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Olympus Pen Lite E-PL3 Another third generation Micro Four Thirds Olympus Pen and the first Pen to feature a tilting LCD screen.

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Old 22nd November 2011
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Tending to the right

OK, still stuck at home, and its a dull day so let's do some high ISO comparisons between the E620 and the E-PL3. Same settings, same lens and pretty much the same lighting.

The Pen is supposed to be sharper and lower noise, so let's see with a real world test.

I've learnt to expose to the right of the histogram. Make sure the shot has plenty of exposure so you don't have to boost it later (just watch your highlights).

The E620 is on the left in all these images.

So here's one I over-exposed earlier at ISO1600, and these are raw files which have been pulled back by 1EV in ACR before being imported to CS3. These are untouched crops, no NR, no sharpening, no resizing.



That's not too bad for 1600 eh? Note that the Pen seems to be sharper. Let's do it again at ISO800..



Even better. The Pen still looks sharper, so I guess it is true about the anti alias filter. Note this lets in some colour fringing however.
In fact the Pen doesn't seem to be much cleaner than the E620 to my eyes.

Now what happens if you do it all wrong. ISO1600, underexposed and pushed up by 1EV in ACR...



and again at ISO 800



So, what do we learn?

1 Don't under-expose your dark scenes, it isn't worth it :-)
2 The E-PL3 is sharper than the E620, just slightly
3 Noise wise, there's not that much to chose between them IMHO.

Any views or opinions?


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Last edited by snaarman; 22nd November 2011 at 04:31 PM. Reason: age
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Old 22nd November 2011
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Re: Tending to the right

So both are processed in ACR...could it be the ACR algorithms giving rise to the sharpness difference?You are quite right about ETTR giving better images...so much so I am trying to learn how to use flash!
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Old 22nd November 2011
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Re: Tending to the right

Hmm. ACR pulling tricks??

I guess I could shoot a E-PL3 raw and hack the file to rename it as an E620 and see if the new and old versions of the file are different in any way...

A job for later I think
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Old 22nd November 2011
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Re: Tending to the right

Another useful and informative post Pete!

I really didn't expect to see that much difference between the E620 and EPL3... it's quite clearly sharper.
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Old 22nd November 2011
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Re: Tending to the right

You would have done well with these in the "Really bad Landscapes"

As always, I've learned something - Thanks

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Old 22nd November 2011
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Re: Tending to the right

Quote:
Originally Posted by Graham_of_Rainham View Post
You would have done well with these in the "Really bad Landscapes"

Doh. Missed a trick...

Anyway, let's try one last test to investigate this sharpness thing. Here's a suitable subject. Iso200, the ZD50 macro lens at f8 (to get some sort of DoF into the picture), tripod, manual focus, live view and diffuse flash to minimise camera shake.



Going close with E620 on the left, untouched crops from the raw import. This time I checked, and yes ACR does dial in very slightly different settings when it detects an E=PL3. I sorted that out so it's a level playing field.





So, the E-PL3 is very slightly sharper, but you need to be in very close to see it..


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Old 22nd November 2011
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Re: Tending to the right

Phew!...I can stick with me 620s then
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Re: Tending to the right

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Originally Posted by crimbo View Post
Phew!...I can stick with me 620s then
Yes, I shall stick with my E620 for the moment, I find it much more useable than the E-PL3. I hope to make a case for a VF2 at the end of the year, as using the rear screen just isn't my style. However the Pen is very unobtrusive for those candid people shots...

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Re: Tending to the right

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Originally Posted by snaarman View Post
So, the E-PL3 is very slightly sharper, but you need to be in very close to see it..
Much closer to call on that one... were they set to the same white balance? The E620 looks like it has a slightly red tinge to it.
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Old 22nd November 2011
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Re: Tending to the right

The expose to the right principle probably applies to the Olympus camera (and that means all Olympus cameras from the E-30 onwards) perhaps more than any other brand on the market. On both my E-30 and E-PL1, it's not unusual to find a +0.3 or +0.7 exposure is the most usable (and sometimes even +1 but that usually requires a fiddle with the raw capture).
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Re: Tending to the right

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Originally Posted by Internaut View Post
The expose to the right principle probably applies to the Olympus camera (and that means all Olympus cameras from the E-30 onwards) perhaps more than any other brand on the market. On both my E-30 and E-PL1, it's not unusual to find a +0.3 or +0.7 exposure is the most usable (and sometimes even +1 but that usually requires a fiddle with the raw capture).

Yes, I set the E620 to global +3/6th EV shortly after I got it, (somewhere deep in the menus) and I've done the same with the E-PL3. In addition to that I also dial in compensation on a shot by shot basis.

It's interesting that the sharpness call is closer with the ZD50 lens, maybe using f8 is muddying the issue here. The outdoor shots ware taken with the 14-54 at f5.6 which is supposed to be it's best spot.

There could be a slight colour balance difference, I was concentrating on the sharpness really

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Old 24th November 2011
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Re: Tending to the right

OK, finally a test under controlled conditions comparing the E620 and its siblings with the E-PL3 and its PEN friends.

Here's my trusty lens chart. Both cameras ISO200, off camera flash. ZD50 macro lens at f5.6, 1/125th manual exposure. Autofocus on the centre of the chart and checked on live view. These are 100% crops from near centre of frame from raw file imports. E620 at the top.



There is a real difference, just visible. The Pen gets more detail but is prone to more moire (bottom left on these segments and more visible on the full frame images) as a result.
And this is despite the fact that ACR dials in slightly more sharpening for E620 raw files than for E-PL3 files.

What do you think?

Pete
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Old 24th November 2011
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Re: Tending to the right

Its getting close to pixel peeping..the E-PL3 is a little sharper...?? a weaker AA filter
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Old 24th November 2011
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Re: Tending to the right

I suppose it depends on the type of image you err towards, for most landscapes and wildlife (my main interests) sharpness is more important and moire less so. Be nice to see the comparison with the E5 RAW. But at least it is gratifying to see that the EPL3 is at least as good as the E620 for most purposes. Once the price of the Lumix 14-42 X lens comes down I will be looking a bit deeper into a possible purchase.

David
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Old 25th November 2011
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Re: Tending to the right

Interesting info Pete, I agree the E-PL3 is clearly the sharper knife.
In your last test the horizontal pattern above the diagonal is almost lost to the 620 but is clearly defined in the E-PL3 image.
Pixel peeping I agree but as David says if you are shooting wildlife and sometimes cropping to close to 100% then it is s benefit, no question.
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