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Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55

We know E-M5 image quality is better than the Pen E-P3, but is it a match for the Lumix GH2 or the Sony Alpha A55 SLT?

We are slowly getting a true picture of where the E-M5 stands in terms of sensor quality.

This article is basically a bunch of links to sample images, camera JPEG and RAW, taken with a review sample Olympus OM-D E-M5 back to back with a benchmark Pen E-P3 as well as a Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2 and a Sony Alpha A55 SLT.

Why compare the E-M5 with these cameras? Basically I happened to have an A55 in the cupboard and there is a lot of interest in comparing the E-M5 with, until now, the pinnacle of Micro Four Thirds camera sensor technology and quality in the form of the GH2. The Pen E-P3 is a known quantity so it's obvious to include what has been, until now, the best Olympus Micro Four Thirds camera.

My friends over at DxOMark actually rate the older Lumix GH1 higher on sensor performance than the newer, higher resolution, GH2, but both are a step better than any other sensor that has been used in a Micro Four Thirds camera until the OM-D E-M5 arrived. The Sony Alpha A55 SLT with its may be last year's model from Sony, but its sensor still out-guns the GH2's by a significant margin according to DxOMark.

On paper, it would be a huge triumph for Olympus to match the 16MP Lumix GH2 for sensor performance with its new 16MP E-M5. The Sony Alpha A55 is another 16MP camera, this time in the form of a Sony's excellent Exmor CMOS APS-C sensor.

The sample images taken were designed to provide answers to two questions; ISO noise magnitude throughout the cameras' ISO sensitivity ranges and the amount of latitude available at base ISO for recovering highlights and lifting shadows, as well as for salvaging over and under exposed images. So two sets of bracketed base-ISO sequences bracketed at 1 EV intervals 2 EVs above and below normal exposure are provided and one simple sequence of shots taken from base ISO to maximum ISO at 1EV intervals.

Please note that these test shots are not designed to definitively measure resolution in relation to ISO and exposure latitude because each camera is using a kit zoom rather than something more exotic, but some usable trends may be possible to extract from the results.

Comparison of in-camera results us problematical because it was not possible to match the same minimum levels of noise filter setting I sought. Noise filters on both Olympus cameras were set to off, and zero on the GH2, while A55 was set to low. Comparing the RAWs to the RAW files it appears that the two Olympus cameras remove more noise filtering than the other two cameras.

Meanwhile, as there is no official support for E-M5 RAW flies in independent RAW converters at the time of writing it's also difficult to make fair comparisons at present. You can load E-M5 RAW files into Olympus Viewer 2, but the conversions are clearly not perfectly calibrated or optimised as they are for officially supported camera models. Again, you may have to settle for rule of thumb and make a guestimate comparison.

I haven't yet fully satisfied myself with my own analysis of the results, but instead of sitting on the sample images, here they are for you to experiment with as you wish. However, I do ask that you respect the copyright of these images and to NOT re-publish them third-party sites. Don't forget to let us know your findings!

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH2

Fitted with Lumix G Vario 14-140mm f.4-5.8 zoom lens

These sample images are copyrighted. Please do NOT reproduce in whole or in part apart from here on Four Thirds User.

Indoor low light ISO range gallery:

Outdoor base-ISO +/- 2EV gallery, scene 1:

Outdoor base-ISO +/- 2EV gallery, scene 2:

 

Sony Alpha A55 SLT

Fitted with Sony Sony DT 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 SAM zoom lens

These sample images are copyrighted. Please do NOT reproduce in whole or in part apart from here on Four Thirds User.

Indoor low light ISO range gallery:

Outdoor base-ISO +/- 2EV gallery, scene 1:

Outdoor base-ISO +/- 2EV gallery, scene 2:

 

Olympus OM-D E-M5

Fitted with Olympus m.Zuiko 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 ED EZ zoom lens

These sample images are copyrighted. Please do NOT reproduce in whole or in part apart from here on Four Thirds User.

Indoor low light ISO range gallery:

Outdoor base-ISO +/- 2EV gallery, scene 1:

Outdoor base-ISO +/- 2EV gallery, scene 2::

 

Olympus Pen E-P3

Fitted with Olympus m.Zuiko 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 ED EZ zoom lens

These sample images are copyrighted. Please do NOT reproduce in whole or in part apart from here on Four Thirds User.

