So... I finally come to a decision to go with the OM-D... Is there any big hand users out there?

Started Mar 13, 2013 | Questions thread
texinwien Veteran Member • Posts: 3,326
Re: E-M5 ergonomics are not great

NZ Scott wrote:

texinwien wrote:

NZ Scott wrote:

texinwien wrote:

Randell Tober wrote:

Thanks... Probably won't get to touch one b4 purchasing it due to my rural locale. I still haven't ruled the GH3 out either- although I feel I'm still 80% in favor of just going with the OM-D. I have a hard time going with anything else after looking at all of the data- feedback etc... I've received some feedback claiming that the OM-D is a full stop off from other cameras in the ISO tests- that's why it looks so much better in comparison...

That feedback is technically incorrect and can safely be ignored. DPReview has made it clear that this is not the case. Anyone who makes this claim is mistaken.

This is debatable at best.

It's actually not, but I'd welcome you to give it 'the old college try'.


I'm going to do my best to stay cool and calm - I'm not trying to start a scene here

My understanding of Dpreview's argument is that it is based on jpegs.

That's because ALL manufacturers (according to DxOMark) report ISO Settings that are based on JPEGs.

Essentially, Dpreview says that the E-M5 underexposes by a stop

DPReview has never said this, as far as I'm aware, not even 'essentially'.

DPReviewThe only other definition of ISO you're ever likely to encounter is one that can be used for RAW data. The problem is that it's based on a combination of the sensor's saturation point and a generic tone curve – which isn't necessarily the tone curve your camera's JPEGs or metering are based on. So, discrepancies between this figure and your camera's reported ISOs aren't the result of under or over-reporting of ISO, they're a measure of how different your camera's tone curve is from this generic tone curve.

Comment: What you are calling an 'ISO creep' elsewhere is actually the totally 'legal' and 'allowed' discrepancy between different manufacturers' tone curves.

DPReviewIs the Olympus underexposing ISO 100 to produce its ISO 200 or is it overexposing ISO 200 to give an ISO 100 setting (Which is what Nikon implies about the D5000)? The answer is, of course, that there is absolutely no difference between the two statements. Or, to be absolutely precise, neither statement is correct because nothing is being overexposed or underexposed.

Comment: In DPReview's own words, it would not be 'absolutely precise' to say that the E-M5 underexposes by a stop - rather, that nothing is being overexposed or underexposed.

DPReviewPlease do not take the DxO 'ISO' figures to mean Olympus is mis-representing ISO - that's not what those figures show. In effect what they show is how each company (totally legitimately within the ISO standard), chooses to expose their sensors. A lower figure means they're trying to capture more highlights, at the expense of noise - a higher figure suggests they're doing the opposite. It does not mean one is under or over-rating ISO.

Comment: This ISO standard is the only official 'should' that exists, and the E-M5 is compliant with the standard.

DxOThe JPEG results are achieved by playing with the tone curve shape. This is absolutely legitimate: the ISO standard allows manufacturers to use this JPEG value. They are not cheating.

Comment: I think it's instructive to see that DxO uses almost the exact same terminology as DPReview ('tone curve', 'legitimate'). I think it's also instructive how emphatic they are - "absolutely legitimate" is a strong and emphatic statement. It sounds like they mean it! Do you think they don't?

and then pushes the image data in firmware, and the result is a jpeg that looks normally exposed.

A more precise way to formulate this would be to say that the manufacturer applies its tone curve to the RAW data in order to generate a JPEG file that has the correct brightness according to the ISO standard.

For example, if you choose ISO 800, the E-M5 will shoot at ISO 400

No, you'll have to stop using 'ISO' here like this, because it makes what you're saying incorrect. We've already established that the E-M5 is standards-compliant, so it is simply incorrect to say that, on its face. You could say, to paraphrase Imatest and borrow DxOMark's data, "The E-M5's Saturation-based ISO sensitivity is 394 when the Exposure Index (aka ISO Setting) is set to 800."

Now it's clear that we're talking about two different numbers that have two different meanings. The E-M5 will shoot at Exposure Index (aka ISO Setting) 800 when you choose ISO Setting 800 on the camera, as per the standard.

and then brighten the Raw data by the equivalent of a stop and present you with a jpeg that looks correctly exposed.

