*OM-D E-M5 vs G3… what’s this about a new sensor?

The Micro 4/3 system has really grown up in the last year. Sensor tech has taken a substantial step forward and the lens lineup has rounded itself out very nicely. Much has been eluded to regarding the origins of the OM-D E-M5 sensor, is it a reworked Panasonic sensor, a Sony sensor, an inhouse super secret sensor??? Oly came out and admitted that Sony is the manufacturer of the sensor in the OM-D E-M5 quelling the rumor mill, and of course, the G3/GX1 (and quite possibly the soon to be G5) sensor, built by Panasonic, is in fact different. That all said, I really wanted to see how these two sensors compared to one another as I have been very impressed by the G3. C’mon in and we’ll take a closer look at a few files.

{EDIT} Authors note:

Okay, firstly, thanks to Ale from 43rumors.com for linking to this article. Ale is a great guy, and the community at 43rumors is one of the most technically sound, and educated in the whole of the internets. Quality and normally objective conversation is one reason I really enjoy the micro 4/3 community. I had the chance to read through the comments and wanted to make a couple quick notes. This “test” was done to attempt to see what these two cameras would do in a normal shooting situation, it isn’t meant to debate DXO or any scientific test. I use cameras to take pictures, and get curious to see how the compare to each other when doing so. The RAW conversion was brought into question, and it is outlined and described in the article below. I use Aperture 3.2 and have listed using the pure defaults as provided. This is again because this is how I do it in the real world, as I’d assume many of us do (whether using Silkypix, Lightroom, Aperture, et al) and I’m more curious to see how the pictures actually look when using what I use. If any of us are spending the time in an attempt to translate proprietary RAW information (without being paid to do so), we may have too much time on our hands. This isn’t what I wanted to show (that’s what the scientific sites are for), but more what a normal person using these cameras might see. While the pictures are compressed files, the histograms are from the original, RAW files. Most monitors that we’re viewing any of these tests on are unable to show the actual info accurately anyway, so I feel that the histogram is the most accurate way to show the info captured by the sensor for this type of test. That said, I fully embrace the conversation, debate and would be happy to try and help anyone else further who may have questions. Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy the read… :) – Tyson

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Both the E-M5 and G3, like all current micro 4/3 (and all current mirrorless system cameras as far as I can remember) are only using a 12 bit RAW file. If you’d like to read a bit more about RAW vs. JPEG or understand just how bit depth provides tonal range and gradation you can read my article here: RAW vs JPEG. The only reason that I bring this up, is that a sensor that outputs a 14 or 16 bit RAW file (most dSLR’s are now 14 bit and Medium format offers 16 bit) will have certain advantages. If you are happy shooting JPEGs, all that info gets compressed into an 8bit file anyway so don’t even worry about it.

Many people will test JPEGs straight out of the camera and proclaim that sensor A is better, or worse than sensor B, and that may be true for a compressed file, but really that has more to do with the internal processing in camera (based on compression settings, firmware and the actual processor) than it does with the sensor in many cases. Many agree that Olympus has a superior JPEG output which is one big plus to those who shoot JPEG, but for post processing latitude, and unfiltered file comparison, RAW is a much more effective way to compare two sensors. That said, I’ve shot and compared everything in RAW. The fact that most monitors can’t even show the full gamut, nor accurately showcase bit depth from even a JPEG file means that we’ll call it a non-scientific test. But, having used the RAW data, it enabled me to focus on these elements, look at and use the extra data prior to any compression, also, any of the histograms shown below are from the full sized RAW files, so they are able to show more “scientific” data than a picture file regardless of the monitor viewed on anyway.

EM5 – Lumix 20mm f/1.7 lens – f/8 1/1000 ISO400 Blown highlights and clipped shadows, but not by much…

Different sensors? Well, as I’ve been slowly comparing these cameras and writing this article, I came to the conclusion that they had to be different sensors which was the opposite of what I’d thought initially when researching and trying to find comparable shots from either camera prior to buying my E-M5. Now that it has been officially announced that Sony is in fact the manufacturer of the OM-D E-M5 sensor, and not Panasonic, it makes much more sense to me as I look at files more closely.

