E-M5 JPEGs beat all APS-C

Started May 8, 2012 | Discussions thread
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E-M5 JPEGs beat all APS-C
May 8, 2012

I have just thoroughly examined the jpegs and I am amazed to discover that a SMALLER SENSOR camera in the E-M5 actually gives better JPEG IQ through ISO 3200 than ANY APS-C camera that DPR has tested. Here is how I would rank the newest offerings from APS-C plus E-M5.

1. Olympus E-M5
2. Fuji X-Pro1
3. Sony A57/Nex-5N
4. Canon G1 X
5. Canon EOS
6. Sony (24 MP)
7. Nikon (16 MP)
8. Nikon (24 MP)

The E-M5 does an admirable job with saturation, sharpening, contrast, and noise reduction, while still retaining an amazing amount of detail. It does tend to use leave a little more noise than the two cameras right behind it, but up through ISO 1600 the difference is practically unnoticeable, and it is only slightly worse than the competition at ISO 3200. At ISO 6400, unfortunately, there is a more noticeable amount of noise in the E-M5, and it

I am very impressed with the X-Pro1's ability to balance noise reduction and details retention, and I think overall it does the best job out of all these cameras in this department. In fact the jpegs look almost exactly like the raws except with a lot less noise. Unfortunately there appears to be very little saturation, shaprening, or contrast applied, so the images look soft and muted at the pixel level., and that is what holds it back behind the E-M5. I ranked it ahead of the A57/5N because it is very easy to improve these things with software, even in just a single click, but you can't undue noise reduction.

The A57 and NEX-5N (which appear to have very similarly performing sensors if not the same sensor) performed very well in those areas, even slightly oversaturating especially in the reds, as Sony is famous for. Personally I love bright red, so I don't have a problem with this. However, they don't hold details quite as well at the higher ISOs compared to the other two, seeming to apply a little more noise reduction. I will say that the noise reduction does an excellent job of eliminating noise even at ISO 6400, but some of the details start blurring together.

The Canon GX1 is great except for one glaring flaw, it has a brutal red/magenta color cast and so the colors are all messed up. This is a flaw that can be seen even out the output level, unlike for example pixel-level sharpness which you often won't notice. Also at ISo 6400 it starts disintegrating more rapidly than the Fuji and Sony.

However all three of these cameras overall do an excellent job at JPEGs and they are clearly ahead of the other cameras on my list. Canon EOS JPEGs were great for their time, but they now have a 3-year-old sensor and the JPEGs just can't compesate for the inferior low light ability. Sony's JPEGs on its 24 MP cameras are very disappointing compared to the 16 MP sensor offerings. Nikon's are incredibly even worse. The D3200 JPEGs are just plain terrible for an APS-C sensor, they might even be worse than the Panasonic GX1 at some ISOs.

So that is my analysis and I am shocked that a 4/3 camera could produce better JPEGs than APS-C but it appears to be the case to my eyes. In fact if I had this camera I bet I would shoot almost all in JPEG up to ISO 3200 without hesitation and often at 6400 as well. That is something you usually can only say about full frame DSLRs.

 IcyVeins's gear list:IcyVeins's gear list
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W290
Canon PowerShot G1 X Fujifilm X-Pro1 Nikon D3200 Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 Sony Alpha NEX-5N Sony SLT-A57
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