'Brighten' is too simplistic. Rather, Olympus applies its proprietary tone curve to the RAW data in order to generate a JPEG with standards-compliant brightness (among other things).

Dpreview argues that there is nothing wrong with doing this.

Because there isn't. DxO argues the exact same point, and very emphatically (This is absolutely legitimate).

The problems start when you shoot in Raw and process the data yourself on your computer using, for example, ACR. Initially the Raw image looks fine, but when you start to adjust shadows and highlights you find that there is little leeway because the exposure has already been pushed by a full stop.

Well, there are several problems with this statement, but I will focus on one: Olympus' tone curve brings with it positive and negative effects (as do all tone curves from all manufacturers).

Specifically (and as repeated by DxO, DPReview and others), Olympus has, absolutely legitimately, chosen a tone curve that protects highlights at the expense of slightly more shadow noise.

So, for you to say that there is little leeway to make adjustments in post-processing ignores the fact that the E-M5 has oodles of leeway on the highlights-recovery side. It's one of the things I recall early-adopters gushing on and on about - >>It's almost impossible to blow highlights on this camera!<<

On the other hand, I have not heard many complaints, at all, from users who claim that the RAW files don't have lots of room for manipulation in both directions. In fact, it seems that the new sensor is so advanced and efficient that Olympus was able to program in significant highlight protection without adding, on the other side, too much shadow noise. It's the gift that having  a sensor with such a high dynamic range gives to the camera maker.

Aside: If you read digital photography guides that discuss exposure in detail as it pertains to digital photography, you'll often find the author or teacher recommending that his students underexpose, then push in post processing in order to protect highlights. Blown highlights are the bane of digital photographers. Shadow noise generally creeps up slowly on one end, but blown highlights clip in an ugly and unrecoverable way. Olympus decided, absolutely legitimately, to use some of the extra DR on this miracle sensor ( ) to protect highlights by design, freeing novice photographers from having to even think about it. We RAW photographers, on the other hand, can still expose to the right if we want to live dangerously and get close to saturating the sensor. I do, often, when I have the time. I also appreciate that I'm unlikely to have blown highlights when I'm in a situation that doesn't allow me a lot of time to control my exposure settings - it works without thought when I need it to, and it works even better when I have the time to shoot deliberately. What a camera!

Compare this with data from a camera that has shot at ISO 800 and not manipulated the data.

That camera is much more likely to suffer from blown highlights. And, if that camera is an m43 camera that was released before the E-M5, it's also likely STILL to suffer from more shadow noise. The E-M5 sensor is so good that Olympus was able to use a tone curve that saves highlights without adding a significant amount of shadow noise (in comparison to previous m43 models and even to a number of APS-C cameras).

Raw from such a camera has a lot of leeway for manipulation - certainly a lot more than the E-M5 - because it has not already been pushed close to its limit.

Again, not correct, as I have shown above. It may have more leeway in one direction, but will most certainly have less leeway in the other.

And, if you're the kind of shooter who cares about these things, and you shoot RAW, you can ignore Olympus' tone curve and be daring. As a matter of fact, the live view highlight and shadow indicators (aka blinkies) make it easy for RAW shooters who want to live on the edge do just that.

This camera works when you don't have time to carefully adjust exposure, trying to get as close to saturation as possible without blowing highlights, and it also works EXTREMELY well when you do have the time to do that (via the blinkies).

Conservative, highlight-protecting tone curve per default, plus the tools to live on the edge right at your fingertips. For me, it hits a real sweet spot.

If you search through the forums and on other parts of the internet you will find a lot of comments from Olympus shooters, and E-M5 users in particular, who say that Raw images from their cameras do not respond well to being manipulated in software.

I can't recall seeing many of these comments, and it certainly doesn't mirror my experience. It also doesn't seem to mirror the reports of any of the many professional third-party reviewers who have written about the camera.

What you WILL find, if you search the forums and other parts of the Internet, is scads of people raving about the E-M5's ability to protect highlights.

I'm not trying to push any particular barrow here. I'm an Olympus shooter myself.

That's cool - I'm also not trying to do that. The E-M5 is my first camera from Olympus and my first m43 camera. I've owned cameras from Sony, Fuji and Canon along the way, and have found things to like (and dislike) about all of them.


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