EP-3 oversaturation and dynamic range

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by danall, Oct 13, 2011.

  1. danall

    danall New to Mu-43

    Oct 10, 2011
    Just learning my EP-3. I have found that the "natural" picture mode setting results in particularly oversaturated greens with the AutoWhitebalance in shady or cloudy conditions. Best match I could find was to dial in "muted" picture mode and then dial back the Green in white balance to -1. I am not relying on 'visual memory', as I am photographing front grass lawn and then immediately downloading and viewing on color corrected monitor and color managed software. Being used to my Nikon D-90 I found the menus and controls pretty strange and the logic not always clear...just will take some time to get familiar. Major concern I have is the apparent lack of Dynamic range. Have not seen any specs on this but being an old Black and White Film guy, I was quite dismayed at the lack of dynamic range with digital sensors when I converted to digital with my D-90. This EP-3 seems much more limited in its dynamic range...actually If i was aware how limited it was I'm not sure I would have purchased it. Somehow I expected 'modern' technology to be improvements on past ancient mediums but the shortcomings in dynamic range of relatively expensive 'new' digital cameras simply astonishes me when compared to the range of decades old B&W film. The Ep-3 dynamic range is what I would expect from a cheap point and shoot digital, not a $800.00 camera/kit lens.
  2. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    Forgive me if I'm telling you something you already know, but one of the major differences between digital and film is not just dynamic range but the way tones are distributed. The good news is that the results are largely under your control.

    Some things you might find helpful:
    1. Shoot at the lowest possible ISO for a given situation. Dynamic range drops quite a bit at higher ISOs. With body image stabilization and a reasonably fast prime, you can often handhold the E-P3 at slow shutter speeds.
    2. Shoot RAW. The RAW files have significantly more dynamic range and tonal range than the in-camera JPEGs.
    3. Try exposing as needed to preserve the highlights and then pushing the shadows and midtones as needed during RAW processing. This won't work in every case (sometimes the shadows cannot be rescued, but it often solves problems which are thrown in the bucket of "poor dynamic range" but actually due to factors under our control.
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  3. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    If you go by DXOMark,
    The digital PENS have never been strong on dynamic range......So in a way, this supports the OPs statement.....
  4. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Apr 10, 2009
    Boston, MA (USA)
    There is no doubt that Micro 4/3 cameras have less DR than a lot of other cameras, but there is also no doubt that: 1) Lots of people blame DR when the issue is not DR (eg, overexposure), and 2) Lots of people say "DR" when they mean something else (eg, tonal range); 3) The practical difference in DR between MFT cameras and many APS-C cameras is much more subtle than many people realize.

    I'm not claiming that the OP is wrong. However, I am certain that many people who blame poor DR would benefit from trying the things I mentioned (in addition to other measures like controlling lighting when possible). It's possible that the OP is not complaining for complaining's sake, so I offered suggestions meant to be helpful. If it's all stuff he or she already knows, then the OP can feel free to ignore my suggestions.
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  5. Pap

    Pap Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 16, 2010
    Fleetwood, PA
    The “shoot to the right” that is often given as the Holy Grail is O.K. if by doing this you don’t overexpose the highlights. It would appear that the sensors of today allow more shadow recovery than in the past whereas highlights that have been overexposed are gone forever.
  6. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    No digital camera is going to have the dynamic range of black and white film. Nor any negative film. Digital cameras have to make a "positive" and so dynamic range has to have limits. Since the dynamic range of these cameras are easy to find, why did you not check that before you bought it?

    $800 is not an expensive camera. You are certainly getting your money's worth with the E-P3.

    It is very important to research a medium before you purchase. The internet makes that very easy.
  7. htc

    htc Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 11, 2011
    Real Name:
    But there are other settings also that affect to that over-saturation. I have to check...
  8. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    Actually, you are relying on visual memory. You have not actually done any measurements.
  9. danall

    danall New to Mu-43

    Oct 10, 2011
    Thanks for the responses, I do appreciate them. I do shoot RAW and while RAW will not expand a cameras inherent dynamic range, it does allow a bit more to be recovered when compared to JPEG. But mostly I realize I need to be very conscious of shooting to preserve highlights. What i was really expressing was my surprise in moving to the digital realm that sensors technology was much more limited in dynamic range than film, particularly B&W film, just surprised me thats all. And yes as far as color, no I was not actually measuring, but I do have quite accurate color visual perception and was directly comparing output to an actual scene, and the difference was very noticeable. (the first time i tried the xrite f100 HUE test I scored a perfect score, do a search and try it, kinda fun).Now after i made that post, i did do a bit more internet research and found the following site (Color - Olympus E-P3 Digital Camera Review) that supposedly did measure color saturation and found that ALL picture modes (except muted) did oversaturate colors. My guess is that many manufacturers pander to the consumer demand for "Pop" and prefer oversaturated colors and as a result bake a bit of saturation into even a "normal" mode. Much of what I see today of digital imagery are unrealistic appearing images with oversaturation and oversharpening being very common.
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  10. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    Color is getting tricky in digital. With film color material, the manufactures could fix contrast. You really had no contrast control in the darkroom without going in an making masks or using processes like dye transfer. Now in digital, we tend to start making contrast changes which can really impact saturation--I sometimes go in a desaturate colors after making contrast changes.

    Color management is one of those things that work really really well while at the same time does not work at all. If you are trying to really nail your color, I would test some scenes with a color checker in them. Maybe even photograph a color checker ever time you start shooting in a specific environment. That would at least give you a reference.

    All you can see is glowing phosphors on a monitor--real life tends not to glow unless you are photographing phosphors. So every output device is showing you a conversion of the file and never the actual file. I find in a color managed environment, when I go to print, then the image changes because you now have a reflective object using CMYK.

    I guess what I am saying is to work with your workflow and learn to see the different representations of you file in the different output devices/media. I have found my E-P1 has a fairly good color in Adobe RGB. I also use Phase and Pentax MFD and have done lots of color work with film.

    BTW, I find Dell LCD monitors wanting and Apple iMac and studio displays really good--I work in a complex environment. This is after profiling the monitor. There are things a profile cannot correct on a monitor.