G5 - first impressions

Started Mar 12, 2013 | Discussions thread
viorel
Contributing MemberPosts: 931
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Re: G5 - first impressions_Part II_IQ_good light
In reply to viorel, Mar 23, 2013

Hi folks,

In my previous posts I had some input related to the hands on experience, and now, after some extensive use in the last two weeks, I am coming back with some thoughts about IQ for this camera.

Before starting, I mentioned that the construction of G5 is so-so. There were some readers in disagreement with me, and now, I must say they were right. The camera is very sturdy indeed, and my first impressions might have been due to lack of any metal housing and soft touch plastic. But camera is very solidly put together.

I have tested the camera versus Epl1 using the 12-50 M zuiko, 11-22 ZD, 50mm f2 ZD and 25/1.4 Leica on both cameras at wide and tele end of zooms (where applicable) and maximum respectively f7.1 aperture. All shots in RAW (RW2 & ORF) and exported from Lightroom 4.3 as jpeg using the same defaults settings (at 300 dpi). 50mm f2 was focused manually on both cameras.

because there are a lot of samples, I put them in two galleries here. I hope the links are working, never did this before. all photos have exif intact and some settings (such as lens and aperture used) are included in the file name as well. All shots in good light. I will post results of low light shots in a different thread.

g5 shots

http://viorelp.smugmug.com/Other/G5-test/28565909_ftftKf

epl1 shots

http://viorelp.smugmug.com/Other/epl1-test/28566042_7P3dBg

an example:

epl1, 11-22 at 11 mm, f7.1 crop

g5, 11-22, at 11, f7.1, crop

Some conclusions:

I would start saying that Epl1 has extremely good IQ in good light, with well exposed, sharp files, with good tonal range and nice colors, IQ usually taken as reference here on dpreview website so having difficulty in surpassing it is not a shame at all.

Now, I am happy that G5 has similar IQ as my Epl1 in few areas (i.e sharpness, aside difference in no of pixels that is not quite visible) or close to it (i.e color rendition, default exposure) and better in other areas such as low iso noise and dynamic range. Overall is on the plus side.

Color (raw and jpeg): epl1 has warmer colors but pleasing, g5 has more natural, cooler tone tone. It is said that Oly jpegs are among the best, I am happy to report that g5 has closed the gap so much it becomes a matter of taste now. Personally I still like oly jpegs better but that's me...I have tried to get the same color response from rw2 files in Lightroom 4.3 as with epl1, but no success. It seems a complicated job so I would need a preset.

sharpness: I have noticed something interesting with RW2 files. At any iso (including base 160), the fine details are consistently smudged and there are some artifacts along fine edges. By contrast, the orf files are very sharp. However, the corresponding jpeg files (as taken by the camera, I shot Raw +jpeg)  from G5 with NR setting as -2 have NONE of these findings. They are very nice and sharp as good as oly orfs and jpegs. I don't know what's going on under the hood with rw2 or orf files but either: g5 applies some default noise reduction in raw files that is not dependent on in-camera setting for noise reduction and the corresponding camera jpeg processing sharpens back  the files accordingly or Olympus is applying sharpening to their orf files.

Anyhow, I am not very good at working with raw files in Lightroom so I couldn't replicate the camera's job concerning sharpening, so I would just use jpegs from G5.

low iso noise: almost non-existent in g5 file, a marked improvement over epl1 files (you can see noise at iso 200). I am really happy on this

exposure: exposure is correct for both cameras, however I have the observation that g5 underexpose more than  epl1 (perhaps 1/3 stop). I would just use +1/3 exposure compensation.

Dynamic range: perhaps the biggest improvement with G5 sensor versus epl1. The difference is really visible both in jpegs and raws, e highlights roll off are smoother with g5.

Camera operation including AF: G5 is coming from another galaxy here. Nothing more to comment, everything is better here. Speed is lighting fast, menu is easy to work with, the Q Menu is very nice (almost as good as SCP from Oly). Viewfinder is as good as VF2 from Oly, which is a good thing. No streaking in rapid movements, or false colors in low light.  Particularly impressed with usability of this camera, that makes photography easy and fun. Also, manual AF assist implementation is so much better that I sometimes forget to use AFS. Electronic shutter ...well....this is one of the reasons I have chosen this camera and I am not disappointed.

I have used this camera in low light and as first impressions is a good step forward comparing with EPL1. I use constantly ISO 1600 with no problems, in jpegs with NR at -2 and the jpeg files are very usable for me with no additional post processing required (in terms of NR). Noise seems to have a different pattern than Olympus files, in RAW files it is more chroma noise, with blotching appearance, than luminance and at iSO 3200 becomes nasty. The transition is however sudden, until up to 1400-1600 things are under control and suddenly they get much worse than expected. This is telling me that Venus engine is doing some work in terms of NR even with raw files. But more on this on a later post. Just to summarize this paragraph, I used to have Auto ISO set to up to 1000 on EPL1, now will go up to 1600 with G5. Not as good as EM5 of course, but a progress still...

Regarding the lenses used: all handled very well with G5 (unlike epl1) and ZD lenses have similar AF speed as with Epl1: 11-22, 50mm f2 and Leica 25mm are similar between them in IQ and visible better than 12-50 in IQ (however not by much), but this little one almost make it up in usability (excellent video feature and great macro and some wide angle, all-in one). For travel 12-50 comes thus in front, but for more important work re-take the back seat...

The conclusion of the conclusion: I believe this camera is currently the best bang for the buck. Also, the dollars I spent the best in the last year. Very happy with the purchase. In combination with some great ZD lenses can render outstanding files.

all the best

Viorel

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