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Olympus OM-D E-M5

Noise Behavior on Real Images

One can look at fixed examples that are very well exposed under daylight balance and conclude that the E-M5 has reasonable levels of noise.

But after shooting in the field extensively as well as using new cameras like the Sony RX100, it is my conclusion from field work that the sensor in the Olympus E-M5 is at least a year if not two years behind state of the art. In practice, it is an ISO 200 camera ONLY, and often even ISO 200 is unreasonably noisy (depends on the color of subject matter and lighting).

The good news is that pattern noise seems to be absent from the E-M5. Grainy noise can be dealt with; pattern noisy is ugly and hard to deal with.

What I mean by “ISO 200 only” is that ISO 200 is the only ISO that can be used for a variety of subjects without risking problematic levels of noise (assuming one wants to sharpen!). Even ISO 320 starts to show significant degradation over ISO 200, as in this White Mountains post-storm image with a blue horizon where the details are quite grainy even in some brighter areas; it is a gritty look that is borderline problematic in terms of squelching fine details (comments refer to actual pixels, not the 50% image).

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