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EPL-2 noise

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by concourier, Oct 10, 2011.

  1. concourier

    concourier New to Mu-43

    8
    Oct 10, 2011
    Hi all,

    Forgive if this is a repeat query - but I shot some pics in the theater recently with my new EPL2, RAW at 400 iso, which I assumed wouldn't be too terribly noisy. Processing in either Pshop CS5 or Lightroom 3 shows what I consider to be very noisy photos. You can download 2 100% crops here for review:
    Index of /~bsnead/noise

    EPL2 users - Can you tell me if these results are typical? I'm very disappointed with these. I'm a digital imaging specialist with over 20 years experience with Photoshop - so I know how to process an image - but was wondering if these results are par, sub-par or if I should be using the Oly software.
     
  2. cameronp

    cameronp Mu-43 Rookie

    20
    Oct 10, 2011
    Kent, UK
    That looks substantially worse that I get at ISO 1600 on my E-PL2.
     
  3. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston
    Those are 100% crops, not full view pics. Do you have other cameras to compare it to? I don't think my Canon Rebel would fare much better than that at a 100% crop. Can you post the full size image, too?
     
  4. DDBazooka

    DDBazooka Mu-43 Veteran

    211
    Sep 3, 2011
    That does look a bit noisy but then again, it is a 100% crop...

    Maybe it's that auto graduation thing.
     
  5. crsnydertx

    crsnydertx Mu-43 Top Veteran

    995
    Dec 31, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Chuck
    Were photos underexposed originally? My experience is that increasing exposure substantially in LR or PS will bring up lots of noise in the shadows, particularly at higher ISO values.
     
  6. DekHog

    DekHog Mu-43 Top Veteran

    579
    May 3, 2011
    Scotland
    I'd expect noise like that at around ISO1600 as well, although lighting conditions have a lot to do with it, and if you underexposed and then pushed in post, that would also give you results like you have....
     
  7. cameronp

    cameronp Mu-43 Rookie

    20
    Oct 10, 2011
    Kent, UK
    No, seriously, if you're seeing that much noise on an E-PL2 at anything below ISO 6400 there's something very wrong! Here are some fairly representative shots at ISO 400, 1600 and 6400:

    Index of /cameron/epl2_noise

    The _camera files are straight out of the camera with no manipulation, in-camera noise filter set to LOW (which IMO is still fairly strong). The _lightroom files are crops with all of the Lightroom settings reset to default, so no luminance noise reduction and only minimal chroma noise reduction. The ISO 6400 image was actually taken at ISO 1600 and pushed +2 stops in Lightroom.
     
  8. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Houston
    Muttley
    What setting did you have the camera on as far as PASM is concerned? Did you have camera on auto ISO or did you set it to 400? Although I can't see the EXIF on the photos, I'm guessing that the original photos were underexposed to achieve a fast enough shutter speed value while using ISO 400.

    Like DekHog said, if you lift up the underexposed shadows in Photoshop or LR to bring out the detail, you will get a lot of noise. In a camera like the Pentax K5, the user can underexpose and then lift the shadows without adding too much noise at lower ISO's. Unfortunately, that's not the case with m4/3 sensors.

    Perhaps you should just raise the ISO to 1600 and get better exposure. That way, whatever luminence noise you get, it can be dealt with in LR a whole lot easier.
     
  9. DDBazooka

    DDBazooka Mu-43 Veteran

    211
    Sep 3, 2011
    I see F/5 at 1/80th using manual, most likely underexposed and either corrected in PP or in camera.
     
  10. WT21

    WT21 Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 19, 2010
    Boston


    OP needs to post the originals with the EXIF, and also comment on the original exposure. (edit - maybe DD pulled the exif??)
     
  11. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Houston
    Muttley
    Given that it's a theatrical stage (I think) and likely with dim lighting, I'd take a guess that with ISO 400, F5, and shutter speed of 1/80, it's waaaaay underexposed.

    Thanks for the info DDBazooka.

    Here's another suggestion to the OP. If you want to have the F5 depth of field and 1/80 shutter speed, set the ISO on auto, and then let the camera choose the appropriate ISO. I'm assuming you can use auto ISO in the M mode. I haven't done that for a while, but I recall being able to do that on the EP2.

