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Old Jan 23, 2010, 7:14 AM   #1
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Default Noise levels - Olympus E600

Hi Guys,

I've decided to go for the Olympus E600 (same as E620) plus kit lens this week and I've been experimenting some stuff so see what the camera is capable of. Like indoors shots with low light and long exposure and the results were what I was expecting: medium to high noise levels. But what I wasn't expecting was to see these levels of noise indoors but with plenty of daylight. I took some pictures at ISO 200 with flash and got a bit surprised to see so much noise for the outside conditions.
I was using the macro option indoors and outdoors at a cloudy day, but there are still plenty of light available as well as use of the flash.
Am I doing something wrong? If I get a faster lens would the noise be reduced? Would the pancake 25mm f2.8 or the Sigma 24mm f1.8 make any difference?

Help please...
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Old Jan 23, 2010, 8:05 AM   #2
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Hi Guys,

I've decided to go for the Olympus E600 (same as E620) plus kit lens this week and I've been experimenting some stuff so see what the camera is capable of. Like indoors shots with low light and long exposure and the results were what I was expecting: medium to high noise levels. But what I wasn't expecting was to see these levels of noise indoors but with plenty of daylight. I took some pictures at ISO 200 with flash and got a bit surprised to see so much noise for the outside conditions.
I was using the macro option indoors and outdoors at a cloudy day, but there are still plenty of light available as well as use of the flash.
Am I doing something wrong? If I get a faster lens would the noise be reduced? Would the pancake 25mm f2.8 or the Sigma 24mm f1.8 make any difference?

Help please...
Without seeing one of the images it's hard to say what the issue is. However, noise isn't usually a function of the lens, it's a function of the sensor. You say you were using macro settings. Likely that means the camera selected a smaller aperture for increased DOF at close focusing distances, and the flash couldn't provide enough light to properly expose the image, and thus more noise. On camera flash really won't help much at macro distances as the object is too close to the lens to be properly illuminated. I'm guessing this is what caused the noise. Underexposure tends to increase noise, even at lower ISO's. Remember, what we perceive as plenty of light may not be plenty of light for the camera. To get good light for macro shots you need either an outside light source, a ring light or some kind of reflector especially if as you said, you were indoors or shooting in cloudy conditions.
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Old Jan 23, 2010, 9:29 AM   #3
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To get good light for macro shots you need either an outside light source, a ring light or some kind of reflector especially if as you said, you were indoors or shooting in cloudy conditions.
I guess it wasn't as straightforward as I thought Well, I might have created a big expectation in my head... But there's a learning curve here.

Anyway, Here's some examples.
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Old Jan 23, 2010, 11:17 AM   #4
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The noise doesn't seem horrible, but as i expected, they are all underexposed. The 4th pic (the water droplet) illustrates my point of the on board flash not being enough at close focus distances. The shadow across the bottom is from the flash coverage not being wide enough to illuminate the whole frame. The conditions I see in these shots are not bright light situations, and really require additional lighting or using a tripod and longer shutter speeds.
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Old Jan 23, 2010, 11:20 AM   #5
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The noise doesn't seem horrible, but as i expected, they are all underexposed. The 4th pic (the water droplet) illustrates my point of the on board flash not being enough at close focus distances. The shadow across the bottom is from the flash coverage not being wide enough to illuminate the whole frame. The conditions I see in these shots are not bright light situations, and really require additional lighting or using a tripod and longer shutter speeds.
Thanks, I'll work on it. Have a good weekend
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Old Jan 23, 2010, 12:29 PM   #6
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Does your camera have an automatic shadow compensation (maybe called "gradation")? I know my E-P1 has it and while it does boost shadows a tad, it does so at the expense of noise.

Go into your settings and find that and turn it off. It's on by default. You shouldn't really see noise until the higher ISO's. I regularly shoot my E-P1 at ISO 1600, and while there's a tad more noise than my dSLR, it also cleans up nicely. Below ISO 1600, I don't worry about noise.

- EDIT - just had a look at your shots, and I don't really see any noise. There's a little blur maybe, but no noise that I see. Still, if you're getting shadow noise, consider my advice above.

Last edited by rfortson; Jan 23, 2010 at 12:32 PM.
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Old Jan 23, 2010, 4:00 PM   #7
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Does your camera have an automatic shadow compensation (maybe called "gradation")? I know my E-P1 has it and while it does boost shadows a tad, it does so at the expense of noise.

Go into your settings and find that and turn it off. It's on by default. You shouldn't really see noise until the higher ISO's. I regularly shoot my E-P1 at ISO 1600, and while there's a tad more noise than my dSLR, it also cleans up nicely. Below ISO 1600, I don't worry about noise.

- EDIT - just had a look at your shots, and I don't really see any noise. There's a little blur maybe, but no noise that I see. Still, if you're getting shadow noise, consider my advice above.
I did not check that feature in the camera, I'll try it on my next session. As i said before, I might have created a big expectation in my head regarding quality of the image. Nevertheless, I see little difference between the picture taken by this Oly DSLR (the one with the red plant/bulb) and the one taken by a Canon Ixus (P&S).
For instance, when I zoom in on the computer I start seeing some noise, which in those pics in macro mode with the aforementioned Canon did not show so much. And the other thing was the sharpness of the pictures. Again, they seemed to be sharper when taken by the P&S camera.
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Old Jan 23, 2010, 4:36 PM   #8
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well as mentioned before, your shots are underexposed, which will lead to noise. also, you say you see this noise when you zoom in, but you don't say how far you zoomed in the oly shot vs how far you zoomed in the p&s shot, etc.

also, using a dslr means a bit of a learning curve. so, the softness you see from your dslr vs your p&s is a function of 2 things. the first is the default incamera sharpening and contrast on a dslr is much lower than a p&s, they do this on purpose to give you more latitude to sharpen in post-processing. also, the depth of field, or area in focus of your shots with a dslr will be much much smaller than your p&s, especially in close working distances such as macro, which will make you think much of your shot is blurry.
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Old Jan 23, 2010, 5:02 PM   #9
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you say you see this noise when you zoom in, but you don't say how far you zoomed in the oly shot vs how far you zoomed in the p&s shot, etc.
I've zoomed both up to 100%.
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