Higher ISO settings tend to increase noise and noise also tends to increase in underexposed areas of the image. If you see a difference in the amount of noise in an image when it first opens in different applications, then that means that those applications are applying different amounts of noise reduction as part of their defaults. Since OV3 uses the noise reduction settings from your camera settings, it's likely to be more aggressive in how much noise reduction it applies when it opens a file than LR is. You can't judge much at all about noise levels or how good a particular application is at RAW processing by comparing how a file first looks on opening it in different applications.

    As for the RAW conversion itself, that takes place when you print or export the image as a JPEG file. Until then you are looking at what is effectively a preview of what the conversion will look like with whatever default settings the application applies plus whatever editing adjustment you have made because those editing adjustments change the instructions the application applies when it actually does the RAW conversion. If you want to compare different applications on the basis of the quality of their RAW conversion results, you have to compare images exported after all of the editing has been done and you are satisfied with the result you've achieved.

    I think what you're commenting on is partly a difference in the amount of noise reduction is applied as a default by OV3 and LR, with LR applying less, and partly a result of the face being slightly underexposed because of the way the meter measured the scene.
    • Informative Informative x 1
  16. Der@

    Der@ Mu-43 Regular

    May 29, 2013
    Thank you guys. You are great people!

    Although, the DxO results are impressive my final thoughts are that both characters are not well exposed, the main subject of the photograph. The ISO can be the same (800 in this case) but the amount and quality of light (the main issue in the example, I think) and how the camera meters it is totally relevant so the results change in every picture.

    After this post I've edited some pictures taken inside also at ISO 800 but with natural light and there is almost no noise at all.

    So, the reported problem is not an ISO 800, E-M10 or M4/3 sensor particular issue.

    Thanks again for your help!
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2015
  17. Brian Beezley

    Brian Beezley Mu-43 All-Pro

    M10N0639 (2).

    I'm not sure this contributes anything at this point, but here's what I got with OV3 feeding a 16-bit TIFF to RT, my usual process. In OV3 I turned off NR, set spot WB on the chair tag, and deselected the automatic crop (I've never seen that before). In RT I sharpened with Unsharp Mask with radius 0.5 and amount 100. I had intended to use Wavelet NR, mainly because someone said he missed that function from another program, but the image seemed OK at this 1300-pixel resolution without it.

    I really appreciate all the discussion because I'm thinking of getting an EM-10 myself.


    Edit - I just noticed that despite deselecting the automatic crop, which initially was a yellow rectangle in the image, OV3 reapplied it to the output TIFF. Anyone know what's going on here? The resulting image is not 4:3.

    Further edit - Deselecting "Crop using Aspect Ratio information" in Advanced Settings in the OV3 Export Image menu yields the full image. Evidently the camera was set for an aspect ratio of 3:2. Also I forgot to mention that I set Gradation to AUTO in OV3.
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2015
    • Appreciate Appreciate x 1
  18. oly.sol

    oly.sol Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 14, 2015
    Cambridge, MA
    to me this look like the kind of image that a larger sensor might allow you to getaway with, i.e. act more like a crutch. to me the lightening looks perfect noise in the shadows, and pretty everything is in shadow, if your exposure isn't right for the frame.

    when i first got into photography, i'd intentionally underexpose my images thinking i'd rather use a lower iso and fix it in post or just intentionally set out to shoot moody images that would work being underexposed. well, i quickly learned that that doesn't really work and you can often end up with more noise. now i just concentrate on getting the exposure correct...for me that can even mean exposing to the right and pulling back highlights in post. i've found that i can often get more detail and less noise or less bothersome noise.

    just keep shooting and learning. and as i tell myself anytime i have gear frustrations--it's not the gear, it's you.
    • Agree Agree x 2
  19. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Underexposed images in poor light tend to show noise at pretty much any ISO. Good exposure really is the key.
  20. Brian Beezley

    Brian Beezley Mu-43 All-Pro

    M10N0639 (2).

    Dario, this 100% crop roughly corresponds to the image you first posted. I processed it as described above. Noise usually increases when you magnify an image. Compare this image to the one I posted earlier. Incidentally, I forgot to change NR from low to off in OV3 the first time I generated this image. It had noticeably less noise, but the face looked a little waxy.

    Last edited: Dec 7, 2015
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