Severely let down by E-P3 IQ

Discussion in 'Olympus' started by Fuddlestack, May 14, 2013.

  1. Fuddlestack

    Fuddlestack Regular

    Dec 1, 2010
    Alsace, France
    I was given an E-P3 last Christmas, and since then virtually every shot I have taken has been a test shot. The image quality just isn't there. It barely (and only occasionally) measures up to my Canon G-12 and never to my Nikon DSLRs, certainly not the D300s but not even the D40.

    OK, it might be the glass. I have the kit 14-42, the old 17mm f/2.8 and the long Panny zoom, can't remember the mm right now. In any case, the only decent image I have got out of the beast was in bright sunlight with a 1984 Soligor 24-45.

    ...But it's not the glass. I can shoot ORF and tweak the NR in Viewer 2, or bung it through Adobe DNG converter and set about it in ACR. I just cannot hit a decent balance between detail and noise.

    The default Nikon and Canon in-camera JPG conversions do this sublimely and effortlessly. The Oly default conversion is a mess.

    I can't believe that people actually like this camera. It's a dog.

    Hell, no, I love my dogs. It's a rat.
  2. pdh

    pdh Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    If you don't like it you should probably stop using it
  3. Fuddlestack

    Fuddlestack Regular

    Dec 1, 2010
    Alsace, France
    Well, that has happened more or less automatically. But tell me this, if you have one: how do you get a clean image out of it?
  4. pdh

    pdh Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    There are a number of possibilities: as plenty of other people own one and seem satisfied, you may have a bad example; or your expectations may be too high; perhaps there are other reasons I haven't thought of.

    I'd be inclined to carry on using the cameras with which I am satisfied rather than "flogging a dead horse"; or you could send it to Olympus and ask them to look at it.
  5. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs Legend

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    you should be able to figure it out...
    I don't know what you're standards are or whether your problems are at high or low ISO. It's the old 12mp sensor that isn't much at high ISO compared to the newer sensors. I never loved it above ISO 800 and pretty much never pushed it beyond 1600 - and 1600 was pretty noisy.

    I can believe it doesn't live up to your DSLR's but it should easily better your G-12 - if it's not, there may be something wrong with it. I was always happy enough with that sensor at base ISO, but I knew some landscape shooters who never were, who could always find some degree of noise in blue skies. Is that not also true of your G12? I had an EP2 (same sensor, slower auto focus) and an S90 at the same time and the EP2 was a good deal better than the S90 to my eye. So if the EP3 isn't bettering your G12, something may be wrong with it.

    But don't expect it to live up to the newer m43 sensors in the newer Oly bodies or the Pany GH3 - it's not in the same league.

  6. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    Hello Fuddle.....sorry to hear that you and the E-P3 didn't get along. Micro four thirds is a system built around the idea of a compromise between pure IQ and size. Big sensors will always beat smaller ones. But the difference is pretty small if you ask me. The images can have a bit of noise above ISO800, but I've shot images up to ISO 3200 and been fine with them. I think the pattern of noise is fairly film like. I know there are many here that are very happy with theirs and continue to squeeze amazing shots out of this machine (I actually still think the IQ of the E-P1 is more than good enough!)

    I make no claims to be a great photographer and I won't claim that the photos below are great either. But they are a few examples that I think will show the IQ is "good enough" (but that varies from person to person). I hope you find the camera you are seeking.

    unknown pungent blooms by Lukinosity, on Flickr

    View attachment 69410
    Firestone with patina by Lukinosity, on Flickr

    View attachment 69411
    puddle reflections by Lukinosity, on Flickr

    here's an ISO1600 shot with a $25 lens...
    PC130154 by Lukinosity, on Flickr

    and everyone loves cake.....have a slice.
    Mango Mousse cake by Lukinosity, on Flickr
  7. ReD

    ReD Hall of Famer

    Mar 27, 2013
    I highly rate the 1st one Luke
  8. snkenai

    snkenai All-Pro

    Oct 5, 2010
    kenai, AK
    Stephen Noel
    I have the E-p2 and yes it shows some noise, even at base ISO. I shoot it with NR turned off, to get more detail. It is not up to the bigger, later sensors, but as has been said, to most people that I know, it is great.
    That being said, yesterday I shot the wife at her new/old sewing machine with it and a Vivitar 24mm. Then with the K-01 and -M 50mm. The difference in noise was dramatic. Yes the K-01 won.
    I am a very good cook, until placed along side of a famous chef. As others have indicated, the camera was never ment to replace the hudge DSLR.
    Just send it along to me via USPS Priority. I will love it, for what it is. A great SMALL camera. :smile:
  9. Biro

    Biro Super Moderator

    Aug 7, 2011
    Jersey Shore
    The only part of Fuddlestack's problems with the E-P3 that I don't understand is his comparison with the Canon G-12. I guess everyone's expectations and perceptions are different. That said, I think he'd feel a lot differently about all of the Pens with the 16mp sensor.
  10. Fuddlestack

    Fuddlestack Regular

    Dec 1, 2010
    Alsace, France
    Interesting answers... thanks, all.

