ISO comparison

eolake

Mu-43 Regular
I consider ISO 1600 not-usable on my otherwise great Panasonic GF1. I've heard the Olympus E-P1 is better in this regard, does anybody know, or know of a direct comparison?

I'm particularly concerned with loss of detail and "mushiness".

(By the way, does anybody know a way of influencing noise reduction in the GF1, apart from film mode? (I don't even know what film mode does.))

Update: found this so far:
http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/DMCGF1/DMCGF1A7.HTM
http://www.imaging-resource.com/PRODS/EP1/EP1A7.HTM

It seems that the EP-1 has more detail at 1600 ISO, but then it has more detail at 200 ISO also, so maybe it's the lens?
 

Brian Mosley

Administrator Emeritus
Hi eolake,

it depends on whether you're shooting raw and whether you're shooting like for like... the E-P1 is rated below the GF1 for ISO I think - so ISO 1600 on the GF1 is more like ISO 2000 on the E-P1 (complete guess in terms of the numbers - just an illustration).

So, if you're shooting jpeg the results from the E-P1 are likely to be generally nicer - including noise reduction. But if you're shooting raw, and selecting the lowest ISO for the exposure you need... you shouldn't see much difference.

Of course, one advantage I find with the Oly Pen is Auto ISO works in Manual exposure mode - so I know that I can select my exposure (shutter speed and aperture for the subject) and allow the camera to automatically dial in the necessary ISO. Just a shame it doesn't allow EV compensation in Manual exposure / Auto ISO mode... yet.

Cheers

Brian
 

eolake

Mu-43 Regular
Thanks.

I should probably add that the one I'm really thinking about is the new E-PL1, and I'm trying to get a feel for if it will have a better 1600 performance than my GF1. (And if it'll have faster autofocus than the E-P1.)
 

Brian Mosley

Administrator Emeritus
I hear that the image processing engine has been updated for the E-PL1 to accomodate an even weaker AA filter - so the NR could also have been improved... but we'll have to wait a month or so to find out for sure.

Cheers

Brian
 

BBW

Super Moderator Emeritus
Being a nontechnophile, I go by what it looks like and believe it or not the Olympus can still produce even at super high ISO speeds. Granted one person's acceptable may not be another's. Here's one that was taken at an ISO of 6400:eek: and I must add that it was probably the 2nd time I'd used the camera and I was oblivious... I did choose the pin hole art filter for effect, however. Although there is not crystal clear detail, I think that the photo was worth taking. As I said, it's a matter of taste...but I wanted to let you see the capabilities via a real photo by digital neophyte.
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View image in gallery
 

eolake

Mu-43 Regular
I have asked Dave of imaging-resource.com, and he says they used the same lens (Oly 50mm) for the images of all M4/3 cameras... so it seems that the EP-1 has more detail than the GF1! I did not see that coming.
Look at the fine text on the wine bottles, much sharper.
 

Amin Sabet

Administrator
Eolake, having looked at many, many comparisons, I can tell you that this is not the case when working with RAW. It seems to be true for in-camera JPEG, but I haven't paid much attention to that.

Regarding ISO, what Brian said is true. At a RAW level, what Panasonic calls ISO 1600 isn't the same as what Oly calls ISO 1600.

Bottom line is that if you put the same lens on a GF1 and E-P1, set the same f-stop, same shutter speed, same lighting, and adjust the nominal ISO individually on each camera to get the same brightness image (apparent exposure), the differences in RAW image quality will be negligible: The GF1, with its slightly weaker AA filter, will show a touch more detail (good) and a touch mroe susceptibility to aliasing effects (bad).
 

Streetshooter

Administrator Emeritus
That being said, I still find the Pen to do slightly better in low light...I'm sure the IS plays a factor but I see a difference between my bud's GF1 and my Pen 1.
 

Brian Mosley

Administrator Emeritus
I'll agree with Amin about the sharper detail and artifacts... Capture One 5 does a great job with the Panasonic raw files... excellent colour too.

Personally, I prefer the IQ of Olympus Studio for raw.

Cheers

Brian
 

Streetshooter

Administrator Emeritus
Well, it actually is not an ISO issue but it really is.
With the Pen, I need not go to a really high ISO unless I want to. With the 20mm, it's really a creative choice as well it should be. The IS supports that.
The GF1 is a great camera also but in really low light...I'll stay with the Pen.
My findings were that the Pen is about 2/3rd's of stop better in low light/high ISO.

Of course I wanted that result and I am a shooter not a scientist that did the testing....

I am now open for bashing......have fun!
 
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Amin Sabet

Administrator
I am now open for bashing......have fun!
There will be no bashing here! Not even in "This or That".

That being said, I still find the Pen to do slightly better in low light...I'm sure the IS plays a factor but I see a difference between my bud's GF1 and my Pen 1.
As I see it, there are three factors to the Olympus superiority for low-light, handheld shooting:

  1. Stabilization of non-stabilized lenses (Real)
  2. Better* in-camera image processing (Real for JPEG shooters)
  3. Difference in meaning of given nominal ISO (Placebo)
*My subjective take
 
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