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Olympus E-520 E-520 specific discussion.

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  #16  
Old 9th September 2008
Makonde
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Re: E520 / E3

Thanks Steve for the reply. However:
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Originally Posted by 250swb View Post
Don't know how you have the camera set up but when users complain of 'fuzziness' it is often because they have in camera 'Noise Filter' set on, and also in camera sharpness on, and other things such as 'Saturation' set high. All degrade the image before it comes out of the camera. The main culprit is 'noise filter', the higher you set it the more sharpness is automatically added to the picture to compensate for the effects of removing noise. This is bad enough but if you also have sharpness set higher than '0' you start to degrade the image further.
Yes, I'm aware of that, have noise filter off, gradation normal etc. but they are all applied by the camera when converting from RAW to jpeg, are they not? And my tests are in RAW with a neutral conversion in ACR. And in any case, for my tests I set all the contrast / saturation / sharpness settings to 0.
Quote:
Also make sure you have IS switched 'Off' for tripod use.
As you will have seen from the images, one of the tests was precisely the difference that IS on / off makes (on the tripod).
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Use an aftermarket image processing like Photoshop, and try if possible to use RAW. Photoshop is far more sophisticated at removing noise and sharpening an image than the small processor inside the camera.
Exactly what I've been doing -see above.
Quote:
Additionally the kit lenses are fine if you use them in the middle zones, so you will find the image getting much softer at the widest apertures or from f11 upwards, and at the longest end of the zoom ranges.
I can add that at very small apertures there's also some diffraction softness with the 40 - 150 kit. My test are done at F8 (as noted on the images)
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  #17  
Old 9th September 2008
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Re: E520 / E3

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Originally Posted by Makonde View Post
But the 400, the 410 and the 510 come out the same as the 420 and 520 in the figures, so the E3 is a tad worse than those.

Ah - I never know when these larger sizes are available on flickr and to whom. So I've uploaded them here.
Not having seen the original subject item my thoughts are that the gradation marks on the thermometer should be a little more distinct.

Two thoughts:

1) Where was the focus point? The brick wall looks ok so I wondered if the auto focus had locked on that.

2) Unprocessed raw files will be a little soft. Which version of ACR are you using? Try the default input sharpening on the detail panel. Input sharpening should be done in ACR and is different to the output sharpening you would do at the end of processing ready for outputing.
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  #18  
Old 9th September 2008
Makonde
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Re: E520 / E3

Thanks for having a look.

It's true that the wall thermometer is old and a bit faded, but that and the brick texture, and the dirty bits, give a range of things to compare. The depth of field / focus point I would have thought would not be a factor as the depth from front of thermometer to the wall is less than one inch, the aperture was F8 and focus was from around four feet away @ 35mm and square on. I'm using ACR 4.5 to convert the RAW, but am deliberately not doing any tweaking. These are primarily comparison shots. (And the focus point was on the thermometer just below the red knob)

However, one might comment that if there's so much advice to follow about switching off this and that on default camera settings, and using a particular software to refine results, etc etc. then that hardly argues for a good job done by Olympus, does it?!.... (I've done it anyway...)

My main question is: are those images what one would expect from the E520 with those lenses, or if not, what could be wrong? Your feedback comment on the brickwork suggests that this is what would be expected for optimum out-of-camera performance.

Thanks again everybody for bearing with me. Much appreciated.
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  #19  
Old 9th September 2008
Makonde
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Re: E520 / E3

Incidentally the test shots show that, as one would expect:

a. the 35mm macro prime is sharper and clearer than the 14-42 kit lens at 35mm with both at F8. But not by all that much.

b. keeping IS on when the camera is stabilised on a tripod (and triggered by timer) does result in a tiny amount of blurring. This is more noticeable in the results from the 35mm macro prime lens. Again, the effect is not all that great but it is there - to my eye.
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  #20  
Old 9th September 2008
mike_j
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Re: E520 / E3

Quote:
Originally Posted by Makonde View Post
Well, I'm not thinking about making a move just yet, but posing the question 'what is there to look forward to
'
I'm not keen to invest in more glass before (a) I am really confident in the scope and future of the E-system bodies and (b) I see where micro 4/3 goes. All these things are linked up...
I have always tended to go for glass before bodies and am quite convinced that current Oly bodies don't offer a value for money upgrade (the E3 seems to betray all that 4/3 was aimed at - lighter smaller gear).

Until m4/3 was announced I didn't mind buying more lenses and waiting until a major improvement in image quality, especially dynamic range, became available - I'm not interested in bells and whistles improvements

Now I won't buy anything until the waters clear - I may even sell out of Oly though I will lose a lot of money by doing so, and buy the utterly illogical overpriced throwback camera that I really want plus a high end digicam.
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  #21  
Old 9th September 2008
250swb
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Re: E520 / E3

Quote:
However, one might comment that if there's so much advice to follow about switching off this and that on default camera settings, and using a particular software to refine results, etc etc. then that hardly argues for a good job done by Olympus, does it?!.... (I've done it anyway...)
The grass is always greener on the other side?

