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Test Olympus E-PM2 Image Stabilization Test with Comparison to E-M5

Discussion in 'Reviews, Tests, & Shootouts' started by Amin Sabet, Nov 4, 2012.

  1. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 5, 2013
    San Diego
    Doug Green

    Amin, your test is pretty damning for the IBIS implementation of the E-PM2.
    Not a single photo at ANY speed is critically sharp with IBIS on on the E-PM2.
  2. charcoalblack

    charcoalblack Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 26, 2012
    i just got the epl5, i wonder if it behaves similarly to the em2. one of the reasons I go the epl5 is for the IBIS. did I just waste my money?
  3. drd1135

    drd1135 Zen Snapshooter Subscribing Member

    Mar 17, 2011
    Southwest Virginia
    It's not as good as the em5 but it works fine for a couple of stops. Be sure to set the anti-shock to 1/8 sec as that makes a big difference. IIRC, that was one of the main conclusions of this thread.
  4. Dduval

    Dduval Mu-43 Regular

    Aug 13, 2013
    Orlando, FL
    Depends, I was in a similar situation. Recently got an PL5...then just got the OMD EM5 and I can tell you the OMD IBIS is night and day compared to the PL5...it's truly remarkable and there is a noticeable difference for me.

    My hands shake somewhat and I'm getting tack sharp shots at 1/15 with the OMD, no way I could do that with PL5...
  5. gfdagfavf

    gfdagfavf New to Mu-43

    Nov 22, 2013
    Really useful thread

    I had to turn off the image stabilisation because for I get alot better results in basically all circumstances with the e-pm2 with it turned off

    I would use the shutter lag setting but one of the best things about the olympus pens with the right setup is the speed, you would think that Olympus would maybe make a stabilisation option which only accounts for the shutter movements at different iso, it would be fairly easy for them to calculate....(I guess) we can only hope for an update
  6. tjdean01

    tjdean01 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 20, 2013
    Great thread. I learned a few things.

    1. Anti-shock works keep it on all the time an even relatively slow shutter speeds.

    2. IBIS stays OFF while handheld unless necessary. I can get TACK sharp results at 30mm 1/6 with it off on occasion, but with it on, while they're all relatively sharp, none are tack-sharp.

    I look about 10 shots each way. Left IBIS was on, right it was off. See how sharp those on the right are? Granted, most were blurry, but those that are sharp are sharp! And none with IBIS were sharp. I posted the best two of both sets:

    • Like Like x 2
  7. pake

    pake Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Oct 14, 2010
    Maybe I should do the same test too... Just to make sure I will get the best out of my new E-PM2. I've read too many posts about the "awful" E-PM2 IBIS.
  8. tjdean01

    tjdean01 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 20, 2013
    Indeed. The fact that PM2 has it and the GM1 doesn't is a reason I don't want the GM1. But since the PM2's IBIS actually hurts you, as I complain about below, I'm starting to reconsider. But then again the PM2's sensor is a stop better than the GM1 in high ISO (or so I hear) so I really don't know what I want to do. I've always said I'll get a silver EM-5 when the prices drop even further, but if the 5-axis systematically prevents me from getting a shot as crisp as possible like on my PM2, no thanks! I need to try a lens with stabilization to see if it's the same.

    I'm thinking that I might as well just leave it off and take 5 photos until I get it right instead of having a guaranteed to be not-perfect picture every time.

    It kind of pisses me off that I didn't know that before buying the camera and I probably researched as intensively as anyone. I've been having trouble getting sharp shots with a 50 at 1/200 or a 135 at 1/500 and I blamed the focal length as being the culprit, thinking I was unable to hold it steady. When the shutter speed was super fast it was ok; and on a tripod it was okay, so I know it's not the lenses being soft. Now I think that the IBIS just keeps itself off during fast shutter speeds and also senses when it's on a tripod. Now I also know the reason that with my P&S that I was able to get steady shots at low shutter speeds: the IS either worked, or the image was blurry. With the PM2 I'm like, "Hmm, is that sharp...or not? Did I miss focus?" Then I turn up ISO (which subsequently doubles shutter speed) and the photo was fine. And I was like, "How the heck can I hand hold this 50mm at 1/300 each and every time perfectly but at 1/150 it NEVER looks totally sharp?" Now I know. And what I learned:

    PM2's IBIS sucks!

    And now I'm skeptical about the 5-axis. Does it completely and totally 100% of the time prevent a shot at a given shutter speed from being sharp? Because that's exactly what the PM2 does!
    • Like Like x 1
  9. pake

    pake Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Oct 14, 2010
    E-M5's IBIS is from another planet compared to the older IBIS that E-PMs use. At least I get SHARP photos with it. In fact I love the IBIS on my E-M5.
  10. pake

    pake Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Oct 14, 2010
    Dammit. I just did a brief testing session with my E-PM2 and Oly 60mm macro...

    First 3 shots with IBIS on @ 1/250s and then 3 without the IBIS:
    - Basically all the IBIS shots were alike
    - There was some variety between the IBIS off shots
    - The sharpest one was without IBIS. The difference to the best "IBIS on"-shot was clear.

    Then 3 shots with IBIS on @ 1/60 and 3 without it:
    - Quite consistent results with IBIS on
    - IBIS off gave more diverse results but...
    - The sharpest photo came without the IBIS. Again.

