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E-Pl3 performance concern?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by smokinfastlegend, Jul 22, 2012.

  1. smokinfastlegend

    smokinfastlegend New to Mu-43

    Jul 22, 2012
    Hey Guys, first off I am new to the 4/3s game, and consider myself a true form of an amateur photog.

    I have had this E-PL3 for about 2 weeks and have been playing with it for a little while. I picked this camera up after playing with a friends Lumix GF2 and wanting to be able to carry something around that can take quality shots while not being as bulky as my Rebel XTI. The EPL3 I bought (bought brand new as well) came with the 14-42mm lens (should have bought with the prime lens though.)

    Here is my concern, after playing with the camera on manual mode and automatic mode, I cant seem to get clear shots at 100% crop. My photos look good when at 25% but if i zoom to 100% in PS, no matter what, the image isnt crystal clear. I see noise in the color and the picture is fuzzy from this. I know having a zoom lens doesnt offer as crisp a shot as a prime lens as well, but for what I paid, id figure I wouldnt have this level of noise. Should this be something I should expect from the 4/3's platform? I know some of the areas Im complaining about arent in the focus area (so possibly just need a different fstop.)

    Here is an example:
    100% crop:
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Original resized:
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    100% Crop:
    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    Just color me crazy if you think im being too critical. Im just bothered by the level of noise I am seeing.

    I know these pictures arent great, but im a detailer by trade so when I am done with a job, I snap a few pictures for my portfolio.

  2. daimos

    daimos Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 23, 2010
    "But Grandma, what big eyes you have"
    "All the better to see you with"

    it's all about sensor size. micro 43 is all about size, portability
    at acceptable quality.
  3. jyc860923

    jyc860923 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 28, 2012
    Shenyang, China
    that's one of the reasons a lot of us shoot RAW and do PP in LR as far as sharpness is concerned, and AA filter is guilty for that softness too ;) 
  4. smokinfastlegend

    smokinfastlegend New to Mu-43

    Jul 22, 2012
    I do have the pictures set to shoot in raw as well, only problem is I cannot seem to find the right DNGconverter since i have CS3 :(  and I dont care for Olympus viewer 2's photo editing style
  5. David A

    David A Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 30, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Adobe have an application you can download that will convert Olympus RAW files to Adobe DNG format and your version of Photoshop may be able to handle that. Otherwise it may be time to either update your version of Photoshop or get a copy of Lightroom 4, use it for your RAW processing and your basic adjustments, and just use your current version of Photoshop when you want to do something that can't be handled in Lightroom.

    Sharpness: neither crop is from the centre of the frame so I assume that your focus wasn't on the area covered by the crops. You should have enough depth of field with the kit zoom. The other factor affecting sharpness is sharpening during the processing stages. What sharpening setting do you have set in camera for your JPEGs? You may want to experiment with that and possibly add a bit more sharpening in Photoshop.

    Noise: I can't see any noise in the first crop, perhaps a little in the shadow area in the second. You know that noise in shadows is part of the package when it comes to digital photography? Larger sensors tend to have less noise than small, and the E-PL3 has a smaller sensor than your Rebel. Noise is also going to be influenced by your in camera noise reduction settings and you should get better noise reduction from Photoshop. You could start by turning noise reduction off in the camera and applying that later in Photoshop though I think Olympus tend to still apply some noise reduction even when you turn the noise filter off in the menu settings. High ISO settings also increase noise levels so keep your ISO set to 200 if at all possible. That will give you the best noise performance with the E-PL3 and if you have to go higher, don't go too far. The E-P3 has the same sensor as the E-PL3 and I don't like going above 800 with it. Noise is definitely noticeable at 1600 which is my limit with the E-P3.

    Apart from that, don't underexpose. If you're watching the histogram and pulling your exposure back a bit if the histogram is showing clipped highlights you may want to rethink that. The only obvious clipped highlights in either shot are specular reflections on the car and they will stay clipped whatever you do. You can ignore them, in fact you want them to go to white. Swap from using the histogram to using the highlights and shadows indicator. You'll get red "blinkies" in the areas where highlights are clipping and if the area being shown as clipping is a specular reflection from the car, ignore it. You may even be able to overexpose slightly, then pull the exposure back in Photoshop, just to get more detail into the shadows and reduce the noise there. Just don't clip any other highlights when you're adding a bit of overexposure, keep an eye on the highlights indication in the display as you do it.

    As has already been said, you've got more room to move in RAW so since you're shooting both RAW and JPEG, you need to do something about the RAW conversion. The Adobe application that does the conversion to DNG format is probably the simplest approach to that for you and it's free.
    • Like Like x 1
  6. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    If you want sharp 100% crops, Olympus Viewer is the wrong way to go since it simply mimics the camera's own JPEGs.

    You need to be prepared to shoot RAW, stick to base ISO, expose to the right where possible, use a good RAW converter (LR 4 is probably the best at this point), and apply sharpening. For the kit lens, you also want to stick to 14-25mm, as the longer end is softer.

  7. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    If you're talking about shadow noise, that is in part related to the E-PL3 sensor and in part related to Olympus' decision to prioritize highlight latitude by using a metering and tone curve approach that "underexposes and pushes". This issue is exacerbated if you use auto gradation, so I recommend disabling that feature.

    You can get better shadow noise performance by exposing more to the right and doing your own tone curve in RAW processing, but that's not always possible. For example, your blown highlights in these shots would be even more blown if you exposed further to the right.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. EverlastingJunk

    EverlastingJunk New to Mu-43

    Jun 26, 2012
    Yea mines the same. At 100% it gets rather "blurry"? especially indoors and even with a flash. Probably some setting is off. shooting in RAW. JPEG is even worse!
  9. pheaukus

    pheaukus Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 22, 2012

    Hello there from another PL3 owner! I have also observed the issues you encountered. As was already suggested, you should ETTR. With car pictures this should be possible as long as you have a tripod, a standing vehicle and / or good light conditions. Another thing you can do in PP is to pull blacks and shadows (Lightroom 4.x terminology) a bit into the negative values. That way some shadow detail might disappear but so will the noise. It is a compromise I found I can live with.

    In the pictures you posted however I can not see the issues you described. In the first picture, I think the car's rear light is not entirely in focus. I also wonder whether the metallic car paint shows some grain im real life or not. In the second picture with a 100% of the front grill, I see no granular noise but a blotchiness reminiscent of JPEG/NR artifacts. If these are occurring here, my suggestion is to switch NR off and save the image as a higher quality JPEG. And just for completeness, you never know, II'll add that of course one should choose ISO as low a possible and short shutter speed if camera is handheld :smile:

    If you add image parameters to your post we can surely provide more hints.
  10. BSH

    BSH Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 18, 2012
    Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I read that dialing down the noise reduction can also improve JPEG sharpness. I forget where that setting is, but that's one of the first things I did.
  11. smokinfastlegend

    smokinfastlegend New to Mu-43

    Jul 22, 2012
    I downloaded the trial for lightroom and I have to say the pictures are better shot in raw. Here is a crop from the picture above, and I have to say I am now happy with the shot. Sorry for the large shot.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    It still has a little noise, but i think getting used to light room will give me the tools to correct this. Im guessing the Jpeg format from oly blurs a decent amount compared to their raw format.
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