E-3 vs EPL2 vs E-M5 and a puzzle with colour

Started May 17, 2013 | Discussions
alatchin
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E-3 vs EPL2 vs E-M5 and a puzzle with colour
May 17, 2013

I had a bit of spare time here to muck around with 3 different sensors, the 10mp Panasonic in the E-3, the 12mp Panasonic in the EPL2 and the 16mp sensor in the OMD (sony?)

I grabbed a couple of flowers from my wife's mothers day bouquet and arranged a little test setup. These were lit with an FL50R, and all Cameras were using the 50mm f2 manually focused on the red flower in the middle.

As I have to shoot ISO 200 on the EM5 and EPL2 I shot 200 on the E-3 (saves me mucking around with image brightness in post). White balance was set to flash, IS off, colour natural.

So at first I saw what many would see, the E-3 blew out the flower on the left:

Notice the blown out flower on the top right.

While the EPL2 fared a little better:

Notice how the flower on the right is less blown out.

The E-M5 has that flatter look hat comes from more DR:

White of the flower looks good.

So I prepped a close up of an area of detail:

Here we can see detail, colour etc. As we would expect the lighter AA filters with more DR mean the EPL2 and E-M5 have more detail than the E-3

Then I noticed the almost "burnt out" look of the red flower in the OMD and EPL2 images:

Both the EPL2 and OMD show the same colour reproduction where they have lost the detail in the red, while the E-3 having blown highlights seems to be able to keep more detail.

So I popped them all in ACR and hit Auto to see what ACR thought:

Here you can see the recovered highlights (thankyou software advances) but also the detail in the red flower.

Then I wanted to see what type of adjustment I could do to the E-M5 file to get the detail back in the flower. I was thinking global adjustments, not local:

Again, somehow here the E-3 looks really very good.

I had to pull saturation from the E-M5 file to minus 20 to get the detail back in the flower. However out leaves have suffered

So, interesting puzzle. DxO has the OMD ahead in every measure, yet here I find myself preferring the output from the E-3 specifically for the detail in that red flower. And now the challenge if you choose to accept it, can you pocess the OMD file to match the E-3 file without using Local adjustments.

We want to keep the saturation and contrast in line, the colour in line, but we want to save the highlights in the white flower, while retaining detail in the red one... What am I doing wrong, or is this just a sensor difference:

Download the RAW files here:

http://we.tl/xRpYCVRkhF

Can you do it, and what settings did you change?

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Palden
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Re: E-3 vs EPL2 vs E-M5 and a puzzle with colour
In reply to alatchin, May 17, 2013

Oddly enough, I'd just replied to a recent thread in m43 forum stating that i think there's something in the E3 files that i can't seem to get from the EM5 files. I cant put my finger on it exactly but the E3 outputs seem much richer and with deeper, better colour. I still have my E3 and dont think i'll ever sell it. If only olympus could replicate the E3 outputs in their m43 bodies..

P.

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alatchin
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Re: E-3 vs EPL2 vs E-M5 and a puzzle with colour
In reply to Palden, May 17, 2013

Palden wrote:

Oddly enough, I'd just replied to a recent thread in m43 forum stating that i think there's something in the E3 files that i can't seem to get from the EM5 files. I cant put my finger on it exactly but the E3 outputs seem much richer and with deeper, better colour. I still have my E3 and dont think i'll ever sell it. If only olympus could replicate the E3 outputs in their m43 bodies..

P.

Hey Palden,

Well I got into work today and jumped on my Lacie monitor which I calibrated and gave the two files another whack!

It seems, again depending on what you are after that the E-3 seems to have a more "natural" natural, With some careful tweaking and comparison I have the two files to where I think few casual observers would notice the difference. But  I had to pull some magenta from the file, and adjust my EM5 settings carefully to get the E-3 look. Once finished there wasnt much in it, but you can look at the files. I will  post them in reply to my OP.