Try reading through Canon and Nikon forums and they are talking about exactly the same things, having exactly the same problems, and coming to exactly the same conclusions in that the camera is faulty or not up to the job in the first place and everything is vaguely disappointing.

Post processing is not some sort of cop out, it is what people do to get the best image. Nobody leaves it to the camera with a dslr, other than for snap shots. I submit to very quality control concious photo agencies and I have (touch wood) far fewer QC issues (none actually) with my E420 and E3 (plus top quality lenses) than many people have with Canon 5d or even 1dsMkIII. They still cannot understand why they sometimes fail quality control because they assume the camera will do it all for them. And, in the real world even after post processing you would be very hard pressed to differentiate an Oly E3/E420 image from a Canon 5d or Nikon D300 image at all the normal sizes and image parameters. In fact in most cases the Oly comes out 'better'.

So I would conclude that if you have tried everything as you say with your E520 you must have a faulty camera, or something.

Steve
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  #22  
Old 9th September 2008
Makonde
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Re: E520 / E3

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Originally Posted by 250swb View Post
The grass is always greener on the other side?
No, not necessarily and that's not what I'm driving at. As I noted, I find lots of good things about my 520. I've noted that most of you get clear sharp images, and that's what I'm trying to achieve. But I find a tad more fuzziness than I expected. I'm working on it systematically, but I need the feedback from established and successful Oly shooters to be sure that what I'm seeing is what is to be expected. While I like a lot of things about the camera, I'm not starry eyed about it - this isn't a football fan thing. My comment about the settings stands: if, in order to get the clearest images, one has to take off quite a few things Oly put on by default, it's reasonable to question why they did it and whether they got it the right way round, no?

This is my first DSLR but my fifth Oly including two OMs. Now the fork in DSLR developments between the full-framers on the one hand (without Oly) , and the micro 4/3 and other plans for smaller cameras with interchangeable lenses on the other, is making me wonder whether it's unwise to start investing in pricey but good full 4/3 glass. Part of that is the open-minded question I started the thread with: what is there to look forward to in the E-system if you already have a 520?
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  #23  
Old 9th September 2008
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Re: E520 / E3

Hi Makonde,

Have you actually applied any sharpening to these pictures in pp?

I've just imported them into Elements and they seemed to take a fair bit of sharpening. Here's the result:-


Does that look better?

Cheers,

John
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  #24  
Old 9th September 2008
Makonde
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Re: E520 / E3

Thanks for taking a look John.

I applied no additional sharpening - they were primarily comparison shots for the two lenses and for IS versus no IS on the tripod (earlier thread). So I did no pp tweaking whatever, simply doing the crop in Photoshop to set up a jpeg of side-by-side images.

btw I gather that the 'zero' setting for sharpness in the E 520 (I used 'natural' picture mode with all adjustments at default zero) still applies some considerable sharpening.

Whether sharpened as you have done, or not sharpened: can you comment on whether the images are as clear as you would expect, or is there a problem somewhere for me to home in on?

Incidentally in the sharpened version I can't tell any difference from the half with IS on and the half with IS off - can you?
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  #25  
Old 9th September 2008
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Re: E520 / E3

In fact, looking at it again, I think it can take a little more sharpening. Here goes:-


Hope this helps,

John
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  #26  
Old 9th September 2008
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Re: E520 / E3

Whoops, we crossed posts.

I agree that the difference between the IS and non IS versions of the sharpened images is far less obvious than in the unsharpened pair.

It is actually quite normal for images out of the camera to look soft, unless you apply in-camera sharpness to Jpegs which generally can be a bit crude and can appear overdone.

If you think the unsharpened Oly files are soft, I think you would get a shock from unsharpened Canon files - they have a reputation for being soft but also hold a lot of detail and sharpen up in pp beautifully!

I too, found the concept of soft images from the camera a little disconcerting when I first tried digital, especially comming from a background of using prime medium format lenses on 120 Velvia and always mounted ona heavy tripod. But you do get used to it and after a while routine sharpening is no big deal, in fact it's useful to be able to individually tailor the amount of sharpening to different subjects.

Regarding the kit lenses, they will never be quite as good as the pro range but it is generally accepted within the industry (even in quarters that are critical of other aspects of 4/3) that Oly make the best kit lenses in the business.

Cheers,

John
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  #27  
Old 10th September 2008
Makonde
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Re: E520 / E3

Thanks John.

