The above shot was taken with the the Olympus Pen E-P3 in Program auto mode. The lens was set to a focal length of 14mm (28mm equivalent), the sensitivity was set to 200 ISO and the exposure was 1/6 of a second at f3.5. The crops are taken from the area marked with the red rectangle and presented below at 100%.
This is a good set of crops from the E-P3 using the default settings for noise. The EP-3’s noise suppression algorithm is quite aggressive, there’s no sign of noise in the lower ISO crops, but still manages to retain a good deal of detail up to 800 ISO and the crops don’t look at all processed. If fact, though there’s a little bit of texture in the 400 ISO crop that’s absent at 200 ISO, the two are quite close. Add in the EP-3’s image stabilisation and you’ve got a lot of scope for low-light operation without the need to sacrifice image quality.
The E-P3 produces pretty good results all the way up to 1600 ISO with a nice balance between detail and noise. Beyond 1600 ISO things deteriorate rapidly though and, while it’s good to have for emergencies, 12800 ISO shots are never going to look pretty. If you want to squeeze more detail (albeit with more noise) from jpegs at the lower ISO sensitivities you can adjust the degree of noise filtration in the E-P3’s custom menu or, of course, shoot RAW.
Now head over to my Olympus Pen E-P3 sample images to see some more real-life shots in a variety of conditions.