Abraham

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alatchin
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Another try with a bigger better monitor
In reply to alatchin, May 17, 2013

So here are the two files, with a lot of tweaks to the OMD file to get the detail in the red flower I wanted. What I found was the biggest change I had to make was pulling about -20 magenta from the OMD file, along with some tweaks to brightness, contrast clarity etc.

The two files are very similar now, but the biggest difference to my eyes being the colour of the green leaf right next to the red flowerbud. The E-3 has a warm brownish green you might expect from the dead leaf, while the OMD has rendered it a bit more neutral.

So what has this taught me, well one thing, is that different cameras do yield different results with relative ease to one another. In this case the E-3 file was simply better "out of the box" and better with easier adjustments in the RAW converter...

Has this something to do with how Olympus chooses to render files form it's professional line of cameras?

Is it a processing change when they went from the E-3 10 mp to the 12mp camera?

Is it related to base ISO? (I did shoot these as ISO 200 on the E-3 so not apples and oranges, but again a processing difference)?

Or was there a setting I forgot to change in the EPL2 and the OMD compared to my E-3?

Here are the pics, do you see the difference? FYI image files will be available till June 14th, give it a try, how easy do you find it to match the 2 files, and which one do you like the look of more?

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Ivo Verhaar
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Re: Another try with a bigger better monitor
In reply to alatchin, May 17, 2013

Thanks gives me a great excuse to run my E-3 a bit longer... Still would not mind to have the ease (more or less wysiwyg) of an EVF though.

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rovingtim
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Interesting.
In reply to alatchin, May 17, 2013

One person did some tests IR filters on a lot of cameras. Turns out the EM5 has a very weak IR filter. Some wonder if this is what is causing certain kinds of flaring with the EM5 that isn't occurring in other m4/3rds cameras.

I can get the EM5 flower to look almost identical to the E3 by matching the WB and turning down the 'vibrancy' in Lightroom. However, certain other parts of the image then look faded (like the leaf beside the flower). It occurs to me that the flower is giving off a lot of IR. The result is the flower is looking slightly overcooked compared to the rest of the file.

Interestingly, what you are saying about the E3 verse the EM5 is what a lot of people were saying about the E1 verse the E3.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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alatchin
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Re: Interesting.
In reply to rovingtim, May 17, 2013

rovingtim wrote:

One person did some tests IR filters on a lot of cameras. Turns out the EM5 has a very weak IR filter. Some wonder if this is what is causing certain kinds of flaring with the EM5 that isn't occurring in other m4/3rds cameras.

Are you confusing IR and AA, or are they the same thing?

I can get the EM5 flower to look almost identical to the E3 by matching the WB and turning down the 'vibrancy' in Lightroom. However, certain other parts of the image then look faded (like the leaf beside the flower). It occurs to me that the flower is giving off a lot of IR. The result is the flower is looking slightly overcooked compared to the rest of the file.

Interesting point about the flower.  Some of this may of course be due to the push to get higher ISOs cleaner. Like many others, instead of a AAless and AA'ed camera options, why not Low ISO, High ISO bodies?

Interestingly, what you are saying about the E3 verse the EM5 is what a lot of people were saying about the E1 verse the E3.

Interesting point, I didnt know about the E-1 E-3 debate, of course change means a change in workflow as well which can be a bit difficult.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Indeed, I actually bought this again mostly for studio portraits (more standard ones) because the colour is just right (for me).

Abraham

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rovingtim
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Re: Interesting.
In reply to alatchin, May 17, 2013

alatchin wrote:

rovingtim wrote:

One person did some tests IR filters on a lot of cameras. Turns out the EM5 has a very weak IR filter. Some wonder if this is what is causing certain kinds of flaring with the EM5 that isn't occurring in other m4/3rds cameras.

Are you confusing IR and AA, or are they the same thing?

Infra red is picked up by digital sensors and most cameras have IR filters to stop colour shifts etc. I remember Leica had a problem in this area when they first went digital. They ended up with magenta blacks.

The research I saw was only concerning IR. Compared to other cameras, the EM5 had a very weak filter. Perhaps it is to reduced noise, though that is only speculation.

