Image quality - EM1 MK II / EM1X vs Nikon D500

Sootchucker

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We all know the Nikon D500 is a bit of a beast when it comes to AF and buffer, but I was wondering on a purely image quality perspective, how much better if at all is the IQ at higher ISO's (so from ISO1600-6400 say) from a D500 to the Olympus EM1 MK II / EM1-X ?

For example, I have both the aforementioned Olympus cameras with the 40-150 mm F2.8 Pro and the 300mm F4 pro (with 1.4 converter - no 2x converter - yet). That net's me 600 mm FL (if for the purposes of this we ignore equivalence in DOF etc.) at F4 or 840 mm at F5.6 max (with the 1.4x converter attached).

Compare those focal lengths to the D500 and what I would consider "affordable" lenses in a similar price bracket to the Olympus units (i.e. no ultra exotic F2.8 glass), and I guess we would be looking at the 300mm F4 PF (with and without teleconverter) or the Nikon 200-500 F5.6. That gives us 630 mm @ f5.6 effective on the D500 using the 300 mm F4 and converter (to match the 600mm equiv of the Olympus prime), or approx 750 mm using the 200-500 @ F5.6

Now using the 300 mm's as a comparison, the little Olympus would be a stop brighter for a similar focal length, or using the 200-500 on the D500, 750 mm @ 5.6 vs 840 mm @ 5.6 on the Olympus (using the converter on the 300mm F4).

I can therefore see that up to around 600mm focal length, the Olympus maintains a one stop advantage and therefore should theoretically produce an image will similar IQ to a D500 (so say ISO 3200 on the Olympus vs ISO 6400 on the D500). But once we get over 600mm and need to add a converter on (@ F5.6), will the D500 claw it's advantage of a bigger sensor back, as both should give similar exposures and therefore ISO figures @ F5.6 ?

Again for clarity, I'm only talking about High ISO IQ not DR, AF acquisition, size weight etc ?
 

masayoshi

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Hi, I have those lenses and cameras and haven't done any side-by-side tests yet, but to address your question, what kind of tests and files you want to see?
I can take images of something available in my backyard this evening, say pinecones or brick wall, with EM1X+300F4 with 1.4TC and D500+200-500F5.6.
 

OldITGeek

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I found base ISO and malleability of image files far superior on the Nikon.

The amount of detail retained at higher ISO is also a nod to the Nikon.
I second that.

I have a Df, D500 and D850, and the raw images contain more data and are easier to use in lightroom.

But for weight, size and convenience, I carry the M5II always with me to work and business travel.
When I go somewhere to take specific photos, I take a Nikon.

Andy
 

Pluttis

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I found base ISO and maliability of image files far superior on the Nikon.

The amount of detail retained at higher ISO is also a nod to the Nikon.
Sure the files from the D500 are a littler better and more maliability but i think its a little exaggerated to say they are far superior...have not yet seen any APS-C camera that produces fikes that are far superior those of the latest m43 offerings
 

masayoshi

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Here's what I would do, I guess.
Set up a tripod (got a Gitzo series 3), and turn off any IS (both lens/body IS for Olympus, and lens IS for Nikon). Find out a subject in the shade. Something like a pine tree branches and pine cones, which allow analysis of details, and the noise. Maybe place a Bald Eagle (a stuffed animal, I have) in the shade:blush:. Center spot metering, F5.6 fixed, keep EC +/- zero, and change ISO 1600, 3200, and 6400 (by changing SS) and shoot RAW. Maybe use remote release to eliminate any effects by shutter shock. Are there any flaws in this test design?
Comments/criticisms/suggestions highly welcome, because I don't want to waste time to go back and forth to redo testings.
Now I feel like I'm becoming Tony ....somebody:cool:.
 
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Sure the files from the D500 are a littler better and more maliability but i think its a little exaggerated to say they are far superior...have not yet seen any APS-C camera that produces fikes that are far superior those of the latest m43 offerings
So you've owned the D500 as well as a 20MP m43 camera, and have done your own comparison then?

Please, do share your own analysis with us.
 
