New E-5, Noise

Started Feb 3, 2013 | Discussions
Gary Gentry
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New E-5, Noise
Feb 3, 2013

I'm a rank amateur; started with an Olympus Evolt, upgraded the kit lenses to the 12-60 2.8 SWD and the 50-200 2.8 SWD.  Finally took the plunge and got an E-5 about a month ago to preserve my investment in lenses, primarily looking to be able to get high-quality larger prints with the higher res.

After a few sessions with what I presume is the best Olympus has to offer, I'm finding most of my shots seem to have a lot more noise than I would expect, regardless of lighting conditions, even at very low ISO.

I'm not sure if there are some basic settings I'm missing, or if my expectations are too high zooming in to the pixels at the higher resolution, or if perhaps there is some defect in my setup.

Here's the original and a blowup of the face to show the noise I see zooming into the RAW files:

E-5
Olympus 12-60 SWF
focal 12mm
ISO 400
No Flash
1/60
2.8

Original image above, captured raw

Blow-up of face in original image

This is a shot with the friendliest settings at low ISO, but I get similar or worse noise with both lenses regardless of settings or lighting conditions.  It's a gym and the ambient lighting is bad, but just about everything I shoot looks like this when I zoom in.

Is there something I'm missing or is this typical noise I would expect from this setup?

Obviously, I can clean this up and get relatively nice pics, but I guess I was expecting a lot more based on what I've read about this body and these lenses.

Appreciate any insights.

John King
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Re: New E-5, Noise
In reply to Gary Gentry, Feb 3, 2013

Gidday Gary

What magnification is that crop from?

When I look at my E-30 ISO 400 images at 100%, I see nothing like this ... By the time I do, the image is pixelating like mad anyway (400% and up ... )

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alatchin
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Re: New E-5, Noise
In reply to Gary Gentry, Feb 3, 2013

Is this from RAW, or is this an out of camera Jpeg? Looking at all that white in a gm with poor lighting I could hazard a guess that this shot may have been underexposed and pulled up (brightened) in software. That would explain a lot of the noise.

Try to expose your shots to the right (let more light in during exposure), use the histogram to make sure you are using all the highlight headroom of the camera and you will see less noise in the file.

Abraham

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Gary Gentry
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Re: New E-5, Noise
In reply to alatchin, Feb 3, 2013

alatchin wrote:

Is this from RAW, or is this an out of camera Jpeg? Looking at all that white in a gm with poor lighting I could hazard a guess that this shot may have been underexposed and pulled up (brightened) in software. That would explain a lot of the noise.

Try to expose your shots to the right (let more light in during exposure), use the histogram to make sure you are using all the highlight headroom of the camera and you will see less noise in the file.

Abraham

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It's captured RAW, but saved a jpeg to post here.  Did not process/brighten anything on this image.  The RAW file looks very similar to me on my monitor.  These images just sort of illustrate the kind of noise I see in most of my shots.  For obviously underexposed or higher ISO shots, it's much worse.

At this point, I have over 1000 random shots in different lighting conditions and exposure settings, and I see similar noise (to varying degrees) when I zoom way in to the RAW image file in LR or PS.

Will check out the histogram and work on exposing to the right.  Hopefully it's something like that, but trying to eliminate something obvious.

To confirm, given the (average gym) lighting conditions in the above and no flash, you would expect to be able to get a sharp/clear image from this gear if it were properly exposed?

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rovingtim
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Re: New E-5, Noise
In reply to Gary Gentry, Feb 3, 2013

Turn on the noise reduction to reduce noise. There is even noise at base iso on an E5 (look at blue skies). Been true of Oly cameras since they broached the 10mp mark.

Also true of most cropped cameras if all noise reduction is turned off.

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Bobby J
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Re: New E-5, Noise
In reply to Gary Gentry, Feb 3, 2013

Gary, that certainly isn't normal.  Go into your menu to "Aspect/color/WB.  Then:

Select "Noise Reduction" to Auto.  If you use long exposure times this will automatically

do a "black frame" noise reduction to eliminate noise.  This is all it does and it has no effect on your normal photography...ONLY that which requires long exposures.  Put it on "Auto" and forget about it.

Then navigate down to "Noise Filter".  This is the important one.  Looks to me like yours must be set to "Off".  For most normal work I'd set it at "Standard".  If you are going to shoot over ISO 800, I'd set it at "High".  I think this will likely solve your problems.

