Saturday, December 29, 2012

High ISO Noise - Olympus E-PM2 Vs Canon EOS 650D

I couldn't resist buying the new Olympus E-PM2 on eBay when I saw the price it was listed at.  I love my E-PM1, but its high ISO performance above 800 ISO is not great.  From various test reports I've read, the E-PM2 is the ideal travel compact camera for me.  It has the same sensor as the OM-D E-M5, so in theory it should have the same image quality and high ISO performance.

After shooting with it for over a week, I can easily say it is a great little camera.  I will now mainly use the E-PM1 for doing time lapse photography and video work.  The E-PM1 is still a great camera, but the E-PM2 is just much better for image quality.  I wanted to know if the noise performance is as good as my Canon EOS 650D.  I set up a simple test in my bed room with a calendar and a suite with fine pattern.  In my experience, noise and morie pattern are worse on men's suites when shot in dark rooms.

Here is the 100% view of the test image.  The bed room was very dark and only lit with one bedside lamp to the left.  Both cameras were mounted on a tripod.  They both had custom white balance set and focused using live view.  Finally, the shutter had a 2s time delay to avoid camera shake.  The lens on the E-PM2 was the Panasonic 20mm F1.7 at F4.  On the Canon, the lens used was the 17-40mm F4 L USM at F5.6.

100% view of test image
The resulting images were processed Olympus Viewer 2 for the E-PM2 and Canon DPP for the 650D.  I then took 100% crops of the calendar and the suite of the images from 800 ISO to 6400 ISO.  Before showing you the test results, I want to say Olympus E-PM2 images were a lot sharper (before applying noise reduction), especially the fine pattern of the suite.  There was far more details from the E-PM2 images.
I had to apply more chroma noise reduction in Canon DPP to get rid of the really bad chroma noise from the 650D images.  However, I did noticed there was a small colour shift from 3200 ISO with the images of E-PM2.  This was very noticeable on the suite.  Click on each image for a larger view.

800 ISO E-PM1 on the left EOS 650D on the right

1600 ISO E-PM1 on the left EOS 650D on the right

3200 ISO E-PM1 on the left EOS 650D on the right

6400 ISO E-PM1 on the left EOS 650D on the right

I am very impressed with the images from the E-PM2 and how well the fine pattern on the suite is preserved at 3200 ISO.  Even at 800 ISO, the fine details on the 650D is already worse than the E-PM2.

After seeing the results, all I can say is Canon is well behind in the sensor development when compared to Olympus (I've heard it is using a Sony sensor).  It will be interesting to see what Canon will release next year.  They really do need a 650D replacement soon with a new sensor, or they will be left behind.

How ever, it does not mean the Canon 650D is a bad camera, it is just not as good as the E-PM2 for image quality.  I still prefer to use the Canon 650D for a lot of work due to handling and the lenses I've for it.  It means I no longer have to compromise image quality when I am traveling light with the E-PM2.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Yongnou YN565EX

Recently I traded in my Canon 550D for the Canon 650D for the built in wireless control.  When I tried out the wireless flash control with my Canon 430EX and Canon 550EX flash guns and I was very impressed.  I love to be able to use ETTL flash and full manual control wirelessly.  After that I wanted a third flash gun with wireless flash control, but do want to pay the high cost of a Canon EX flash gun.  I’ve seen a few reports of an ETTL compatible flash gun from Younnuo called YN565EX.   It is the same physical size and power of the Canon 580EX but similar control interface of the Canon 430EX.  It cannot act as a wireless commander and cannot do high speed flash sync.  After some investigation on various online forums, I decided to order one.

Delivery was quick from an eBay seller.  Inside the package there is the flash gun, a Chinese/English instruction, a pouch and plastic stand for mounting on a tripod.  All I can say is it works perfectly.  I tested it mounted on the camera and off camera as a wireless slave, both in ETTL and manual modes.  When I checked the power, it has a full stop more power than my Canon 550EX flash gun.  I am very happy with this purchase and can’t wait to test it on a photo shoot coming up.

I was able to use the flash on a shoot a few days after receiving it.  The occasion was the celebration of a 50th wedding anniversary family gathering.  It was held at the Ritz Hotel in London.  I was given 30 minutes in an area of the hotel to photography the family.  With the time constrain, I decided against using my Strobeam DL4 and shot wireless TTL using my Canon 650D  as the commander.  As well as the YN565EX, I had a Canon 550EX also in slave mode.  Both flashes were mounted in an umbrella bracket with shoot through umbrellas.  It all went to plan and the results were very good.  Shooting wireless TTL enabled me to work a lot faster.  Overall I am very happy with the results.  Here are a photo from this shoot.

Update 24th April 2013: Recently I had the chance to test my YN-565EX with a Phottix Odin wireless trigger system and can confirm they are not compatible with each other.  When mounted on the receiver, the zoom can be controlled and when the test button is pressed, the flash does fire.  How ever, the flash does not fire, in both ETTL or manual mode, when the shutter button was pressed.  That was a disappointment as I was hoping they will work together as I would like to purchase a set of Odin soon.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Christmas Party Images With E-PM1 & Panasonic 20mm F1.7

Just had a Christmas night out with my work mates.  It was at The Roadhouse in Convent Garden in London.  The venue is a bar/night club where we had a meal, some dancing and live band.  The place was very dark.  The camera auto white balance normally work very well, but on this occasion, it just did not work well.  I had to set up a custom white balance and set the ISO to 2000 and lens wide open at F1.7.  I decided not to use flash as it would be difficult to balance the flash with ambient lighting.  The Panasonic 20mm F1.7 lens did struggle to focus sometimes in the dark condition.

Here are some of the shots.  There is noise, but it did remarkably well and  I am very happy.  All images were shot on RAW and converted using Olympus Viewer 2 and then down sized for web.