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My 12MP Mu43 v. 12MP APS-C (Nikon DX) ISO Test #1

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by DeoreDX, Mar 20, 2013.

  1. DeoreDX

    DeoreDX Mu-43 Veteran

    208
    Mar 13, 2013
    Alabama
    20130320_150303.jpg

    I got my new E-PM1 yesterday and started playing with it familiarizing myself with the controls. Lots of cat and dog pictures, boring shots of stumps and trees in the back yard, etc. Then I decided to test my E-PM1 v. my D5000. After tens of thousands of images with my D5000 I pretty much know what to expect from it, so I thought pitting the two against each other in a more controlled shooting environment would help me learn a little how my new PEN performs. This was my first time attempting something like this and after reviewing the first batch of images there are about a dozen different things I would change in my methodology but I thought I would share this first batch anyways.

    Cameras tested were of course my new E-PM1 with 14-42 II R and a Nikon D5000 w/ 18-105 AF-S VR. I thought a kit lens v. kit lens would be a fare assessment. I used a tripod and turned IS off on both setups.

    I set up a shot in an area of my kitchen that has a pretty bright directional halogen spot light. This will give me some harsh shadows and traditionally this light is pretty tough on cameras for good white balance. I set the cameras up for equivalent focal length. I chose 18mm on the E-PM1 and 24mm on the D5000. I used Aperture priority mode setting the aperture to f4.0. I adjusted the ISO manually with zero exposure compensation and let the camera choose it's own shutter speed.

    Well first thing I realized is my old version of Photoshop can't import the E-PM1's RAW files. So until I upgrade or download some new software I'll only compare the jpeg output right now. I really need to buy lightroom.

    Second thing I realized was my error choosing f4.0, my focus point, and the spacing to my subject. My DoF was too narrow with my D5000 and I was too close to my subject which caused the front part of the image to be out of focus (I focused on the belly of the stuffed animal). You can see it in the front of the fire truck, the tip of the stuffed animal's nose, and around the barrel of the lens. All of it is out of focus. The 18-105 doesn't have good close focus ability I needed to back away a bit and give it maybe a stop or two more aperture for more DoF.

    And finally you will notice that the two cameras seem to meter about 1/3 stop differently from each other. The Nikon's image is a little closer to the real life, a touch over saturated but closer while the Olympus seems to have removed much of the yellow cast the room lighting. I do prefer the way the Olympus metered the scene as I think the D5000 tends to underexpose images shot indoors. Strange thing is in the couple of outside pictures I took I saw the opposite behavior where the D5000 exposed a brighter scene than the E-PM1 and again I preferred the way the E-PM1 exposed those.

    Nikon D5000 F4.0 1/10s @ ISO200
    D5000%2520ISO200.JPG

    Olympus E-PM1 f4.0 1/8s @ ISO200
    Oly%2520ISO200.JPG


    Links to full sized images:
    Nikon D5000 ISO200-ISO3200
    ISO200
    ISO400
    ISO800
    ISO1600
    ISO3200

    E-PM1 ISO200-ISO12800
    ISO200
    ISO400
    ISO800
    ISO1600
    ISO3200
    ISO6400
    ISO12800

    When I get some free time I'll try to do the set over again to get a better comparison. Probably the main thing I noticed was that the E-PM1 does a very good job keeping up with the D5000 up too and through ISO3200. You can see the Oly seems to be pretty aggressive with the noise reduction and you can see the gradual loss of detail in the lens grip and in the shadow areas of the stuffed animal as the ISO increases. To my eye the D5000 seems to have a little more detail at those high ISOs than the E-PM1. Even so I'm really happy how they compare with each other. If the newer 16MP Panasonic bodies are indeed a stop better in performance I think it might actually perform better than the 12MP Nikon DX sensor. From what I've seen the new 16MP Oly sensor definitely beats the old 12MP DX sensor.
     
  2. davidzvi

    davidzvi Mu-43 All-Pro

    Aug 12, 2012
    Outside Boston MA
    David
    Thanks for the compare.

    As for the software, try the FREE Adobe DNG converter and keep your old Photoshop if is does everything else you need.
     
  3. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Northumberland
    In my experience the e-pM1 is setup to have rather bright shadows.
    You can alter the tone curve, as I do (low -4), and 'crush' the shadows back down : this brings the images nearer to earlier models which I prefer.
    So what I'm saying : it isn't JUST the exposure/metering differences ; it's also the tone curves.

    In your picture examples you do not state focal length ... do you?
     
  4. DeoreDX

    DeoreDX Mu-43 Veteran

    208
    Mar 13, 2013
    Alabama
    Tone curves. I'll have to look into that. Thanks for the advice.

    I was shooting for 36mm equivalent so 18mm on the E-PM1 and 24mm on the D5000. But my EXIF data says 25mm on the Nikon and so I missed my target and it shows in the field of view between the two.
     
  5. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    Northumberland
    As a point of interest : if you make the VERTICAL framing the same, at which focal lengths do the two systems match?
    Would it be about 18MM & 20mm? Try it.