  • First, the G3 pixel measurements come in at a native 15.8mp 4:3 image file (4592px x 3448px). The E-M5, a 15.9mp 4:3 image file (4608px x 3456px). While this is a difference of 8 pixels high and 16 pixels wide, which for most all intents and purposes is nearly imperceptible, it was the first red flag to me.
  • Secondly, when shooting the same scene, using the same lens at the same settings, you can see that there is definitely a difference in color to each of the RAW files (and noticeable difference in the recording of each color channel) at the same WB setting, and certainly had very different ideas as to balancing for AWB. While this is largely down to individual, in camera processing, and very easy to alter after the fact in post, it was the second ‘red flag’ as it were. If two different makes of cameras had the same sensor, they should see colors and read temperatures very closely, or at least more closely, in a RAW file. This isn’t the case between these two.
  • Finally, the third thing I was noticing was that the E-M5 files were sharper, but had more artifacts, looked more “digital” at 100%, 200%, etc. In print this isn’t as apparent, or hasn’t been to my eye. This could also be altered by having a weaker anti aliasing (or no AA) filter, but it was the third red flag crying out differences between these two.

Below are a couple scenes where I was looking at the dynamic range, color and sharpness between the two. These shots were taken with the Olympus M. Zuiko 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 Lens, at f/8, 50mm, ISO-200 and shot using Auto White Balance within seconds of each other. The first shot in each series is the full image file, the second a 100% crop from the center and finally the histogram from the original, full RAW image file. (click on any picture to see it larger)

Panasonic G3 – Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 @ f/8 1/125sec – ISO 200 – AWB

RAW, full file histogram from G3

Olympus OM-D E-M5 – Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 @ f/8 1/125sec – ISO 200 – AWB

RAW, full file histogram from E-M5

For this first comparison shot, the histograms are very similar with the G3 defaulting to a slight shift left to preserve the highlights which I’ve noticed to be very consistent (I talked a bit about this in the GF1 vs G3 post). The colors are certainly punchier straight out of the camera from the E-M5 while the colors are much more muddled in the G3 file. Sharpness wise, the E-M5 seems to have the slight edge as well, although when not pixel peeping, it is far less noticeable. The G3 files also sharpen up very nicely if needed in post, while the E-M5 files need less sharpening, but are also more sensitive to artifact enhancement or introduction in my experience.

Here is another scene. This time, I shot at each camera’s base ISO, otherwise exposure settings were the same.

Panasonic G3 – Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 @ f/8 1/640sec – ISO 160 – AWB

Olympus OM-D E-M5 – Olympus M.Zuiko 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 @ f/8 1/640sec – ISO 200 – AWB

These are unmodified files. I compressed them into a JPEG file for size sake, but no modification to any info was made prior, aside from the RAW conversion at their default settings from the manufacturer as converted by Aperture. To me, the G3 file looks drab, cooler and exhibits an overall lower contrast while the E-M5 file is punchier and more contrasty. Now, it’s a little interesting that both cameras metered and chose 1/640 sec with the E-M5′s base ISO being a third stop faster (while also clipping more of the blue channel), and while I metered using the evaluative/whole scene and metered the overall scene to mid tone, it could be some fundamental, technical difference, perhaps a ghost in the machine, or the exposure could have shifted slightly with the passing clouds, light, etc. Anyway, much like the first shot above, the files show the same differences in sharpness, color and exposure shift on the histogram and while the whole of the histogram for the G3 is shifted left, it has clipped less of the shadows in the blue channel and better preserved the highlights while handling the dynamic range within these particular shots according to the histograms. Again, this could be down to a slight shift in light or even a slight difference in framing. All in all, pretty consistent with the previous test shot. The G3 did better at keeping the information within the recordable area, but the E-M5 files look better, are sharper and more contrasty.

Now, onto the boring, controlled shots. What I wanted to see here was both a side by side looking at the color, sharpness, etc, but mostly the noise as we start to push the ISO. I shot both cameras at their base ISO, and then jumped to ISO1600 + to see how these two compare. You may notice a slight shift in framing, this is down to the really, really annoying fact that Olympus has put their tripod mount threading off of the lens axis. I know it is done for design reasons making room for the grip connection thingy and whathaveyou, but it is one of many little annoyances I’ve found with this camera.

Again, all shots below are shot with the Oly 12-50mm lens. I manually set the white balance temperature to 3000K on both cameras and shot in RAW. There is a single 60w bulb as the light source for these shots. The shots alternate at the same ISO with the G3 file first and the EM5 file following it. Click on any shot to see it in all its up close glory.