    This really isn't what I wanted to see. I think I will need some proper testing in order to see when (or IF!) to use IBIS with my E-PM2. The good thing is that I always take 2-3 shots each time I take a picture so that wouldn't change my style. It's just that I'm afraid to use the IBIS for now...

    EDIT: I just double checked... All three shots without the IBIS @ 1/60 are sharper than the best one with the IBIS. That's really sad.
  11. Brian Beezley

    Brian Beezley Mu-43 Hall of Famer


    Although I don't own an E-PM2, I found this thread disturbing. I aimed my E-PL2 with 40-150mm lens at a poster on my dimly lit kitchen wall. I took three shots with IBIS on and three with it off. With Olympus Viewer 3 I extracted a 100% crop of 1024 x 100 pixels from the lower center of each RAW image and saved it as a JPG. Then I used IrfanView to create a composite image. Focal length was 40mm, ISO was 200, exposure was 1/30 second at f/4, and sharpening was -2 for all shots.


    P.S. - I used autofocus for all shots. Next time I try this I will autofocus the first shot and then switch to manual mode so focus remains constant for all shots.
  12. charcoalblack

    charcoalblack Mu-43 Regular

    Dec 26, 2012
    So are the top 3 lines with IBIS on or are those without it?

  13. Brian Beezley

    Brian Beezley Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Sorry. The images top to bottom follow the experiment chronologically. So the top three lines are with IBIS.

  14. tjdean01

    tjdean01 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 20, 2013
    So for you, IBIS did good. However, not one of those images is perfectly sharp. I would ascertain that if you took 10, you'd get 1-2 very sharp shots with IBIS off. From this point on I'm not using it. And that Panasonic PM2 without IBIS is starting to looking more attractive because IMO IBIS on the PM2 is useless anyway.

    Is the EM-5's 5-axis the same as EM-1's?
  15. pake

    pake Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Oct 14, 2010
    Both have 5-axis IBIS but the one on E-M1 is much better.
    • Like Like x 1
  16. boatman37210

    boatman37210 Mu-43 Regular

    Jun 28, 2012
    Would using a Pan lens with IS be one solution?
  17. sgreszcz

    sgreszcz Mu-43 Veteran

    Oct 7, 2012
    So, in conclusion we can get sharp shots from em1 and em5 with ibis on, although some shutter speeds are to be avoided (around 1/100s).

    Also better to disable epm2 ibis entirely?

    When I get my epm2 I will try it in video mode, as I know ibis helps my em5 a lot when shooting movies.

    When out using two bodies, I will probably use my only stabilised lens panasonic 35-100 on the epm2 then.
  18. tjdean01

    tjdean01 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Feb 20, 2013
    Interesting you say these things. And interesting that even before I learned that my PM2's IBIS was ruining a lot of my shots I said that if I had two cameras I would choose the following...(below).

    So yes, on my PM2, from now on, the IBIS doesn't exist. I'm ordering a small Gorilla Pod to wrap on fences, etc. If the shutter speed is like 1" and I don't mind shooting at 8 or 5 MP (where the softness isn't as evident) then I'll turn on the crappy IBIS.

    And what I said even before discovering this has been solidified. The GM1 looks cooler then the PM2, has focus peaking, better shutter settings, and a flash (a biggie for me!). I don't use a hotshoe and I don't use IBIS. Plus I want to buy the 12-32 lens anyway. Soo, it's a no-brainer: when I can get the PM1 with lens for $500, I sell my PM2 with 14-42mm in perfect mint for $300. And, the EM-5 has other features I like for different situations: FV, 5-axis IBIS that works (apparently), looks super-duper cool, etc. If I can get that in silver to compliment the GM1 I think I'll be fine in the camera department for a couple years....until Olympus makes a PM2 size camera with flash and 5-axis! lol
  19. rolfen

    rolfen Mu-43 Rookie

    Apr 3, 2014

    I guess the shutter shock is messing up the IBIS on the PM2. I guess the IBIS is set up to detect external movements, and the fact that the vibration comes from inside the camera body is confusing it in some way and causing it to misbehave during the exposure.

    Thanks for that study!

    It seems the IBIS on the PM2 almost useless - to be fair it is only useful at some shutter speeds, and is generally a "damage control" feature more then anything else. If I get a PM2, I'll make sure to keep it off, and only turn it on when (and if) I'm taking a shot well outside safe operating range, and could need all the anti-shake help that I can get!

    I wonder if turning the IBIS off would solidly lock the sensor in place, or if it would still be somehow loose. I wish I could get the camera without IBIS at all, but Olympus isn't giving us much choice. I'm for lens IS. I can see the advantages of IBIS and it initially sounded like a great idea, but after thinking it over (and before finding this thread) I had already come to the conclusion that I'd rather the IS stay in the lens and not mess with the sensor. Lens IS would also be more performant as it would be tailor made for each lens. Moreover, IS is mostly useful on tele lenses, and how many tele lenses would one own? Olympus tout that "you buy the IS once and get to use it for every lens", they make it sound as if every one of us wants to own 15 tele lenses.

    There's one thing I'd like to add: for non-action photos where shaking is a concern, and since these camera have a good FPS rate, I guess an option would be to just take a burst or images then pick out the sharpest one and discard the others. That's a technique I use sometimes.

    It's really good to know the limits of the system.

  20. kirschm

    kirschm Mu-43 Regular

    May 4, 2014
    Since pm2 and pl5 is technically 'the same'... Any clue whether they differ regarding ibis... Provided both have antishock enabled?
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