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Newbie question - E-PM1 sharpness in live view vs. final pic

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by decnet, Jun 13, 2013.

  1. decnet

    decnet Mu-43 Rookie

    13
    Jun 13, 2013
    Hello guys, my first post - I'm pretty new to the world of µ4/3 cameras, and actually to the world of (more serious) photography. I've purchased an E-PM1 and have been using it for some weeks with adapted legacy lenses exclusively - a Hexanon 50mm F1.7, a Vivitar 28mm F2.5, and one of those cheapo Fujian 35mm F1.7 CCTV lenses. So far, I love the results, the colors, the feeling of the tiny camera with that ridiculous amount of glass in front, and am over-applying shallow-depth-of-field effects on pretty much every photo, just as you would expect from a newcomer. However, whenever I try to take some more sharpness/detail-oriented picture, I am somewhat disappointed.

    I guess it would be quite helpful to hear from some experienced people about this, since the problem is one of expectation: When I set the focus on my lens using the magnifying (x14) function, the live picture on screen looks A LOT sharper than applying magnification to the same area on the pic I actually take. This is particularly obvious when photographing text.

    I've been playing around with the camera all afternoon and I get the same results using a tripod, holding it in my hand, using 2 seconds delay for the photo to get rid of all shutter shake, using IS on/off, noise reduction on/off, noise filter off/low/standard, taking under/overexposed pics, using ISO 200-800, using shutter times between 1/40s and 1/2000s, and so on. The picture detail always looks blurry compared to the preview, which is of course slightly frustrating - as if it was saying "this is what you could get from the lens, but the camera won't allow that to happen".

    Is this normal and to be expected, can it be helped by using correct settings/perfect exposure, or is this completely out of the ordinary and indicates a broken camera?

    Thanks for your help!

    Chris
     
  2. decnet

    decnet Mu-43 Rookie

    13
    Jun 13, 2013
    Oh, and sorry if this has already been answered - I have been searching for "E-PM1 sharpness", but unfortunately all I could find was a couple of threads related to IBIS causing problems, which I am not using. So please don't chop my head off for not using the search function.

    Chris
     
  3. supermaxv

    supermaxv Mu-43 Veteran

    273
    Sep 20, 2011
    Can you please post an example of what you are talking about? Just FYI, it's the case with many adapted lenses that they are not sharp wide open.
     
  4. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 4, 2010
    Can you post some samples with shutter speed and aperture ?

    One thing to be aware of is that most legacy lenses aren't optimised for digital sensors. Essentially modern lenses send light perpendicular to the digital sensor. A bit more detail here

    CBC News In Depth: Technology

    This difference in lens behavior can mean images aren't as sharp as you'd like them to be.

    This slightly softer image can still be very useful - for example in portrait photography you don't necessarily want every little nook & cranny to be on display :)
     
  5. chipbutty

    chipbutty Mu-43 Veteran

    I've found that legacy lenses generally tend to be softer than native m43s. That's not surprising as native lenses are inherently designed to work optimally with the digital body. But post processing can bring much of the sharpness back. Are you shooting RAW or JPEG? I also have the E-PM1 along with a G3. I've found the E-PM1 to be plenty sharp enough with native lenses. As fun as legacy lenses are you should really get a nice native lens. If money is an issue then something like the Sigma 19mm f2.8 can give great results.

    Another thing, if you're mainly shooting wide open (low f-stop number) then the lens is unlikely to be at its sharpest. Stepping down a few stops usually improves things.

    I'm sure others will chime in.
     
  6. decnet

    decnet Mu-43 Rookie

    13
    Jun 13, 2013
    Thanks for your replies so far, I will post some pics as soon as I can find a way to take good pics of what the live view shows and compare that to the resulting image, but I can already say that I'm shooting RAW, but have been trying JPG to eliminate this problem, and am not shooting wide open for those detail pics (have tried mostly F2-F4, since it was quite dark and rainy most of today).

    It's still a bit surprising since the pic is literally crystal-clear on the display before I actually take the pic, at which point the very same section that was previously clear turns to mush, looked at under the same built-in x14 magnification on the same screen.

    Chris
     
  7. decnet

    decnet Mu-43 Rookie

    13
    Jun 13, 2013
    Ok, so I ended up shooting my computer screen since it gave me some clear and brightly lit text to photograph :). The pic on top comes from my cheap Casio Exilim ZX-81 and shows what I see on the E-PM1 live-view using the in-built magnification function, the pic below of the same area is what the actual photo looks like and comes straight from the RAW file. The effect is quite pronounced, as you can imagine from this quite unfair comparison.

    Lens used was my Hexanon 50/1.7 at F8, taken with ISO 800 and 1/30s shutter time, using a tripod and the 2-second shutter delay to maximize stability.

    comparison1.