Incidentally, the only thing I HATE about my E-5 is the menu system.  IMHO not nearly as good as previous Oly cameras.  I think the menu on my E-30 is vastly superior.  You have to navigate thru endless layers of menu on the E-5, but the E-30 stuff is easily found with just a few clicks.  For instance, it takes 16 clicks to get to "Anti-Shock", which I use frequently.  On the E-30 it takes about 5 clicks.  Otherwise the E-5 is a great camera I think.

Hope this helps.  You shouldn't be seeing all that noise.

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veroman
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Re: New E-5, Noise
In reply to rovingtim, Feb 3, 2013

rovingtim wrote:

... Also true of most cropped cameras if all noise reduction is turned off.

Not really. There are way more than a handful of crop cameras out there that put the E-cameras to shame at ISO 400 and up WITHOUT any noise control.  You can shoot an oldie like the Canon 10D at ISO 800 and still see relatively clean images.  You can shoot the newer Canons and Nikons and shoot all day long at ISO 3200 without worry.  The noise in the E-series has been the line's Achilles Heel since Day One.  For shooters (like me) that shoot ISO 400 and below, they are wonderful cameras.  For others, they are dinosaurs ...

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veroman
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Re: New E-5, Noise
In reply to Bobby J, Feb 3, 2013

Bobby J wrote:

Gary, that certainly isn't normal. Go into your menu to "Aspect/color/WB. Then:

Select "Noise Reduction" to Auto. If you use long exposure times this will automatically

do a "black frame" noise reduction to eliminate noise. This is all it does and it has no effect on your normal photography...ONLY that which requires long exposures. Put it on "Auto" and forget about it.

Then navigate down to "Noise Filter". This is the important one. Looks to me like yours must be set to "Off". For most normal work I'd set it at "Standard". If you are going to shoot over ISO 800, I'd set it at "High". I think this will likely solve your problems.

This setting doesn't matter when he's shooting RAW.  And when he's shooting JPEG, setting the camera to High really eats into the detail.  I think the best way to  confront the noise issue with E-Series cameras is to shoot with fast lenses, ie the 35-100 f/2, 50mm f/2, etc.  It's expensive, but its better than shooting at high ISO.

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veroman
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Re: New E-5, Noise
In reply to Gary Gentry, Feb 3, 2013

Gary Gentry wrote:

I'm a rank amateur; started with an Olympus Evolt, upgraded the kit lenses to the 12-60 2.8 SWD and the 50-200 2.8 SWD. Finally took the plunge and got an E-5 about a month ago to preserve my investment in lenses, primarily looking to be able to get high-quality larger prints with the higher res.

After a few sessions with what I presume is the best Olympus has to offer, I'm finding most of my shots seem to have a lot more noise than I would expect, regardless of lighting conditions, even at very low ISO.

I'm not sure if there are some basic settings I'm missing, or if my expectations are too high zooming in to the pixels at the higher resolution, or if perhaps there is some defect in my setup.

Something's not right.  My Oly E's show only the slightest traces of noise at ISO 400 and aren't all that bad at ISO 800.  For me, ISO 1600 is the limit with my E-5 and E-30, regardless of settings.  Without access to the original RAW file, I wouldn't have a clue as to what the problem might be, if there is one.

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AccidntlTourist
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Re: New E-5, Noise
In reply to Gary Gentry, Feb 3, 2013

I liked John King's question, "What magnification is that crop from?".

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Torlang
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Re: New E-5, Noise
In reply to AccidntlTourist, Feb 3, 2013

Also keep in mind with NR set to auto, you won't have NR in drive mode, only single frame..

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viorel
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Re: New E-5, Noise
In reply to Bobby J, Feb 3, 2013

Bobby J wrote:

Then navigate down to "Noise Filter". This is the important one. Looks to me like yours must be set to "Off". For most normal work I'd set it at "Standard". If you are going to shoot over ISO 800, I'd set it at "High". I think this will likely solve your problems.

Hope this helps. You shouldn't be seeing all that noise.

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BJM

Something is not right here. I've never seen such noise with my E1 at iso 400 and I always have Noise Filter to OFF. (I prefer to use 3rd party NR programs). And E1 is indeed a dinosaur....

