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PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2009 7:56 pm 
http://wrotniak.net/photo/43/e620-rev.html

As of this writing (June, 2009) I've spent only three weeks with the camera and I am still learning how to use it. Of course, I've shot a few hundred frames with the E-620, but most of them not under semi-controlled (or at least familiar) conditions as I usually do.
Some of the examples are shown and discussed in the E-620 Samples, Part 1 page.
The first impression is quite positive — but this is my usual experience with Olympus cameras, especially the E-Series SLRs.
Contrary to some expectations, however, the results are not identical to those I've been getting from the E-30 or E-3 (which are hard to tell apart from each other). While visually very pleasing, my E-620 images are not as smooth as those are; somehow more "digital". There is also more noise (not just the amplitude, but also coarser pattern and some artifacts), and this starts showing in the shadows already at ISO 200. Even at this sensitivity I can already see some noise clustering (brownish blotches in outdoor out-of-focus shadows) and banding, which, surprisingly, is vertical here.
This may be a difference in the sensor or in the rest of the imaging pipeline; I suspect the former. The latter is just firmware; why would Olympus bother to change it? While both sensors have the same resolution, I think they may be actually different, with the one in the E-30 having some advantage.
On the upside, the detail in E-620 images is most impressive, even with the cheap kit lenses, and at standard noise filter settings. Is it pssible Olympus is using a less intrusive antialiasing filter here?
These are just my first impressions, and some statements here may still have to be modified and refined, but, generally, I have no doubts about this. With both cameras at hand I am in a position to shoot some comparative samples. Then, I will also have to tweak the E-620 imaging parameters (sharpening, noise filtering) to take the full advantage of that camera. Only then a meaningful comparison will be possible. I will also have to try the camera at ISO 800 and above. Patience.



conclusion

Now, is the E-620 a smaller, lighter, and cheaper E-30, as some would like to think? No it isn't. The E-30 has a better viewfinder, top-deck status display, second command dial (with the first one better placed), plus a dozen or so less visible advantages, which add up to the difference. One feature I found especially useful is the level gauge: I usually tend to tilt my framing to the right, and the gauge helps a lot, visible in the viewfinder (why could Olympus put it in the tiny E-P1, but not in the '620?)
Regarding image quality, the E-30 seems to have a visible edge. While in typical outdoors shooting situations the differences are hard to tell, in some situations (large shadow areas, less-than-optimum light) I can see them quite clearly even at ISO 200. Tonal transitions are not quite as smooth, and the noise pattern in defocused, dark backgrounds is not as pretty as in the larger camera. (Once again, I'm still shooting and scrutinizing samples, so hold on for a few more weeks.)
The E-30 also has a clear edge in autofocus accuracy, reliability, and speed; no doubt about it.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 7:07 pm 
http://www.wrotniak.net/photo/43/e620-samp-iso.html

As I expected, the candy series is a tough cookie, while the money scene is easiest to handle at higher ISOs, for reasons which should already be clear. ISO 100 is beautiful for all subjects, but all sensitivities up to ISO 800 look good enough for practically any use. Even the candy shadows at that last setting remind me of grain in well-behaved film.

Above ISO 800 things are not so peachy. First, the black level goes up, but that's not really a problem: it can be lowered in postprocessing. Then, we have higher noise amplitude. At ISO 1600 I could easily live with it, if not for the non-uniformity which starts showing up. Again, this is not obvious in the other two subjects, but see the shadow gradient at the bottom piece of yellow candy: while it is still reasonably gradual at ISO 800, at the next setting it starts showing blotches. At ISO 3200 this is additionally accompanied by a generous sprinkle of high-amplitude spikes.

Note, however, that some spots which look like noise spikes in the candy picture are not actually noise, but small crystals of (I hope) sugar: you can see them at all other ISOs as well.