Indoor low light ISO range gallery:

Outdoor base-ISO +/- 2EV gallery, scene 1:

Outdoor base-ISO +/- 2EV gallery, scene 2:

 

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Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55

Four Thirds User editorial team Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
[ Compare back to back sample images with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 and Sony Alpha A55 SLT, Panasonic Lu... (more)

Yoki Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
Thank you for your effort of putting this all up together, Ian! By the way, I am very pleased to ... (more)

Victor Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
Thank you Ian Great layout and nice write up. You made my right palm itchy, too bad the camera is e... (more)

Ned Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
Looking at the JPGs anyways, the thing that impressed me most was the performance of the E-P3. ;)... (more)

CMorse Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
Why a different lenses on the Olympus cameras and the gh2 though?... (more)

Ian Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
This has also been asked on a different thread. On reflection it's not ideal but I do have an exp... (more)

Ian Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
Thanks - I am trying to respond to what folks want :) I am sorry it took too long to get them pub... (more)

Stuttaton Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
Unfortunately it's difficult to compare the cameras since the sharpening/noise filter seems to be se... (more)

Ian Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
Yes - sorry about this. I acknowledged the noise filter issue in the article - it's very important ... (more)

whatapicture Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
They all look good, but I suspect the 12-50 lens on the OM-D is not doing the sensor full justice. I... (more)

Kees Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
x2! Also coulour wise I prefer the e-p3 over the others. I get the impression that the e-m5 ha... (more)

John Perriment Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
Some good points raised about the variables in these tests. Firstly, yes it is difficult to compare ... (more)

whatapicture Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
This is a personal opinion, but that old 10 & 12mp sensor not only from Olympus, but Pentax, Nikon a... (more)

mige0 Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
Thanks a lot for you effort Ian, and for sharing all those JPGs and RAWs. It helps me in completing... (more)

Happy Birder Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
By the way, several details comparisons of Ian's E-M5 vs GH2 shots are available here: The last ... (more)

Happy Birder Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
[COLOR=black][FONT=Verdana]The details comparisons of Ian's E-P3 vs GH2 - indoor - base ISO - RAW sh... (more)

Happy Birder Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
E-M5 vs GH2, same lens, in-studio, details comparisons have been added in here: Ed... (more)

Ian Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
I have spent some time normalising the deliberately under-exposed (by -2EV) base ISO test shots from... (more)

mige0 Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
Those two crops I find smashing. Ok, the 12-50 Olympus lens prevents the crop from being sharp, ... (more)

whatapicture Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
As said, there are areas where both cameras better each other, but I have seen no convincing evidenc... (more)

Ian Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
Compare the shaded brick work in the crops you have highlighted. My feeling is that the Olympu... (more)

Ian Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
This time I'm looking at the RAW files from the E-M5 and the GH2. As with the JPEG files previously ... (more)

whatapicture Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
I would certainly like to read DP Review test on this camera and also Cameralabs to see if they come... (more)

Ian Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
Here is a crop like the others but from an E-P3 -2EV RAW: [url=http://fourthirds-user.com/galleries... (more)

mige0 Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
Again thanks for sharing. To me the following two corps (OM-D_5 versus PEN E-P3) are the rea... (more)

Ian Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
Don't forget that the E-P3 is officially supported in Lightroom - I had to kludge the E-M5 RAW conve... (more)

mige0 Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
If you do a plain RAW conversion for the E-P3 and OM-D_5 with no more than brightness adjustment ... (more)

Ian Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
Well, I found it almost impossible to get a decent looking result in RAW Therapee using E-M5 RAWs. ... (more)

mige0 Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
... (more)

Ian Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
Can I be sure what you mean - do the bricks in the RT developed crop you posted look normal or not? ... (more)

Ian Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
Here are some more crops for comparison: [url=http://fourthirds-user.com/galleries/showphoto.php/ph... (more)

mige0 Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
a) To me the upper image is way too soft / sleek / smoothed *especially* as the color shadin... (more)

Ian Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
Although there are examples where noise reduction does happen in the imaging pipeline before the cam... (more)

mige0 Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
Please have a look here : [url]http://www.sony.net/SonyInfo/technology/technology/theme/cmos_0... (more)

Ian Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
I have flagged our concerns with Toshi Terada at Olympus - I will let you know if he responds with a... (more)

mige0 Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
Ok, lets see ...... (more)

mige0 Re: Full resolution OM-D E-M5 samples compared to Pen E-P3, Lumix GH2 and Sony Alpha 55
Three weeks passed by - any reactions so far ?... (more)

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