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Thread: E520 In Low Light

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    E520 In Low Light

    I find my E520 really struggles in low light. Does anyone else find this - do you have some tips n tricks that might help?

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    Administrator ricktas's Avatar
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    Unfortunately this is the bane of Olympus. Oly chose to use the 4/3rd system and as such is using sensors that are much smaller than those that are placed into Nikon/Canon/Pentax/Sony (APS-C sensors and larger).

    So you cram 10MP onto a smaller sensor, means each pixel site is smaller compared to 10MP on a APS-C or bigger sensor. Once you start making individual pixel sites smaller, pure physics comes into play regarding the amount of light that can hit each pixel site. The result is that noise will become apparent as you increase the ISO, at a much lower ISO than that on an equivalent sensor that is of an overall larger size.

    Olympus camera's are great at low ISO, and they produce some truly stunning results. I find I like the colours straight out of Olympus cameras, but the trade off with the 4/3rd system is the smaller sensor is going to reach limitations.
    "It is one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like, it is another thing to make a portrait of who they are" - Paul Caponigro

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    Well that makes sense, i have had similar explained to me before but i didn't really understand it. Thanks for the that!

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    Member OlyE520's Avatar
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    I have the same problem and If I had known about this shortfall before buying an Oly, I probably would have purchased another brand as I enjoy shooting in low light. You can try a large apature lens like the Oly 50mm f2.0 or the Sigma 50mm f1.4. This will help in low light situations.

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    Low ISO is poor but there are some upsides - from what I have gathered from the net is that the Zuiko glass is outstanding and semi pro is affordable. The lenses are smaller for the same zoom as the Nikanon's (good for carrying around). As Rick mentioned the colours are excellent. The sensor cleaning is excellent. The IS is in the body which lowers the cost of a lens. it is not all doom and gloom.
    Website - McGoo Photography
    Sean | Olympus E5 | Olympus e620 | Zuiko 7-14 | Zuiko 35-100 SHG | Zuiko 14-54 | Zuiko 70-300 | OM 50mm | Panagor macro converter | CPL filter | FL-50R flash |


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    Quote Originally Posted by Dust Angel View Post
    I find my E520 really struggles in low light. Does anyone else find this - do you have some tips n tricks that might help?
    What type of low light are you in or using? You might find ways around it depending on your situation. My sigma 30mm is the worst for focusing in low light, yet it is the largest apeture out of the range I own. Meanwhile my 12-60 and 50-200 perform better being faster higher quality lenses.

    I find I'm relatively happy with the performance, I know low light isnt the best in this system, but I havent been disappointed yet lol.
    Olympus bodies: E330 & the E3. Lenses: Zuiko 12-60mm, 50-200mm. Sigma 105mm. Extras: EX25, FL36R, FL50R and a few odds and ends

    "A stranger is just a friend you don't know yet!" ~ Billy Connelly

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    Member Ross the fiddler's Avatar
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    I find my E520 really struggles in low light. Does anyone else find this - do you have some tips n tricks that might help?
    I've got an Oly E520 & last year I bought the ZD14-54 II f2.8 lens with max aperture from 2.8 - 3.5 to go on it. It is a lovely lens & it has also made focusing a little easier & it is also a lot cheaper than the 12-60mm lens. I have since got the Oly E30 body & with the ISO going up to 3200 with ISO 200 being the point of maximum dynamic range, it captures some lovely shots. With faster shutter speed, duel wheel control, swivel screen, built in level meter (& the list goes on), it is a very nice, capable camera. You can get some good deals on the E30 now as the next generation could possibly be coming in September (or announced then).

    As far as noise is concerned, sure you you can get some cleaner images from the latest Canikons, but what is often overlooked is the depth of field comparison. To get the same depth of field as f3.5 at 50mm on the Oly 4/3's cameras, it would be 2 stops (not sure of exact figures) up on a full frame camera which means the sensitivity needs to be 2 stops up to keep the same shutter speed. Therefore if you were using ISO 1600 on your E520, a full frame camera would need to be using ISO 6400 at the same shutter speed to achieve the same depth of field using about f6.3 or smaller (f7.2). Then with the E30 using ISO 3200, the full frame would be at 12,800.

    As far as noise comparisons go, I recieved some photos of a particular event taken on a Canon 5D mark I at ISO 3200 & the noise was ugly, really ugly in the darker parts of the photos. I don't know if noise filtering was used, but one of the best noise filtering programs that would also work really well with photos from Oly cameras is Noise Ninja.

