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OM-D vs G3 low light / high ISO?

Discussion in 'This or That? (MFT only)' started by jloden, May 25, 2012.

  1. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    Ok, I know there have been multiple threads comparing these two cameras, and I've read lots of reviews, but I was hoping for some real world input on this specific topic from the folks on here. I already have an OM-D on pre-order, but I'm second guessing the decision a bit now and debating going with a G3 for considerably less outlay.

    Here's where I'm at: the GF2 has been serving me well, but I feel it lacking in low light situations. I find myself doing a fair bit of indoor or fireside (camping) shots so low light performance is a key consideration for me. I have some fast prime lenses and they help a lot, but I find with the GF2 I can't go over about ISO 800 before I get really noisy images. From everything I've read, I should be able to improve on that with either the OM-D or the G3. What I can't get a feel for is how much of an improvement to expect for either camera over my current setup. Am I going to be able to get a reasonably clean image at say, ISO 1600 or 3200 on both cameras? Higher on the OM-D? Any real-world comparison or feedback would be great.

    If it helps with advice, these are my main reasons for considering the OM-D in the first place:

    1. Improved high ISO performance
    2. IBIS for when I'm using my non OIS lenses
    3. Image quality improvement overall
    4. Viewfinder - "like to have" coming from the LCD-only GF2
    5. Weather sealing - camping hiking peace of mind :biggrin:

    Any advice/feedback appreciated.
     
  2. ~tc~

    ~tc~ Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Oct 22, 2010
    Houston, TX
    I can't speak for the OMD, but coming to the G3 from a GF1 is literally day and night.

    On the GF1, I agree with your ISO 800 limit, and that's where I set the auto ISO limit too.

    On the G3, I have removed the ISO Limit. 1600 is absolutely no problem, and 6400 is serviceable enough that I don't worry about it.
     
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  3. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Texas
    Hmmm....this doesn't sound quite right...
    I say this because I have an E-PL2 & 1600 is quite workable from my perspective....
     
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  4. skao

    skao New to Mu-43

    8
    May 25, 2012
    I think that's the point - it's always a bit subjective if the high-ISO performance is satisfying enough or not. In my opinion with my E-PL3 ISO1600 seems to be the "magical border". Some shots work with it, others dont - seems to depend on the subject. Large dark areas do produce a lot of noise in my experience...
     
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  5. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Honestly, is High ISO performance that important? Both cameras already have it, but the OM-D has everything else you want. Are you really going to ditch every other thing you're looking for in a camera just because the G3 could at best (not better) match the one requirement of high-ISO performance? Whatever camera comes out next year is going to beat them both at high ISO. The IBIS, sharp image quality, high-performance viewfinder, and weather sealing won't change.

    Granted, with the G3 you will also have a good viewfinder and good image quality overall, though neither quite as good as the E-M5. More importantly, the E-M5 has much better controls and build. Magnesium-alloy body, dual front/rear control dials, 4 custom buttons right at your fingertips without moving from shooting position, 100k shutter life, 1/250s X-sync, etc. Plus all the other things you were looking for, like 5-axis IBIS and weather sealing.

    Considering all the other differences in the bodies, I don't think that something as insignificant as high-ISO performance should be a deciding factor, especially when you've already shown us a list of other things you like from the OM-D. Now price may very well be the deciding factor, but it should be weighed against the entire package of build and controls which the OM-D offers, not just against its high-ISO capabilities. If high-ISO is all these two cameras offer, then of course the price difference doesn't justify the E-M5.
     
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  6. Ned

    Ned Mu-43 Legend

    Jul 18, 2010
    Alberta, Canada
    Actually, I find the high-ISO performance of the E-PL2 to be significantly better than the old Panasonics like the GF-1 and GF-2. Panasonic really needed that 16MP sensor to catch up, while Olympus was building up all the imaging technology around it. The 12MP Pannys are a lot noisier than the later 12MP Olys, even though they share a 12.3MP sensor. We're only talking about a 1 stop difference here between ISO800 and ISO1600, so I think that would be a reasonable assumption to believe the Panny would be that much worse.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  7. crsnydertx

    crsnydertx Mu-43 Top Veteran

    995
    Dec 31, 2010
    Houston, TX
    Chuck
    If IQ is the primary driver, it's hard for me personally to leap - or half-step - to the E-M5 from the G3 or even the E-P3. Waiting to see what Panny's next move and whether Oly brings some of the new features into a P type body is the course of action (or inaction) I'm planning to take. Generation-skipping has worked pretty well for me in the Canon world and with Adobe software. And my camera budget is already pretty well shot for the year...:eek:

    Horses for courses...
     
