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View Full Version : Will the E-M5 be as good as my E-3 at high ISO?


Zuiko
3rd July 2012, 09:15 PM
I keep pondering the financial logistics of trading in my E-3 plus FT lenses for an E-M5 with 12-50mm kit lens. However, one thing that worries me is will the E-M5 be as good as my E-3 at high ISO? Before you all think I've gone quite mad, let me explain.

Several times a year I get asked to photograph plays at the local school. This is a typical example of the type of light I have available:-

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/SCHOOL_PLAY_MARCH_2012_077_e_c_r_s_WEB.jpg

It was taken on my E-3 with 14-54mm lens at 54mm, f4, 1/125 sec, ISO 1600. If I had been using the E-M5 with 14-50mm lens the exposure details would have been 50mm, f6.3, 1/125th sec, ISO 4000.

Had the light been a little dimmer I could have opened the aperture on my 14-54mm 1/3rd of a stop to keep the same shutter speed and ISO. With the E-M5 combo the ISO would have to increase to 5000. If I needed to open another stop it would be ISO 3200 on the E-3 v ISO 10000 on the E-M5.

So my questions are:-

1) Is the E-M5 at ISO 5000 as good as the E-3 at ISO 1600?

2) Is the E-M5 at ISO 10000 as good as the E-3 at ISO 3200?

snaarman
3rd July 2012, 09:25 PM
Let me offer an alternative. Keep the excellent 14-54 and park it on a E-M5. They are made for each other... and it is the lens I have on the E-M5 most often :)

That way you get the good bright lens, more pixels, smaller camera, lower noise. You need an adapter and it does need to be a Mk2 lens though...

Pete

Zuiko
3rd July 2012, 09:50 PM
Let me offer an alternative. Keep the excellent 14-54 and park it on a E-M5. They are made for each other... and it is the lens I have on the E-M5 most often :)

That way you get the good bright lens, more pixels, smaller camera, lower noise. You need an adapter and it does need to be a Mk2 lens though...

Pete

I have the Mk1 14-54mm, and with either version I would worry (pehaps unnecessarily) about focus speed in dim light. Also, part of the attraction of MFT for me is small, light lenses as well as small, light bodies. Of course, as principally an outdoor photographer the 12-50mm will be fine most of the time and the close focusing would be a real boon, it's just these occasional indoor situations that cause me concern.

Greytop
3rd July 2012, 10:54 PM
There's always the rather excellent 45mm perhaps to be added at a later date or the very much 'under the radar' mZD 40-150 which is capable of excellent results and f/4 at the short end.

Ross the fiddler
4th July 2012, 12:39 AM
Let me offer an alternative. Keep the excellent 14-54 and park it on a E-M5. They are made for each other... and it is the lens I have on the E-M5 most often :)

That way you get the good bright lens, more pixels, smaller camera, lower noise. You need an adapter and it does need to be a Mk2 lens though...

Pete

That was going to be my first response too (the M12-50 is great for general day use though).

Phill D
4th July 2012, 06:06 AM
No one has yet tried to provide the actual iso comparison John asked about. Does anyone have the kit to do it as it would certainly be interesting to see.

StephenL
4th July 2012, 07:02 AM
If you look at my galleries, or at my first posts with the camera, you will see examples taken at iso10000 (ten thousand), which to me look pretty clean.

For example, http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/em5-4190020.jpg (http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/45438)

Zuiko
4th July 2012, 07:13 AM
It's very true that there are fast, affordable primes for MFT, such as 14mm f2.5, 20mm f1.7 and 45mm f1.8, but for these performances it's amazing how much I zoom in rapid succession between shots. The new 12-35mm f2.8 might fit the bill, despite being a bit short at the telephoto end, but the cost is out of the question.

In some ways this is a bit of a moot issue as we are talking only 2 or 3 occassions a year, but it is a factor. Of course, my worries might prove unfounded and the E-M5 at ISO 5000 might still eclipse the E-3 at ISO 1600. But let's not get too far ahead of myself, I've still got to work out the finances. :rolleyes:

Zuiko
4th July 2012, 07:17 AM
If you look at my galleries, or at my first posts with the camera, you will see examples taken at iso10000 (ten thousand), which to me look pretty clean.

For example, http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/em5-4190020.jpg (http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/45438)

Thanks Stephen, I'd forgotten about those. ISO 10000 in this picture does look pretty clean and I suspect the E-3 at ISO 3200 might struggle to match that. :)

andym
4th July 2012, 07:25 AM
John

I find using high ISO is down to how you use the exposure.If you know what you're doing and I know you do it's possible to get good images even with my E1.
That said I do feel the EM-5 is a step up from even the E5 especially in higher ISO detail.