BASE ISO (160, 200 respectively):

G3 – ISO 160 – f/8 – 2 sec

EM5 – ISO 200 – f/8 – 1.6 sec

ISO 1600:

G3 – ISO 1600 – f/8 – 1/5 sec

EM5 – ISO 1600 – f/8 – 1/5 sec

ISO 3200:

G3 – ISO 3200 – f/8 – 1/10 sec

EM5 – ISO 3200 – f/8 – 1/10 sec

ISO 6400:

G3 – ISO 6400 – f/8 – 1/20 sec

EM5 – ISO 6400 – f/8 – 1/20 sec

The Oly OM-D E-M5 also can adjust to ISO 12800 and 25600 where the G3 cannot and maxes out at 6400. The GX1 can adjust to the expanded ISO settings (I believe anyway) and uses the same sensor, so I fully expect the G5 to be able to do so. Anyway, here are the OM-D E-M5 files from those settings:

EM5 – ISO 12800 – f/8 – 1/40 sec

EM5 – ISO 25600 – f/8 – 1/80 sec

Okay, now, when looking at these files under the proverbial microscope, I’d say that as far as noise goes, the Olympus OM-D E-M5 has about a one stop advantage over the Panasonic G3 in grain, or luminance noise. Neither really get too messy with chroma noise at sub 5 digit ISO settings (which is very impressive), but you do start to see detail fade as the graininess creeps in. I feel comfortable shooting at ISO 3200 on the G3 and ISO 6400 on the E-M5 (unless of course I shoot the Oly with the Panasonic 20mm pancake… see shots, and explanation below). Looking at it from a pure sharpness angle, I think that the OM-D E-M5 stays sharper with fine detail at a two to three stop advantage. Look at the G3 ISO 1600 vs the E-M5 ISO 6400 files (particularly the small text on the box of Kodak 400 TX film in the lower right) to see what I mean. This isn’t to say that the E-M5 file is as clean overall between the two as I think the G3 file looks better all other things considered, but the G3 files lose quite a bit of sharpness compared to the E-M5 files at the same ISO setting. Now, this isn’t huge as you’re rarely going to ever need to read microscopic text in the dark, but certainly a performance feat for the Sony sensor in my opinion and one that will certainly play to resolution numbers. Color shifts in the E-M5 files kick in pretty noticeably above ISO 6400, and unless I absolutely needed to see in the dark with a slow lens, I’d never use 12800 or above personally.

The color differences are what they are. Two different sensors at the same white balance temperature setting are going to see differently, and so they do. Either can be adjusted for accuracy if the need is there, or can be altered to look like the other. I prefer the OM-D E-M5 colors as I prefer a bit more punch to begin with.

So, I’d mentioned the ISO 6400+ files from the OM-D E-M5 when used with the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 pancake lens (my favorite micro 4/3 lens). It has been well documented that there is a problem that has yet, as of this writing, to be addressed by Olympus in a firmware update which sees horrible banding when this camera/lens combo is used at or above ISO 6400. After looking at more shots, I seem to notice that the banding is inconsistent and appears more egregiously where there is a more dynamically diverse scene (large range between highlights and shadows). If a scene is fairly uniform EV wise and the shot is decently exposed, it isn’t as much an issue. The first shot shows the banding issue, while the second is much better controlled (though, you can still see some banding on the ceiling), but also has far less EV range in it by comparison. The third is a shot from the same evening using an adapted FD 55mm f/1.2 lens at ISO 6400 for comparison as well where there is no banding that I can see. Again, click any to see larger.

Banding when shooting a dynamically diverse scene with the E-M5 and 20mm pancake lens. Notice the linear banding on the curtain behind the stage.

EM5 – ISO 6400 using the 20mm pancake lens without as much banding…

EM5 – Using an adapted FD 55mm f/1.2 lens at ISO6400

Here’s a snap below from the G3 at ISO 6400 using the Lumix 20mm f/1.7 lens:

