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How Do You Control Noise?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Dave Jenkins, May 16, 2014.

  1. Dave Jenkins

    Dave Jenkins Mu-43 Veteran

    Oly OMD shooters: what are you using for noise reduction?

    I recently shot my granddaughter's dance recital with both an OMD-EM5 and a Canon 6D. The 6D files at 12,800 looked considerably better than Oly files at 1600. I know others are shooting m4/3s at 1600, 3200, and even higher ISOs. Am I just too picky, or do they know something I don't know about getting rid of noise?
  2. Kilauea

    Kilauea Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 9, 2012
    I suspect you may be too picky or there is a setting that is different from the way each camera controls the noise. I know my auto ISO threshold is ISO 1600, but I know that when the situation requires it, I can go up to ISO 6400.

    After having read your post, I went over to dpreview to use their tool to compare the 6D and the E-M5 and IMHO there is no way that ISO 12 800 on the 6D can compare to ISO 1600 on the E-M5. With my totally unscientific eye, I would say that ISO 1600 on the E-M5 lies in between ISO 3200 and ISO 6400 on the 6D. The 6D does a better job with the blacks (where its closer to ISO 6400), than the E-M5, but the details seems to be better (where its closer to ISO 3200).

    Maybe you could show us some images so that we could see for ourselves.
  3. bobpur

    bobpur Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 11, 2014
    Had the same problem, then used the same settings that worked on my old c8080.
    Lower the sharpness to -2 and contrast -1, noise filter OFF, Highest quality jpg in Natural
    Will be good at 1600 but 3200 can use some software nr on your computer.
    Raw files are a different matter, chroma speckle noise even at 200 .
    These m4/3 Olympus may be better than most but not nearly as clean as apsc cams.
    Somewhere near to my old Pentax k100,
    There is a tradeoff for the size.
  4. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    There are a lot of different factors that contribute to keeping hi ISO noise down. Among them, making exposure, keeping post processing down to a minimum. Make sure you are shooting with the lowest ISO you can get away with. Shoot with the fastest glass and as wide open as you possibly can. You might even want to switch to shooting RAW and processing that way if you are not already.

    If after that, good post processing is needed, I prefer to use Topaz Labs DeNoise plugin for Lightroom and/or PS CC.

    So, evaluate your capture practices, your post processing, nose reduction processes.

    Sent from my GT-N5110 using Tapatalk
  5. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team Subscribing Member

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    The impact of noise can vary significantly. High ISO in bright contrasty conditions is a completely different kettle of fish to high ISO in dim and low contrast conditions (which of course is where you need it!!). Underexposing in dim light and high ISO will bring out the worst on any camera, but we're fighting harder on u43 for sure. For me, I always shoot raw and find that 50 on the Luminance and Detail sliders and 75 on the Contrast one gives a reasonable amount of control for ISO 1600 and 3200. There are some that say doing Luminance NR in B&W mode and then switching back to colour is more effective, but I've not noticed personally.

    The Topaz Denoise engine is excellent too, but I've only ever used it as a trial - I don't do high ISO too often so it wasn't really a priority for me.
  6. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2013
    I routinely shoot ISO 6400 with no problems (I use 6400 as the cap and don't pay attention to ISO in A mode, unless I am doing long exposures or something special. Kit lenses might show more noise than the primes or 12-40. Don't turn Auto gradation on..turn it off...I think I use low to normal noise filter, but turning it off might be ok too. Shoot in raw.

    I do notice in Lightroom, I almost always have to turn down the blacks to my liking and brings some clarity & pop and a slight bump warmer in White balance.

    Honestly, I'm blown away with what the EM5 can do at ISO 6400..compared to and older generation (EP1, E3, etc) at ISO1000. I can't compare to the 6D, since I don't have one. Might want to post samples of your noise and what lenses you're using.
    • Like Like x 1
  7. lightmonkey

    lightmonkey Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 22, 2013
    it goes 2 ways for me:

    at lower ISO, i dont like how noisy EM1 is. (i expect it to be cleaner)
    at higher ISO, i am not displeased with the noise because it takes on a fairly agreeable texture/color/distribution

    auto ISO maxes at 1600 or 3200 depending on the scene, lens, but mostly on personal whim... however i will use 6400 without hesitation. often times, ISO3200+ shots get converted to B&W.

    also, because of ibis, shots rarely get that high...
    • Like Like x 1
  8. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    What software are you using to PP the files from each camera?

