M4/3 in low light

Started 10 months ago | Discussions
Isabel Cutler
Isabel Cutler Forum Pro • Posts: 17,855
Re: About the articulating screen...
1

markus9 wrote:

Jrsilva00 wrote:

jmorrisuk wrote:

Would you consider the E-M5 Mark II a better option to get over the M10 Mark III?

I own both the Olympus EM5 MarkII and the EM10 Mark II.
My EM10 Mark II was bought after the EM5 because I wanted a second body as a backup and small camera for hiking and travel.
I must say that I end up using the EM10 II as much or more as my EM5 II.
I don't see any difference in image quality between the two models.
The main advantage (for me) in the EM5 II is the articulated screen, that I find very useful for low level vertical framing photography.
Weather seal in the EM5 II may be also a plus point for some.

One extra significant difference is 1/8000 vs 1/4000. This could be most relevant for outdoor flash work/very bright day with faster apertures (portrait?) when you don't have ND filters.

As I understand electronic shutter on Olympus use 12-bit like mechanical so you don't loose any dynamic range.

I guess it depends upon the purpose of your photography.

I find the articulating screen a royal pain in the neck and a sure give-away that I'm shooting when I prefer to be stealthy and am using silent mode so as not to be caught in the fact.

Much prefer a tilt screen.

Isabel

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Max Iso
Max Iso Senior Member • Posts: 7,875
Re: M4/3 in low light
2

Here's a little comparison, i didn't realize the shots were so closely matched until i looked. D300 from 3 years ago, same bridge and lighting, same ISO and F stop. The EM1 allowed me to handhold at a slower SS but i had to make sure my daughter wasn't moving of course.

This gives a good comparison of your D90 sensor and similar lens. Also note, IBIS on an MFT body will allow you to use longer lenses without having to crank up your SS to cancel hand shake, no matter the lens you use.

The bridge below, i didn't even realize it was redone till i looked at the old D300 shot. Both shots were raws, processed in ACR and with ZERO slider adjustments. Everything was at ZERO, no NR or sharpening ect. The EM1 was released in 2013, many MFT bodies have slight-moderate improvements in IQ.

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inlawbiker Senior Member • Posts: 1,868
Depends on what you mean.

jmorrisuk wrote:

Hi,

I'm struggling to find an answer regarding this and all i can really find is that M4/3 aren't great in low light due to the smaller sensor size which i completely understand, But what is the image quality actually like?

There are two types of low-light performance I generally care about - ISO performance and focus acquisition.

I came from Nikon (D7000, D600, others) and in general, ISO performance between Nikon DX and M43 is pretty close for the same generation. APS-C sensors are in fact a little bigger, and so a little better - in general, but it's not enough to make a real difference, to me anyway.

Coming from the 12mp D90 to a modern E-M10 III would be a big improvement. In my book a D90 is best at 1600 ISO and below. My E-M10 II, ISO 3200, sometimes 6400 is just fine. That is a 3 year old camera too.

Acquiring focus is another question, in which case M43 is quite a ways behind, at least on my cameras. When light is low my E-M10 II is terrible at acquiring focus, the D7000 was a lot better. Maybe the E-M10 III is better, I don't know for sure. I think the G9 and E-M1 II are better but I don't own those either.

Now if you compared an E-M10 III to D7500, I think the D7500 ISO is a bit better but autofocus would be miles ahead. So it all depends on what you care about. It's also huge by comparison especially with a 18-300 attached.

G.

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gary0319
gary0319 Veteran Member • Posts: 6,612
Pen F at ISO 12,800
2

Works for me...

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phil from seattle
phil from seattle Senior Member • Posts: 3,230
Re: I do a lot of low light work....
1

jmorrisuk wrote:

Thanks everyone for the quick replies.

so if i was to add the Olympus 17mm f1.8 M. Zuiko Digital into the kit at the same time i should be covered?

I should have made myself more clear when i said night, its mainly when strolling around cities etc so there is still plenty of ambient light present from street lighting and building etc so its never pitch black.

Would you consider the E-M5 Mark II a better option to get over the M10 Mark III?

