Sunday, August 5, 2012

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Day 3 - High ISO Image Quality

Olympus OM-D vs Sony NEX-5N High ISO

After reading the various forums I visit, I began wondering just how well the OM-D stacks up to the high ISO capability of the NEX-5N.  So, I pulled off a short test.

Using controlled light, I placed each camera on a tripod and attempted to frame same scene as closely as possible.  The NEX-5N was using the 18-55 kit lens, the OM-D using the PanLeica 25mm.

Gradiation on the OM-D was set to "normal", shadows and highlights were disabled.  Auto white balance on both cameras, with the "keep warm" option on the OM-D disabled.  Evaluative metering, aperture priority at f/4 for both cameras.  Both shot in RAW and exported with no edits from Lightroom 4.1 as full-sized JPEGs.

Disclaimer: Before the internet implodes with talk of equivalency, theories and outright tomfoolery -- this was simply a quicky test on my part, using the same apertures to induce the cameras to attain similar shutter speeds, letting the cameras do the rest.  Yes, I know one could "open up" the OM-D by a stop (going to f/2.8) to get a similar DOF as the APS-C at f/4.  That's not what we're testing here.

As I thought, the OM-D compares very favorably to the NEX-5N.  Here's the ISO 1600 comparison, click for larger shots, or visit the flickr links for the full-sized options.

Full sized (new window) - HERE

Note the really warm cast from the NEX-5N's autoWB.  Not to feel too bad, though - the OM-D's photo turned out the same way with "keep warm" enabled.

Full sized (new window) - HERE

And now the ISO 3200 set:

Full sized (new window) - HERE

Full sized (new window) - HERE

I don't know about you, but it looks pretty good to me.  Someone that saw these did comment that the OM-D's mid tones seem to be a bit darker than the NEX-5N.  Perhaps, but hey, looking at the shadows and highlights, it all looks about the same to me.

The take-away?  One shouldn't have to worry about too much noise when dealing with the OM-D; that is, unless noise levels of one of the best crop-cameras aren't good enough! (Fuji seems to have the lead as of right now, but Sony and Sony-based cameras are a firm second place).

Now for a non-test shot - a photo straight out of the camera, JPEG, ISO 800, for my wife's blog.  Good enough for this guy!

A look of surprise / disappointment when my morning-haired daughter learns "her" Canon S95 doesn't have a memory card!

Daddy it says no memory card


  1. Your comparison pics also highlighted how bad the Sony 18-55m kit lens is!

  2. Yeah, but of course it's a bit unfair to compare a $550, perpetually out-of-stock Panasonic/Leica prime lens to a kit Sony lens :)