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As a previous owner of an E-M1 II, and a current owner of a D500 and Z6, here are my thoughts @Sootchucker :
  • My primary reason for moving from Olympus to Nikon was the AF performance. At the time (post FW 2.0 for the E-M1 II, but pre FW 3.0) the D500 was a superior tool that enabled me to get a higher keeper rate of images. I can't comment about the differences since FW 3.0 has come out for the E-M1 II.
  • At base ISO (100 for the D500, 200 for the E-M1 II), the D500 images were cleaner than the Olympus. Less noise, a bit more flexibility in terms of DR (lifting shadows, pulling back highlights), and a bit better with fine detail.
  • At high ISO, there was again bit of an improvement with the Nikon. Keep in mind that you're not going to get performance like the D5 or Z6 (both of which are VERY good at high ISO). If you're looking for a massive leap at ISO 6400, you won't get it with the D500. I didn't shoot the two cameras side-by-side, so I can't say "this camera was 2/3 stop better than that camera", but the D500 did have an edge over the Olympus.
So by my own, unscientific analysis of using the cameras in the real world, the D500 was a better performer in terms of IQ for sports/action images. AF was definitely better, and the ISO performance as the low and high end was also a bit better, which made for an overall enjoyable experience. I personally find the D500's ergonomics to be spectacular, with a nice deep grip, a perfectly positioned AF joystic and AF-ON button, etc. I also find the buttons down the left side on the rear of the camera to be very useful in practice for quickly keying/saving images, allowing you to mark the "keepers" and delete as you go, making for less time spent behind the computer monitor culling images.

Having said that, there are downsides to the D500. Its video performance is shit. No IBIS, crappy 1080p, no slow-mo, 2.25x total crop in 4K. If you shoot a lot of video, the D500 is the wrong camera. As much as I love shooting with the OVF, it's a pain in the ass when it comes to reviewing images. You're reliant upon the rear LCD, which is never as good as looking at images in an EVF. Also, there's no electronic shutter, so there's always going to be mirror/shutter slap when shooting. The E-M1 II has a very good electronic shutter that allows you to shoot a wide variety of subjects without making a peep.


Based on what you've listed in your OP, I think the only way you'll be able to tell if the D500 kit is "good enough" or offers enough improvement over your current kit is to rent it for a week/week-end, and go shooting with it. That's what I did, and it was very eye-opening to me. After shooting with the D500 for a weekend, I knew that I had to get one. You may find yourself in a similar position, or you may find yourself saying "it didn't offer enough improvement for me", but the only way to truly know is to try it for yourself.

My .02...
 
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No reason for this kind of hostility.
I suppose we’ll all blindly question and dismiss fellow user’s actual experiences with the discussed equipment, despite not having any actual experience with the equipment ourselves.

It’s like me offering up my thoughts on a new Honda Accord because I’ve driven a Toyota Camry. I mean yeah, they’re not the same car, but they’re in the same class of midsize sedans, so they're basically the same, right?

Sorry, but I’ll tend to put more trust in the words of someone who has extensively shot with the cameras in question. Even better yet is actually renting equipment for yourself to see how it works for you and the type of subjects you like to shoot (which was my ultimate take-away in my above response).
 

Pluttis

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So you've owned the D500 as well as a 20MP m43 camera, and have done your own comparison then?

Please, do share your own analysis with us.
I have friends(some of them shoot professionaly) that shoot with Nikon, Canon and Hasselblad and have tested most of their equipment...i personally have own Nikon,Canon and Sony APS-C...Canon and Sony FF before switching to m43. I have not own a D500 but i have tested it and can probably lend one and do a comparison if that is necessary.

I personally have not seen any APS-C that is far superior the latest m43 offerings...nor have i seen any test that have pointed out this, nor did i see you say or show a comparison that the files are far superior in your analys(by the way a good analys).

So i have to share a analys and comparison because i dont agree with that D500 files are far superior to the latest m43 offerings? Did not see any real analys or comparison in gryphon1911 satemet that showed that the D500 are far superior the latest m43 offerings.

D500 files are better but not far superior.
 
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Qwntm

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So you've owned the D500 as well as a 20MP m43 camera, and have done your own comparison then?

Please, do share your own analysis with us.
I have A:B compared the Olympus OMD 5 M2 and EM1 M2 against both the Fuji XT2 with 18-55 and the Pentax K3 M2 with the LTD lenses and there is nothing in it. In some cases the Oly was sharper than the Fuji. Oly does lag about 1 stop behind in terms of noise as the iso goes up, but it's only a problem if you shoot both side by side. If I shoot the EM1 M2 at 6400 and don't have a shot from the other cameras to compare to, I'm perfectly happy with the results.

APS-c and M43 are almost equal and it's because of the crop ratio. Crop a 2:3 to a 3:4 and your missing an insignificant amount of pixels between the two. (Don't go the other way though. :) )

My testing is why I stopped shooting APS-c for anything. Not enough of a difference to justify the weight/size.

Now in terms of resolution and High ISO capability, FF is pretty much "vastly superior," in my experience. But for me, that superiority doesn't further my ability to get the shots I need and actually the weigh/size hinders those abilities to an extent, so I shoot M43 and am getting the shots I need and enjoying the experience of shooting. win/win
 

tkbslc

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I suppose we’ll all blindly question and dismiss fellow user’s actual experiences with the discussed equipment, despite not having any actual experience with the equipment ourselves.

It’s like me offering up my thoughts on a new Honda Accord because I’ve driven a Toyota Camry. I mean yeah, they’re not the same car, but they’re in the same class of midsize sedans, so they're basically the same, right?