    Chris
     
  8. DeeJayK

    DeeJayK Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Feb 8, 2011
    Pacific Northwest, USA
    Keith
    Does it get any better if you bring the ISO down to the minimum (ISO 200)? Also, since you're shooting on a tripod, make sure that IS is turned off.
     
  9. decnet

    decnet Mu-43 Rookie

    13
    Jun 13, 2013
    any-better.

    I guess not. That's ISO 200, 1/40, F4, IS off. I can basically see the individual pixels on my computer monitor using the live-view at that distance; no way could I do that with the resulting image.
     
  10. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 4, 2010
    Heres my quick test on my E-PM1 -

    Oly 45mm f4.5 iso 200 1/60th sec handheld AF -



    Oly 38mm f4 iso 200 1/50th sec handheld MF -



    The 45 is a sharper but the 25yr+ old Pen F lens is still pretty acceptable.
     
  11. decnet

    decnet Mu-43 Rookie

    13
    Jun 13, 2013
    Thanks, that is pretty much the level of sharpness I see before the shot through the live view, just NOT in the actual image. Do I gather from this that my camera is somehow faulty?
     
  12. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 4, 2010
    Maybe. What is your image stabilisation set to ?

    How does the image compare with a native lens ?

    Are your adapted lenses clean and clear (no mold, fungus or scratching) ?

    Do you know anyone in the area who you could swap lenses/bodies with to do a bit more testing (maybe a local store) ?
     
  13. chipbutty

    chipbutty Mu-43 Veteran

    Not sure if this adds anything but here's my go with a Rokkor 50mm. F2.8, 250 sec, ISO 200. OOC JPEG. Natural setting, everything set at zero.

    i-MfszWCX-L.
     
  14. RnR

    RnR Mu-43 All-Pro

    Sep 25, 2011
    Brisbane, Australia
    Hasse
    What are your noise filter and sharpness settings set to? I believe these settings would be applied to the live view, but not the raw file.
     
  15. decnet

    decnet Mu-43 Rookie

    13
    Jun 13, 2013
    My image stabilisation is normally off since I heard it can create problems, but I've tried switching it to auto/vert/hori, with no different results. My lenses are clean, as far as I can tell - and of course, they produce very sharp images in the MF-ssist/magnification view on the display pre-shot, which is exactly the problems. I might have the chance to check how my camera works with a native lens, or how my lenses work on another body, when my sister and her E-PL1 return from a vacation next week. Until then, I'll just play around a bit more.

    From photographing small-print across the room, it looks almost like there is some nasty image compression going on that destroys the details, with strange artifacts appearing next to the actual letters in the image file. That is using RAW mode, though, so I don't really get why there would be such compression issues (and of course, when I take the same photo using JPG, settings are large/super-fine and it doesn't change a thing).

    Chris
     
  16. decnet

    decnet Mu-43 Rookie

    13
    Jun 13, 2013
    0 sharpness, have tried noise filter off/low/standard;I am shooting in natural mode.

    Chris
     
  17. phigmov

    phigmov Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Apr 4, 2010
    My shots were at the minimum focus distance from my laptop screen (about 30cm).

    With adapted lenses I tend to leave IS on with the focal-length set for the lens I'm using, but it shouldn't be required with a tripod.

    Good luck with your testing. Trying out the lenses on an E-PL1 will be pretty definitive.
     
  18. decnet

    decnet Mu-43 Rookie

    13
    Jun 13, 2013
    Could I maybe ask some of you for the favor of subjectively comparing the magnification preview (I believe it's available via the info button originally, I have re-configured it to the record button using Setup>Custom B>Button Functions) to the corresponding magnification on the image file you're taking, using native or adapted lenses? In my case, like I said, there is quite a discernable difference.

    I am starting to suspect this is due to the live view x14 magnification somehow offering a better resolution than what the sensor can actually deliver on a photo (?).


    Once again, live view (x14 effectively, playing around with digiital teleconverter option), lcd screen photographed using a cheap Casio Exilim, image reduced in resolution from 8MP to 1200x700 or so:
    live_view.


    And a 1:1 crop from the resulting RAW, using the best import settings I could find (basically, clarity +100), image size around 590x320:
    crop_raw.

    Picture was taken using ISO 320, 1/125, F4 on the Hexanon 50/1.7.
     
  19. svenkarma

    svenkarma Mu-43 Top Veteran

    566
    Feb 5, 2013
    mark evans
    (Not yet an e-pm1 user, it's in the post)

    Have you tried taking a video and then checking a still from that?
     
  20. Al.

    Al. Mu-43 Veteran

    372
    Jul 3, 2010
    Hull, East Yorkshire, UK
    Alan
    I find the rear lcd screen is not as sharp as the actual sharpness of the image you capture, thats why I never edit from what I see on the lcd sreen.
    And if you shoot RAW the, what you see on the screen is even more degraded as the image you see is from a small jpeg