G3 – Lumix 20mm f/1.7 lens – ISO 6400 – softer, and a bit noisier, but bandless…

  • I’ve already more or less reviewed the OM-D E-M5 (click HERE if interested in reading my pros and cons) and while I think it is a far from perfect camera, it’s performance and image quality compared to its mirrorless peers is competitive on every level. Sure it may exhibit some of the inherent shortcomings or built in benefits to using a 17.3mm x 13mm sensor (depending on your need, or angle you’re looking at it from) compared to either larger or smaller sensor cameras, but if I were able to time travel into the future three years ago to see what the micro 4/3 system would be capable of now, I’d not have believed it possible in such a short period of time. I believe the jump from the first PEN or G1 to where they are now, is a larger performance and quality boost than any of the full frame DSLR models in their own 3 year life cycles.
  • Since this is a comparison piece, I need to give the G3 its well deserved props also. For the current prices, the Panasonic G3 is an absolute steal in my opinion. Its RAW files are close enough to the E-M5 RAW files to satisfy most anyone but the pickiest of shooters, or those who really need an extra stop of high ISO performance. Dollar for dollar, it is, in my opinion, a better deal of a camera than the OM-D E-M5.
  • However, if cost isn’t as much a factor, the IBIS, weather sealing and general build quality of the OM-D E-M5 makes it a better camera in most every way. Basically E-M5 = better camera, G3 = better deal of a camera, if you ask me. While the E-M5 menus and interface absolutely piss me off, as does the unfortunate “customization” of necessary features (of which there aren’t enough buttons), the offset tripod mount, poor on screen histogram info (seriously, the histogram looks like a graphic from an old atari game) making it nearly useless, as well as a couple other minor annoyances, these are personal opinions and for many may not be as big an issue.
  • As with everything, I think physically handling a camera is a necessary step to really iron out any of these issues that on line reviewers seem to ramble about. That way, you have only yourself to blame :) …but in the event that you’re still annoyed, there’s nobody stopping you from airing your frustrations on the internet either ;)

The duality of personal opinion on the OM-D E-M5 sometimes has my head spinning.

In the past I’ve mentioned that I feel the micro 4/3 system is head and shoulders above any other mirrorless system currently, and I feel this camera has even further justified that stance for me. Any given camera, from a variety of manufacturers may present a better option for someone personally, but if looking at the whole of the system, proprietarily speaking, no one competes with the micro 4/3 system right now in the mirrorless realm. The G3 and GX1 are wonderful cameras, and the OM-D E-M5 is a jewel in the micro 4/3 system crown, even including my personal gripes and annoyances.
Thanks for reading. If you’d like to be alerted to new posts, just add your email in the box at the top right of the page and any new article will be emailed to you when it is posted.
Happy shooting,
Tyson

49 thoughts on “*OM-D E-M5 vs G3… what’s this about a new sensor?

  1. Thanks Tyson for the detailed comparison. I’ve ungraded to a OMD two month’s and have given my G-1 to my son to learn photography. Cheers.

  2. I agree that the Oly’s colors in the birch/lake shots are strikingly better but I’d hope that a little post processing would make that go away but maybe not for the pro. The color chips in the set shots are much brighter, cleaner and pleasant looking. That, I’m doubting could be completely corrected. No way around it: the Pana’s colors look muddier and Oly’s brighter.

    The sharpness at the center on the 100% crop of the back yard (finally! some nature shots ;-) is also telling and in Oly’s favor. Love the “twins” shot and the well-thumbed baby book.

    Here’re some shots with MY favorite lens, the Leica 45mm macro.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/35742767@N04/sets/72157629748282838/show/
    Muddiness not evident in full sun.

    • Hi Terry,

      Yeah, I think (and mentioned) that you could easily get either to look like the other. I’d purely pushed these through based on the default settings for RAW conversion in Aperture as translated from the respective Oly and Pana proprietary files. Again, not scientific, but interesting nonetheless.

      Thanks as always and I hope all is going well.

      t

    • Hi Mathias,

      If only I had the time and discipline… For me, I find that either sensor when shooting in real world scenarios are very close. I used the RAW histograms as my basis for comparison to an extent, and taking into consideration any exposure differential in changing sun, etc, they’re more or less equal to my eye. The G3 tends to really shift left to preserve highlight info in my experience, and in many cases can be easily accounted for by a +1/3 to +2/3 exp comp. I’ll leave the extensive, scientific tests to those with the proper software and controlled testing setups (and get paid to do so). For me, I want to see how it looks when I take a picture and was somewhat surprised to see that the G3 held up favorably well compared to the EM5. Does it mean that one sensor has better abilities to capture dynamic range vs the other? Nah, but to me, I feel it may be a case where we’re more worried about controlled tests vs real results as it were.

      Thanks for taking the time to read through and comment. If I can muster some more side by sides, I’ll post them here.