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Palden
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Re: Another try with a bigger better monitor
In reply to alatchin, May 18, 2013

Thanks for posting your new assessment. They do seem alot more closer now.  I'd be very interested to hear exactly what parameters were altered and by how much they were changed. Have you looked at whether blues are similar?  Also i wonder if leaving the warm colour option 'on' the EM5 will match it closer to the E3. Again, thanks for your posting this info.

regards

P.

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d3xmeister
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Re: E-3 vs EPL2 vs E-M5 and a puzzle with colour
In reply to alatchin, May 23, 2013

I found a blog post once discovering simillar and other differences between cameras from Nikon, from entry level to top of the line D3s. The conclusion was that pro cameras have much more advanced and better quality filters in front of the sensors, and also some electronics are different.I think that's what we are seeing here too.

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jkrumm
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Re: Another try with a bigger better monitor
In reply to alatchin, May 23, 2013

To give the E3 a fair shake you probably should have maximized its DR by using iso 100 (and 200 on the others).

I've always liked the output of the 10mp sensors of the E3/420/520 generation. I get to see these results weekly when my students shoot their 520's. The OMD kicks butt in high contrast situations, in lower contrast shots the extra DR doesn't help, and as you note can appear more flat, taking extra processing to bring back the "pop."

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alatchin
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Re: Another try with a bigger better monitor
In reply to jkrumm, May 23, 2013

jkrumm wrote:

To give the E3 a fair shake you probably should have maximized its DR by using iso 100 (and 200 on the others).

I've always liked the output of the 10mp sensors of the E3/420/520 generation. I get to see these results weekly when my students shoot their 520's. The OMD kicks butt in high contrast situations, in lower contrast shots the extra DR doesn't help, and as you note can appear more flat, taking extra processing to bring back the "pop."

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John Krumm
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Hey John,

I probably should have used ISO 100, and did take the shot at 100 with the flash bumped up one stop, but then others would say it was an iso 100 vs an iso 200 comparison

While I have found the push and pull ability of the OMD sensor to be very useful it was interesting to see how different the colours turned out when one tried to match them (as it is suggested so many times here). I hope whatever processing (and it was suggested better colour filters, weaker IR filter etc) that leads the E-3 to have such an effortless reproduction in colour is maintained in the next top tier body with the newer sensor.

Abraham

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ROC124
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Re: E-3 vs EPL2 et.al.
In reply to alatchin, May 23, 2013

I have the E-3 and EPL-2 and generally prefer the E-3 color rendition. However, one can calibrate the camera's color response any way you like, so the default color response shouldn't be a reason to select one camera over another. One of these days I will re-calibrate the EPL-2 to match.

The EPL-2 is the camera I usually use when wanting a final image with maximum detail. I have recently found, though, that I can match its apparent detail with the E-3  in prints with
Topaz Detail using only the Fine Detail slider at +3 to +10 and a 0.25 to 0.5 radius on the DeBlur tool. Fine Detail increases micro contrast which the EPL-2 already has in abundance. The DeBlur tool seems to counteract some of the softness of the E-3s heavier AA filter. I have NOT found the Topaz Detail software to produce much change that I like in the EPL-2 files. Sometimes I use it to soften the micro contrast slightly, as the EPL-2 can be a bit excessive. The EPL-2 still can show slightly more real detail, but the differences aren't obvious in print for a typical viewer.

I had a recent (very successful!) gallery show of prints up to 20"x30" from the E-3. Got many comments about how "natural" the prints looked. Several people said they didn't realize at first they were photographs. They used terms such as "relaxed, smooth and inviting" to describe them. Several, including other photographers, thought they were from film, though the photographers said they were puzzled by the lack of film grain. They were surprised to hear they were digital. Several, including buyers, said they generally don't like prints from digital cameras because they are too "self-conscious" in that they have too much unnecessary detail, too obviously photographic, and too unpleasant to live with on the wall, even if initially striking.

Apparently the E-3 files out of the box have some inviting qualities in color and smoothness, even if they can be matched through calibration by any other camera.

