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Olympus OMD EM1 Gordon Laing, January 2014
 
 

Olympus OMD EM1 vs OMD EM5 vs Panasonic Lumix GX7 RAW quality

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To compare real-life RAW performance I shot this scene with the Olympus OMD EM1, OMD EM5 and Panasonic Lumix GX7 within a few moments of each other using their RAW modes.

I fitted each camera in turn with the same Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 17mm f1.8 lens to eliminate the optics from the comparison, and set the aperture to f4 as pre-determined to deliver the sharpest results. All three cameras were set to 200 ISO and shared the same exposure.

Note there was a minor difference in cloud cover when shooting with the EM5. I plan on performing this test again soon, but wanted to share these initial results.

  Olympus OMD EM1 results
1 Olympus OMD EM1 Quality JPEG
2 Olympus OMD EM1 Quality RAW
3 Olympus OMD EM1 Noise JPEG
4 Olympus OMD EM1 Noise RAW
5 Olympus OMD EM1 diffraction compensation
6 Olympus OMD EM1 Lumix 7-14mm flare
7 Olympus OMD EM1 long exposure noise
8 Olympus OMD EM1 Sample images


In my comparison below you can see how the Olympus OMD EM1 compares against the OMD EM5 and Lumix GX7 when all cameras are set to RAW and processed using Adobe Camera RAW using identical settings: Sharpening at 50 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, the White Balance set to 5500K and the Process to 2012 with the Adobe Standard profile; I also enabled Chromatic Aberration correction. These settings were chosen to reveal the differences in sensor quality and isolate them from in-camera processing. The high degree of sharpening with a small radius enhances the finest details without causing undesirable artefacts, while the zero noise reduction unveils what's really going on behind the scenes.

The first thing you'll notice compared to the JPEGs on the previous page is how all three cameras are now understandably sharing very similar degrees of sharpness and contrast. The thick black lines and occasional haloing of the Olympus JPEGs have been toned down, while the subdued Panasonic JPEGs have been livened-up. As you'd expect they've subsequently met in the middle with very similar degrees of real-life detail at first glance. I'd say all three have benefitted from this processing approach, and you'll also notice the coloured fringing from the EM5 JPEGs has been eliminated during the RAW correction.

Look closer and I'd say the OMD EM1 enjoys a small advantage over both the EM5 and GX7 when it comes to ultimate fine detail. It's not so much that there's any more of it on the EM1 crops, but it just looks finer to me. Lines and scratches in the brickwork and woodwork are a little thinner and crisper and in some cases better defined, due no-doubt to the absence of an optical low pass filter. But it's still a very minor difference and I reckon with some careful adjustment to sharpening you could achieve an almost identical result from the EM5 and GX7. If you look at the cones on the tops of the chimneys in the first crops, you'll also notice some jagged diagonal lines on all three samples, but particularly on the Olympus ones, proving you should always be careful with over-sharpening.

Ultimately here I'd say the OMD EM1 enjoys a very small advantage over its rivals in this particular scene, but it's so small, I wouldn't use it as a reason to trade up to the EM1 alone. I'd also encourage you to check out my updated Olympus OMD EM1 noise results as the different subject matter is equally revealing as well as demonstrating how all three cameras compare across their sensitivity range.

 

Olympus OMD EM1 RAW
using Olympus 17mm f1.8 lens
 
Olympus OMD EM5 RAW
using Olympus 17mm f1.8 lens
 
Panasonic Lumix GX7 RAW
using Olympus 17mm f1.8 lens
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
         
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
         
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO
f4, 200 ISO

Olympus OMD EM1 results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise / 7-14mm flare / diffraction / long exposure


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