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E-M5 Dynamic Range Test - Wow...

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Jman, May 2, 2012.

  1. Jman

    Jman Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 20, 2011
    Columbus, OH
    Got my E-M5 today. Overall...I love it. I was worried about which of my Panny cameras (GH2 and GX1) I would sell upon receiving the OM-D. I'm going to sell the GH2, but I might just sell the GX1 eventually as well and pick up another E-M5 as a backup, but that's getting ahead of myself.

    I had a very brief time to shoot with the camera at dinnertime, and while I was not out to get great shots, I did try and stress the dynamic range to see how it worked in real life. Let me just say, I'm very impressed. This is non-scientific, but the E-M5 looks to me to have at least a full stop, and possibly two stops more dynamic range than my GH2. Shots that would have resulted in clipped highlights are now easily managed, and even extreme shots are recoverable to an amazing degree. Here are a few shots to demonstrate.

    #1: This shot isn't super challenging, but I know from experience that some of the highlights on the white buildings usually clip if I expose for the average scene at this time of day. The shadows on the steps are also easily exposed with tons of detail. This is a shot that would fit in the DR of the GH2, but only by underexposing a little and pushing the shadows. With the E-M5, I didn't need to touch the file in RAW.
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    #2: This shot is very challenging, and I am fairly certain that my GH2 would not have held detail in the bright white patch to the left. This is a very extreme DR scene, shot under a railroad bridge in the shadow, with the bright white wall paint in direct sunlight on the left. I also stopped down a ton and challenged the IS a little (though not too much with the 12mm) and did a longish exposure as a biker swept by. ALL of the detail of the white wall is present, and the shadows have detail all the way to the underside of the beams. The E-M5 got it all:
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    #3: This shot is something I've tried with a bunch of cameras, but I can't find some of the other shots to compare. This is under the railroad bridge, shooting into the sun (the sun is in the upper right, coming through one of the beam areas). I've done 5 shot HDRs with my GH2 on this lighting and still only managed to capture about what the E-M5 did in one shot after doing highlight recovery and shadow recovery. The shadows are pushed a ton here, and as a result, they are quite noisy, but they still hold the detail. The first shot is the image as it appeared upon import into Lightroom, the second is after highlight and shadow recovery. The ONLY place I have unrecoverable highlight data is at the very top right, where the sun is. I do have some blocked shadows in between beams, but still, that's not bad at ALL considering the huge range of tones here...again, this is from one RAW image. It is worth noting that the preview JPEG on the rear LCD showed the majority of the detail as well, which leads me to believe that JPEG DR is pretty good too (as was shown with the DPReview tests).

    As imported:
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    Shadow/Highlight recovery in RAW:
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)
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  2. Agree totally. I'm not sure why this hasn't been a great topic of interest so far. One quick session shooting at night and I'm super-impressed by the IBIS and focus. Now one quick session shooting in the day and I feel the same way about the dynamic range.

    BTW, with regards to jpegs (all that I can use at the moment), this is the first Olympus camera where I tried turning the Gradation setting to Auto (i.e. On) and left it there.
  3. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    WOW indeed. That's impressive.
    I'm only viewing the 2 images in my iPhone, but has the second image much noise resulting from pushing and pulling highlight/shadow ? Usually if I'd ever push an image so far it can get a little messy.
  4. krugorg

    krugorg Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 18, 2011
    Minnesota USA
    Thanks much for the feedback on DR, Jordan!
  5. Jman

    Jman Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 20, 2011
    Columbus, OH
    Yes, there is a lot of noise in the recovered shadow area. I did the recovery using "highlights" and "shadows" in Lightroom 4.1 RC2, but then I went back to see what that equates to in terms of stops. Ready?

    The highlights were pulled 1.5 stops and the shadows were pushed 3.5 stops! So yes, it's noisy, but it's a 3.5 stop push. :)  I'll take it.
  6. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia

    It certainly indicates that plenty of room is available.....more than enough for most situations at the least where any created noise from recovery slider adjustments will be more than acceptable.

    Good work Jordan, really appreciate this type of useful 'real world' input.
  7. gsciorio

    gsciorio Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 29, 2011
    Miami, FL
    Nice post! I love that the OMD files respond well when I work the tones in LR4 they really handle well and don't break up much.
  8. WT21

    WT21 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Feb 19, 2010
    Dang nabit. I can't afford this camera. All this IBIS talk, etc. is all very interesting. But this. This DR post. This is really getting it's claws into me.

    I hope a Pen with the new sensor shows up soon!

    Thanks for posting Jman. Good work.
  9. MartinOcando

    MartinOcando Mu-43 Regular

    Apr 3, 2012
    Once I saw your DR test, I couldn't help myself but grabbed my G3 quickly and went down the stairs for a quick test.

    These are my results, with very few time to dedicate and make it better.

    What do you think ?

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  10. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    That's bloody impressive too !!!

    But we've always know the G3 is an excellent camera :) 
  11. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Out of curiosity Martin, you using LR4 too ?
    I've read it's shadow/highlight recovery algorithm is a noticeable step up from LR3.6 ?
  12. Jman

    Jman Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 20, 2011
    Columbus, OH
    I think that the G3 shots are about equivalent in range to my 2nd shot posted above, maybe a little wider than that, but not a lot. In my bridge shot, I was shooting directly into the sun in mid-afternoon...huge highlight range.

    I own the GX1, so I'm familiar with the G3/GX1 sensor, and the OM-D has a lot more DR. Going by my familiarity with the GH2 and GX1 files I've been shooting (about 25,000 frames), if I had to guess, I'd say the OM-D is pulling in about a stop more highlight detail and about a half a stop to a stop more shadow detail. I'm going to do some formal testing over the next few weeks with the OM-D, GH2 and GX1 to see whether that's just wishful thinking or reality. I did some ISO testing this evening, and noise levels are similar at ISO 200-400, but at 800, they start favoring the OM-D, and at 3200-12,800 the OM-D is half a stop to a stop better, and is about 1/3 stop more sensitive at the same ISO as the GH2, which I found surprising given the early talk about the Olympus.
  13. Sam0912

    Sam0912 Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Mar 1, 2012
    Manchester UK
    Sam Roberts
    Excellent results, plenty good enough for me. Considering upgrading GF1 to GX1, and the second test there shows its easily good enough for me. How does the G3 handle white balance? I've learned to live with GF1 as far as DR and noise go, but it can bug me shooting indoors, as the WB can be miles off. I believe the Oly cameras are better?
  14. Jman

    Jman Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 20, 2011
    Columbus, OH
    Since you're interested in the GX1, I can answer that...the GX1 does a decent job with indoor white balance...a lot better than the early Panny cameras (I used to have the G1). The E-M5 is better (it absolutely nailed the WB under fluorescent...which the Panasonics don't quite get), but the GX1 isn't too far behind. Shoot RAW and it's a pretty moot point. I found the GX1 to maintain color balance pretty well too.
  15. dfatty

    dfatty Mu-43 Rookie

    May 2, 2012
    wow, indeed, thanks for sharing this.
  16. nueces snapper

    nueces snapper Mu-43 All-Pro

    Just WOW!

    Thank you.
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