Monday, May 27, 2013

OM-D @ ISO 20,000 in Real World!

I have been using my Olympus OM-D for nearly a year, and I have shot thousands of pictures with it, but how many time did I actually made use of the ISO 20,000 setting for really low light capture?  ONCE!!

This still life test shot was taken in early May last year, while I was testing my newly acquired dream camera. It was shot at ISO 25,600!

Even at that never heard of (a couple of years ago), ultra high ISO for a HALF FRAME sensor, the result was ACCEPTABLE!

I remember I commented then...

"I cannot believe my eyes!  Take a look at the ISO 25,600 shot! That is from a half framed sensor!  M4/3 definitely HAS ARRIVED!"

But have I ever used these crazy high ISO setting in the real world?  NO!

Unlike a photographer I know who just love to dial ultra high ISO for most of his shoots, even when there was enough light for a much lower setting!

For me, I try to use the lowest ISO I possibly can; good as the smaller sensors in the digital cameras now a day, high ISO still produce too much noise to my liking! But what if the dim available light gave me no choice but to go ultra high ISO?

So far I do not need to, UNTIL TODAY!

It turn out to be a nice cool (18C) sunny Sunday...

We are going to visit the  Bodhinyanarama Buddhist Monastery at Stokes Valley.

I took my OM-D and three lenses, the 14-42 (Eq 28-84) f3.5/5.6 "kit zoom"; the Panasonic Lumix G X Vario PZ 45-175mm f/4-5.6 zoom and my favorite ultra wide, the Panasonic Lumix G Vario 7-14 mm F4.0.

Once there, I was happily snapping pictures around the monastery...

All the above shots were done at ISO 1600, the OM-D sensor rendered the pictures beautifully; even at this high setting!

Inside the main prayer hall I was still able to just get away with the same 1,600 setting, even though my shutter speed has drop to 1/10 sec and f4!

The 1,600 was no good once I was at the air well area! This spacious area use to be well lit, with natural light streaming from the top, due to the early Wesak celebration last week; the air well opening is covered with a thick, translucent cover and even at ISO 1,600 setting, I will be lucky to get 1/4 sec at f4!

I shot the above at f4 1/20 sec, ISO 6,400. Colour and "grain" (noise) was still very good at this high setting! That was a running kid by the way ;)

But 6,400 is no good at where the devotees were lining up to offer food to the monks! I dialed into ISO 20,000 :)  My OM-D informed me that I am getting 1/30 at f4. Just barely fast enough to combat subjects moment!

All three ISO 20,000 pictures were shot with my 7-14mm ultra wide at f4, 7mm (14mm equivalent).  Sure I can see some noise, what did you expect?  What amazed me was, two years ago this was not even possible! Image is absolutely useable :)

But can we improve or rather tone down the noise?

Lets see...

The crop... not as bad as I thought! I will run this through Noise Ninja..
As you can see Noise Ninja effectively removed and smooth out the noise, in doing so, some sharpness is lost. Personally, I prefer the not denoised version.  Nothing wrong with a bit of noise!

It has been an enjoyable and educational week end!

Famous Last Words...

Do not be afraid to use your digital camera's high ISO setting, if you have to. You will be plesantly surprise to find out how good they are!


Chris Bing said...

Nice shots, especially the first one with the spider web.
That spider could have been an ancestor of CY if we believe in the Buddist doctrine.
Looks like I should sell my D3s....

cy.leow said...

Yeah right Bing,according to the doctrine my ancestor was Spider Man! ;)