  9. mjgraaf

    mjgraaf Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 9, 2014
    When i was shooting nikon d300, the only thing i disliked was the low iso noise, very fine textured though. With the d700 i was happy that the noise was gone. When switching to m4/3, the noise returned. Oh well, you gain some, you lose some. It's only an issue when zooming in to 100%. And the EM1 is better than the EM5 was...

    sent from my Sony using Tapatalk...
  10. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    That's interesting. Although my shooting with the E-M5 and E-M1 is nowhere as extensive as with my D300, I find that shooting at 1600, and possibly 3200, to be a bit more pleasant. I reserve the right to change that opinion as I shoot more with these two bodies, but 1600 was my absolute limit with my D300, and I was never really happy with the results, despite what LR offered for noise reduction.

  11. Reflector

    Reflector Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 31, 2013
    If shutter speed allows, expose the image by +1.3-1.7EV without blowing out the details you care about. Go into Lightroom/ACR and pull the exposure back. Apply 25 chroma/color NR and whatever you need for luminance noise + fine tune it as you need. I usually find that up to ISO6400-12800 I can get away with 1:1 images with less noise than I would with a D200 at ISO400.

    I've been consistently able to pull off shots where the noise is suppressed without the loss of detail for most stuff under ISO 1600-3200. Anything above that and it comes off more like grain than noise.

    Apply whatever other advanced NR techniques you know about (Masking, separate NR settings and passes for different areas, etc)
  12. mjgraaf

    mjgraaf Mu-43 Regular

    Feb 9, 2014
    I tend to agree, i was referring to iso 200 noise...

    sent from my Sony using Tapatalk...
    • Like Like x 1
  13. Pecos

    Pecos Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jan 20, 2013
    The Natural State
    Agree with Replytoken above.
    I had a D300 and the noise in it was considerably greater at the same ISO than with my E-M5. I also had a Pentax K-5 which was definitely noisier in comparable shots, no question. I haven't used any newer APS-C cameras, but the E-M5 holds up well compared to those two.
    I use Lightroom when necessary, and generally keep ISO below 6400, and have no issues with noise.
  14. tomO2013

    tomO2013 Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2013
    Hi Dave,

    I hope that you don't mind me asking you this (I tend to talk straight and this isn't a dig at you), but is it possible that you just don't like the EM5, maybe you just haven't bonded with it?
    I get the impression that there is a niggle sitting there/an itch that you want to buy a different camera as the 'noise' really looks to bother you. The reason I say this is that this is the third thread that has been started by you with respect to noise on the EM5. The same advice has been given here as in the other threads. Expose to the right and get friendly with the luminence slider in higher ISO's.
    It could just be that you don't like the 'look' that m43 gives you. That's cool too :)  Maybe you would be better served by an A7 as you are accustomed by a small format look - if you bought medium format, APS-C or m43 hoping for the exact same look as your Canon 6d you would be disappointed. The only thing that gives output like a Canon 6d .... is a Canon 6d (and maybe the 5d mk iii ;)  ).

    If you like the superior dynamic range that the EM5 has over your 6d in the lower ISO's and you like IBIS, Olympus colour signature, fast focus and all the good stuff that you are benefiting from with your EM5, then you are just going to have to either learn to appreciate the 'look' of the EM5 or get more comfortable with the luminance slider in lightroom and adjust your shooting technique.
    Option B sell the camera get a 'cleaner' camera. If you like the size and weight of the EM5 you may prefer the A7? But nothing is perfect ;) 

    I did a workshop recently where one of the guys in the room had been shooting 35mm for 30 years and took offence when the instructor suggested that he would need to adjust his technique. But it makes sense. m43 is a format unto itself with a look unto itself and should be shot as m43 not as 35mm. There are pro's and con's with the system as much as there are pro's and con's with APS-C, Fuji XTrans, Foveon, small format 6d's , medium format 645's etc..
    The general recommendation with digital is to ETTR which makes a huge difference to the luminance grain irrespective of the sensor but will really let you maximise your IQ.
    Generally speaking the EM5 behaves like a good APS-C body camera at 3200. There is something fundamentally wrong with your EM5 if you are seeing 4 stops of a difference between a 6d and an EM5 with respect to noise/detail retention.

    Would you mind sharing one of the .ORF files that was causing you trouble and let one of us take a shot at cleaning it up for you ?
    • Like Like x 1
  15. gugarci

    gugarci Mu-43 Veteran

    Jul 8, 2012
    Lyndhurst, NJ
    I used to own a D300 also and without a doubt my GX7 performs better at higher ISO's than my previous D300. Noise is subjective and some people have less tolerance to noise. When I shot 35mm film you dare not print anything bigger than a 4X6 using ISO1600/3200. My 6 year old 10 megapixel LX3 performs better than my old 35mm film camera at high ISO's. See below from the Imaging Resource review of my current 6 year old LX3.
    "Indoor incandescent shots looked about the same as the daylight shots, if not a little better, with even ISO 800 looking good at 11x14. ISO 1,600 and 3,200 actually looked good in terms of detail at 8x10 and 5x7 respectively, but the yellow blotches were somewhat distracting in light-colored solid areas

    Noise does not bother me. I'm not scared of grain. I eat grain every day for breakfast. Giulio Sciorio said that in a video. Great line.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Compared to what we have been blessed with today - the D300 over ISO 1600 is a train wreck in comparison. Definitely some smearing in the details. That is when I left the D300 for good light sports shooting and then went and invested in a D700 for low light.

