EM-5 vs EM-1 image quality

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by jerrykur, Jul 3, 2014.

  1. jerrykur

    jerrykur Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 23, 2012
    Northern CA
    Is there much of a difference between the image quality (raw images) between the two?

    I currently have an EM-5 and am happy, but not thrilled with the images. Most of the issue is sharpness and detail. I am shooting with the kit lens some of the time, but also with a Pana 25 1.4. I am wondering if the EM-1 would be much of a change.

    Also, how does the Pana 25 1.4 compare to the Oly 12-40 f 2.8? If I stay with 4/3 the Oly is on my list.

    FWIW, my other gear is Canon 5DMK3, 1DMK3, and a stack of L lenses.


  2. Livnius

    Livnius Super Moderator

    Jul 7, 2011
    Melbourne. Australia
    Real Name:
    If you are unhappy with the sharpness and level of detail you're getting from your EM5 and PL25 then you will see no improvement in that regard with either the EM1...or for that matter the two new generation Panasonics the GH4 or GX7 since all 4 of those cameras share 2 sensors...a Panasonic and a Sony sensor. Getting the olympus 12-40 won't be much help either on any of those combinations. Dare I say it, but if you find the sharpness not satisfactory for your needs then perhaps you're best suited to sticking to the gear you are able to get preffered results from. I must say though, I am surprised that sharpness is your complaint...DOF, resolution, I would get, but sharpness...hmmmm. I can only assume you know what you're doing and it's simply a matter of your own personal standard not bein met.

    Good luck.
    • Like Like x 3
  3. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    I have both - in terms of pure IQ, there is no meaningful difference.
  4. wildwildwes

    wildwildwes Mu-43 Veteran

    Jun 9, 2012
    Brooklyn, NY
    As Joe already asserted, I too find it odd that you aren't pleased with the sharpness of the images captured with your E-M5. For me, the E-M5 was a total game changer. Not only did I find the files RAZOR TACK sharp, but its other attributes practically swore me off lugging around my monster FX Nikons (which at the time was the basis of my "walk around" kit). Is it possible that you are not using the camera properly? You may already be aware that you can set your focus preferences in a myriad of different configurations. I have both my E-M1 & E-M5 setup in AF / M mode (autofocus with manual focus override). This allows me to get in the zone quickly with the aid of AF-S and then fine tune tweak the focus further with the manual override).

    Good luck. Hope you find your way...

  5. LowriderS10

    LowriderS10 Monkey with a camera.

    May 19, 2013
    From everything I've read...nope...no real IQ difference.

    FWIW, I switched from a Canon 5D Mark II full frame camera with top-notch L lenses to the E-M5 and have zero complaints about IQ, sharpness, etc. More than a year and nearly 10,000 shots later, I'm 100% happy with my decision. I've even exhibited and sold A2 prints out of this camera and the lowly 9-18!
  6. Sammyboy

    Sammyboy m43 Pro

    Oct 26, 2010
    Steeler Country
    .... go to the SCP and experiment with the sharpness, contrast settings ......
  7. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin .

    Oct 9, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    I didn't really find an increase in image sharpness going from the E-M5 to an E-M1, but when I used my E-M5 LR profile on E-M1 images they seemed to come out a touch cleaner. Something that you should consider is whether the results you are getting from your E-M5 are representative. For instance, my E-M5 can produce moire and aliasing at times which are not symptoms of softness.
    • Like Like x 1
  8. 2mnycars

    2mnycars Mu-43 Veteran

    Aug 26, 2012
    Real Name:
    I have found the transition to Oly gear very hard. I question whether my settings are the optimum. I have two camera bodies. Oly E-M5 and E-PM2, which is a recycled body.

    My concern is fast moving subjects. Cars. Puppies. I simply am not getting the number of keepers that I would like. (And I had a photo business for years, with Nikon F2-3's, and Leica rangefinder equipment.)

    I respect those of you that are happy with your choices. I have a lot to learn.
  9. BarefootPilgrim

    BarefootPilgrim Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Dec 23, 2009
    Westchester, IL
    Real Name:
    I have found that, no matter which camera/lens combination I've tried (and that includes EM-1 and EM-5 with high-end m-4/3 lenses plus E-30 and E-5 with SHG glass) NONE of them are great for fast moving subjects. I love using the m-4/3 stuff for everything else, but recently went back to a well-used Nikon D300 with a couple of fast Nikkor lenses for the action shots that so disappointed me with 4/3 and m-4/3.