    I love my Oly camera & there will always be the knockers. I think it is great when I use my ZD 70-300 f3.5-5.6 lens that I have equivalent reach as a 600mm lens on a 35mm camera, all in a very manageable size & weight & nice quality too at a reasonable price.

    Ross
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    Software: Capture One Pro 10 (& Olympus Viewer 3).

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    As a former e520 owner, I can attest to the fact that ISO / noise were the bane of my existence.

    Granted, if you are shooting outdoors with quality glass, the pics were brilliant.

    But, about this time last year I gave long exposure night time photography a try. Yuck!

    About the same time, my I tried to take pics of my daughter ice-skating in a low light indoor rink. Yuck!

    It was about then I flogged my Oly stuff off and switched to Canon as, increasingly, I was finding myself photographing in poor light conditions.

    I really think that Olympus have gotten on the wrong train with 4/3.

    It is great for specific situations but, for all around work-horses. Yuck.

    Scotty
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    Member Ross the fiddler's Avatar
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    As I said, There will always be the knockers!

    If you were using the E520 at night on auto ISO (assuming auto maximised to ISO 400) with auto gradation on, the shadows will go up to ISO 1600 & the result will be yuk! However, if it was set to ISO 100, gradation to normal (no shadow adjustment) with auto noise reduction on (to cancel out any noisy pixels for long exposure), the camera is capable of producing excellent night shots (so long as it is on a tripod) which I have done.

    The Olympus E30 is a much better camera (on a par with the Canon 40D) than the E520 (which is on a par with Canon 450D) with increased ISO, larger view finder, inbuilt level meter, duel control wheels, swivel screen, faster continuous shutter speed, up to 1/8000 sec shutter time (instead of 1/4000 of sec) more dedicated buttons, lens auto focus adjustments, faster flash sync speed (1/250 sec), dedicated flash sync connecter & the list goes on. I enjoy using my Oly E30 which is a very capable camera.

    If you are trying to achieve normal photos at night using available light, then you need to work within the limits of the camera. A poor tradesman will blame his tools, but a true craftsman will master his tools. It’s all about how you use your camera.

    The Olympus cameras produce excellent JPEG’s but also have the ability to save RAW as well to enable further adjustments/choices later (eg change white balance, change certain camera settings) in Olympus Viewer 2 software (or Photoshop). There are other brands that are best taken in RAW as there JPEG’s are not what they could be & are best optimised in Photoshop. Each to their own!

    Those that give up on Olympus are either pushing the limits of ISO or don’t use their cameras to the best of their abilities. To criticise a lower level Olympus & compare it to a higher level Canon is not being honest with themselves or others. While Olympus may not achieve as high an ISO as some other cameras, they are getting better & produce excellent results.

    I am really pleased with the ability of my Oly E30 & its results.

    Ross
    Last edited by Ross the fiddler; 23-05-2010 at 9:23pm.

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    I am older than I look. peterb666's Avatar
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    Each new Olympus model is just a little better with low light. The E-520 is getting a bit old now, the E-620 replaced it and was considered to be a reasonable improvment. The E-P1 another slight improvement, with some tweaking of the latest E-PL1.

    I am sure the next E-6xx or E-3 replacement etc. will again move forward. If you have an investment in Olympus glass, then it may be worthwhile seeing what comes to market later this year.

    Cheers

    PeterB666

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    Member Ross the fiddler's Avatar
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    Each new Olympus model is just a little better with low light. The E-520 is getting a bit old now, the E-620 replaced it and was considered to be a reasonable improvment. The E-P1 another slight improvement, with some tweaking of the latest E-PL1.

    I am sure the next E-6xx or E-3 replacement etc. will again move forward. If you have an investment in Olympus glass, then it may be worthwhile seeing what comes to market later this year.

    Cheers

    PeterB666
    Thanks PeterB666,
    I had written a response earlier but the page could not be found when I tried to upload it & everything disappeared. I was trying to think of what I was saying before & this was it. The PEN's are using the same sensor as the E30/E620 & the results are getting better & better. I'm looking forward to the new generation Ex, Exx & Exxx models too which will possibly be seen at Photokina in September.

    Ross

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    I am older than I look. peterb666's Avatar
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    Well I want a semi-pro PEN with some glass to match. A compact fast wide to mid zoom would be nice in MFT.

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    Well, I was taking 10 sec night exposures. 10 sec is not an unreasonable length of time.

    I had the tripod, noise reduction etc.

