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Olympus PEN E-P5 Ken McMahon, July 2013
 
 

Olympus EP5 vs Panasonic Lumix GF6 vs Fujifilm XM1 Noise RAW

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  Olympus PEN E-P5 results
1 Olympus E-P5 Quality JPEG
2 Olympus E-P5 Quality RAW
3 Olympus E-P5 Noise JPEG
4 Olympus E-P5 Noise RAW
5 Olympus E-P5 Sample images

To compare RAW noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Olympus PEN E-P5, the Panasonic Lumix GF6 and the Fujifilm X-M1 within a few moments of each other using their RAW modes at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

The PEN E-P5 and the Lumix GF6 were fitted with their respective kit lenses and the X-M1 was fitted with the new Fujinon 16-50mm f3.5-5.6 OIS kit lens

For the PEN E-P5 and Lumix GF6 the lens was set to 14mm (28mm equivalent). At its wide end, the 16-50mm Fujinon lens has an equivalent focal length of 24mm and the X-M1 sensor has a 3:2 aspect ratio compared with 4:3 on the Micro Four Thirds models. I zoomed in marginally with the X-M1 to produce an equivalent vertical field of view.

The cameras were set to Aperture Priority exposure mode with the ISO senstivity set manually.



The above shot was taken with the Olympus PEN E-P5 in Aperture priority mode. The PEN E-P5 RAW file measured 15.3Mb and, as usual, the crops are taken from the areas marked by the red rectangle. At its 200 ISO base sensitivity the PEN E-P5 metered an exposure of 1/6 at f5.6. At 160 ISO Panasonic Lumix GF6 selected 1/5 at f5.6 and I applied -.67EV to the Fujifilm X-M1 to produce an equivalent exposure of 1/6 at f5.6 at 200 ISO. Note the X-M1's sensitivity range in RAW lacks the extended options of the JPEGs, so the range below goes between 200 and 6400 ISO. Also note the Sun begain to creep into the frame when I was shooting my final shots with the X-M1, hence the illuminated portion to the left side, but it's still possible to look beyond that to other areas of the frame for a fair comparison with the other models. If I get the chance to try all three models at the same time again in the future, I'll reshoot this test.

I processed the files from the PEN E-P5 and Lumix GF6 in Adobe Camera RAW using identical settings: Sharpening at 70 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, and the Process to 2012 with the Adobe Standard profile. To further reduce any distracting visual differences between the crops I also set custom white balance to 4300K. These settings were chosen to reveal the differences in sensor quality and isolate them from in-camera processing. The high degree of sharpening with a small radius enhances the finest details without causing undesirable artefacts, while the zero noise reduction unveils what's really going on behind the scenes - as such the visible noise levels at higher ISOs will be much greater than you're used to seeing in many of my comparisons, but again it's an approach that's designed to show the actual detail that's being recorded before you start work on processing and cleaning it up if desired.

At the time of testing the Fujifilm X-M1 RAW format wasn't supported by Adobe Photoshop Camera RAW 8.1.0.43, so I processed the X-M1's RAF RAW file in the supplied Raw File Converter application. I tried as far as possible to produce similar results to the Camera RAW processed files, setting sharpness to exagerrated, turning off all noise reduction, setting the white balance to 4300K and developing the results to a .tif file. While the resulting crops provide a useful idea of what the X-M1 RAW file can produce, it's not intended for comparison with the Camera RAW processed files, so I'll confine my comments here to the Olympus PEN E-P5 and the Panasonic Lumix GF6 for now. I'll update the X-M1 crops when Camera RAW support becomes available in Adobe Photoshop Camera RAW.

As with the outdoor RAW results, there's little difference between the PEN E-P5 and Lumix GF6 crops here, at the lower end of the sensitivity range at least. Up to 800 ISO there are slight quality differences in the crops but the overall levels of noise and the detail recorded looks very similar. At 1600 ISO the Lumix GF6 crop looks to have marginally more colour noise in it than the PEN E-P5 crop and the same is true at 3200 ISO. The colour noise in the GF6 crops gets progressively worse from 3200 ISO up, whereas the E-P5's sensor manages to keep a lid on it quite effectively.

Noise is always going to be a major problem at sensitivities of 3200 ISO and above. But if you do a lot of very low light work and consistently find yourself in the upper regions of your camera's sensitivity range, for RAW shooting the E-P5 clearly has the advantage here over the GF6.

Now head over to my Olympus E-P5 sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.


Olympus PEN E-P5 RAW
 
Panasonic Lumix GF6 RAW
 
Fujifilm X-M1 RAW

100 ISO

160 ISO
100 ISO Not available in RAW
200 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
12800 ISO
12800 ISO
12800 ISO Not available in RAW
25600 ISO
25600 ISO
25600 ISO Not available in RAW


Olympus PEN E-P5
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise


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