    I shoot canine frisbee, dog agility and dock diving. Keeper rate with m-4/3 was about 3% to 4% and that was all attributable to pure luck, not for lack of skill: keeper rate with my old film Nikons and Minoltas shooting action (even with manual focus) was ten times that. Keeper rate with the Nikon D300 kit varies between 85% to 95%. Needless to say, I'm thrilled with the change.
  10. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    I have had very good luck with moving subjects using SAF and continually "touching up" focus between shots by pressing and releasing the shutter release to make the camera re-focus. This works well with subjects that are moving are relatively consistent speed but probably would work less well for subjects that change direction and/or speed frequently. The newer m4/3 bodies focus very fast but CAF is generally not their strength (the E-M1 and GH-4 have recently changed that, however).
  11. dhazeghi

    dhazeghi Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2010
    San Jose, CA
    Real Name:
    There's no difference to speak of.

    How are you processing them? Lenses don't really come much sharper than the 25/1.4 (except in the corners of the frame).
  12. jerrykur

    jerrykur Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 23, 2012
    Northern CA
    Thanks for all of the replies. I think I need to do some more testing. One thing may be that I tend to be very conservative with sharpening in Lightroom. With the 5DMK3 you don't want to use much sharpening to avoid oversharpening images.
  13. tyrphoto

    tyrphoto Mu-43 All-Pro

    May 25, 2014
    Seoul | NYC
    Real Name:
    For all intents and purposes, the sharpness of the EM5 vs EM1 are identical. Getting the 12-40/2.8 won't be of help either over 25/1.4.

    I use a 5D Mk.II with L lenses and find my EM1 with either the 25/1.8 or the 45/1.8 to be just as sharp as the Canon after post process.
  14. Pili

    Pili Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 16, 2012
    Boulder, CO
    Real Name:
    I tend to sharpen between 65-90 in LR, 0.5/0.6 radius and leave detail settings on the low end. I also find that I need to be liberal with NR settings as there is a fine grained noise (even at base iso) that bothers me a little. NR set to 6-10 @ iso 200 seem to take care of this though with minimal loss of detail.
  15. CarlG

    CarlG Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 6, 2013
    Tampa, FL
    Real Name:
    You can't just give a basic setting without knowing the type of output the OP is expecting. 65-90 in LR with an E-M5 or E-M1 file is good for a web file. But for printing, that takes on a whole different strategy and set of parameters.
  16. yakky

    yakky Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jul 1, 2013
    Contrast detection cannot keep up with phase detection, it is that simple. What I have found works fairly well on moving objects is the touch screen shutter. C-AF TR is not very effective on the M5 and PM2.
  17. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Whilst there is little difference in sharpness between the two (but the E-M1 wins by a hair), I think the overall colours from the E-M5 are slightly better than the E-M1. In many shots you won't notice, but with reds in particular I think the E-M5 manages better.
  18. TransientEye

    TransientEye Mu-43 Regular

    Sep 18, 2013
    Real Name:
    The problem with the E-M5/E-M1 PL25 images is not usually sharpness but micro-contrast.

    It is instructive to compare the processed output from Lightroom and either in-camera JPEG or ORF files processed in Olympus view. With Lightroom's default settings, I have always found the E-M5 output disappointing. At the pixel level, the Lightroom images lack the crispness that was a hallmark of the (lower resolution) GF1, and compare badly to my other cameras (a FF canon and an APSC Ricoh) with the same settings.

    However, if you shoot JPEG or use Olympus viewer, the output is much much better. The reason seems to be because Olympus applies judicious sharpening and local contrast adjustments by default. Wit care, you can replicate these in Lightroom and save the settings as a preset to apply automatically when importing RAW files. I usually use a small amount of clarity (+5 to +10) with some subtle sharpening (seldom more than +25).

    I think image quality is the only drawback to the u4/3 system at present - it is closer to cameras such as the diminutive RX100 than to the A7. However, I guess that is the tradeoff you have to make in order to have excellent in-camera IS and the small size.
  19. Pili

    Pili Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 16, 2012
    Boulder, CO
    Real Name:
    Sure, this is true. I was just giving the values I like to start with, maybe it will help. At the end of the day, the files are good, not great and you can only do so much given the sensor size.

    I would personally like 2 choices in available sensor for the system, a modern 10-12mp sensor for better sensitivity/file size in an em-1 body and a faveon/high mp sensor with a focus on resolution/low iso IQ (i.e. A7r). The 16mp sensor seems like a compromise at times.
  20. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    I own the E-M1, owned an E-M5, and have an rx100 and A7r. I can't say I agree with the above characterization. The rx100 is sort of in a class of its own in terms of size/image quality ratio, and it is quite excellent, but the level of detail and smoothness in the files is still significantly better for the MFT gear, in my experience.

    I do find Lightroom does not easily give me the quality I like, and renders very flat. I know that's by design, but I much prefer DxO as my raw converter for the initial process, then either Lightroom or PS (as tiff) if local adjustments/NIK plugins get used.