Sorry, but I’ll tend to put more trust in the words of someone who has extensively shot with the cameras in question. Even better yet is actually renting equipment for yourself to see how it works for you and the type of subjects you like to shoot (which was my ultimate take-away in my above response).
He was talking about image quality and there are thousands of images shot with any camera on the internet.

Either way, there's a way to say whatever you want without being hostile or passive aggressive. You didn't end up disagreeing with anything that was said, so the aggressiveness was especially misplaced.
 

Qwntm

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D500 files are better but not far superior.
To quantitate that I'd say the D500 files are about 2-4% better. It's not much in terms of IQ. Of course if the AF gets the shot and the Oly misses then that's the real difference. But in terms of overall basic IQ aps-c and M43 are really close.

"Far Superior" I'd put in the 50%+ range, as most FF files can achieve over APS-C and m43.

If you shoot sports of fast action, I can understand the attraction to a D500 (though I'd have to A:B performance vs a EM1x before I bought a Nikon.) But if your desire is significantly better IQ and resolution over any aps-c or M43, any FF will get you that.

I've shot most of them professionally and that's my take away. :)
 
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Oly does lag about 1 stop behind in terms of noise as the iso goes up, but it's only a problem if you shoot both side by side.
This is what the OP was originally asking about: high ISO performance. As you said, the APS-C cameras tend to be ~1 stop better in actual use, which is pretty typical and expected.

APS-c and M43 are almost equal and it's because of the crop ratio. Crop a 2:3 to a 3:4 and your missing an insignificant amount of pixels between the two. (Don't go the other way though. :) )
This is one of the reasons why I switched. I was cropping most of my m43 images to 3:2 for landscapes, as pretty much all of the prints I have are either 24" x 18", or 30" x 20". I was throwing away a good number of pixels, compared to getting a 3:2 image straight out of camera.

Of course, if you do a lot of vertical portraits, the 4:3 aspect ratio is better (3:2 is too skinny vertically IMO).

To quantitate that I'd say the D500 files are about 2-4% better. It's not much in terms of IQ. Of course if the AF gets the shot and the Oly misses then that's the real difference. But in terms of overall basic IQ aps-c and M43 are really close.
Earlier you said that m43 lags APS-C by about 1 stop at higher ISO. Now you say that m43 is only 2-4% worse. The two are not the same.

If you shoot sports of fast action, I can understand the attraction to a D500 (though I'd have to A:B performance vs a EM1x before I bought a Nikon.)
You must also factor in the cost. D500's are plentiful on the used market, with the vast majority in mint condition (this is how I bought both of mine). They're going for something like $1,200 now. E-M1X's are new and therefore not plentiful on the used market, and are $3k new (I did see someone over on FM that sold an X for $2k after buying it new and using it a few times. He took an absolute bath on it...). That ~$1,800 difference can buy you a lot of glass.

Another option is a used E-M1 II, which are right around used D500 prices, maybe a bit cheaper. With FW 3.0 now being out there, it may be "enough" to stick with m43 vs switching to the D500 (talking purely for AF performance, as FW 3.0 will have done nothing to address high ISO noise of RAW files).
 

masayoshi

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I think OP's asking specifically about high ISO IQ (I believe it's about noise), so let's not take others things (AF, price, ergonomics, etc) into account for the OP's sake.

I want to find it out myself, because the image comparison tool in DPreview doesn't tell me what kind of lens and F stops, SS were used to capture those studio images.
 

Sootchucker

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Hi guys. Thanks all for the discussion. The reason for asking is that I’m doing a bit more birding, and here in the UK in the autumn and winter it gets very dark and gloomy (even at midday). Quite often with my Olympus cameras I find myself at ISO 3200-6400 just to get a shutter speed of 1/100 at times.

It just got me wondering if under the same circumstances the D500 would serve better, and it seems from the discussion above, it would but not by a significant amount. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always thought the OMD cameras punched above their weight in the high ISO stakes, but as usual we always want more.

I also have a Nikon Z6, but my longest glass is the kit 24-70 :biggrin:, so if I was going to use that for birding I guess I would have to stump up for the 200-500 to get me anywhere near long enough or the Tamron 150-600 II (but I’m not sure if the Tamron plays nicely with the FTZ adapter ?

Hmm...things to ponder.
 

whumber

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You must also factor in the cost. D500's are plentiful on the used market, with the vast majority in mint condition (this is how I bought both of mine). They're going for something like $1,200 now. E-M1X's are new and therefore not plentiful on the used market, and are $3k new (I did see someone over on FM that sold an X for $2k after buying it new and using it a few times. He took an absolute bath on it...). That ~$1,800 difference can buy you a lot of glass.
This is really around where Olympus should have priced the camera. It's a good $2200-2300 camera, but it's an awful deal at $3000.
 
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