      Cheers,

      Tyson

  3. Hi Tyson,
    An interesting read though I feel you need to clarify that the identity of the sensor manufacturer has been refuted and that the report of the sensor being manufactured by Sony might well be erroneous and that it referred to some Medical item, there is still no hard evidence that I know of that identifies the true manufacturer. I’m sorry but I’m unable to find the report which stated this as the case but it surely was stated that the statement by Sasa was a bad translation.
    Geoff Howard

    • Hi Geoff,

      Thanks for the comment. I don’t natively speak (or read) Japanese (my level of understanding was confined to basic level Katakana or Hiragana character recognition), but it seems to me that without an outright condemnation from Olympus (as I’d assume we’d have heard by now) it makes sense. Honestly, while I cannot say without a shadow of a doubt, I don’t really care who makes the sensor, and if there is irrefutable evidence one way or the other, I’ll gladly offer a redaction of my opinion here. Anyone taking my ramblings as absolute truth would certainly do well to change course :) I’m only trying to post my personal experiences in real world shooting scenarios and have made comments based on the same info we’ve all been reading. Until a few days ago when the article translation came out, I wasn’t sure if there was an actual difference, although as I’d outlined, I was seeing obvious differences and while that can be down to a variety of factors, and in no way definitively produces us with an answer as to who builds it, I was starting to believe that someone, other than Panasonic, had built this thing. I may be wrong, but it does feel like there is truth to the current proclamations. I’m a fan of photography and many of the cool gadgets that come along with it. Until Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Canon, et al decide to start cutting me a check, I’ll come from a place of objectivity to the best of my ability. Regardless of the manufacturing truth, I can say that the E-M5 sensor is pretty damn nice, and one that deserves most all the praise it receives. That said, through this, I’m still very impressed with the way the G3/Gx1 Pana sensor handles itself as well by comparison, especially when looking at the actual prices of these cameras.

      It will be interesting to see if there is in fact an official statement from Olympus refuting the original article and translation, but honestly for me, it won’t change the meat and potatoes of the performance, just merely a few words in this and a few other articles.

      Thanks again and I’d be interested to hear if you do find some new info on the Sony claims.

      All the best,

      Tyson

    • Actually, the original article was later translated by a native speaker in the dpreview forum thread and he clearly said that the article claims that the OM-D sensor was made by Sony. The google machine translation whic hwas used to put the OM-D/Sony report in doubt was really bad.

      So: The report that the report was erroneous was erroneous… ;-)

      • Mathias for the win!

        Thank you for that, although, I’m sure logic will continue to elude us in our never ending search for conspiracy, and I’d also wager a guess that the original translator’s character will be brought into question as I have already heard that he is the head of Sony’s misinformation division looking to take credit for every high performance sensor currently available in an attempt to lower the perceived value of any and all imaging companies so that they may monopolize the entire market and create a hybrid race of half camera, half super human soldiers, albeit with a one stop loss of light hitting their visual receptors but will be able to continually maintain the perception of movement from their prey, which will be us, which they will hunt relentlessly. Please don’t ask me to quote my sources.

      • Wait, I thought it was the opposite as being recently clarified in dpreview forum that the Sony sensor was used in the microscope made by Olympus but not in the OM-D. The performance between OM-D and the G3 is much closer to one another than it is between any m4/3 sensor and the sensors used in Sony, Nikon, Canon, Pentax dSLRs so why are people thinking that the sensor in OM-D is really from Sony? Frankly, I expect a Sony sensor to perform much better.

      • Hi Eric,

        From what I have researched, and heard, the original “translation” was poorly executed (which is where most of the questioning is coming from) and left the Rainbow/Microscope/Sony/Oly door open. There are native speakers that have read, attested to, and cited various sources within Japan saying that the OMDEM5 sensor was what Sasa was speaking about in reference to Sony (as for the microscope, I do not know). The fact that Olympus has not quelled the rumors says to me that this is the case. If it were untrue, I’d guess we would have seen a definitive statement from a company like Olympus (possibly even Sony) as this has hit a fever pitch and to wait would require a bit more damage control. My money is on it being a Sony sensor.

        That said, it performs about the way the only other Sony sensor I’ve tested has (NEX 5) with what I’d assume to be a natural step up in performance. I’d originally tested the NEX5 against the GF1 which showed better performance across the board, albeit not as huge a gap in what I saw as real world shooting as DPR, DXO, etc may show in lab tests). Then, testing the GF1 vs the G3, and now the G3 vs the OMD EM5, I’d say that the Sony sensor exhibits a similar color profile, sharpness, etc to what I know to be a Sony “profile” so to speak, and is as good as I’d imagine a 17.3x13mm Sony sensor at this stage is capable of. I’m in no way saying my informal tests are definitive, but I’m not at all surprised that this is a Sony sensor.

        Thanks for the comment and we’ll all have to keep each other posted if and when any more news comes out.