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  8. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    Right - it's obviously subjective to a point. Outside by a campfire for instance, you're going to get a whole lot of dark background which seems to be the worst for noise. Indoors I can sometimes edge as high as 1600, but I know I can consistently get images I'm happy with at 800.
     
  9. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    Annnnd that's why I started second guessing the decision to get the latest and greatest at top dollar this year :biggrin:

    That said, I completely agree with your points Ned. I do like the overall combination of features on the OM-D better certainly. I guess I want to reassure myself I'm not overhyping the new big player on the block for no good reason and ignoring a more than serviceable alternative at half the price.
     
  10. CUB

    CUB Mu-43 Veteran

    275
    Apr 19, 2012

    If the E-M5 cost 20% or 30% more than the G3, it would be fairly easy to justify the extra cost. But where I live, the E-M5 costs between 2.5 and 3 times the price of the G3.

    As a G3 owner I would find it very difficult to justify paying so much more for the E-M5, beautiful though it is. In other markets, the differential is less, but still significant.
     
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  11. RT_Panther

    RT_Panther Mu-43 Legend

    May 4, 2011
    Texas
    Works for me then!

    IMHO,
    We pretty much have the same sensor. It's exactly the reason why I chose to not upgrade to the E-PL3 or E-P3. I see no huge hi ISO increase in performance from my E-PL2.
     
  12. kahren

    kahren Mu-43 Regular

    145
    Mar 21, 2010
    The older panny cameras iso ratings were no equivalent to those of olympus. There is probably around 2/3 of stop difference, iso800 on panny more or less equals to that of 1200 on olympus. This can easily be tested by using the same lens with the same aperture and shutter speed. This is pretty much why peopele noticed that higher iso is "cleaner" the panny, though that is really not the case. The newer cameras such as the g3 are not longer following the old iso curve panny used, this is part of why g3 high iso is better, the other part is that the 16mp sensor is noticeably better then the old sensor at high iso. om-d even better then the g3 how much better hard to say without shooting the same scenes with the same lens at a given aperture, same shutter speed exposed the same.
     
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  13. Hikari

    Hikari Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 26, 2010
    • Like Like x 1
  14. Microman

    Microman Mu-43 Regular

    36
    Jan 16, 2012
    The Olympus EM-5 is a fantastic camera. It's build like a tank, has a good feel and weight to it, it's extremely customizable, very responsive and the image quality up to ISO1600 is great. It's just a joy to make pictures with it. That is worth something. You can have endless debates about the price of this and the costs of that, but sometimes you just have to follow your heart and burn all your money. You might not be here tomorrow.
     
  15. Robstar1963

    Robstar1963 Mu-43 Top Veteran

    899
    Jun 10, 2011
    Isle of Wight England UK
    Robert (Rob)
    Hi
    Why are you limiting yourself to the G3
    Why not consider the newer G5 which has several major improvements over the G3 and is far better ergonomically

    It has the sensor previously fitted o the GH2 flagship model and is still considerably cheaper than the O-MD and represents very good value
    Regards
    Rob
     
  16. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    The original post was May 2012, before the G5 was introduced.
     
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  17. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    Right :smile:

    For anyone curious, since this thread I did get the G3, which served me well until it died in a fall due to a broken lanyard. After that I eventually replaced it with the G5 which I'm very happy with.
     
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  18. goldenlight

    goldenlight Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jan 30, 2010
    Essex
    John
    Exposure technique also plays a large part in what is acceptable at high ISO. Some photographers are able to squeeze an extra stop above what most people can achieve whilst others unwittingly limit themselves to about two stops less performance than they could attain with better technique.
     
  19. jloden

    jloden Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 15, 2012
    Hunterdon County, NJ
    Jay
    Can you elaborate on what kind of techniques you're referring to? Short of squeezing out a slower shutter speed with more stability, or avoiding large dark areas to cut noise I'm not sure what exposure technique would be relevant to higher ISO shots.
     
  20. jnewell

    jnewell Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 23, 2011
    Boston, MA
    I would guess that he means that if you have the time and skill to very, very carefully match exposure to subject lighting you can maximize DR compared to a quick exposure reading because you can expose to provide maxiumum shadow depth with the highlights just maxed out. That implies good technique and in most cases a static subject and time taken to expose perfectly for the sensor. That isn't something that's going to work for, say, candid street photos.