Can be something wrong with the camera?

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Skeeterbytes
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Re: New E-5, Noise
In reply to AccidntlTourist, Feb 3, 2013

Yup, it's a significant magnification of a significantly underexposed shot.

I'll suggest careful controlled tests to determine what the camera can do with correctly exposed images at various ISOs at a standard magnification. The E-5 is not a "noisy" camera.

Cheers,

Rick

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CollBaxter
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Noise structure.
In reply to Gary Gentry, Feb 3, 2013

It's probably been said before.

Reprocess the file in Olympus viewer and then Pixel peep. Some thing about that image noise seems wrong the noise seems to structured. First thing first is to test the image with viewer to know that you are working from the same base point,  is it the software settings ? or is it the actual image ?  I find viewer the acid test for problems , lousy to work with but the right stuff to confirm if you have an issue.

I would download the latest version.

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pris
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Re: New E-5, Noise
In reply to Gary Gentry, Feb 3, 2013

John nailed it in the very first answer... Your crop is blown way beyond 100%. That's not a valid way to analyze image quality. If you have such distortions at 100%, you have a problem to diagnose and cure; magnifications beyond that are meaningless for this purpose, as each pixel of an image is stretched by a few pixels of a screen, resulting in all kinds of artifacts. Please post 1:1 (100%) crop from the original image, then it will be something for us to look at.

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pris
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Re: New E-5, Noise
In reply to Bobby J, Feb 3, 2013

Bobby J wrote:

For instance, it takes 16 clicks to get to "Anti-Shock", which I use frequently. On the E-30 it takes about 5 clicks.

You are kidding. You turn this function on once, and determine the length of a shutter delay, then it's added to your drive modes in the upper row that appears when you hit Mode button. From now on, simply push Mode and cycle through by the front wheel. You will see modes with and without little black rhomboidal sign in front - that sign is a anti-shock of a length you set as default (4 sec is what I use). That's the beauty of E-5 control system - most everything can be placed within very easy reach.

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bofo777
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Re: New E-5, Noise
In reply to Gary Gentry, Feb 3, 2013

If noise bothers you that much-- you might to invest in a noise reduction plug-in like Dfine or do what I did and buy some 2.0 Olympus lenses or LEICA 1.4 lens. I would start with the 50mm macro lens and then move up to 14-35 and 35-100. Then you will be amazed you can take pics at any focal length at 2.0 with usable non-noise up to about 2000. If fact my 12-60 is collecting dust because I barely use it anymore.

You would have never been a able to take such a clean pic in this lower light situation with your lenses esp if you zoomed in giving you a smaller aperture. This was my E5 w/50mm macro lens.

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jimbeaux
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Re: New E-5, Noise
In reply to Gary Gentry, Feb 3, 2013

I don't have my camera in Fromm of me right now, but I believe what yo need to check is the shadowing compensation setting under picture mode or something like that. I experienced the same as you and changed the setting from normal to auto I believe, and that solved the problem for me. It made a big difference.

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exdeejjjaaaa
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Re: New E-5, Noise
In reply to Gary Gentry, Feb 3, 2013

Gary Gentry wrote:


It's captured RAW,

may be you need to analyze your raw first to make sure that you do not underexposure your raw ?
http://www.rawdigger.com

.

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Gary Gentry
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Re: New E-5, Noise
In reply to pris, Feb 3, 2013

pris wrote:

John nailed it in the very first answer... Your crop is blown way beyond 100%. That's not a valid way to analyze image quality. If you have such distortions at 100%, you have a problem to diagnose and cure; magnifications beyond that are meaningless for this purpose, as each pixel of an image is stretched by a few pixels of a screen, resulting in all kinds of artifacts. Please post 1:1 (100%) crop from the original image, then it will be something for us to look at.

Here is a 1:1 Crop from the same shoot, albeit with higher ISO (but I thought still within reasonable for this camera):

12mm
ISO 1000
1/80
f2.8

RAW image, no adjustments, exported the crop straight from LR to Max jpg.

1:1 Crop

LR Histogram

I get stretching the image is not a true representation, but the point is this general noise pattern seems to exist in almost all of my shots with extreme variations of exposure settings and ambient conditions...

Really appreciate all of the ideas.  Lots of great suggestions to look into here.

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