Greytop
4th July 2012, 07:37 AM
Not sure if it's any help but this was taken at ISO 5000 with the E-M5, I did add a touch of noise reduction with Neat Image (after processing with Capture One) but it does show what the E-M5 is capable off.

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/E-M5_ISO5000.jpg (http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/47712)

And here it is a 100% crop straight out of Capture One with no additional Neat Image attention.

http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/data/500/P6090592_100Percent.jpg (http://e-group.uk.net/gallery/showphoto.php/photo/47726)

Andy is of course spot on, getting the exposure right is important.

Zuiko
4th July 2012, 08:40 AM
Andy, you're right, correct exposure is crucial at high ISO.

Huw, thanks for the example, it certainly cleaned up a treat in Neat Image.

Ulfric M Douglas
4th July 2012, 08:40 AM
I just read your thread and these seem to be important points ;
... It was taken on my E-3 with 14-54mm lens at 54mm, f4, 1/125 sec, ISO 1600.

I have the Mk1 14-54mm, and with either version I would worry (pehaps unnecessarily) about focus speed in dim light.

... but for these performances it's amazing how much I zoom in rapid succession between shots.

I've just put my MkI 14-54 on my e-pM1 body and using trials of A, S and M with the frustratingly button-lacking e-pM1 in decidedly dimmer light than your example ... trying to use your settings of 54mm, ISO1600, F4 (why not wide open? Baffling) and 1/125th.
Focusing is perhaps slightly less accurate with less light but takes the same time whether I've got a bright image at 1/60th or a dimmer image at 1/125 seconds.
Focus speed seems about two seconds for each one.
It works but it's not much fun.

In your boat I'd keep the 14-54 & E-3, and add a Pen, VF-2 (or the trendy e-M5 since you want it) and 45mm.
Heck that's a whole load of dosh right there!

Zuiko
4th July 2012, 04:36 PM
I just read your thread and these seem to be important points ;

I've just put my MkI 14-54 on my e-pM1 body and using trials of A, S and M with the frustratingly button-lacking e-pM1 in decidedly dimmer light than your example ... trying to use your settings of 54mm, ISO1600, F4 (why not wide open? Baffling) and 1/125th.
Focusing is perhaps slightly less accurate with less light but takes the same time whether I've got a bright image at 1/60th or a dimmer image at 1/125 seconds.
Focus speed seems about two seconds for each one.
It works but it's not much fun.

In your boat I'd keep the 14-54 & E-3, and add a Pen, VF-2 (or the trendy e-M5 since you want it) and 45mm.
Heck that's a whole load of dosh right there!

Ulfric, I like your solution of keeping the E-3 and adding an E-M5, but unfortunately the finances won't co-operate; the only way of getting an E-M5 is to sell my existing kit, so I have to make the choice.

You highlight a very appropriate word, "want." I keep asking myself, do I want or need an E-M5? In some ways there is a need; with my gradually failing health and fitness I'm increasingly finding the E-3 and lenses a struggle. But that need could be filled with a Pen. However, the EVF ofr the Pens, despite being very good, is hardly an elegant solution and is prone to accidental detachment. Also, when I tried one I found that I tended to catch it on my glasses and flip it out unintentionally, particularly when shooting in portrait orientation. Nevertheless, the option is there for me to add an EVF to my E-PL1 and continue to run two systems. But how much longer it will remain practical for me to use the E-3 I don't know and it does occur to me that the E-M5 could pretty much fulfill my uses of both the E-3 and the E-PL1 in one elegant, future-proofed solution. However, as my original question suggests, the issue is far from being cut and dried. Decisions, decisions!

Thanks for testing the focus of your 14-54mm at my settings, it's appreciated. F4 rather than f3.5? That's just me being perhaps a little pedantic and finnicky, reasoning that stopping down even a third of a stop may improve the resolution of the lens just a bit, given that wide open at maximum zoom is not this lens's sweet spot. I could have stopped down a little more, of course, but at the expense of shutter speed or ISO. :)

OlyPaul
4th July 2012, 05:17 PM
But that need could be filled with a Pen. However, the EVF ofr the Pens, despite being very good, is hardly an elegant solution and is prone to accidental detachment. Also, when I tried one I found that I tended to catch it on my glasses and flip it out unintentionally, particularly when shooting in portrait orientation.

John I took delivery of the VF3 and a 40-150mm mtf lens yesterday for my new pen and I found the VF3 which locks on a very elegant solution.

Its certainly not ungainly nor looks out of place on my E-PL3 and as a spectacle wearer it present no problems at all for me.