    Each and every pic was dotted with red all over... Now, I understand that loooong exposures can do this - but 10 secs... Come on!

    As I said, apart from this 1 aspect - it was a great camera...

    But in low light, as you hinted; it is a boy playing in a man's world. lol

    BTW, I never use auto iso. ever... Of course, for long exposure - 100.

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    Member Ross the fiddler's Avatar
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    Well, I was taking 10 sec night exposures. 10 sec is not an unreasonable length of time.

    I had the tripod, noise reduction etc.

    Each and every pic was dotted with red all over... Now, I understand that loooong exposures can do this - but 10 secs... Come on!

    As I said, apart from this 1 aspect - it was a great camera...

    But in low light, as you hinted; it is a boy playing in a man's world. lol

    BTW, I never use auto iso. ever... Of course, for long exposure - 100.
    The noise reduction can be selected as AUTO (to come on at a certain length of time, which should be under 10 secs), OFF or ON. Did you try it as ON? If so, you must have had a faulty camera which should have been dealt with under warranty (or did this occur after warranty?).

    Ross

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    Member Ross the fiddler's Avatar
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    Well I want a semi-pro PEN with some glass to match. A compact fast wide to mid zoom would be nice in MFT.
    Patience.

    There is a good chance a higher end PEN will be announced/released in September. Olympus is on a roll with the PEN line (that was not meant to be any sort of pun) & will take advantage of the present interest & market success, but don't expect it to replace the abilities of the E3/E30 even though it should be really good.

    Ross

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ross the fiddler View Post
    I love my Oly camera & there will always be the knockers.
    I love my Oly camera too and totally agree re: the knockers but it seems to me that it doesn't matter what brand of camera you use there will always be someone knocking your choice of equipment


    Quote Originally Posted by Ross the fiddler View Post
    Those that give up on Olympus are either pushing the limits of ISO or don’t use their cameras to the best of their abilities. To criticise a lower level Olympus & compare it to a higher level Canon is not being honest with themselves or others. While Olympus may not achieve as high an ISO as some other cameras, they are getting better & produce excellent results
    well said Ross


    Quote Originally Posted by peterb666 View Post
    Each new Olympus model is just a little better with low light.

    I am sure the next E-6xx or E-3 replacement etc. will again move forward. If you have an investment in Olympus glass, then it may be worthwhile seeing what comes to market later this year.
    I for one am eagerly awaiting the next E-3 replacement I've already started saving my $$$

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scotty72 View Post
    Well, I was taking 10 sec night exposures. 10 sec is not an unreasonable length of time.

    I had the tripod, noise reduction etc.

    Each and every pic was dotted with red all over... Now, I understand that loooong exposures can do this - but 10 secs... Come on!

    As I said, apart from this 1 aspect - it was a great camera...

    But in low light, as you hinted; it is a boy playing in a man's world. lol

    BTW, I never use auto iso. ever... Of course, for long exposure - 100.
    Was the 10 sec exposures with ISO 100? I had the E510 and it was as noisy as hell if the ISO hit 800 or higher but at 100 I cant see any noise on the few pics I took with 15 sec exposure.

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    E520 In Low Light

    Yes, the iso was at 100 for long exp. Of course. It was long exposure noise. Perhaps I did have a dodgy sensor but, the criticism still stands, at anything over 400, the 4/3 runs into serious limitations ( ust as a full frame user may giggle at the limitations of a crop sensor)

    To characterise any disagreement as just 'knockers' is simply using emotion to avoid the issue.

    I am actually an Olympus fan. It was my first DSLR at to be honest, I regard the camera and the lenses as superior and all I did was in good light, then Oly all the way.

    Or, if Oly went with 1.6x rather than 4/3.

    I just feel they caught the wrong train.

    Scott


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    Member Ross the fiddler's Avatar
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    at anything over 400, the 4/3 runs into serious limitations
    Correction, the E520 starts to get noisy over 400 ISO, but the E30 takes great pictures at least up to 800 ISO & now the PEN's are doing even better.

    Ross
    Last edited by Ross the fiddler; 24-05-2010 at 4:38pm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scotty72 View Post
    Yes, the iso was at 100 for long exp. Of course. It was long exposure noise. Perhaps I did have a dodgy sensor but, the criticism still stands, at anything over 400, the 4/3 runs into serious limitations ( ust as a full frame user may giggle at the limitations of a crop sensor)
    Yeh, I'm thinking something is wrong or different here, at 100 for 10 sec there shouldnt be any... Olympus cameras aren't that bad lol.

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