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Topic # 89647 6-Sep-2011 17:59
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I bought a nice new Olympus PEN E-P3 the other week and while it's quite a nice little camera, I've not been terribly happy with the image quality from it, are any combinations of the following likely to result in crisper images rather than them looking like they're noticably shot with an under-sized sensor?

Shooting in SuperFine mode (which is hidden in the depths of the menus, probably a no-brainer)?
Disabling Noise Reduction?
Reducing the image size to 3200x2400?
Disabling/reducing the noise filter?
Shooting in RAW? (Probably a given, but requires a lot of mucking around with the Olympus app to process given that I only have Photoshop CS4 which doesn't support the new RAW format).

I know I can just experiment, but has anyone has much experience with the PEN series or similar devices who could give me some pointers?

I've got the pack-in 14-42mm zoom and 40-150mm telephoto lenses as well as the 17mm prime "pancake" lens (which I use when I'm just wandering as it makes the camera pocketable).

Any recommendations?





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  Reply # 517718 6-Sep-2011 19:42
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Can you link to some examples?

You should use RAW if you can, and certainly set all of the image quality settings to the maximum that you can. I find that Lightroom is my favourite post processor of my images fwiw.

Noise reduction in the camera is a bit of a mixed bag at times. Sometimes it works well other times not so much. I try to do my noise reduction in Lightroom because it frees up the cameras processing power to do something else and allows me to set the amount of processing required.

What ISO settings do you have set up? The higher the number will mean higher noise but also less likelihood of camera blur in the right circumstances.

Anyway, without an example image to look at I couldn't say what you need to do.

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  Reply # 517763 6-Sep-2011 21:15
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Shoot full size, if you downsize later a lot of noise will disappear. RAW is good, software will catch up eventually, maybe shoot RAW + medium jpeg if it can do it.

It's a new camera with a decent size sensor so it should be ok. Can you post a sample image?




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  Reply # 517819 6-Sep-2011 22:14
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I generally try not to use any ISO above about 1200 as it gets too noisy. I'll see if I can dig up a representative image and dropbox it.

Ignoring the pinhole effect I was playing with, here's a shot on Flickr.

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6061/6080699113_4a0da8641d_b.jpg




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  Reply # 517822 6-Sep-2011 22:19
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I try not to go over ISO3200 on my D700, but I use 6400 if I really need to for customers.




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  Reply # 517825 6-Sep-2011 22:27
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The E-P3 goes up to 12800 but anything above 3200 is a waste of time on a MFT sensor.

Here's a good example of image noise, largely compression artifacts here though I think.

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6204/6080699137_7d5ae14ddc_b.jpg




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  Reply # 517833 6-Sep-2011 22:38
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Just remember that your sensor is small. If I want pin sharp images for head shots or the like i'd not go above ISO800 on my APS-C sensor body. Full frame i'd be happy up to ISO1600. For general work the APS-C sensor goes up to 1600 and the FF goes up to 3200.

Now I have to admit that i've not shot with a Micro 4/3rds camera so don't have a lot to compare to but i'd be doubting that anything above 800 on it would be average to poor in comparison.

Anyway, what don't you like about the image you linked to? For an image of trees on a sunny day i've certainly seen a lot worse. Your green 'piggy' looks more than fine.

When I first started moving to digital from film I was fixated on getting 'clean' images with low noise but in reality once printed, the noise was nice. I now don't worry unless the noise is producing hot pixels which generally only happens for my astro photography stuff. Anyway, noise isn't bad, in fact learn to live with it and be comfortable with it and it starts to become negligible.

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  Reply # 517838 6-Sep-2011 22:46
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stevenz: The E-P3 goes up to 12800 but anything above 3200 is a waste of time on a MFT sensor.

Here's a good example of image noise, largely compression artifacts here though I think.

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6204/6080699137_7d5ae14ddc_b.jpg


That image looks fine to me. There's a tiny bit of noise, but you'd never see it in print.

If you want more of an opinion post a link to a full res shot that hasn't been resampled by a photo sharing service, and tell us ISO (and other exif just so we know, shutter and aperture).




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  Reply # 517949 7-Sep-2011 09:40
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Annoyingly I must've done something to my "piggy" picture in Windows preview and it overwrote the original without asking, bleh.

Here's some samples;

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/31993/P7290148.JPG <- Fairly sharp, can see the pepper grains fairly well, taken with the 40-150 telephoto @ 42mm, ISO200, f5.6
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/31993/P8010204.JPG <- Cliche'd long-exposure of traffic, might've been a bit of shake on the bridge it was perched on (17mm prime), ISO200
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/31993/P8040266.JPG <- Look at the coloration of the flax bushes and the big rocks in the water, looks a bit washed out. Possibly just me being overly precious. 17mm, ISO200, f10
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/31993/Skeletal%20tree%20-%20Pinhole.JPG <- Original shot of the trees.
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/31993/Front%20lawn%20-%20Long%20exposure.JPG <- Came out fairly sharp considering it was dark, ISO was only 320 and f9 with a 30s exposure.

I generally shoot in aperture-priority mode. I had a play with "Superfine" mode which results in 9MB .JPG images versus the 12MB .ORF RAW files so not much in it. I'll experiment with the noise reduction & filters and see what difference they make.

I'd quite like their new 12mm f/2.0 lens, but at US$800, it's a tad on the pricey side.

Any tips for someone starting out with a semi-"proper" camera? (I'd like a full-noise SLR, but they're too big for me to cart around).




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  Reply # 517961 7-Sep-2011 09:54
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I can't see any image quality issues, but at ISO200 I wouldn't expect to.




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  Reply # 517981 7-Sep-2011 10:20
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I agree, those images are perfectly fine and i've taken a lot worse with my larger cameras. At ISO200 i'm not surprised either but you should do some texts of the same scene with the ISO range running from 200 up to 3200 or so if you really want to find the sweet spot for your needs. A good example would be inside the house, at night, looking into a corner of a room. We're not caring about aesthetics or white balance quality, just ISO.

Don't just look at them on a screen at full resolution either. Either print them out or display them on whichever monitor you plan to look at them on and assess their quality from there. Otherwise you'll potentially be making mountains out of mole hills.

TL;DR Images are fine, I don't see what you don't like about them.



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  Reply # 517983 7-Sep-2011 10:21
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Fair enough. I'll put it down to user error and/or being overly picky then :)

Some of it may be down to the chromatic aberration that this 17mm pancake lens is known for (as I've discovered after doing some more reading), the 14-42 & 40-150 lens shots look more pleasing to me.

I might replace the 17mm with the supposedly much superior Panasonic 20mm unit down the line a bit. Pity the lens prices are so ridiculous in NZ, hopefully it means I can onsell the 17mm without losing much though as I got it for a very good price.

I agree that looking at shots that are only likely to be printed onto standard photostock, on a large monitor at 100% zoom for purposes other than editing, is probably going to be a bit silly.




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