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Compared to...

Studio scene comparison (higher sensitivities)

We keep saying it, but most modern cameras tend to be very good and the differences between them at base ISO are extremely subtle. However, as ISO rises, the differences can become more pronounced. Here we're looking at what happens when the cameras' sensitivities are pushed up.

Even from ISO 800 (which, in these days of cameras with carefully balanced noise reduction and ISO 3200+ capabilities is no longer considered outrageously high), the E-30 is beginning to fall behind its peers. Here we've included its output with the noise filter off and at its default setting. As can be seen, the default Noise Filter setting applies fairly heavy noise reduction and produces the smoothest but least detailed images in this comparison - the results from ISO 800 upwards are so blurred as to look out-of-focus. We compared the RAW files shot on the same exposures, just to check, and found the Noise Filter Standard and Noise Filter Off shots to be indistinguishable - all the apparent loss of sharpness is down to the default noise reduction. By ISO 3200 even this high level of noise reduction cannot tame the chroma noise.

However, turning the Noise Filter off leaves more of the detail intact. There's even an intermediate 'Low' setting that treads the ground between these two settings and is likely to produce images most like the others seen here by striking a balance between noise and noise reduction. By ISO 3200 you have to tolerate either high noise or no detail but none of the other cameras exactly shine under these conditions either.

ISO 800

Olympus E-30 (Noise Filter Standard) Olympus E-30 (Noise Filter Off)
Nikon D300 Canon EOS 50D
Olympus E-3 Panasonic DMC-G1

ISO 1600

Olympus E-30 (Noise Filter Standard) Olympus E-30 (Noise Filter Off)
Nikon D300 Canon EOS 50D
Olympus E-3 Panasonic DMC-G1

ISO 3200

Olympus E-30 (Noise Filter Standard) Olympus E-30 (Noise Filter Off)
Nikon D300 Canon EOS 50D
Olympus E-3 Panasonic DMC-G1
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