        Cheers,

        Tyson

  4. Reading the issue I felt that comparison is not fair, since I can buy 3 Panasonics for the price of 1 OM-D. The conclusion about best cam and best deal comforted me well. Thanks. Nice comparison!

  5. I’m surprised (when I read your summary) that you found the histogram of the EM5 annoying. My only other experience is with the smaller histograms on the Pany LX5 and GH2.. Compared with the Pany, I have really enjoyed the Olympus EM5 histogram which allows you to adjust the white point (red warning) and black point (blue warning) and I espeically like the green which shows a “mini histogram” of what is within the focusing square.

    I am curious as to what you think is missing from the histo information on the EM5?

    Thanks your great report. I’m going to add you blog to my RSS feed for sure and will now go back and read you EM5 review.

    • Hi Fishingwithflies,

      I guess I should clarify. The live view histogram is better, and certainly serviceable (great when shooting where you can afford the time to use it actually), but I admittedly don’t use it in LV very often as I prefer to keep much of the onscreen info turned off when shooting. What I was more referring to was the histogram info on playback. This is more where I personally check to see if I’ve in fact captured the info I’ve needed as with a LV histogram it can be tricky to pay attention to if you’re really focused on the frame you’re capturing, especially if shooting a non static subject.

      When in playback, if you cycle through the information, you can view the histogram for overall luminance along with each color channel. It’s very handy for quick, accurate review allowing me to focus on shooting first, and reviewing second to make sure I’ve caught the moment I want to catch if that makes sense. It is strikingly bad (visually) and while you get the gist of the captured info, it is very difficult to accurately see where it all falls. It is by far the worst histogram read back on any camera I’ve ever owned, and to me is a major oversight when you consider the community that this camera is really alluring to being more advanced shooters who will normally really benefit from good tools such as an accurate, and readable histogram.

      Overall, it really is a good camera, but there are some seriously annoying quirks that I don’t feel get the proper attention. I feel it’s important for anyone looking to invest a good chunk of change on this camera as by most accounts, everyone speaking about it focuses on everything that is right with it (while not an incorrect way to go about it by any means), I do feel it important to give it what I see as proper criticism where it deserves it though, and I’d hope that this is something that would be addressed by Olympus either in a firmware update or future iterations.

      Thanks for taking the time to read through and comment, hopefully I’ll have some fun and somewhat interesting stuff to push through your RSS feed :)

      t

      • Tyson, I get what you’re talking about. That’s the particular view I default to (image with blinkies in upper left, and histos for each channel and gray and also some exif into. I have it set up to watch in the viewfinder right after I click the shutter. I thought that I liked it better than the GH2 equivalent because the image (upper left) was slightly bigger on the EM5. But also the GH2 data will include focal length whereas EM5 did not (as I recall).

        I spent 2 weeks in the Canadian Rockies with both cameras, alternating day to day and shooting mostly with the 14-54II by Oly. I found lots of pros and cons with each one… but as far as the image quality of the results I would say I really can’t tell the difference. Or, if I “can” tell the difference, it doesn’t really “make” a difference. That said, from a creative standpoint I really like having the GH2 multiaspect sensor.

        I’m going to be soon posting results on my own blog (a hobby website). WOuld you be interesting in knowing when I do???

        Peter F.

      • Hi Peter,

        Thanks, and I think I have had a very similar experience, and conclusion through this little exercise (albeit with the G3 as opposed to the GH2). I try my best to always mention that any gripes, or enjoyments for a particular camera I have are personal opinions. While scientific tests can show quantitative differences, I find so often that when shooting in real world situations, many of those aren’t quite as amplified. So many aspects of photography and photographic gear are going to come down to personal preference, or habitual comforts, and the fact we have so many quality choices is wonderful.

        I’d love to read your comparison, and if you would, post it here so that anyone reading through who may be interested can as well. These particular (micro 4/3) articles certainly generate more traffic than my processing or other review posts for me, so hopefully it can lead to a broader discussion, and overall experience for all of us.

        Also, if you have a link to any images from the Canadian Rockies trip, I’d love to see them, regardless of gear used to capture them. I’m in the NW US and have yet to make it up, but plan to do a family trip once the lil’ns are old enough to appreciate it.