EM5.2+17mm f/1.8 is a really nice combination. Small lens and small body. It's my favorite night cityscape combo. Examples:

James Stirling
James Stirling Senior Member • Posts: 5,359
Re: Depends on what you mean.
3

inlawbiker wrote:

jmorrisuk wrote:

Hi,

I'm struggling to find an answer regarding this and all i can really find is that M4/3 aren't great in low light due to the smaller sensor size which i completely understand, But what is the image quality actually like?

There are two types of low-light performance I generally care about - ISO performance and focus acquisition.

I came from Nikon (D7000, D600, others) and in general, ISO performance between Nikon DX and M43 is pretty close for the same generation. APS-C sensors are in fact a little bigger, and so a little better - in general, but it's not enough to make a real difference, to me anyway.

Coming from the 12mp D90 to a modern E-M10 III would be a big improvement. In my book a D90 is best at 1600 ISO and below. My E-M10 II, ISO 3200, sometimes 6400 is just fine. That is a 3 year old camera too.

This is the D90 at 1600 ISO vs the E-M10 II at 3200 ISO and 6400 ISO. The E-M10 II is nosier than the D90 at both 3200 and especially 6400 ISO . Crazy pixel peep crop they would all look better as prints. Only change is to upsize the D90 file to match the Olympus for easy comparison using preserve details 2.0 in Photoshop with NR turned off.

Here is the same D90 1600 ISO file compared to the E-10II 1600 ISO . I had to use Imaging resource as DPreview does not have any RAW samples for 11yr old cameras

I would say that realistically the E-M10 II is maybe half a stop better certainly not a full stop as shown above.

Acquiring focus is another question, in which case M43 is quite a ways behind, at least on my cameras. When light is low my E-M10 II is terrible at acquiring focus, the D7000 was a lot better. Maybe the E-M10 III is better, I don't know for sure. I think the G9 and E-M1 II are better but I don't own those either.

Now if you compared an E-M10 III to D7500, I think the D7500 ISO is a bit better but autofocus would be miles ahead. So it all depends on what you care about. It's also huge by comparison especially with a 18-300 attached.

G.

I agree about the lens size , if you are interested in low light shooting slow superzoom lenses are not the way to go

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inlawbiker Senior Member • Posts: 1,868
Re: Depends on what you mean.

James Stirling wrote:

inlawbiker wrote:

jmorrisuk wrote:

Hi,

I'm struggling to find an answer regarding this and all i can really find is that M4/3 aren't great in low light due to the smaller sensor size which i completely understand, But what is the image quality actually like?

There are two types of low-light performance I generally care about - ISO performance and focus acquisition.

I came from Nikon (D7000, D600, others) and in general, ISO performance between Nikon DX and M43 is pretty close for the same generation. APS-C sensors are in fact a little bigger, and so a little better - in general, but it's not enough to make a real difference, to me anyway.

Coming from the 12mp D90 to a modern E-M10 III would be a big improvement. In my book a D90 is best at 1600 ISO and below. My E-M10 II, ISO 3200, sometimes 6400 is just fine. That is a 3 year old camera too.

Here is the same D90 1600 ISO file compared to the E-10II 1600 ISO . I had to use Imaging resource as DPreview does not have any RAW samples for 11yr old cameras

I would say that realistically the E-M10 II is maybe half a stop better certainly not a full stop as shown above.

Huh, that is really interesting. Thanks for pulling up specific examples. If anything the D90 is much more impressive than I recall. My recollection was the D7000 was great up to ISO 5000, but the D90 1600. I treat 3200 on my E-M10 II as "ok in a pinch."

I have seen people claim the G9 is great as 6400 but I find this hard to believe.

Greg.

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James Stirling
James Stirling Senior Member • Posts: 5,359
Re: Depends on what you mean.

inlawbiker wrote:

James Stirling wrote:

inlawbiker wrote:

jmorrisuk wrote:

Hi,

I'm struggling to find an answer regarding this and all i can really find is that M4/3 aren't great in low light due to the smaller sensor size which i completely understand, But what is the image quality actually like?

There are two types of low-light performance I generally care about - ISO performance and focus acquisition.