And isn't that the real lesson about digital cameras? They are all massively adjustable and tweakable to get just about anything you want, as long as you first know what you want.

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alatchin
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Re: E-3 vs EPL2 et.al.
In reply to ROC124, May 23, 2013

ROC124 wrote:

I have the E-3 and EPL-2 and generally prefer the E-3 color rendition. However, one can calibrate the camera's color response any way you like, so the default color response shouldn't be a reason to select one camera over another. One of these days I will re-calibrate the EPL-2 to match.

The EPL-2 is the camera I usually use when wanting a final image with maximum detail. I have recently found, though, that I can match its apparent detail with the E-3  in prints with
Topaz Detail using only the Fine Detail slider at +3 to +10 and a 0.25 to 0.5 radius on the DeBlur tool. Fine Detail increases micro contrast which the EPL-2 already has in abundance. The DeBlur tool seems to counteract some of the softness of the E-3s heavier AA filter. I have NOT found the Topaz Detail software to produce much change that I like in the EPL-2 files. Sometimes I use it to soften the micro contrast slightly, as the EPL-2 can be a bit excessive. The EPL-2 still can show slightly more real detail, but the differences aren't obvious in print for a typical viewer.

I think Rovingtim was making a similar point about the E-30 vs the E-5 but there is always something not quite right in pushing post sharpening a bit too far, even if you work only on the lightness layer in LAB mode. But for art's sake the differences are marginal.

I had a recent (very successful!) gallery show of prints up to 20"x30" from the E-3. Got many comments about how "natural" the prints looked. Several people said they didn't realize at first they were photographs. They used terms such as "relaxed, smooth and inviting" to describe them. Several, including other photographers, thought they were from film, though the photographers said they were puzzled by the lack of film grain. They were surprised to hear they were digital. Several, including buyers, said they generally don't like prints from digital cameras because they are too "self-conscious" in that they have too much unnecessary detail, too obviously photographic, and too unpleasant to live with on the wall, even if initially striking.

Apparently the E-3 files out of the box have some inviting qualities in color and smoothness, even if they can be matched through calibration by any other camera.

And isn't that the real lesson about digital cameras? They are all massively adjustable and tweakable to get just about anything you want, as long as you first know what you want.

Well this was the curiosity, and I may give the EM5 another whack, but working from RAW it seems that is was actually more difficult than one would assume to match the colour, in the final file my browns had suffered slightly as I had tried to get the flower red in line. Whether the slight differences would matter in the final display is up to the individual.

I was working with global adjustments as I could probably do a bit more with local adjustments and get them closer, but that would require more work. Of course, aside from the same settings, I didnt try to adjust the camera settings to get the same final image.

It was an interesting experiment, and the only one I have ever done. A pity I didnt try to do it with the a850 and D90 when I had it (as I had similar FL lenses in all mounts a 100mm macro).

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ROC124
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Re: E-3 vs EPL2 et.al.
In reply to alatchin, May 23, 2013

alatchin wrote:

I think Rovingtim was making a similar point about the E-30 vs the E-5 but there is always something not quite right in pushing post sharpening a bit too far, even if you work only on the lightness layer in LAB mode. But for art's sake the differences are marginal.

He was talking about conventional edge sharpening as a way to get higher apparent resolution equivalent to a higher resolution sensor with a light AA filter, if I recall. I'm not. Conventional edge sharpening with USM can produce halos and and over sharpened look if over done, and won't increase resolution. Topaz Detail takes a slightly different approach that isn't confined to edges and doesn't produce halos. Like USM it also can't increase resolution, though both make fine details already there more obvious - that is my workflow objective. The way I use it just makes the E-3 files look like EPL-2 files in micro contrast. No matter what, the EPL-2 will still have slightly more (almost imperceptible) resolution. I use it at the "capture sharpening" stage to make the files from the two bodies more similar in fine detail contrast. I then do conventional USM creative and print sharpening. Not trying to promote the Topaz product, just the micro contrast difference between the two cameras. You can likely get an equivalent result from USM, but with more work.

