Image parameters (contd.)
During testing of the E-510 we discovered the 'noise filter' was blurring some of the fine detail in images, requiring additional sharpening to try to bring it back to an acceptable level of apparent sharpness. The same isn't true of its successor, however. Here the noise filter is doing what it should - allowing the user to select the balance they want between noise and detail. At this lowest ISO setting, there's not an awful lot to choose between them, though close scrutiny reveals lower contrast and detail when the noise filter is set to 'High.' At higher ISOs the effect is, as it should be, more pronounced. The key thing is that there isn't a significant increase in sharpness to be had by turning the noise filter down, as there was on the E510.
|Noise Filter: Off|
|Noise Filter: Low|
|Noise Filter: Standard (default)|
|Noise Filter: High|
The E-520 features the same 'gradation' setting seen on previous E series cameras and now also features the E3's 'Auto' setting. The gradation parameter provides the ability to change the brightness of the image to either low key, normal and high key. In reality all this appears to do is apply +0.3 EV or -0.3 EV adjustment to the metered exposure and subtly adjust the tone curve applied. The four shots below: 1/50 sec (Auto), 1/25 sec (High Key), 1/50 sec (Low Key), 1/40 sec (Normal). (Picture mode Natural used for these samples).
The 'Auto' setting lifts the shadows in order to increase the dynamic range of very high contrast scenes. Unfortunately this usually also generates quite some image noise in these lifted areas. You may find yourself better-off shooting RAW and doing this kind of tonal correction at the RAW conversion stage.