Monday, September 3, 2012

Olympus E-PM1 Review - Part I: Low Light Performance

I will do a different type of camera review.  This review will be divided into different parts, with illustrations with actual photos, by me, and for all photographers :)

This first part of the review will focus on low light performance of the E-PM1.  For a camera with a smaller sensor, and with a minimum ISO setting at ISO200, it is a real challenge to have good low light performance.

Here is a shot using the camera's night scene mode.

At this resolution, I think the photo looks very decent and I have nothing much to complain about.  How about at 100% crop then?

At 100% crop, then you can see that the edges of the face appear to be patches of pixels.  What a disappointment.

Exif Data:

ExposureTime - 1/13 seconds
FNumber - 4.00
ExposureProgram - Creative program
ISOSpeedRatings - 1600
ExifVersion - 0221
DateTimeOriginal - 2012:09:02 20:29:48
DateTimeDigitized - 2012:09:02 20:29:48
ComponentsConfiguration - YCbCr
ExposureBiasValue - -0.30
MaxApertureValue - F 3.50
MeteringMode - Multi-segment
LightSource - Auto
Flash - Flash fired, auto mode, red-eye reduction mode
FocalLength - 15 mm

How about I use the aperture priority mode?

I set the ISO to ISO200, aperture priority at F10.  Exposure time is 6 seconds.  Again, it looks pretty decent at this resolution.  How about at 100% crop?

Noise is very visible.  To reduce the effect of noise, I run the photo through noiseware.  Here is the 100% crop after noiseware treatment.

We can still see some noise artifacts.  I must say the low light performance of the camera is very much left to be desired.  It is a far cry from my old old Canon EOS20D at ISO200.

In addition, probably the camera is still new to me.  I am not very good with the focusing yet.  Quite a number of photos are out of focus, although the face detection feature was in use.  To give it a more fair comment, I will need to get myself familiar with the focusing under harsh conditions.

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