Olympus PEN E-P5 Ken McMahon, July 2013
 
 

Olympus EP5 vs Panasonic Lumix GF6 vs Fujifilm XM1 Noise JPEG

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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 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 best quality JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings; RAW results will follow on the next page.

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 its 14mm (28mm equivalent) setting. 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 camera was mounted on a tripod and tonal enhancement features were left on their default settings - Gradation and Noise reduction were set to Auto and Noise filter was set to standard. On the GF6, i.Dynamic and i. Resolution were turned off and Long Shutter noise reduction was on. On the Fujifilm X-M1, Dynamic Range was set to Auto, Noise reduction, Highlight tone, Shadow tone, Colour, and Sharpness were all set to 0 and Long exposure noise reduction was on. The PEN E-P5 JPEG file measured 7.44Mb 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 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.

Though they have a 100 ISO sensitivity setting, both the Olympus PEN E-P5 and the Fujifilm X-M1 include it as part of their extended ISO range. So the base sensitivity settings on those models is actually 200 ISO, while it's 160 ISO for the Lumix GF6. Generally, the E-P5 crops are very impressive, there's no visible noise in the 200 ISO crop and it's not until you get to 800 ISO that noise is particularly noticeable. There's a tiny bit of texture in the 400 ISO crop, but you have to look very closely to spot it, even at 100 percent. And at 800 ISO, even though there's a visible mottling on the darker parts of the crop and the text is slightly less crisp and detailed, the noise isn't too intrusive. I'd be confident of getting excellent quality results up to 800 ISO for full-sized reproduction.

At 1600 ISO the noise becomes more intrusive, the text is less legible and the edges aren't quite so clean, but though the differences between this crop and the 200 ISO one are clear to see at 100 percent, the PEN E-P5's image quality is still holding up very well. And even the 32000 and 6400 ISO crops retain a fair amount of detail despite the high noise levels. The 12800 and 25600 settings look pretty nasty at any magnification, but they're worth having for very low light situations where any shot is better than none.

Like the PEN E-P5, the Panasonic Lumix GF6 has a noise-free crop at its base 160 ISO sensitivity setting and the increases in noise as you go up the sensitivity scale to 1600 ISO are marginal. As with the outdoor test, the GF6 crops look a little softer, most probably as a result of processing differences as much as anything else. The E-P5 crops are punchier, but this is due to higher sharpening and contrast applied by default to JPEGs. The GF6's 1600 ISO crop does look a little bittier though, the bottom edge of the memorial panel is patchier than on the PEN E-P5 crop and the difference is a little more exagerrated at 3200 ISO. I'd say from 1600 ISO to 6400 ISO the PEN E-P5 has an edge in terms of the way it handles noise and the results, but it's a slight advantage. At the high end of the range - 12800 and 25600 neither looks great, but the PEN E-P5 crops are visibly 'less bad'.

But it's the Fujifilm X-M1 that's the clear winner in here. Up to 400 ISO it matches the PEN E-P5 crop for crop, but from there on up the incremental increases in noise are far less intrusive and the X-M1 sensor retains a lot more detail as a result. By 3200 ISO there's a least a 1EV difference in noise levels, probably more. You can even just about still read the text in the Fujifilm X-M1's 25600 crop, which is pretty remarkable.

To find out how much of a role processing plays in keeping noise at bay in these crops take a look at my Olympus E-P5 RAW noise results page to see just how much noise is present behind the scenes. Or 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
 
Panasonic Lumix GF6
 
Fujifilm X-M1

100 ISO

160 ISO
100 ISO
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
25600 ISO
25600 ISO
25600 ISO


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


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