    Chances are the camera will choose a fairly high ISO, but at least you'll get proper exposure. Shoot in RAW and then do some noise reduction magic.
     
  12. cameronp

    cameronp Mu-43 Rookie

    20
    Oct 10, 2011
    Kent, UK
    Ahh, good point! I guess I was being a bit presumptuous in thinking that if you were going to be nit-picky about noise levels you'd do it on an image where you didn't have to severely bump up the exposure...
     
  13. concourier

    concourier New to Mu-43

    8
    Oct 10, 2011
    Thanks all for the input. To allay questions about PP toning, here's a link to 2 RAW files.
    Index of /~bsnead/epl2raw

    Everything I've shot to date is RAW, processed in ACR. "_BIL0029" is @ 200 ISO, and if you view at 100% at the flat areas (siding, or shadows) there is a persistent noise pattern - slight but there. Photo "_BIL0805" is 400iso. Yes - you are correct - these were underexposed and PP only increased that. But the noise level is still much more than I expected in either of these photos.

    The photos posted by cameronp (thanks for those!) look much better to me than what I'm getting at RAW at any iso - I'm especially concerned about the noise (looks more like a squiggly pattern) at 200, which maybe I'm unrealistically expecting to be much more noise free.
     
  14. concourier

    concourier New to Mu-43

    8
    Oct 10, 2011
    BTW - Theatre photo shot in Manual, Barn shot in Aperture priority. I took a look based on DDBazooka, and yes - the Gradation was set to "auto" but I didn't think that would affect the RAW file? I'll try a few with it set to "Norm". Also, all noise reduction set to "off" but again, that's just for jpegs, right?
     
  15. stratokaster

    stratokaster Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 4, 2011
    Kyiv, Ukraine
    Pavel
    Unfortunately, the Gradation setting directly affects RAW files. The resulting RAW files with the Gradation set to "Auto" are underexposed by roughly 1 stop.
     
    • Like Like x 3
  16. concourier

    concourier New to Mu-43

    8
    Oct 10, 2011
    Thanks stratocaster, I didn't suspect that - and I *think* I read most of the manual.
    I'll set that to "norm" and check the results later tonite.
    If this is true, I can only imagine the contrasty environment of the theatre caused this feature to kick into overdrive to open the shadows.
    Coming from an old Canon 20D, I was hoping that this newer MFT Pen would at least get me close to those results without lugging around a DSLR.
    Also - I had just popped on a VF-2 friday in anticipation of this performance (didn't want to shoot with the LVF in a dark theater) and while I went thru pains to get it calibrated, it seems the view in the finder is still a stop or two brighter than real life, causing me to underexpose a bit in manual. I'll leave the histogram on next time.
     
  17. Armanius

    Armanius Mu-43 All-Pro

    Feb 23, 2010
    Houston
    Muttley
    Yes, histogram is a great tool! Sometimes anyway! :)
     
  18. concourier

    concourier New to Mu-43

    8
    Oct 10, 2011
    Thanks all for your help on this.
    Conclusions:
    -setting Gradation to "norm" does affect the RAW file, and produces less noise in shadows.
    -VF-2 viewfinder brightness turned down to 2nd to lowest setting to more closely approximate real life. Wow - is it really that too bright? Appears so.
    -Using "fill light" adjustments on MFT RAW is visually more destructive than using it on 1.6 crop DSLR RAW files.

    Thanks again everyone - you've been very helpful as I get used to this new camera.
     
  19. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    I have my E-PL2 set to -7 monitor brightness. ;) It really is way too bright...
     
  20. cameronp

    cameronp Mu-43 Rookie

    20
    Oct 10, 2011
    Kent, UK
    Yeah, the shadow noise really shows up when you start playing with fill light or boosting the exposure. You have to be a bit more careful about getting your exposure right than you do with modern DSLRs. Still, it's heaps better than a point and shoot.

    How are you finding the VF-2? I've been thinking about getting one myself, but haven't yet because the rear LCD is much better than I was expecting in sunlight (or what passes for sunlight here in England).