The Olympus E-M1II and long exposures

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.

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The Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 lens for butterfly photography — a user experience review

Some months back I purchased an Olympus 40-150mm f/2.8 lens (officially, the M. Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm F2.8 Pro lens) and MC-14 1.4x teleconverter for my E-M1 body.  I’d given them some exercise on a road trip previously, but when an opportunity came up for a “Tripod Session” at a local butterfly pavilion, I thought I could give them a real workout on the facility’s residents.

Paper Kite

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Room enough for two

This weekend, the local honeybees were giving some echinacea blooms in our yard a good workover, so I thought I was overdue in documenting their work.

Room enough for two

Normally, the bees seem to prefer working solo.  But even though we’ve got a swath of echinacea for them to work on, sometimes they need to “double up” in order to keep working.  I used an Olympus E-M1 and 60mm macro for this shot, BTW.

Leaving Albuquerque

On a recent trip to Albuquerque to take care of some family business, I managed to get aboard a very well-timed flight home on a “puddle-jumper” turboprop aircraft.

Leaving Albuquerque

As we headed north from the airport, the sun was just setting, so I got a nice mix of lighting colors.  And, of course, flying in a small aircraft means everybody gets a window seat.

For locals and the curious, the Osuna interchange with I-25 is about at the image’s center (I-25 runs from the bottom right corner toward left center).

Wide zooms (for micro 4/3 cameras) compared

For a brief period of time, I owned three wide zooms that worked well on my Olympus E-M1 body — so I thought I should take the opportunity to compare their performance on a quick walk around a neighborhood park.  Actually writing up this review took a bit of time, and was prompted by an excellent comparison of two of these lenses over on Small Camera Big Picture.

A warning to pixel peepers: what follows is a real-life experiential comparison.

Wide zooms compared

The lenses, as you can see, were the Olympus 12-60mm f/2.8-4.0 (4/3 system) lens on an MMF-3 adapter, the new Olympus 12-40mm f/2.8 lens, and the Panasonic Lumix 12-35mm f/2.8 lens.  The 12-60 I’ve had for years, the 12-35 was a “gap-filler” purchase (for use while waiting for the 12-40mm to ship), and the 12-40mm my planned go-to lens going forward.

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The Olympus E-M1 and long exposures

I stumbled across something interesting on micro-4/3 camera forums, and thought it worth pursuing.  It’s been said (here, and here, and here) that the Olympus E-M1 has a problem with long exposures.  I’d noticed what looked like grain in my E-M1 images, so thought maybe it had a similar cause.

Since I’ve got an E-M1 and an E-M5 camera, and a bit of history with debugging, I thought I was well-placed to do some characterization testing.  To get a fair comparison, I first ran pixel mapping on my E-M5 and E-M1 bodies (to take care of any obviously “hot” pixels on the sensors), then took dark images (with the lens cap on) under the same conditions with both bodies:

  • ISO 200
  • 60 second exposure
  • Noise Filter set to Standard

I did this twice for each camera body — once with Noise Reduction off, and once with it on.  I took all 4 RAW images, converted them to JPG using Olympus Viewer 3, then grabbed a 400×400 pixel crop out of the center of each.

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