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Thread: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

  1. #1
    asabet
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    DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    I thought some might be interested in the dynamic range comparison I did here.

    Any comments on results or suggestions for improvement of testing methods would be appreciated.

  2. #2
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    Hi Amin,

    One thing that you may want to keep in mind is that the contrast level of the lens used on a given camera will effect the dynamic range relayed to the sensor. So, to really look at dynamic range, per se, one needs to set the lens as a control. That would be hard to do for the three cameras you're comparing and so that makes it difficult to isolate the role of the camera itself in the DR of the final file. This lens factor, unfortunately, is widely overlooked in many articles about DR. You might want to discuss this in the article.

    Specifically, and as you probably know, a lower contrast lens will lift the shadow values further away from the noise floor.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  3. #3
    asabet
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    Hi Sean,
    Thank you for your comments, very much appreciated! I will add this information to the article.
    Regards,
    Amin

  4. #4
    Senior Member Joan's Avatar
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    Thanks for the comparison, Amin. 3 great cameras in their respective niches, impressed with the DP1 DR, and slightly disappointed in the E420 ... not sure if it's worth upgrading from E410 or not. Would you care to share your thoughts about that?

    Joan

  5. #5
    asabet
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    Joan, thanks for looking and taking the time to comment. I think the E-410 and E-420 actually have pretty good DR, just not as good as these other two. The question of upgrading from E-410 to E-420 is a tough one. I sold the E-410 because I was mainly shooting film and because there were no compact wide or normal primes to maximize the size advantage of the Oly system. The 25mm pancake drew me back, so I went with the E-420. Unfortunately I don't have the E-410 anymore to directly compare with the E-420, but I'll give you my subjective impressions. The following is a list of stated improvements with the E-420, accompanied by how they would affect my choice in terms of upgrading:

    • On-screen (LCD) autofocus - Not useful for me
    • Face detection - same
    • Larger, better LCD - This is a noticeable improvement, but the E-410 LCD is good enough for me
    • Shadow Adjustment Technology - This is handy, particularly for when I am shooting family snaps in JPEG mode and don't want to be bothered with postprocessing. The results are very good with Gradation set to "Auto." Here are two before and after SAT samples:









    • Perfect Shot Preview "enables you to view and select your favorite effect right on the LCD, and see how the image will look before you even capture it" - Not useful to me.
    • Improved automatic white balance - I think I have noticed an improvement here, but as a mainly RAW shooter, it's not a big deal.
    • TruePic III Image Processor - I do notice an improvement in noise at ISO 800-1600, though it is a subjectively small improvement. I think there is also an improvement in frames per second, but I don't care about this.
    • New sensor with improved dynamic range "and a new state-of-the-art amplifier circuit dramatically reduces noise and captures fine image details in the highlight and shadow areas" - Again, I haven't tested this enough to know; however, I'm not seeing dramatic differences.

    Overall, I would not upgrade to the E-420 if I had an E-410. I will mention that one gentleman who goes by the name Raist3d in the DPReview Olympus forum has both the E-410 and E-420, has compared them directly, and finds the differences to be more significant than I have suggested. His posts are here.

    Regards,
    Amin

  6. #6
    Senior Member Joan's Avatar
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    Amin,
    THANK YOU so much for your very succinct and helpful analysis and the sample images. I'd read Raist3d's comments but wasn't totally convinced one way or the other. Now you've put it all in a nutshell for me and I tend to agree that for me, too, spending the money to upgrade wouldn't be worth it right now. If I had neither camera, I'd go for the E420 for sure, but I think I'd be better off at this point to save the $$$ for the new standard grade WA lens.

    Many thanks,
    Joan

  7. #7
    Senior Member Brian Mosley's Avatar
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    Hi Joan,

    I would take a good look at Raist's careful observations between the E-410 and E-420, he has a good attention to detail and all opinions are subjective - he has used the E-410 and now E-420 pretty intensively though.

    You seem to have exactly the right attitude - the glass will have a bigger impact on the quality of your image making than a new body, also the cost of the E-410 is dropping through the floor right now (I had a tip from Adam yesterday that the E-410 was going for 199 here in the UK - which is incredible VFM - the DP1 is 550)

    Can't wait to see that standard grade WA lens!

