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Compared to...

Studio scene comparison JPEG (higher sensitivities)

We've already looked in detail at the the E-PL1's high ISO performance in the noise section of this review; but here we're just taking a quick look at how it compares to the GF1, D3000 and E-P2 (actually using E-P1 as a proxy, since its output is identical) when shooting our new studio setup at higher ISO settings - particularly in the shadow areas.

ISO 800

Olympus E-PL1
Panasonic DMC-GF1
Nikon D3000
Olympus E-P2

ISO 1600

Olympus E-PL1
Panasonic DMC-GF1
Nikon D3000
Olympus E-P2

ISO 3200

Olympus E-PL1
Panasonic DMC-GF1
Nikon D3000
Olympus E-P2

The E-PL1's JPEG engine is doing an excellent job here - it's retaining a good level of detail and saturation (which are both easily lost to noise reduction), without excessive amounts of noise at all ISOs. Even its highest setting is very good - we're used to cameras boasting higher ISOs than they can deliver to a good standard.

The Panasonic's images have slightly more detail but also more noise, and some of that noise will be giving the impression of detail. Overall, the E-PL1's images are the most natural and convincing here - avoiding the D3000's overly contrasty, noisier images and free from the color smearing that is starting to affect the E-P2 at ISO 3200. Most impressive is the E-PL1's ability to produce results comparable with the EOS 500D and Pentax K-x, despite its smaller sensor.

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