OMD EM5 - what would you do?

Discussion in 'Olympus Cameras' started by Molly2, Sep 17, 2015.

  1. Molly2

    Molly2 Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 4, 2013
    Advice please. I have been asked to do some photos of dogs. In a rescue centre. They will not therefore be sitting down nice and cute and photogenic. Some for certain will be outside, running around. The photos need to be printable at 32cm wide so quite large. I normally shoot RAW and then PS after.

    I usually stick to iso 200 for the quality. But this is probably going to be far too slow in this case. The problem is that iso over 400 results in bad noise, at 1000 just terrible. Beyond usable. Unless there are any in-camera settings that I am unaware of which may help with this? Any comments?

    I have the 20mm pancake and a 60mm 2.8. So not VERY fast but not that bad.

    Might the 1.4 45mm (?) be any better - but of course I can't just have a single doggie eye in focus.

    Anyway, any comments from personal experience would be very much appreciated. The doggie project should start this weekend.....!
  2. Ramsey

    Ramsey Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 9, 2013
    Zagreb, Croatia
    not sure why you would consider the ISO 1000 results terrible. Many people (myself included) with that generation of Oly cameras (E-M5, E-P3, E-PM2 and E-PL5) regularly go to 1600 (even beyond, a noisy shot is better than a blurry shot) and fix the noise in PP.

    Do you have the in-camera noise filter turned on or off?

    Don't forget the noise is a bit less visible when printed. Also, the viewing distance means a lot, no one will even notice the noise.
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  3. Molly2

    Molly2 Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 4, 2013
    Thanks - yes I gather people do get usable shots at even 1600 iso but mine are noisy beyond rescue (by adjusting luminence in CameraRAW and/or Topaz Denoise). I'm not sure about in-camera noise filter...will check....guess that could improve the jpegs anyway....

    Update - the Noise reduction is off, but Noise filter (?!) is Standard. And the option to adjust Noise reduction is greyed out, so I cannot change that in the normal way.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2015
  4. hazwing

    hazwing Mu-43 All-Pro

    Nov 25, 2012
    which camera are you using? As above, the new generation cameras noise should be acceptable until at least 800, and more likely 1600. I'm often at 3200, but it does start to get fairly noisy then (and after)
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  5. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    I agree with Ramsey: ISO 1000 is low for me. I start to worry about noise at 3200 and over. Shooting RAW also allows you do do fine tuning with the denoise parameters.

    Outside I suppose you won't be able to get very close to the moving dogs so the 60 could be come handy and also for portraits. I'd bring the kit zoom too and the 40-150 if you have these. The 20 could be better for interior shots and for group shots. They'll give you different perspectives too.
    Unless you are shooting at sunset they should be plenty fast. On a bright day you can shoot at f8, 1/1000, ISO 200.

    I expect that you will even need to stop down your lenses, like 5.6, to get more DoF to get the moving subjects in focus more easily.

    Dogs run FAST: shoot wide, high speed sequential mode, and crop later. If you have time go to a park and do a few test shots. AF is the tricky part.

    Can you post the RAW file of one of these unusable ISO 1000 shots? Do you do a lot of shadows recovery? Do you shoot underexposed?
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2015
  6. Molly2

    Molly2 Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 4, 2013
    OMD EM5..... So not the newest but not antique.....
  7. Luke

    Luke Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Jul 30, 2010
    Milwaukee, WI
    You need to remember that the people that will be viewing these photos are not nut-job pixel peepers. You camera is more than good enough at ISO1600. I'd bring both lenses along and use whichever one your working distance to the dogs dictates. Dogs are a joy to shoot, my only advice would be to keep the shutter speed up. The dogs don't usually sit still for long.
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  8. Have you made any test prints at that size yet?
  9. Molly2