    Luke, your shots are something of an education.

    Maybe I am being too hard on it.

    On the DSLRs I often underexpose by a couple of stops to allow a higher shutter speed, then bump up the exposure in ACR. There just isn't the latitude in this sensor.

    In bright light it is pretty well OK, and I have taken presentable shots at 2500, but in low light, even at base ISO, the shadows are mottled.

    I don't know where this is going, really. Maybe I just need to work with it some more. But in the meantime I just know that if I'm going somewhere where I need to be sure of getting the shots, I take a different camera.
  11. ean10775

    ean10775 All-Pro

    Feb 13, 2013
    Cleveland, Ohio
    As far as the 12MP sensored Olympus m43 cameras go, I've generally never been happy with the IQ above base ISO (200) although I do have a few ISO 400 images I am pleased with. I for one find the kit lens to be pretty decent, though I wasn't crazy about the 17mm f2.8. As others have said, I can certainly see it not measuring up to your DSLR, but it should be better than the G12 on all counts. Can you perhaps share some images that you're unhappy with so we have a better idea as to what you're referring to?
  12. wt21

    wt21 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    One note -- NEVER underexpose the 12MP sensor. It does not take that at all well. It's better shooting high key, or ETTR then pulling back.

    I was quite pleased with that sensor at the time it was released in the EP1 (in 2009) ISO 200 and 400. 800 was OK. 1600 only for B&W. Blown highlights were always an issue. I learned to use the sensor to it's strengths, but I have moved on to the new sensor, which handles much more like a DSLR sensor (the 16MP sensor in the GH3, OMD, EPL5, EPM2 and now EP5).

  13. Fuddlestack

    Fuddlestack Regular

    Dec 1, 2010
    Alsace, France
    Here's a detail of an E-P3 shot alongside one from the G12:


    There's not a lot in it, but I find the G12 shot rather more subtle in the toning - i.e. the better DR is showing through. This could be due to the somewhat fierce default NR in the Oly, though.
  14. >> underexpose by a couple of stops, then bump up the exposure in ACR <<

    Isn't this a recipe for noise with any digital camera? Bigger sensor is more forgiving to this approach, it's true, but still. But maybe take advantage of IBIS and shoot a bit closer to optimum exposure?
  15. fin azvandi

    fin azvandi Veteran

    Feb 22, 2012
    Madison, WI
    Another happy E-P3 user here, and ditto on the advice to overexpose (below the point where highlights are clipped) and then pull it down in post. I'm certainly looking forward to upgrading to the next-generation sensor eventually, but in the meantime I've made plenty of lovely prints with this sensor (and good glass!).




  16. Fuddlestack

    Fuddlestack Regular

    Dec 1, 2010
    Alsace, France
    Yeah. One of the early shots I took was under heavy cloud with a bright band on the horizon. I metered on the band, aiming for glowering velvety clouds above and dark land beneath. The clouds weren't bad, but the heavily shadows in the foreground looked as if they had died and decomposed a week ago.

    This thing is, with the G12 I can turn out shots like this reliably:


    whereas the EP3 leaves me hoping.

    Yeah again: the lack of EVs has the DR in a cleft stick.

    And now the E-P5 is out the resell value of the E-P3 just zonked.

    BTW, if I may ask an unrelated question, does Viewer 2 allow you to see the selected focusing point in ORFs?
  17. Fuddlestack

    Fuddlestack Regular

    Dec 1, 2010
    Alsace, France
    Certainly, but as you say high-capacity photosites give you more latitude. I just hadn't expected them to be so small on the EP3. For a static subject I'd use stabilization, but IS doesn't freeze subject motion.
  18. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    The EP3's old 12 mp sensor has considerably more noise in the shadows than the newer 16 mp sensors in the OMD, EPM2, and EPL5. So I would recommend not underexposing with the EP3.

    Here are some EP3 photos.

    I overexposed this one (accidentally). EP3 + 45/1.8


    Here's one with the kit lens

    View attachment 69434

    One with the Pany 20/1.7

    View attachment 69435
  19. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    The thumbnail on the left seems out of focus.

  20. madmaxmedia

    madmaxmedia Veteran

    Nov 10, 2010
    Los Angeles
    Everyone has summed up the old 12MP sensor pretty well. The E-P3 added a lot of bells and whistles but unfortunately didn't upgrade the sensor.

    Here is a great comparison Amin did of M4/3 vs. some 1/1.8" cameras:

    Even at base ISO there's much better detail in the G1 IMO (and that's shot with the relatively inferior Panasonic 14-42mm kit lens.) To compare that M43 sensor to larger sensors, here's another great comparison by Amin:

    Looking at both, M43 sits squarely in the middle (that also matches my experience.) I think Olympus did about as well as they could with that particular 12MP Panasonic sensor (as long as you turn NR to low or off!)