    The EM5 is soo good for its size, it is a great little "APS-C" alternative for me.
  17. bikerhiker

    bikerhiker Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2013
    You're not too picky. I observe the same thing when compared against my Nikon Df and my E-P5 (with ETTR and DXO Optics Pro 9 PRIME Noise reduction technology).

    And this guy below shares exactly the same observation as you did as well.



    Whenever I get a new tool, it takes me a while to figure out how to best use it. I have no regrets selling my Canon 7D and replacing it with the 6D. I rarely touched my previous DSLR. The 6D, however, has several district uses. Here are the cases where it comes in handy.

    1. Street shooting at night, as I mentioned earlier. With its great, high ISO performance, it allows me to make images that the Olympus won’t be able to match.

    2. Portraits. When I want to get the maximum shallow depth of field to blur out distracting backgrounds, I’ll use the 6D. My Canon 70-200mm f4 IS or 85mm f1.8 are my preferred lenses.

    3. Ultimate Detail. The 6D is my highest resolution camera. If I need to get the most detail for regular exposures as well as HDRs, the Canon will best the Olympus, though not by a huge margin. I guess I would need the 36MP Nikon D800 to get the ultimate in 35mm DSLR resolution (No, I have no plans of getting this camera, if you were wondering)


    Having said that. A camera and lens are tools of a photographer and he or she shouldn't be limited by the tools. Rather, the tools work with the photographer. My question to you is this. Why do you shoot with a m43? Is it because of portability and mobility what you are seeking from a smaller sensor, while accepting certain limitations?

    If you need the quality of the Canon 6D for your low light work, then you should go with the 6D. That's also why I'm still using my Nikon D4 and Df as well as the D800. They are simply superior in certain areas; but my m43 and E-P5 is superior in other areas as well too and sometimes can best and equal the bigger Nikons with lower weight.
    Don't get too fixated in a certain brand and that you need to uphold your loyalty and life to it. A camera is just a tool. My Olympus E-P5 is just a tool I use to create unique images. At the end of the day, it is a tool. When I don't find a use for it, then I would sell it.

    You don't want to be like some people who get so upset when Scott Kelby switched from Nikon to Canon. That's his choice, so I'm not sure why some people get all worked up trying to defend their Nikons by making all kinds of examples and we even have Nikon gurus and instructors who come in defence of their own Nikon gear and superiority. If Scott wants the look of Canon, then I guess he has the right to choose it and it's common for professionals to own a 2 to 3 systems outfit and with DXO Optics Pro and custom color profiles, you can equalize the look across your workflow. It's not new.

    In closing, I like to bring awareness of Vivian Maier and her work. She works with complete freedom. What do I mean by that? It simply means your work and your tools are dictated simply by your needs and not influenced by other people. If your decisions are influenced by other people, then how can you claim yourself to have complete freedom?!? We use m43 because we are completely freed from the perception that we must have or shoot Nikon or Canon and the bigger is always better concept is not always true. You have the freedom to choose, because you are an adult. We are all adults.
  18. wilson

    wilson Mu-43 Regular

    Mar 26, 2014
    I use the new PRIME noise reduction on DXO Optics Pro to get rid of the noise on RAWs... I'm impressed by it.
    Unfortunately it only works on RAWs, so I cannot edit in LR, and must use DXO for all edits on RAWs. Also it's VERY processor intensive. For some of my photos it can take 4 minutes to process on my 2.6GHz i5 laptop. (It's single threaded, so having more cores doesn't make a different per picture, but DXO can thread conversions, so it can do two at the same time on my laptop.)

    The good thing is DXO has a 30 day free trial, so you can try it out yourself to see if it works for you.
  19. SkiHound

    SkiHound Mu-43 Veteran

    Jan 28, 2012
    I recently downloaded a trial of DXO Optics Pro. I agree with Wilson, it's pretty impressive as a raw conversion tool. If you use PRIME it takes a while to export images. It doesn't do local adjustments and I've not figured out how to best integrate it into my workflow. But I like the raw conversions.
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