I came from Nikon (D7000, D600, others) and in general, ISO performance between Nikon DX and M43 is pretty close for the same generation. APS-C sensors are in fact a little bigger, and so a little better - in general, but it's not enough to make a real difference, to me anyway.

Coming from the 12mp D90 to a modern E-M10 III would be a big improvement. In my book a D90 is best at 1600 ISO and below. My E-M10 II, ISO 3200, sometimes 6400 is just fine. That is a 3 year old camera too.

Here is the same D90 1600 ISO file compared to the E-10II 1600 ISO . I had to use Imaging resource as DPreview does not have any RAW samples for 11yr old cameras

I would say that realistically the E-M10 II is maybe half a stop better certainly not a full stop as shown above.

Huh, that is really interesting. Thanks for pulling up specific examples. If anything the D90 is much more impressive than I recall. My recollection was the D7000 was great up to ISO 5000, but the D90 1600. I treat 3200 on my E-M10 II as "ok in a pinch."

I have seen people claim the G9 is great as 6400 but I find this hard to believe.

Greg.

Greg, I have done the same thing myself { heck I need to justify my new gear to myself } sometimes when you dig out an old RAW file you can get a bit of a let down , of course one must never show the wife  how well older gear did

I think if we look critically at image quality since the E-M5 and D800 in 2012 the image quality advances in all formats are pretty small . Tech on the other hand is zooming ahead

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JaKing
JaKing Senior Member • Posts: 5,803
Re: Depends on what you mean.

Greg, all these photos (with one exception) are resized OoC JPEGs. Most are at ISO 3200, with a few at ISO 6400. Art gallery lighting ...

https://canopuscomputing.com.au/zen2/CarsandSuch/AustralianCarShow/

What looks like noise on a couple is actually just dust on the cars!

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Paulmorgan Veteran Member • Posts: 8,467
Re: M4/3 in low light

jmorrisuk wrote:

Hi,

I'm struggling to find an answer regarding this and all i can really find is that M4/3 aren't great in low light due to the smaller sensor size which i completely understand, But what is the image quality actually like?

I'm changing over from a Nikon D90 where i mainly use a 18-300 when travelling, and shoot landscapes and street views, but also like to shoot at night and im wondering if the sensor size will rule this system out.

I was looking at this set up - Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III, 14-42mm & 40-150mm ED R as i can get a good deal on it at the moment but im just concerned about how it will perform at night.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

There is not that much of a difference between M4/3 and APS-C.

For low light your going to need a tripod (for Landscape) suplimentry lighting like flash or faster lenses.

Both those lenses you list can be quite lovely if you have enough light or use flash.

James Stirling
James Stirling Senior Member • Posts: 5,359
Re: Depends on what you mean.

JaKing wrote:

Greg, all these photos (with one exception) are resized OoC JPEGs. Most are at ISO 3200, with a few at ISO 6400. Art gallery lighting ...

https://canopuscomputing.com.au/zen2/CarsandSuch/AustralianCarShow/

What looks like noise on a couple is actually just dust on the cars!

Lot of dust on the walls as well John Static art shots can of course really benefit from using the excellent IBIS option to shoot at much lower ISO's

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JaKing
JaKing Senior Member • Posts: 5,803
Re: Depends on what you mean.

James Stirling wrote:

JaKing wrote:

Greg, all these photos (with one exception) are resized OoC JPEGs. Most are at ISO 3200, with a few at ISO 6400. Art gallery lighting ...

https://canopuscomputing.com.au/zen2/CarsandSuch/AustralianCarShow/

What looks like noise on a couple is actually just dust on the cars!

Lot of dust on the walls as well John Static art shots can of course really benefit from using the excellent IBIS option to shoot at much lower ISO's

There was indeed, Jim. We live on a dusty planet, specially applies here in Oz.

The curators/staff can brush the walls all they like, the dust settles on the cars, floors and walls. Visitors stir it up constantly from the floors, and it ends up back on the walls and cars. I see the same thing at car shows, and they usually have a 1:1 owner/car ratio to keep their own baby clean!

Also remember that these are OoC JPEGs with in-camera NR set to low.

Where there is genuine noise (and it is there at 100%), it can be removed quickly and easily in ACR. e.g.

