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ISO Sensitivity / Noise levels (contd.)

Noise filter settings

The graph below shows the effect of setting the Noise Filter to any one of the four levels at ISO 800, ISO 1600 and ISO 3200. As expected the 'Off' setting produces a lot of noise but it's also obvious that the 'standard' setting is fairly strong.

Below are the crops for the graph data above, plus ISO 400 for comparison (the effect of the noise filter on fine detail is relatively light at ISO 400 and below).

While at the 'Off' setting at ISO 1600 and above luminance noise (grain) becomes quite intrusive chroma noise is fairly well under control which seems to suggest that even in the 'Off' setting Olympus is applying chroma NR to the JPEGs at higher ISOs. There is a big jump in luminance noise reduction (and thus blurring of detail) between the Low and Standard settings. Therefore we'd recommend to not go any higher than 'Low'.

ISO 400
Noise filter: Off
ISO 400
Noise filter: Low
ISO 400
Noise filter: Std
ISO 400
Noise filter: High

ISO 800
Noise filter: Off
ISO 800
Noise filter: Low
ISO 800
Noise filter: Std
ISO 800
Noise filter: High

ISO 1600
Noise filter: Off
ISO 1600
Noise filter: Low
ISO 1600
Noise filter: Std
ISO 1600
Noise filter: High

ISO 3200
Noise filter: Off
ISO 3200
Noise filter: Low
ISO 3200
Noise filter: Std
ISO 3200
Noise filter: High

JPEG noise: compared to Olympus E-3, Panasonic G1 - In-camera noise reduction off

With noise reduction switched off the E-30 shows slightly more luminance noise than its bigger brother, the E-3. This becomes most obvious at the highest ISO Setting. Otherwise the image characteristics are unsurprisingly very similar. The Panasonic G1's image isn't dissimilar in terms of detail but shows more chroma (color) noise and slightly higher luminance noise reduction.

Olympus E-30, ISO 800
JPEG, NR OFF
Olympus E-3, ISO 800
JPEG, NR OFF
Panasonic G1, ISO 800
JPEG, NR -2

Olympus E-30, ISO 1600
JPEG, NR OFF
Olympus E-3, ISO 1600
JPEG, NR OFF
Panasonic G1, ISO 1600
JPEG, NR -2

Olympus E-30, ISO 3200
JPEG, NR OFF
Olympus E-3, ISO 3200
JPEG, NR OFF
Panasonic G1, ISO 3200
JPEG, NR -2

Raw noise

As mentioned elsewhere in this review, we're not very happy with the way Adobe Camera Raw works with E-30 files (the output is very soft), so we'll add to this section when we have a more reliable version. The crops below show the result of processing E-30 files through ACR 5.3 with all noise reduction sliders set to zero.

Olympus E-30, ISO 400
ACR, No NR
Olympus E-30, ISO 800
ACR, No NR
Olympus E-30, ISO 1600
ACR, No NR
Olympus E-30, ISO 3200
ACR, No NR

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