You can see the same micro contrast effect in different lenses - some produce high edge acutance and micro contrast, while a different optic can produce less edge acutance and micro contrast on the same body, even though the lens provides equal or even higher resolution than the one that seems "sharper." I see this effect from the legacy OM 85 f2 - resolution that seems to equal digital Zuikos, but with low micro contrast and less edge definition. It requires stronger Topaz Detail settings than any of the digital Zuikos. When I put it on the EPL-2, the files look more like the E-3. That lens produces detail softening, but not a resolution reduction, through low micro contrast, much like the strong AA filter on the E-3 Both produce a very smooth look.

Well this was the curiosity, and I may give the EM5 another whack, but working from RAW it seems that is was actually more difficult than one would assume to match the colour, in the final file my browns had suffered slightly as I had tried to get the flower red in line. Whether the slight differences would matter in the final display is up to the individual.

I was working with global adjustments as I could probably do a bit more with local adjustments and get them closer, but that would require more work. Of course, aside from the same settings, I didnt try to adjust the camera settings to get the same final image.

It was an interesting experiment, and the only one I have ever done. A pity I didnt try to do it with the a850 and D90 when I had it (as I had similar FL lenses in all mounts a 100mm macro).

Remember ACR and Lightroom have a utility allowing you to calibrate colors any way you want them. Once done, you don't have to make those color adjustments to individual images. For example, you can use the color calibration utility to produce the famous "Olympus Blue" from any brand camera. Just requires a little tedious work up front.

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Kevin Sutton
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Simple market segment appeal, I think...
In reply to alatchin, May 23, 2013

Hi,

I think the difference in colour saturation and balance is simple market appeal.  The E3 and E5 were/are designed to appeal to semi-pro and pro photographers where a more neutral colour balance is preferred.  The EPL2 and EM5 are more consumer driven where colour "pop" is more appealing.  To match the EPL2 and EM5 "Natural" modes you might find the E3's "Vivid" setting a closer fit.

Cheers Kevin

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Kevin Sutton
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ACR development with magenta saturation to -40
In reply to alatchin, May 23, 2013

Hi

These are my reworks. Both from ACR7.4 with highlights at -45, whites +10, blacks -5.  The E3 file was "flat" saturation settings and the EM5 file was saturation -40 on Magenta. No difference in any other settings.

Cheers Kevin

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Great Bustard
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Nicely done!
In reply to Kevin Sutton, May 24, 2013

Kevin Sutton wrote:

Hi

These are my reworks. Both from ACR7.4 with highlights at -45, whites +10, blacks -5.  The E3 file was "flat" saturation settings and the EM5 file was saturation -40 on Magenta. No difference in any other settings.

Cheers Kevin

The E3 photo was processed a bit cooler than the EM5 photo.  Might want to even that out a bit in the comparison (either cool down the EM5 photo, warm up the EM5 photo, or anywhere in between).

In any event, nicely done!

P.S.:  To the OP:  the AA filter has nothing to do with DR.

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historianx
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Re: Nicely done!
In reply to Great Bustard, May 24, 2013

Informative post, thank you!  There's a thread somewhere on this forum about how Lightroom 4 has breathed some new life into E-1 and E-3 files, and that the results are quite noticeable.  So the question is: is any camera really obsolete if RAW processing algorithms continue to evolve and improve??

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Great Bustard
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Re: Nicely done!
In reply to historianx, May 24, 2013

historianx wrote:

Informative post, thank you!  There's a thread somewhere on this forum about how Lightroom 4 has breathed some new life into E-1 and E-3 files, and that the results are quite noticeable.  So the question is: is any camera really obsolete if RAW processing algorithms continue to evolve and improve??

It depends on what you mean by "obsolete".  A camera doesn't cease taking the kinds of pics it always did when a better camera comes out, and, as you note, improvements in software may even improve the pics it takes.

By the way, DxOMark's measurements are based on the RAW file, not the processed file, so they represent the max the equipment is capable of, not what people actually get out of it.  So, yes, there is a limit to what software can do, and DxOMark measures that limit.

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