Some of you may recall that when the original Olympus E-M1 was released 3 years ago, quite a controversy was stirred up by its handling of long exposures. Basically, the noise level for the E-M1 was much higher than that for it’s much cheaper predecessor, the E-M5. At the time, I was able to compare an E-M1 and E-M5 side-by-side, and wrote up the results for public scrutiny.
So, now that the E-M1II is available (if only in limited quantities so far), I thought it’d be interesting to compare my copy of it to my E-M1 that helped make such a stir (while I still own it). I’ve also got an E-M5II on hand, so thought I should throw it into the mix as well.
As before, I took dark frame images with each body — ISO 200, 60 seconds, noise filter set to “Standard.” For each body, I took one image with noise reduction (dark frame subtraction) off, and one with it on.
As you can see, after 4 years and many firmware updates, the E-M1 has visibly improved — but still needs noise reduction to yield a truly black frame (essential for astrophotography). It’s easier to see what’s going on with statistics, though — here, via RawDigger (pay particular attention to the standard deviation, σ, that spells out how broadly values are scattered):
The bottom line: the E-M5II is much better w.r.t. noise in long exposures than is the E-M1, and the E-M1II is better than both of them. The E-M1II is nearly good enough to not need Noise Reduction — and this, with a 60 second exposure!
Finally, a performance worthy of a camera body being positioned as Olympus’ “flagship” model.
The E-M1II also has a nice, new feature for long exposures using Noise Reduction. For both the E-M1 and E-M5II, the user is left waiting on the camera while it takes the exposures (regular, and dark frame) with no real indication of where the camera is in its process. But the E-M1II gives you a count-down timer when it’s performing Noise Reduction. I can imagine this will be a welcome sight for people doing long exposure work!