    Molly2 Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 4, 2013
    Thanks for help..... I'll look out existing high iso shots and maybe take a couple more. I have an appointment with a dog this afternoon (if it stops raining) to have a bit of a test run. Black dog so likey to be even more fun! P9170050 full size. P9170049 crop2.
    I don't do much shadow recovery - and certainly at high iso would never even try.
  10. Molly2

    Molly2 Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 4, 2013
    I guess that may be true about pixel peeping......but I do want them to be good. And they need to be printed 32cm wide at 300 dpi so quite big.
    Above was dog sitting just to test. iso 1000. I've just tried using Topaz Denoise at 16 ....I guess it may be ok though I rarely use so much denoise software....
    Will get another pic later which will maybe show a bit better.

    PS No I haven't done any test prints.... My printer is out of action but good point that maybe printed it won't show so much....just a touch of grain....
  11. mattia

    mattia Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    May 3, 2012
    The Netherlands
    Well, 32 cm wide is not super huge. I have an ISO 3200 shot that's ever so slightly blurry (shot at 283mm and 1/60 sec) but powerful enough that I thought it was worth processsing and printing at 80 cm by 60cm (photographic print mounted on dibond), and it looks wonderful on the wall. It's a black and white processed version of this:

    15328431381_1a45d3594e_h. Speak No Evil by Mattia Valente, on Flickr

    ISO 3200, E-M1 (essentially the same performance as the E-M5, IMO. Owned both, files are very similar), processed with DxO and some Nik plugins.

    Remember that print is far, far more forgiving of slight 'noise' or imperfection than a good monitor. Try it, I wager you'll be very (pleasantly) surprised. Yes, my Sony FF files are smoother and 'nicer' in digital, but the quality in a print up to about 80x60 is maybe visible when viewed side-by-side (prints), but both can deliver a terrific print.
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  12. PakkyT

    PakkyT Mu-43 All-Pro

    Jun 20, 2015
    New England
    Hi Molly,

    For the purpose these shots are going to serve, I wouldn't fuss over your shots to much. With the photo of the black dog above, it looks completely acceptable for what it needs to do and no one looking for a dog is going to zoom in to the level you were showing.

    So have fun with it, take a lot of shots, and don't nit pick over the quality too much if the purpose is to help find these dogs new homes.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2015
  13. Molly2

    Molly2 Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 4, 2013
    Thanks so much. I love that Speak no Evil shot by the way.....iso 3200 eh.....amazing pic....... I'd not even have tried at such a high iso. Quite a lesson.....

    I've just been out on a dog walk and come home with a couple of possibles at iso 1000. Yes, maybe I am just worrying too much.
    I'll have another practice session tomorrow - stick to 1000 and above for the experience of it - and then just go and have fun.
    Much appreciated!
    Thanks again to all!
  14. Wisertime

    Wisertime Mu-43 Hall of Famer

    Aug 6, 2013
    Make sure you don't have auto gradation on AUTO...this setting causes bad noise in Olympus cameras (at least the older ones). It would be helpful if you posted samples of this "bad noise" for comparison sake. I mostly use my EM5 set to auto ISO in A priority for everyday casual shots with a limit of ISO 6400 and I have printed at that ISO. I have 3 dogs. The 60mm is great for portraits. If you want them to sit still, easy..have someone hold up treats...they'll be sitting at attention in no time. The 20 is slow focusing for action shots and will cause distortion if you get too close to the subject, but is useable if they are sitting still. I think you're either pixel peeping too much, have some setting wrong or your software/monitor is misrepresenting your files. Definitely shoot in RAW. If you are shooting in jpg, that might add more noise and definitely less leeway for editing.