        Thanks for the conversation, and I look forward to reading your take.

        t

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  7. thanks for the comparison , very well done

    come by ep1 dot net and join us , you would get some traffic too

  8. Maybe I missed it, but what raw processor(s) did you use? Assuming you used the software’s default profile for each camera, that can account for much of the differences in color and contrast you notice (though probably not the differences in noise). Just because the software settings were the same for both cameras doesn’t mean the processing was the same. In LR4, for example, ’0′ on a slider reflects the default for that camera profile, and isn’t the same for all cameras.

    • Hi Bob,

      I’ve used Silkypix for RAW conversion before, but have come to the conclusion that I abhor the program and use Aperture (mentioned in the article) and the default profiles as translated in their RAW conversion by Apple RAW compatibility. Yes, unscientific, but for me, and many I’d guess, realistic. If we use LR, Aperture, et al, many of us rely on the actual conversion profiles from the proprietary files and while we may fine tune them in the programs, I tend to keep them at the provided defaults personally. If using LR, Ap, etc, this is more how our RAW files will look (and probably not too far off what any RAW converter would default to given the same files) upon initial conversion, less the jpeg compression, but then we start to look at monitor ability, fidelity, accuracy, etc. Perhaps not exactly how they would look proprietarily, but again, this is how I work, and feel it is a fairly realistic representation as to how many of us may and merely wanted to show my workflow and the differences between the two when processed the same way, through the same software, etc. That all said, I also mention that either file could very easily be tweaked to look like the other if desired. I think that the G3 files sharpen in post more organically, but require that added step if printing large where the EM5 files hold up pretty well without the same level of post sharpening (although, arguably, for print we should be doing some level of post sharpening depending on medium output, printers, etc…).

      I appreciate the read and the conversation.

      All my best,
      tyson

  9. Pingback: G3 or OM-D? - Page 4 - Micro Four Thirds User Forum

  10. Thanks for writing this up. Upon reading it I have two comments: first of all f/8 is one step into the diffraction zone on m4/3. f/8 is good on FF, but on m4/3 it’s f/5.6 which is the best guess sharpest opening. Secondly I think something went wrong in focus or tripod stability in the EM5 ISO 200 indoor photo (em5-200.jpg). Nothing is quite in focus at 100%, while the corresponding G3 ISO160 photo is sharp everywhere.

    • Hi Nic,

      Thank you for the comment. I wasn’t purely concerned about absolute sharpness, but more comparative sharpness. Diffraction on any given sensor, when combined with any particular lens may be entirely different on a case by case basis, and admittedly, I’ve not tested it on either camera. With this article, I wanted more to look first at a couple real situations where these cameras may be used, or asked to perform as opposed to doing purely controlled tests, although, for noise comparison, I was interested in doing a simple controlled test.

      Thanks for the heads up on the ISO test shots. I’ll have a look and see if I have a better frame as I took multiple of each, at each exposure and thought I’d gotten all my ducks in a row.

      Thanks again for the attention to detail, much appreciated.

      Cheers,

      Tyson

  11. Pingback: Aktuelle Systemkamera Links (11. Juli 2012) - Systemkamera Blog

  12. Pingback: *OM-D E-M5, thoughts, pros and cons. « Tyson Robichaud Photo-blography

    • OM-D just arrived ,not bowled over but love the viewfinder ,hope the new Panasonic GH3 will have as good or better ..then i will probably sell the OM-D and stick with the Panny system.
      Have not found anyone’s comments about the fact that the Panasonic tele zoom lenses do not work correctly on the OM-D .The image stabilizer is a firmware update with the Panasonic camera and lens connected..
      My shots at the same shutter speed are pin sharp on the GH2 and blurry blurry on the OM-D..Something to watch out for …Still testing as i have had the camera for just a few days.

      • Hi Neil,

        Thanks for the comment. Personally, I prefer the Panasonic interface over the Oly (the OMDEM5 being my only Oly camera). The main drawback (in theory at this point) for me and the upcoming GH3 will be the lack of in body IS. I’m sure it will be environmentally sealed and would guess it will be up to par IQ wise, and I’d bet my house that the GH3 will kill the OMD in the video department. I’d also guess that it will be more expensive though, so, ultimately it will provide two different skill sets at two different price points which is good for the system.

        I don’t own any Pany tele lenses, but I’d be interested in hearing more about the problems involved. Is the focal length info being properly transfered to engage the IS system for the applicable focal length? I know that with 3rd party optics, I need to input the focal length, perhaps it is a situation with the Pana tele’s where this needs to happen as well?