    Kind Regards

    Brian

  8. #8
    asabet
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    Glad to be of help Joan.

    Brian, seems to be a trend that the E-4xx and E-5xx bodies, thus far, plummet in price when the next one comes out, no? I know it's true for almost all digital cameras, but the degree here is impressive. I recall seeing some outstanding UK deals on the E-400 and E-500 as well. I'm guessing the Sigma too is in for a mighty drop in price over the next 6-8 months.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Joan's Avatar
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Mosley View Post
    Hi Joan,

    I would take a good look at Raist's careful observations between the E-410 and E-420, he has a good attention to detail and all opinions are subjective - he has used the E-410 and now E-420 pretty intensively though.

    You seem to have exactly the right attitude - the glass will have a bigger impact on the quality of your image making than a new body, also the cost of the E-410 is dropping through the floor right now (I had a tip from Adam yesterday that the E-410 was going for 199 here in the UK - which is incredible VFM - the DP1 is 550)

    Can't wait to see that standard grade WA lens!

    Kind Regards

    Brian
    Hi Brian,

    You are correct that Raist's comments were informed & thoughtful and I know he sees the E420 as a significant improvement. I know you're impressed with the E420, too. It's just that I'm not entirely certain if I want to continue along the Oly DSLR path at all. I've just bought a Digilux 2 which I've wanted for a long time. It may turn out that it will be the camera I use the most for the next couple of years. I put the E410 up for sale a while back, but my buyer had some problems and couldn't complete the deal. Thus I am keeping it for the time being and considering all possibilities.

    If the new WA turns out to be very good, then I'll probably be "in" and stay with the E4xx's and also hope for more small primes.

    Thanks for your comments, appreciate them!

    Joan

  10. #10
    asabet
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    The D2 and E-410 kit (with 14-42) have a very similar form, total light gathering ability, and zoom range. Prior to the E-410, the D2 was my most used camera for a while. Choosing between them was difficult, but I didn't want to keep both since they served a similar role for me. The main reason I went with the E-410 over the D2 was that the Oly did a better job keeping up with my children as they are always on the move. For "general" photography, I preferred using the D2.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Brian Mosley's Avatar
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    Hi Amin, what makes you think the DP1 is in for a massive price drop so quickly? has your replacement arrived yet?

    Kind Regards

    Brian

  12. #12
    asabet
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    Brian, my replacement situation has changed. Canoga, where I originally bought the camera, persuaded Sigma to do a straight exchange for me. I therefore cancelled my order with J&R and sent the defective one to Sigma in NY. They should receive it on Thursday and will ship mine at that time. I should have it early next week, if not sooner.

    My feeling that the Sigma will drop is just a hunch. Sigma DSLRs have had heavy price cuts. There is doubtless some money spent on DP1 R&D as well as advertising that needs to be made off us early adopters. Besides the sensor, I doubt there is much of high cost in the DP1 that would require it to continue to cost this much after those initial investments are recovered. It's like the iPhone - sell high to the people who want it no matter what, then sell lower to everyone else. In neither case do I think that the initial group is overpaying or that the company is overcharging. The other reason for my speculation is that I'm just preparing myself for the possibility. If I expect it to happen and buy it anyway, my ego won't be as bruised when it happens and I look back on what I spent .

  13. #13
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    Quote Originally Posted by asabet View Post
    Hi Sean,
    Thank you for your comments, very much appreciated! I will add this information to the article.
    Regards,
    Amin
    Just saw the addendum - great. The only note I'd add is that you might want to explain that by lifting the shadows, a lower contrast lens can move the shadow detail data away from the noise floor. Software can extract shadow detail in a higher contrast file but only when the data for that detail is clearly distinct from the data that records noise. In other words, if one digs too far into the shadows, to lift them, he or she may just be digging up noise.

    Also, I applaud you for pointing out that your results refer to specific camera/lens combinations and thus do not necessarily generalize to the cameras per se. Many people don't seem to get that distinction.

    Cheers,

    Sean

  14. #14
    asabet
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    Thanks for looking again and for the advice/comments Sean. I just added a bit more per your suggestion. Unfortunately it's 2:40AM, and I can't think clearly enough to write well =).