The sharpening in the second one is a bit too brittle for my taste. Interesting about RAWs being on the soft side. I've had a Canon Powershot for a couple of years (and an Oly Camedia digital before that), and Photoshop v6 as well as Elements; but handling RAWs is as new to me as the 520. Fortunately ACR seems to be simple and rather faster and more subtle than Olympus Master.

So - you'd say that the images were pretty much in line with IQ expectations?

(The powershot, an A710IS, btw produces excellent clear crisp jpegs but for me the colours are not nearly as appealing as the ones that come out of the 520)
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  #28  
Old 11th September 2008
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Re: E520 / E3

directed back to this thread as it's now about sharpness rather than the original theme (which left me rather cold and I thought others had said what I felt already).

my 2p, trying to add to the obvious debates, would be -

1. A DSLR gives you a huge menu of options to select the output you like when shooting jpeg, or raw output to select it all later!
2. Even if you are shooting jpeg having set these once, some subjects will require adjustment to settings to get 'good' output - high contrast subjects do exist out there, and not all portaits look good with landscape style settings! I remain amazed at how many people expect that both the default settings will be the their taste, and that a single set of settings will work for all their shooting. Generally if you do want to shoot jpeg, and leave the settings alone, you have to shoot at the low end of all the settings as you can add sat, con and sharp later to a jpeg pretty well with good software but you can't take it away so easily.
3. If I wanted OOC output from the 520 I would have Sat 0, cont 0 and sharp +1 for most subjects as a reasonable compromise. However sharpenning is a huge subject on it's own and to be optomised needs at least 3 phases with subject related settings etc etc. What is obvious is that whilst the 510 is agressive the 420/520 and E3 all produce output that just soaks up most sharpenning techniques like a sponge so that you can produce images as crisp as you wish without introducing artifacts etc This also enables slight inadequacies to be covered (whether thay be lens, focus, subject, technique or setting error induced) - which has to be a good thing.
4. Olympus's default settings were a marketting reaction to the market reaction to the agressive 510 output, and I suspecthey are also trying to establish a consistentcy with E3 and future models in this regard. 0 is a pretty good 0 in Natural.
5. I struggle to make objective assesments of any output file posted as an image on the web. Especially whan I can't see the full exif. I remain unconvinced abot th eexistence of a truly neutral development either! However looking at the images posted of the wall/thermometer, and accepting that with a 2 second exposure a lot can creep in, they look 'normal' to me for the settings and process indicated.
6. I wouldn't expect to see the difference between IS1 and no IS on a shot with that low magnification (35 at that distance) even before any sharpenning process at all. However it's there in all circumstances but only really becomes apparent at high magnification and 1:1 viewing. I have a sample image here which clearly illustrates this (I won't embed it as it will spread the page and make reading this thread difficult)

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3147/...2302ac10_o.jpg

Finally, and back to the original post in the thread, I thought having a camera with no obvious upgrade route was the whole idea? Outwith the limitations already highlighted the limitation on the final output from a 520 or e3 rests with the photographer, glass and processing. Just as it did for decades in the developed SLR market - where I admit to stopping at an OM1 and OM2n because I didn't see any of the later bodies as an upgrade ... (well the Ti was nice but I resisted).
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  #29  
Old 11th September 2008
Jim Ford Jim Ford is offline
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Re: E520 / E3

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zuiko View Post
I too, found the concept of soft images from the camera a little disconcerting when I first tried digital, especially comming from a background of using prime medium format lenses on 120 Velvia and always mounted ona heavy tripod. But you do get used to it and after a while routine sharpening is no big deal, in fact it's useful to be able to individually tailor the amount of sharpening to different subjects.
This is a hobby horse of mine. I see a lot of DSLR images that are soft because they need sharpening. People seem to think that because they paid a lot of money for a camera and lens, it's bound to produce sharp images straight out of the camera.

Jim
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  #30  
Old 11th September 2008
Makonde
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Re: E520 / E3

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Originally Posted by photo_owl View Post
....I remain unconvinced abot th eexistence of a truly neutral development either! ....
Well, having ensured the camera settings were neutral (i.e. 'natural' picture mode, contrast, saturation sharpness left at the default zero, gradation 'normal', noise filter off, shadow adjustment off), I did no tweaking in ACR but, having looked at the histogram, converted straight to jpeg. This being to me the best way of making comparison shots (rather than tweaking each one separately).

In fact, with those default 'zero' camera settings, the ACR sliders indicate that there is a brightness enhancement (+50 on the slider scale) and a contrast enhancement (+25). There also appears to be a smallish amount of default sharpening (25% etc) as recorded in ACR.
Quote:
....they look 'normal' to me for the settings and process indicated.
Thanks - this is helpful as I try to calibrate my eyes as well as the camera.
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