Olympus OM-D E-M10 review – Noise, resolution and sensitivity

Image: Shot handheld at 1/80sec and ISO 3200, a good level of detail remains even in the JPEG

The more premium E-M5 has been recognised for its 16.1-million-pixel sensor’s decent noise-handling capabilities, so the inclusion of the same sensor in the E-M10, supported by the upgraded TruePic VII processor, makes the E-M10 a very capable camera when it comes to low-light, high ISO photography.

JPEG images resolve up to the 26 mark on our resolution chart up to ISO 800, and 28 at its low extend setting, equivalent to ISO 100. The E-M10 has a default ISO sensitivity range of ISO Low (ISO 100)-1600 in automatic mode, extendable to ISO 25,600 in manual mode.

Images taken in low light are helped by 3-axis in-camera image stabilisation, making it possible to avoid extremely high ISO speeds and simply shoot handheld at slower shutter speeds. If a high ISO is required, though, the E-M10 manages to produce low-light images that show very little colour or luminance noise up to ISO 1600. Noise obviously becomes more apparent as the ISO sensitivity is increased, but in-camera noise reduction does a good job of combating chroma and luminance noise without being too aggressive, leaving just enough noise to retain some surface and edge detail.

Overall, I was impressed with the E-M10’s ISO sensitivity performance. The noise that did make it into the images could be reduced somewhat using raw processing software, but I would be happy to print an image shot at around ISO 1600 straight from the camera.

My only gripe with the in-camera processing of JPEGs on the E-M10 and the other OM-D cameras is that they tend to oversharpen images. The effect is far too harsh for me, but I was able to tone it down using the limited options in Olympus’s Viewer 3 image-processing software.

These images show 72ppi (100% on a computer screen) sections of images of a resolution chart, captured using the 14-42mm lens set to 34mm and f/5.6 . We show the section of the resolution chart where the camera starts to fail to reproduce the lines separately. The higher the number visible in these images, the better the camera’s detail resolution is at the specified sensitivity setting.

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