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ISO Sensitivity / Noise levels (contd.)

Noise Filter and compromising detail

Olympus has clearly not tied the Noise Filter and baseline Sharpness settings together which means that if you turn down (or switch off) the Noise Filter the image becomes oversharpened (as the default sharpness level is high to compensate for the softening effect of the Noise Filter). So, there's actually plenty more detail at ISO 100 than you would see with the camera's default settings, turn the Noise Filter off and you can see this but you also see how much underlying noise there really is. The best compromise we found was that from ISO 100 to 400 you could get away with turning the Noise Filter Off and setting Sharpness to -2 (right hand image below). At ISO 800 and 1600 some Noise Filter may be required, but a setting of 'Low' normally works well.

ISO 100 (125 equiv.)
Noise filter: Standard
ISO 100 (125 equiv.)
Noise filter: Off
ISO 1600 (1250 equiv.)
Noise filter: Off, Shp -2

Noise filter settings

The graph below shows the effect of setting the Noise Filter to any one of the four levels at ISO 100 (125 equiv.), ISO 400 and ISO 1600 (1250 equiv.). The 'jump' between Off and Low considerably more than from Low to Standard, hence if you feel you need to use some Noise Filter then it's probably worth sticking to the 'Low' setting.

Below are the crops for the graph data above. It's worth noting that at ISO 1600 (1250 equiv.) the Off setting clearly still isn't completely 'off'.

ISO 100
Noise filter: Off
ISO 400
Noise filter: Off
ISO 1600
Noise filter: Off
ISO 100
Noise filter: Low
ISO 400
Noise filter: Low
ISO 1600
Noise filter: Low
ISO 100
Noise filter: Standard
ISO 400
Noise filter: Low
ISO 1600
Noise filter: Low
ISO 100
Noise filter: High
ISO 400
Noise filter: High
ISO 1600
Noise filter: High
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