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Noisy EM5 Files

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Dave Jenkins, Apr 6, 2014.

  1. Dave Jenkins

    Dave Jenkins Mu-43 Veteran

    I find that I don't like to use my Oly EM5s at ISOs of more than 800 because I find the noise objectionable. Others do not seem to have this problem, even shooting at ISOs of 3200 and 6400. Am I more picky than others, or are there ways to reduce the noise without sacrificing image detail?
  2. duke

    duke Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 4, 2010
    San Francisco Bay Area
    A sample would certainly help, but it's probably just your standards. I have comfortably shot iso 6400 on m43, you just have to realize that it isn't going to look as pretty. Also, if you're shooting very dark or underexposed scenes then noise becomes more apparent.

    A sample image would be the most help though.

  3. Replytoken

    Replytoken Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 7, 2012
    Puget Sound
    What software are you using to post -process your images? I am starting to find the E-M5 and E-M1 to be more acceptable at 1600 and 3200. By 1600, images from my D300 were not pretty, especially in poor light. I have not compared side-by-side in detail, but I am happier shooting the Olys at higher ISOs.

  4. Spotfromoz

    Spotfromoz New to Mu-43

    Feb 10, 2013
    Raw files by nature have noise even at base ISO. I find that ISO 1600 is good on my EM-5 much better than my old D90 Nikon. With Topaz de noise I can retain most of the detail and clean the file from the Oly files. Even ISO 3200 look good after the Topaz plugin. Lightroom 5 will clean a ISO 1600 file without much detail loss. The most important aspect however is to nail exposure at high ISO.
  5. FlyPenFly

    FlyPenFly Mu-43 Veteran

    Feb 15, 2011
    Outside of street photography, I rarely get keepers above ISO800 from any camera including my two FF.
  6. mister_roboto

    mister_roboto Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jun 14, 2011
    Seattle, WA, USA
    ISO high limits is a pretty subjective thing. On my old FF, 1600 I'm usually good with, 3200 is a bit iffy, but really it all depends on the exposure. The old 12mp 4/3 sensor, nothing over 1200 iso, even 1000 could be a bit of an eyesore. The newer 16mp ones- I usually go up to 6400, though 3200 gives me acceptable results from most situations. I also use Lightroom 5 for editing. ..that FF DSLR doesn't get much use now a days.
  7. broody

    broody Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 8, 2013
    Also try to expose to the right if you find yourself brightening shadows frequently from you RAW files. By default the EM5 meters slightly dark exposures; if you set exposure compensation to +1/3 to +2/3 EV when shooting to the effect that you don't have to push shadows in post, you can get less noisy pictures, sometimes dramatically so, with little downside.
    • Like Like x 3
  8. pdk42

    pdk42 One of the "Eh?" team Subscribing Member

    Jan 11, 2013
    Leamington Spa, UK
    Except that exposing to the right has the same practical effect as reducing the ISO :wink:
  9. gryphon1911

    gryphon1911 Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Central Ohio, USA
    Who cares if you are being more picky than other people. At the end of the day - YOU need to be happy with what you are producing.

    I, personally, don't mind the hi ISO noise, but that is because the type and style of photography I do lends itself to raw, gritty, grainy B&W end product.

    Things that can help reduce noise:
    1) Nail that exposure whenever possible
    2) reduce the amount of post processing on JPG files, and if you want to do a lot of post - shoot RAW. It will give you more latitude for correction and noise reduction.
    3) get a good noise reduction plug in. For basic things, Lightroom or PS CC are decent, but not great. I personally bought and use Topaz DeNoise, others like NoiseNinja. Most of the best plugin makers will give you a free 30 day full function trial. Investigate which ones work best for you and provide the best processing options.
    4) (obviously) avoid using hi ISO - invest in a monopod/tripod or use speedlights if needed.

    Hope this helps.
  10. Ulfric M Douglas

    Ulfric M Douglas Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Mar 6, 2010
    I tend to notice the noise at ISO 6400 (Mine's an e-pM2, same sensor) which tells me I'm absolutely easygoing in that department.
    There's nothing wrong with disliking the noise at 1600 if you really see it,
    or maybe there is quality variation from camera to camera and you got a noisy one?
    (Just an idea)
    If there is noise which I want to smooth out I stick it in PhotoNinja, but most of the time I'm fine with it, especially if the thing's going to be printed 10x8 or some such : the noise disappears like magic in the prints.
    I always have NF switched off, I don't like the current Olympus noise filter even at low.
  11. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 6, 2013
    Check your gradation settings. I get good files up to 6400 iso.
    • Like Like x 1
  12. bluzcity