To put things into perspective, remember than the 1:1 samples show how the image would look on a huge print, probably (depending on your monitor DPI) 20×107 cm, which should be viewed from a 1.2 m (4 ft) distance or so. Try to get a presentable print of this size from a 35-mm film frame, and only then complain about noise.

The detail is holding well up to ISO 1600, and so are the colors. I wouldn't be afraid to use this sensor gain occasionally, not just in emergencies.

Now, at ISO 3200 things may depend on the subject: for some pictures this speed may be quite usable, for others less so. The main problem may be in large areas devoid of any detail — in those I could detect some noise artifacts (blotching, slight banding) already at ISO 200 — see my white lily sample elsewhere.

By the way, I couldn't see any noise banding in the images shown here — but, again, this does not rather show in busy subjects.

As compared to...

As compared to the E-510, this camera introduces some improvement: while retaining the same, impressive amount of detail, it visibly improves the noise characteristics at ISO 800 and above (I don't see much difference below that); now ISO 3200 is as usable as ISO 1600 was, or, maybe, even a bit better.

Now, a tougher task: comparing the E-620 against its bigger, but barely older brother, the E-30. While just having a look at the similar E-30 samples, a better comparison can be made by flipping between corresponding samples in a full-screen image browser, and that's what I just did.

Based on these three subjects, the results are quite surprising: at the same (nominal) sharpness and NF settings the E-30 seems to have a slight edge at ISO 100 and 200 (more detail, cleaner noise pattern, especially at ISO 200), but at ISOs of 800 and beyond I like the E-620 more: the noise amplitude may be (just) a tad higher, but there is less detail loss due to filtering. (A downside is some occasional color artifact, I can see faint reddish blotches in the buckle image. Well, you cannot have it all!)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2009 8:43 pm 
I'm not a big fan of being fixated on noise issues, simply because they're not noticeable unless you're pixel peeping. Looking at the E-30 results though, I have to wonder. The E-30 released in 2009 is providing noise performance that is worse than the Nikon D300 and Canon 40D, both released in 2007. You can easily verify this by going to imaging-resources.com and comparing sample images. Aside from the Olympus faithful, is there any reason for an open minded and independent buyer to invest in Olympus gear?

This isn't meant to be flame bait, but it's depressing to see how far ahead Canon and Nikon are in the noise department. Competition is good, without it you'll get a duopoly and then we the consumer will be royally screwed.

p.s. I must now seek penance for mentioning that other camera site ;)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 11:07 am 
Look at the photo results here on this site for the E-3 V D300, or the E-620 V 500D V d5000. Both show the Olympus kit lenses more than make up for the sensor short-comings at low ISO.
In 20 years of 35mm film shooting, I only used ISO 800 film twice and 1600 film once. Am I worried about Olympus DSLR ISO performance above ISO 400? - not likely! It horses for courses, if you shoot at high ISO regularly, all Olympus and some Canon and Sony models go to the bottom of the list. If you don't, Canon and Nikon struggle against Olympus, unless you are loaded and can afford Canon and Nikon's pro-grade lenses.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2009 4:29 pm 
to pgtips: no flame here, your opinion is resected.

i will say this, olympus is a very affordable system to invest in somewhat. while every brand has had their price hike, right now you can get the Olympus E-520 w/ 2 kit lenses for under $500. you can't really beat that deal when you consider just how good those 2 kit lenses are. i feel noise isn't the end of the world until you start pixel peeping in my experiences. i used to think the noise was going to be an issue until i had some prints made from high iso shots. as long as you get your exposures correct you shouldn't really have much problems. lol how many of us plan on printing 100% crops???


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 7:28 pm 
I have to agree on the overemphasis of high iso. I could not even find iso 1600 film-- and I live close to NYC! The fastest film B and H sells is iso 800, and I did use that speed quite frequently-- but I never print above 7.5 x 10 and the e520 is perfectly fine for iso 800 (and iso 1600 too.)