Brabham F1 OoC JPEG with NR in ACR. The car has metallic paint ...

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jackkurtz Veteran Member • Posts: 4,602
Re: M4/3 in low light

There are a few of things to consider.

There is not as much difference between low light performance of M4:3 and APS sensors as the Canikon duopoly want you to believe.

The D90 is more than 10 years old, so you're comparing a 10 year old design with a considerably newer one (although E-M10 Mark III does not have Olympus' newest sensor).

Depending on what you photograph, the in body image stabilization in Olympus might allow you to use a lower ISO in the same light compared to Canikon APS camera. I think the E-M10 Mk3 has three stop IBIS. This works great for static subjects like still lifes, cityscapes, landscapes etc but not for sports and moving subjects.

Finally, your lenses, whether the older Nikon or newer Olympus ones are not really low light lenses. For that you should be using fast primes. The 14-42 is f3.5 wide open. The 17mm f1.8 has a two stop advantage wide open. Assuming your shutter speed is constant, that's the difference between ISO1600 (with the 14-42) to ISO400 (with the 17mm f1.8). Or ISO3200 to ISO800 etc.

I work with the E-M1 Mark II and Pen-F bodies and they're not as clean at high ISO as the 24X36 sensor cameras (like 5D series, Nikon D6XX series etc) but they are competitive with the APS sensor cameras from Canikon.

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Binone Contributing Member • Posts: 526
Try a software solution
1

I do a lot of night photography and found that the m4/3 sensor is not ideal.  Probably not too far behind APS-C, but way behind FF.  But that's all changed. I read an article on Luminous Landscape about a new software product from Topaz called A.I. Clear. I downloaded a free trial and it is amazing. Gone is the high-ISO noise and my images are actually cleaner than from a FF body at ISO 6400.  In the past in order to comfortably deliver an image to a client I had to shoot at no higher than about ISO 2000, but now 6400 is just fine.  I have good high-speed glass, but if I open it up all the way I lose DoF. I have no financial or other interest in Topaz, but give this a try, or find the article on Luminous Landscape and then give it a try. It'll solve your problem and your E-M10 will work great in low light.

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Richandhiscat Contributing Member • Posts: 553
Re: Depends on what you mean.

Acquiring focus is another question, in which case M43 is quite a ways behind, at least on my cameras. When light is low my E-M10 II is terrible at acquiring focus, the D7000 was a lot better. Maybe the E-M10 III is better, I don't know for sure. I think the G9 and E-M1 II are better but I don't own those either.

Now if you compared an E-M10 III to D7500, I think the D7500 ISO is a bit better but autofocus would be miles ahead. So it all depends on what you care about. It's also huge by comparison especially with a 18-300 attached.

G.

My G9 has no problems with focus even in the dark, and you also have focus peaking - assume the EM10 series has that?

JaKing
JaKing Senior Member • Posts: 5,803
AF of mfts cameras and lenses.

The AF of my E-M1 MkII with both 12-100 and 75-300 II (at 100mm) in our poorly lit living room is good enough that it will focus on small print on a black speaker box at around 4m. The speaker box is in shadow. Exposure was ISO 12,800, f/4 1/15th - i.e. not exactly brightly lit ...

Focus was accurate, equally good with both lenses. This is approaching the limit of ability to AF.

Using a lighter ceramic bowl on the same shelf as a target, AF was fast, positive and accurate. Exposure was ISO 12,800, f/6.7 1/8th (at 300mm).

Will that Nikon even AF an f/6.7 lens? Serious question.

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Thomas Traub Contributing Member • Posts: 664
Re: M4/3 in low light
2

I come from Nikon too (D610 and a lot of good lenses) = FF.

"Low light" is very relativ. The MFT-Sensor is smaller, so that it gets less light. Point.

B U T : Olympus has the technique of the 5-axis-stabilized sensor. That makes it possible to handheld much longer shutter-times. So that you don't need higher ISOs.