    bluzcity Mu-43 Veteran Subscribing Member

    Jul 17, 2012
    Memphis, TN
    I think you are pretty right on target with 800. I shoot shots for the web up to 3200 but they aren't clean and do require noise intervention.
  13. tomO2013

    tomO2013 Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2013
    I get good files up to 6400, to the point where I consider digital grain adds texture and does not detract from detail and the image quality. When it starts to detract from the image quality then IMHO it becomes noise.
    I don't think I've particularly low standards either saying that. Though I should mention that I have come from film, so I actually find overly clean files to look sterile and unattractive. I feel many people today obsess with noise when the reality is digital 'noise' of yesteryear (with it's banding in the shadows :)  ) has become a thing of the past. Todays grain at higher ISO's is much finer and random in nature - dare I say it - much more film like.. I actually add grain in for most of my digital workflow in post with the EM1.
    If I absolutely must nuke all semblance of grain, I use DXO Prime noise reduction technology. This is amazing, but the default Olympus settings are far too aggressive. If you go the DXO route I suggest that you half the default value of '40' and goto a luminence noise value of about 20-25 for ISO6400 images. You will only see the benefit in the actual output file or the small sample window above the slider, so don't base your opinion on the main view window :) 

    On an aside ...
    Check out this guys work

    The monochrom with it's much much cleaner files do not look as subjectively attractive to me as the M2 with Ilford HP5+ film. A modern OMD will produce files that are much cleaner again than this at a much higher ISO.
    It could just be that you just don't like the 'look' that this format provides. If that's the case, no harm, maybe it's time to jump ship to a small format digital like a 5d mkiii , 6d, d800 etc... that gives you what YOU want. It's your hard earned money, you don't have to justify it to anybody :) 
    • Like Like x 1
  14. rfortson

    rfortson Mu-43 Veteran

    This. I couldn't think of the setting, but I think by default it boosts the shadows, which has the result of increasing noise. I turned it off as soon as I got the camera.
  15. broody

    broody Mu-43 Veteran

    Sep 8, 2013
    It depends. Unless you're shooting at such high ISO that the camera would start applying digital gain to an image in order to ETTR, with modern sensors achieving an optimal light saturation is more important than lowering ISO for noise reduction, because the difference in noise between low ISO and high is so low. See here: http://www.dpreview.com/forums/thread/3453568

    And in my experience, that bears out to be right.
  16. duke

    duke Mu-43 Veteran

    Dec 4, 2010
    San Francisco Bay Area
  17. bobpur

    bobpur Mu-43 Rookie

    Feb 11, 2014
    Settings for jpg,
    Super fine setting
    Noise filter OFF
    Contrast -1
    Sharpness -2
    There may be a little luminence noise higher than 2500 but will not bother printing, I find
    That the raw files have much too much chroma noise to clean up and not worth the added
    Trouble, the jpg in camera conversion takes care of it .
    These settings in reasonable light are excellent to 3200
  18. phl0wtography

    phl0wtography Mu-43 Veteran

    Apr 15, 2011
    You're not picky. According to DXO 826ISO is the "magic" number for the E-M5 from where SNR, and DR drop under "acceptable" levels (30dB, and 10stops) for large prints. I've been shooting the E-M5 for over a year now, and found 800 to be the ceiling for good IQ (i.e. DR, detail, SNR, colour depth). The E-M5 ships with a factory set limit of 400. Go figure. My X100s came with a default limit of 800, although the X-Trans sensor is said to be practically noise free up to 6400. All ****** (fan boy) talk. Those companies know better what their hardware is capable of.

    Edit: Why, exactly, does f a n b o y trigger the filter?
  19. tomO2013

    tomO2013 Mu-43 Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2013
    That's not entirely true either. That overall score is logarithmic and 5 points on their scale equates to about a third of a stop. So differences in IQ are not as great as DXO would have you believe.
    The scores are also measured before image processing by TruePic7/DigicV/whatever-new-fangled-name-you-want processor has demosaiiced the output. So it's value is only really in terms of what the sensor alone contributes to IQ in the entire equation of sensor + image processor + lens.

    As for the sports ISO score corresponding to low light shooting - again this is logarithmic so differences are not as pronounced as scores would make you think.
    Also were we to take that score as gospel in terms of 'noise' etc... medium format cameras aren't doing too good either according to that.
    My point is , sure DXO scores are a nice base indicator of how something technically performs in one facet of the equation that gives you image quality. But in real world use, this does not necessarily translate into what will give you the best subjective image quality as the scores for the low light/sports iso medium formats illustrate. Take those scores for what they are - a machine in a lab. Real world results tell a different story for both the EM5 and the medium formats listed above.

    For what it's worth - check out how grainy/'noisey' John Tuckey's incredible work is here with the Ilford PanF50:
    Really amazing stuff.
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