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Olympus PEN E-PL5 Ken McMahon, November 2012
 
 

Olympus PEN E-PL5 vs Canon EOS M Noise RAW

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  Olympus E-PL5 results
1 Olympus E-PL5 Quality JPEG
2 Olympus E-PL5 Quality RAW
3 Olympus E-PL5 Noise JPEG
4 Olympus E-PL5 Noise RAW
5 Olympus E-PL5 Sample images

To compare RAW noise levels under real-life conditions, I shot this scene with the Olympus PEN E-PL5 and Canon EOS M within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings at each of their ISO sensitivity settings.

The PEN E-PL5 was fitted with the M.Zuiko 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 kit zoom and the EOS M with the EF-M 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM kit zoom.

The zoom on both cameras was set to its maximum wide angle, 14mm (28mm equivalent) on the PEN E-PL5, and 18mm (29mm equivalent) on the EOS M providing an approximately equivalent field of view.

Image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test and all other settings were left on the defaults.


The image above was taken with the Olympus PEN E-PL5.The camera was set to Aperture priority mode with the aperture set to f4 and the sensitivity was set to 200 ISO. The E-PL5 metered an exposure of 0.8 seconds at f4 and the Canon EOS M selected 2 seconds at its base ISO sensitivity setting of 100. The file size was 7.71MB and, as always, the red square in the image above shows the cropped area, which is shown below at 1:1.

I processed both sets of files 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 4500K and tint to 0.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.

These files processed in Adobe Camera RAW using the same settings reveal far more about the noise performance of these two sensors than the JPEG results alone. What they show is that the PEN E-PL5's sensor has a pretty good noise reponse which increases linearly as you travel up the sensitivity range. There definitely is visible noise in the 200 ISO crop, but at these lower ISO sensitivity settings the E-PL5's Truepic VI processor does a very good job of removing it while maintaining image detail. At 1600 ISO the noise level reaches a critical level, though, and the processing can no longer supress it, though in these mid-rage crops it does a good job getting the balance right.

Comparing the two, in the absence of the EOS M's in -camera JPEG processing the results from the two cameras look much closer at the lower ISO sensitivity settings. The PEN E-PL5 crops look a tiny bit sharper, but there's really very little to choose between them up to and including the 400 ISO crop.

In the JPEG results, 800 ISO was where the EOS M took a definite downward turn and the crop from the RAW file gives a clue to the possible cause, there's a lot more colour noise in this crop than the previous one and indeed from here on up the sensitivity scale colour noise appears to be more of a problem for the sensor in the EOS M than the PEN E-PL5.

Now head over to my Olympus E-PL5 sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.


Olympus E-PL5 (RAW)
 
Canon EOS M (RAW)
100 ISO Not available
100 ISO
200 ISO
200 ISO
400 ISO
400 ISO
800 ISO
800 ISO
     
1600 ISO
1600 ISO
     
3200 ISO
3200 ISO
     
6400 ISO
6400 ISO
     
12800 ISO
12800 ISO
     
25600 ISO
25600 ISO


Olympus PEN E-PL5
results : Quality / RAW vs JPEG / Noise / RAW noise


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