Actually, when I did film I only ever printed 4 x 6 and iso 800-- so digital is a big step up for me-- lets not lose perspective of where we came from!


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 30, 2009 8:29 pm 
I even think dynamic range is overblown (pun intended). I was browsing some reviews and I found that even FF cameras dont produce more than around 8.5 ev of DR in their OOC jpegs. So 8 stops of DR is perfectly acceptable. The 9.2 of the e620 is positively stupendous, but Im sure we can adjust the tone curves of previous Oly cameras to get close to there.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 7:54 pm 
For some reason, I do find myself using high ISO all the time, and the additional noise is troublesome to me. Maybe I should finally give up on Oly ... but I don't want to!


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 8:44 pm 
A-L-E-X wrote:
I have to agree on the overemphasis of high iso. I could not even find iso 1600 film-- and I live close to NYC! The fastest film B and H sells is iso 800, and I did use that speed quite frequently-- but I never print above 7.5 x 10 and the e520 is perfectly fine for iso 800 (and iso 1600 too.)

Actually, when I did film I only ever printed 4 x 6 and iso 800-- so digital is a big step up for me-- lets not lose perspective of where we came from!


There is an over emphasis on high ISO performance, possibly because it's the easiest thing to measure. Pixel peep an image, if you find specs then you've found high ISO noise ;).

Nevertheless, do not downplay the necessity of high ISO performance. Sure, ISO 1600 film cost a fortune. However, the crazy high ISO performance of today's DSLRs means that photos that could not have been taken before can now be taken with ease. I'm thinking low light, moving objects like at a wedding dance for instance.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 01, 2009 11:10 pm 
Armanius, did you get another e620 yet? And how do you find its high iso noise compared to your e410?

Wrotniak just published this-- and the e620 seems to have very little noise up to 1600 in these, but I dont know if thats because its a well lit composition and it would be a different story in low light

http://www.wrotniak.net/photo/43/e620-fs.html


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 6:27 pm 
A-L-E-X wrote:
Armanius, did you get another e620 yet? And how do you find its high iso noise compared to your e410?

Wrotniak just published this-- and the e620 seems to have very little noise up to 1600 in these, but I dont know if thats because its a well lit composition and it would be a different story in low light

http://www.wrotniak.net/photo/43/e620-fs.html


I haven't done a E620 v. E410 review. But I think I did one earlier for the E620 v. E510. I took all the photos down already though. Oh, and yes, I did get another E620. And kept it this time. Kind of half regretting my decision. Hopefully I'll get more familiar with the camera and do a better job with getting better exposures. Gulp!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 7:23 pm 
Armanius wrote:

I haven't done a E620 v. E410 review. But I think I did one earlier for the E620 v. E510. I took all the photos down already though. Oh, and yes, I did get another E620. And kept it this time. Kind of half regretting my decision. Hopefully I'll get more familiar with the camera and do a better job with getting better exposures. Gulp!


give it some time. i'm sure you'll get some great shots out of the e-620.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimeng/
here's a guy who uses the e-620 and is taking some great shots.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 8:37 pm 
idavis wrote:

give it some time. i'm sure you'll get some great shots out of the e-620.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/zimeng/
here's a guy who uses the e-620 and is taking some great shots.


Yeah, I know. Hopefully with due time. And maybe a few firmware upgrades.

Not to rain on that guy's parade, but all his images are 1024x768. When I reduce my images down to 1024x768, they look pretty good too!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2009 10:24 pm 
Is 1024 x 768 onscreen the same as an 8 x 10 print at 300ppi?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Jul 04, 2009 10:50 am 
A-L-E-X wrote:
Is 1024 x 768 onscreen the same as an 8 x 10 print at 300ppi?


I don't think so, but I could be wrong. 8 inches would be (8)(300) = 2400. And 10 inches would be (10)(300)=3000. If that is correct, then 8" x 10" would be 2400 x 3000.


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