        Thanks again,

        t

  13. Pingback: *Topaz DeNoise 5, like a fine wine. « Tyson Robichaud Photo-blography

  14. Hey, can you tell me more about the banding problem in regards to the Panasonic Lumix 20mm f/1.7 when mounted on an Olympus OMD EM5 camera… I was going to buy the lens but then read all these articles that say in high ISO, there is banding (noise lines). My alternative is the Olympus 17mm f/2.8. It’s sort of like the comparison you made above, the Lumix is the “better” lens, but the Oly is the better “deal” since it’s around $170 less and doesn’t have the banding issue.

    I love my OMD EM5, just got the 45mm f/1.8 and it takes some fantastic shots, but at a distance, so im looking for either the 17mm or 20mm so i can be closer to subjects.

    Hope to hear back from you soon! Thanks

    • Hey Kayvon,

      I’ve only noticed the banding at ISO 6400 and haven’t cranked the camera higher personally.

      I know many folks like the 17/2.8 but I think it’s near universal that the 20/1.7 is better optically and of course is faster by a stop and a half. The only reason I’d buy the Oly would be if I wanted that slight extra width, but even then I think I’d buy the 20.

      Lenses should last for multiple bodies as they’re more or less fixed technology. Bodies are very temporary (which I’m finding more and more with the OMD as I’m having substantial problems with mine and hope to hear back from Oly soon).

      I’d not let a problem with a camera body keep me from buying a lens if A) I wanted that lens, and B) if the problem was very avoidable.

      I say avoidable because, even shooting wide open at 3200 with the 20, you’d, need to shoot the 17 wide open an crank to ISO 8000 and still be under exposed by a third of a stop to get close to the same exposure.

      Good luck with it and thanks for the read.

      T

      • I really appreciate the response, and how quick it came. I’m meeting somebody from Craigslist to try it out tomorrow, he’s selling it for $350, which is currently $150 less than what you’d pay in store, not even counting all the taxes!

        Also, since the Oly 17mm f/1.7 might be coming out in the next 6 months, perhaps the Lumix 20mm will keep me satisfied until that one is released, since i am very brand loyal to Olympus and this is the first time I would be wavering from it since I began my photography over 12 years ago!

        Thanks again for your time.

        -Kayvon

  15. Thanks for this comparison. I just picked up a G3 body only as i have an E-PL1 and a few lenses, and the camera was such a steal I could not resist it. Having bought it though, I am sure I will find it easier to resist the OMD, for which my wallet is thanking me.

    • Hey Paul,

      Sorry that you’re not into it. I was a little leery when I first made the switch, but have had nearly universal approval since the change over. I appreciate you taking the time to give your opinion and sorry it didn’t work out for you.

      Best,
      t

  16. Hi, very nice review here, I’ve enjoyed it very much.
    I own a Pana G3 and a few primes (Pana 20mm & Oly 45 mm) for about one year now and I am very pleased with it. But when I compare the measured ISO values of the G3 and OMD at DxO-Mark, I see that the ISO values of OMD are 50 % way off !
    G3 ‘s 400 ISO value is in fact a 200 ISO measured OMD and E-PL5 etc.
    It makes pefect sense: they both have the same sensor…
    This seems to be a “strategy” by Olympus !? One should keep this in mind and make the correct comparisons.
    What the heck ? I simply love the retro-look of the OMD and the sexy shape of the E-PL5.
    So I will probably “upgrade” to OMD E-M5 or PEN E-PL5 in the future despite these “wrong” ISO values … :-)

    Happy shooting,
    Rudy

    • Thanks Rudy.

      I’ve certainly noticed inconsistencies in the ISO register for the OMD EM5, but I’ve not found it to be a full stop personally, normally metering off by 1/3 to 2/3 when looking directly at exposure from another camera. I find the G3 to meter much closer to my other cameras or when using a handheld meter.

      I think the OMD EM5 is starting to come down in price making it a much more realistically priced camera. The early adoption fees are starting to disappear which is nice, especially for those of us that have had the patience and waited. If buying right now, unless I felt the need for the EVF and extra environmental sealing, I’d probably look to buy the EPL-5 personally.

      Thanks for the comment and good luck with the eventual upgrade!

      Cheers,

      Tyson

  17. Pingback: *Olympus 75mm f/1.8 vs Canon 135 f/2 L | Tyson Robichaud Photo-blography

  18. Pingback: Olympus OM-D E-M5 vs Panasonic G3 - Blog for micro four third and competing cameras

  19. Pingback: *Panasonic Lumix 20/20 vision! v.1 vs v.2 | Tyson Robichaud Photo-blography

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