  15. #15
    Senior Member Brian Mosley's Avatar
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    Quote Originally Posted by asabet View Post
    My feeling that the Sigma will drop is just a hunch. Sigma DSLRs have had heavy price cuts. There is doubtless some money spent on DP1 R&D as well as advertising that needs to be made off us early adopters. Besides the sensor, I doubt there is much of high cost in the DP1 that would require it to continue to cost this much after those initial investments are recovered. It's like the iPhone - sell high to the people who want it no matter what, then sell lower to everyone else. In neither case do I think that the initial group is overpaying or that the company is overcharging. The other reason for my speculation is that I'm just preparing myself for the possibility. If I expect it to happen and buy it anyway, my ego won't be as bruised when it happens and I look back on what I spent .
    I suppose the price will be whatever the market will bear - demand vs supply will ultimately dictate the price. If Sigma don't drop the price early to match demand, they'll be left with loads of stock to clear and Adam-T will have his 99 DP1 within the next 12 months... fire sales aren't that rare in this high risk market.

    I enjoyed your latest comparison - it would have been good to see a GR2 shot of that same landscape, or even the LX1.

    Kind Regards

    Brian

  16. #16
    asabet
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Mosley View Post
    I suppose the price will be whatever the market will bear - demand vs supply will ultimately dictate the price. If Sigma don't drop the price early to match demand, they'll be left with loads of stock to clear and Adam-T will have his 99 DP1 within the next 12 months... fire sales aren't that rare in this high risk market.
    Yes, though I wonder just how many of these they are actually making? I'd think it would be wise to keep production low and scale up for the replacement if this one is a hit.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Mosley View Post
    I enjoyed your latest comparison - it would have been good to see a GR2 shot of that same landscape, or even the LX1.
    Thanks Brian, the landscape comparison with small sensor cameras will be coming separately.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Brian Mosley's Avatar
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    Amin, I've just e-mailed you a couple of conversions from your RAW files. I noticed that the lighting had changed between shots (obviously, people had moved around a lot) - but it's a remarkably close result. The DP1 is doing really well - I think it delivers DSLR quality in a compact cam...

    Since you're into serious compacts, did you see the mention on dpreview of yet another breakthrough in small sensor technology here :
    http://www.techradar.com/news/photog...ighting-323895

    Just imagine a Panasonic TZ50 with Nikon D3 IQ and performance... where would the DSLR market be then?

    Kind Regards

    Brian

  18. #18
    asabet
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Mosley View Post
    Amin, I've just e-mailed you a couple of conversions from your RAW files. I noticed that the lighting had changed between shots (obviously, people had moved around a lot) - but it's a remarkably close result. The DP1 is doing really well - I think it delivers DSLR quality in a compact cam...
    Thanks Brian! Those people were moving fast, but the photos were taken within a couple minutes of one another, and I noticed no change in light during the time. If you're referring to the fact that the DP1 shot is less bright than the E-420 shot, that is something I am seeing pretty consistently, and I don't have a good explanation for it. I agree with you about the DP1 image quality.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Mosley View Post
    Since you're into serious compacts, did you see the mention on dpreview of yet another breakthrough in small sensor technology here :
    http://www.techradar.com/news/photog...ighting-323895

    Just imagine a Panasonic TZ50 with Nikon D3 IQ and performance... where would the DSLR market be then?

    Kind Regards

    Brian
    Thanks for that - hadn't seen that one. I wish I could read Japanese!
    Last edited by asabet; 23rd April 2008 at 05:46.

  19. #19
    Super Duper
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    Amin,
    Fascinating tests!
    The DP-1 does indeed 'deliver the goods' as it were.
    Makes it ever so much more tempting...

  20. #20
    Senior Member Brian Mosley's Avatar
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    Hi Lili,

    if I had to choose again, between the GR2 and the DP1 - I'd make the same choice. The 28mm fixed fov was more of a shock than I expected though - it's an expensive niche camera - but if you really want that niche (which I do!) then it's the only game in town at the moment.

    This sector is moving so fast though, I wonder what will be available, at what price by Christmas? Amin, did you mention a successor to the LX2? any pointers on further info?

    Kind Regards

    Brian

  21. #21
    asabet
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    Thanks Lili .