That works very fine. I can handheld my Pen-F or EM 1 II for approx. 1/2 sec. to 1 sec. with the 5-axis-sensor-satbilization. With Nikon I was able to handheld 1/30, sometimes 1/15 (at approx. 35- to 50 mm lens to FF equivalent)

That 5-axis-sensor-stabilization compensates the disadvantage of the smaller sensor by far AS LONG AS longer shuttertimes are no problem. When you have a fast moving object the possibility to use longer shutter times at low ISO does not work because the object itself moves too fast .....

That's the only limitation that MFT really has: low light combined with fast moving objects - like indoor sports ...... than a FF-Sensor would be better.

Pictures of fireworks or even the moon  h a n d h e l d   - no problem anymore with Olympus MFT! The following picture was taken with Olympus at ISO 320, 1/160th, f=2.8 at 150 mm (40-150/2.8 Pro) and cropped.

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Architeuthis Regular Member • Posts: 188
Re: M4/3 in low light

Hi JMorrisuk,

Take a look here: https://www.dxomark.com/Cameras/Compare/Side-by-side/Olympus-OM-D-E-M1-Mark-II-versus-Olympus-OM-D-E-M10-Mark-II-versus-Nikon-D90___1136_1046_439

go to "measurements" and compare SNR, Dynamic Range, Tonal Range.

In case you can effort an EM1-II, it will be at least as good as the D90, if not better. The EM10-II (very much like EM10-III) is almost as good as D90...

Wolfgang

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Jacques Cornell
Jacques Cornell Forum Pro • Posts: 11,623
I'm a fan

jmorrisuk wrote:

Hi,

I'm struggling to find an answer regarding this and all i can really find is that M4/3 aren't great in low light due to the smaller sensor size which i completely understand, But what is the image quality actually like?

I'm changing over from a Nikon D90 where i mainly use a 18-300 when travelling, and shoot landscapes and street views, but also like to shoot at night and im wondering if the sensor size will rule this system out.

I was looking at this set up - Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III, 14-42mm & 40-150mm ED R as i can get a good deal on it at the moment but im just concerned about how it will perform at night.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

The core of my travel kit is a Panasonic GX85 or GX8, a 14-140 for good light and a 20/1.7 & 45/1.8 for low light. The kit is tiny, and the primes are very affordable. Panasonic's 14-140 is one of the best 10x zooms you can buy - quite sharp and consistent across the frame at all focal lengths and apertures. This kit will likely deliver better overall image quality than what you have now, and the bright primes combined with stabilization built into the body (IBIS) really push the low-light envelope. FWIW, Panasonic's AF-S is among the fastest and surest available at any price, even (or especially) in very low light.

My 16"x21" glossy prints are as sharp & detailed as I could want, and I'm comfortable I could print substantially larger.

BTW, you can get a new GX85 with 12-32 & 45-150 kit zooms for $600 these days. The 45-150 is a tad soft at the long end, but the tiny 12-32 is quite good, a great carry-everywhere lens.

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James Stirling
James Stirling Senior Member • Posts: 5,359
Re: Depends on what you mean.

JaKing wrote:

James Stirling wrote:

JaKing wrote:

Greg, all these photos (with one exception) are resized OoC JPEGs. Most are at ISO 3200, with a few at ISO 6400. Art gallery lighting ...

https://canopuscomputing.com.au/zen2/CarsandSuch/AustralianCarShow/

What looks like noise on a couple is actually just dust on the cars!

Lot of dust on the walls as well John Static art shots can of course really benefit from using the excellent IBIS option to shoot at much lower ISO's

There was indeed, Jim. We live on a dusty planet, specially applies here in Oz.

It looks very much like noise to me John , just like I get on my m43 if I shoot at high ISO in a soggy low dust Scotland

The curators/staff can brush the walls all they like, the dust settles on the cars, floors and walls. Visitors stir it up constantly from the floors, and it ends up back on the walls and cars. I see the same thing at car shows, and they usually have a 1:1 owner/car ratio to keep their own baby clean!

Also remember that these are OoC JPEGs with in-camera NR set to low.

Where there is genuine noise (and it is there at 100%), it can be removed quickly and easily in ACR. e.g.

NR is invariably at the expense of detail , given the excellent IBIS I would be shooting these static objects at base ISO.

Brabham F1 OoC JPEG with NR in ACR. The car has metallic paint ...

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