    Printing 32cm is not that large. You can easily go to ISO 3200 in most conditions if you expose properly, but you shouldn't even need to unless you are shooting in some poorly lit space. Your monitor is going to out-resolve your printer. Certainly ISO 400-1000 should be very clean. Something is amiss. Consider using a flash if you are really that concerned with ISO. Just my $.02.
  15. Chris5107

    Chris5107 Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 28, 2011
    Putting in my 2 cents although not a primary source for this information. I remember reading a while back that the ISO setting is best if it is a multiple of 200 (or 1EV steps). For some reason that I don't recall the cameras were doing better. In other words, try either 800 or 1600 but not 1000 for the ISO. Sorry I cannot find the reference on this right now.
  16. esnift

    esnift Mu-43 Veteran

    Mar 17, 2013
    Boston, MA
    It seems like the technical aspects of the camera may be getting in the way of your artistic vision. I'd agree with others here saying that you should be able to get acceptable images up to ISO 3200. Even so, a poorly shot noise free image won't be as effective as a well composed image that conveys the animal's personality despite some moderate noise. It's hard to imagine a family looking to adopt a dog seeing a nice picture showing it's playful, sweet, or loyal characteristics, but then pressing their nose against the print and saying, "I don't know sweetie, this dog has a lot of noise in its fur. I don't want to deal with vacuuming up noise all of the time and I think little Timmy might have a noise allergy."

    So my advice would be to focus more on eliminating distracting elements from the frame (like the big white board coming out of the black dog's head in your test shot) and capturing moments that convey the dogs personality.

    Edit: and I would almost definitely use the 60mm 2.8. I don't have any personal experience with that lens, but a longer focal length will make it easier to control what is in the background due to the narrower field of view.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2015
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  17. Klorenzo

    Klorenzo Mu-43 All-Pro

    Mar 10, 2014
    Following esnift advice one easy thing to try: crouch or tilt the LCD to get down to their eye level. Probably they'll come close to smell the camera so be ready.
    And I'd also search on google images for "dog" to get a few ideas that you may like.
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  18. Molly2

    Molly2 Mu-43 Regular

    Nov 4, 2013
    OK. Working through the comments - all welcome! I will just mention the black dog sitting really was just to see how the iso worked which is why the composition is so bad!
    I'm just trying to get to feel comfortable with the technical side before having to worry about other things. :)
  19. CWRailman

    CWRailman Mu-43 All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jun 2, 2015
    Scottsdale, Arizona
    I did the same type of shoot several years ago.
    Don’t wear any cologne,
    Shower before the shoot to reduce scents, yes this does matter,
    Such facilities usually have an out of doors exercise area, pick a slightly shaded spot and setup a background, maybe just a sheet over the fence or something to get rid of the idea that the photograph is being taken in a fenced off prison style environment.
    Have one of the workers bring each animal out. Since they usually are happier to be out of their cages they tend to be more responsive and just look happier then when photographed in their depressing caged environment.
    Have the worker set the animal and use whatever treats to keep them at attention.
    If they are friendly, let the animal first sniff you and the camera so they are not in fear of it. Give them a few minutes to adjust to you and the situation before you start shooting.
    Use a shutter speed of around 1000 plus or minus depending on lighting with a f 2.8-4.5. Being outside will allow this. I used the same focal length as I do with head shots. That would be 45-60mm in 4/3 format. Focus on the face but get as much of the body as possible. Shots of dogs with their head slightly tilted tend to capture more attention since it is uncommon. If the dog gives paw or some such take a shot of that also. Don’t get right up on top of the animal but do stay reasonably close as they usually are fascinated by the camera. Take at least one side shot as many people thinking of adopting such a pet usually want to see such a shot. It is OK to have the worker/trainer in the background for the side shot but do not show their face.
    I took six to nine tightly cropped shots of each animal and each animal took about 10 minutes to photograph which included getting them out to the setup area then returned to their cages. Do not have more than one animal in the setup area at a time.

    Finally, if you are at all afraid of animals DON’T do it!
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  20. Rudy

    Rudy Mu-43 Top Veteran

    Jan 24, 2013
    Oakland, CA
    Not being a dog person, I'm not sure how most dogs would react to it, but the obvious solution to your ISO and blur fears would be using flash.
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