  22. #22
    asabet
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Mosley View Post
    This sector is moving so fast though, I wonder what will be available, at what price by Christmas? Amin, did you mention a successor to the LX2? any pointers on further info?
    Brian, none as of yet. Earlier this year, a Panasonic spokesperson gave an interview to Lets Go stating that the LX2 is their advanced compact, adding that "It is the year of the Photokina show so you can expect a lot from us." To me, this implies that we'll see an LX2 replacement of some sort for Photokina. In the same interview, he says "Larger sensors can be an advantage. The size of the sensors will vary. There will be more large sensors integrated in compact cameras than in the past. But in my opinion the majority of the cameras will still be equipped with a small sensor although it might diverge more than in the past." This suggests that Panasonic knows they have to get a model in the large sensor compact market before long. I wouldn't be surprised to see a Panasonic compact with a 4/3" sensor within the next year.

  23. #23
    Senior Member Brian Mosley's Avatar
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    Well, lagging edge wisdom never made so much sense! with cameras having a 'refresh' on an annual basis, the previous generation cameras are becoming huge bargains.

    I can see what you say, about the DP1 dropping in price dramatically - especially since we're already hearing rumours of the DP2 and DP3 from Sigma themselves. I don't quite understand the logic of that... unless the DP1 is a short run?

    Personally, it's making a lot of sense to skip at least one generation - the E-420 looks like a worthy upgrade to the E-400, the E-410 didn't tempt me at all.

    Kind Regards

    Brian

  24. #24
    Senior Member Joan's Avatar
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    Quote Originally Posted by asabet View Post
    The D2 and E-410 kit (with 14-42) have a very similar form, total light gathering ability, and zoom range. Prior to the E-410, the D2 was my most used camera for a while. Choosing between them was difficult, but I didn't want to keep both since they served a similar role for me. The main reason I went with the E-410 over the D2 was that the Oly did a better job keeping up with my children as they are always on the move. For "general" photography, I preferred using the D2.
    I am about 99.9% sure I'm going to love the D2, it's supposed to ship to me tomorrow. Wish they'd just updated it rather than making the D3 a dslr. Tried the L1 and loved it for the controls and lens, but it was just too big and heavy for me.


    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Mosley View Post
    ...

    Since you're into serious compacts, did you see the mention on dpreview of yet another breakthrough in small sensor technology here :
    http://www.techradar.com/news/photog...ighting-323895

    Just imagine a Panasonic TZ50 with Nikon D3 IQ and performance... where would the DSLR market be then?

    Kind Regards

    Brian
    Hallelujah! That sounds really promising. The perfect small camera could be around the corner. I wonder how long it will take them to miniaturise the chip and get into production.


  25. #25
    Sean_Reid
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    Hi Amin,

    A possible edit:

    Existing:

    "Sean Reid of Reid Reviews reminded me to discuss the impact of overall lens contrast on dynamic range. A lower contrast lens can act to lift the shadows and, in doing so, may provide separation between shadow detail and the noise floor. In other words, shadow detail that would have been lost amongst noise with a high contrast lens may sometimes be recoverable through the use of a low contrast lens."

    Possible Edit:

    "Sean Reid of Reid Reviews reminded me to discuss the impact of overall lens contrast on effective dynamic range. A lower contrast lens will tend to lighten the tones in the shadows (move them away from pure black) and, in doing so, may provide separation between shadow detail and the noise floor. The noise floor, of course, is the level at which the detail in deep shadows is lost among the file's digital noise.

    The effective dynamic range that a digital camera can record, therefore, is noticeably affected by lens contrast."

    Cheers,

    Sean

  26. #26
    Senior Member Brian Mosley's Avatar
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    Sean, thanks for that - it's the first time I've read a credible description of why and how low contrast lenses can theoretically improve effective dynamic range.

    Have you seen this demonstrated, in any significant way by any of the lenses you've used?

    Kind Regards

    Brian

  27. #27
    asabet
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    Re: DP1, E420, & 5D dynamic range compared

    Quote Originally Posted by Sean_Reid View Post
    "... The noise floor, of course, is the level at which the detail in deep shadows is lost among the file's digital noise.
    Hi Sean, many thanks! That does make it clearer. The one change I made was to take out the words "of course" .

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