I really disliked the Pen on first contact and thought I had made a terrible mistake replacing my E-620 ( which was my light carry around camera) with it.

But now with the VF3 on it I am really happy with the Pen and it will stay permanently on it.:)

Ulfric M Douglas
4th July 2012, 06:26 PM
/// with my gradually failing health and fitness I'm increasingly finding the E-3 and lenses a struggle. ...

...the EVF ofr the Pens, despite being very good, is hardly an elegant solution and is prone to accidental detachment. ...

... F4 rather than f3.5? That's just me being perhaps a little pedantic and finnicky, reasoning that stopping down even a third of a stop may improve the resolution of the lens just a bit, given that wide open at maximum zoom is not this lens's sweet spot. ...
Let me answer your very complete response.
E-3 + lenses = heavy.
Buy e-pL1 = same sensor as E-5, costs almost nothing :p and Ken Lister was enjoying his with his 12-60 last month. Someone's got a good photo of that combo just not me. Pebbles sky and dogs it was.

My EVF has never dislodged, although Jdal told me about his misfortune with the same thing. I added a bit of bulk to the slider with some dried superglue just incase. Buy VF-2 rather than the VF-3 despite the nifty locking button.

The lens is a Zuiko : wide-open all the time! (For silly old me anyway)
I know what you're saying and after using some Sony and Minolta and Tamrons I get that stopping down makes them sharp enough to be useable, but this - is - a - Zuiko. *chr

And by the way it's my birthday. :)

Greytop
4th July 2012, 06:35 PM
Happy Birthday Ulfric *chr

Zuiko
4th July 2012, 09:06 PM
Let me answer your very complete response.
E-3 + lenses = heavy.
Buy e-pL1 = same sensor as E-5, costs almost nothing :p and Ken Lister was enjoying his with his 12-60 last month. Someone's got a good photo of that combo just not me. Pebbles sky and dogs it was.

My EVF has never dislodged, although Jdal told me about his misfortune with the same thing. I added a bit of bulk to the slider with some dried superglue just incase. Buy VF-2 rather than the VF-3 despite the nifty locking button.

The lens is a Zuiko : wide-open all the time! (For silly old me anyway)
I know what you're saying and after using some Sony and Minolta and Tamrons I get that stopping down makes them sharp enough to be useable, but this - is - a - Zuiko. *chr

And by the way it's my birthday. :)

Thanks Ulfric, that's sound advice - and Happy Birthday! *party

birdboy
5th July 2012, 10:03 PM
However, one thing that worries me is will the E-M5 be as good as my E-3 at high ISO? Before you all think I've gone quite mad, let me explain.

Several times a year I get asked to photograph plays at the local school. This is a typical example of the type of light I have available:-


So my questions are:-

1) Is the E-M5 at ISO 5000 as good as the E-3 at ISO 1600?

2) Is the E-M5 at ISO 10000 as good as the E-3 at ISO 3200?

The question of whether to upgrade will depned on many things that only you could decide. But in answer to your question I would suggest that the answer is yes the E-M5 is significantly better at low light even if you have to use smaller apertures for the kit lens.

Whenever I look at picture taken on this forum I do look at the A S and ISO used but I also look at the light value (LV) in the exif because that tells me how much light the photograper had to play with.

In your picture John your exif states a LV of 7.0 whereas the picture StephenL took shows a LV of 1.6! It was taken with a fast lens at f3.5 and slower shutter and he does not say if it was tridpod mounted. If high ISO noise was my primary concern I would probaly make the switch. But there are other ways of reducing high ISO noise in software such as LR4 and at 99 seemes to represent a possible low cost option.

I have the E3 and will be staying with that as my main interests is in wildlife and fast action motor sports so fast AF focusing is important to me. Another primary concern I have is battery life. The EVF requires power along with the focusing of the lens when in manual:eek:. Its no wonder users are getting so few shots from their E-M5's.
The important thing is to have fun doing what you like to take pictures of and I could see that the E-M5 offers interesting modes not available with the E3.
Good luck in your decision making.
John

Wee man
6th July 2012, 07:39 AM
Happy Birthday from me also.

Ross the fiddler
6th July 2012, 08:29 AM
And by the way it's my birthday. :)

I hope you had a happy one too.

StephenL
6th July 2012, 10:16 AM
It was taken with a fast lens at f3.5 and slower shutter and he does not say if it was tridpod mounted.

No Tridpods were mounted in the making of this image :)

This was taken in the first couple of days of ownership of this camera, when I knew even less than I know now about how to get the best out of the camera, such as metering to the right.