Both had Noise Reduction turned OFF to see the true sensor performance at high ISO (NR smears details).
Both focused just fine here.
You can click on each image for the full size from camera JPEG. You can see the Nikon vs Sony color signature here as well. The Nikon is known to be the best current production low light champ and high ISO shooter with that D4 sensor inside and the Sony A7 is the new sensor on the block. How do you think they stacked up?
Took the 5n out to shoot some low light video at higher ISO. I went to an aquarium and set the ISO to 3200 and 6400 using the kit zoom. My full review of the 5n will be up by Monday but here is the HD video samples and what the stock 5n and kit zoom can do in near darkness. Enjoy!
When Olympus released the E-P1, the camera suffered from slow AF, poor high ISO performance and it always lost out to the Panasonic M4/3 camera (slightly) and other larger sensor cameras. The E-P2 did nothing to improve upon the high ISO but the AF did get a speed boost and the video control improved. With the new E-P3, Olympus claims better high ISO performance, and if you read my review you would have seen that I loved the AF speed boost, and just about everything else about the camera. But I did not really get into high ISO performance so much and I recieved a few e-mails asking me to pit it against the Sony NEX-5 at 3200, 6400 and 12,800.
It was just over a year ago when I reviewed the Sony NEX-3 and 5 cameras. At that time, their high ISO capability was unheard of! 12,800 ISO in a small camera like that was a first, and everyone raved about the quality of low light shots, even me!
With its APS-C sized sensor (not quite full frame, but larger than the Micro 4/3 sensor) the Sony was able to do better at high ISO and low light than other small cameras and it competed with larger DSLR’s. The E-P3 is here and still has the 4/3 size sensor of course, so I wanted to see how it would stand up to the NEX, not only in noise, but in detail. I used the 12mm f/2 lens on the Olympus at f/3.5. On the Sony I shot with the higher end 18-200 at 18mm, f3.5.
I did a quick and dirty test, using the STEADYSHOT of the 18-200 and the built in IS of the E-P3. I turned OFF the Noise Reduction on the E-P3 as you can. The Sony does not allow you to turn it off but it does let you switch it to “WEAK”, so this is what I did. I wanted to let each camera give the most detail without letting Noise Reduction get in the way and smear it all up. I shot JPEGS as there is still no Lightroom or Photoshop support for the E-P3 RAW files.
The first comparison shot of a couple of books was taken in my living room, at night, with a very dim lamp shining in from my office. Here we go!
FIrst I will show you a couple of resized images from each camera – ISO 3200 and then ISO 12,800. After that I will show you the crops from each at 3200, 6400 and 12,800. You can click on the images for larger 1800 pixel wide versions.
The E-P3 at ISO 3200 – 12mm – f/3.5 – 12mm (24mm)
Sony NEX-5 – ISO 3200 – f/3.5 – 18mm (28mm)
Ok, let’s go to ISO 12,800
BELOW: E-P3 at ISO 12,800 – Click image for larger version – scroll down for 100% crops
NEX-5 at ISO 12,800 – Click image for larger version – scroll down for 100% crops
E-P3 1st, NEX-5 2nd
What happens if you convert the JPEGS to black and white?
First the E-P3 at ISO 12,800 – Click image for larger
NEX-5 at ISO 12,800 – Click image for larger
How about another subject with a little more light. I my Kitchen area…
The E-P3 - ISO 3200 – This time I had it set to F/2 though. MUST CLICK IMAGE FOR FULL 100% CROP VIEW!
and the NEX – ISO 3200 – MUST CLICK IMAGE FOR FULL 100% CROP VIEW
and one more…
BELOW: E-P3 CROP
BELOW: NEX-5 CROP
What I see in all of the images is that the Noise Reduction in the NEX is hindering the detail. Also, the Olympus 12mm lens is a sharper lens than the $799 Sony 18-200. I actually prefer the grit and grime of the E-P3 versions over the somewhat dull and mushy NEX versions. Olympus did a good job with the E-P3 and when NR is turned off there is still plenty of detail in the files, even at high ISO. Next test should be against the X100 :)
HOW ABOUT MORE VIDEO SAMPLES WITH THE E-P3? Even a low light video that is pretty free of grain!
I’m still waiting for the “PRO PEN” with a built in EVF. Also, the rumored Sony NEX-7 with built in EVF should up the stakes yet again. Below are a couple of high ISO shots taken with the E-P3 this evening just to test it out. Enjoy!
ISO 6400 – spot metered on the can – in camera B&W JPEG (not the art filter grainy B&W, but MONOTONE color selection. Click for larger.
ISO 3200 – NIGHT – OOC JPEG, NO NR, NO PP
ISO 3200, night..f/2 – 12mm
E-P3 – 12mm, f/2 – ISO 6400, in camera B&W, NR OFF, evening, no lights on.
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Since I have a Nikon D3s low light monster here I decided to do a silly experiment. As you all know I shoot with a Leica M9 and a 50 Noctilux F1 lens. The M9 only goes up to ISO 2500. Thats it! The D3s goes past 100,000 ISO but it is pretty bad that high so I have been shooting it in low light at ISO 12,800-16,000. At these crazy high ISO settings it is pretty damn good. Pretty amazing really.
But I wanted to see if the M9 at ISO 2500 with the Noctilux at F1 could perform as well as the Nikon D3s at ISO 16,000 with a Nikon 50 1.8 at F2.2 (the 50 1.8 is not really sharp until 2.2).When I say “perform as well” I mean, can the M9 get the shot in super low light with its limited ISO compared to the D3s? In other words, will you lose a low light shot by having an M9 and super fast lens over something like a D3s?
So to cut to the chase, the house was dark and I had a small light in the room where this was shot. I had both cameras at my side ready to go.
Keep in mind that these are OOC (out of camera) JPEGS. Both the M9 and D3s were set up to shoot B&W in camera. No RAW here, just a quick JPEG test using out of camera files.
First, here is the D3s at F2.2 and ISO 16,000. This looks FABULOUS to me, and below it is a 100% crop.