Advertisements

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:

 

Reader feedback:

Discuss this story: