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High ISO Test: Olympus EP3 vs Canon 5D Mk II vs 7D

by Chris Gampat on 07/09/2011

According to DXoMark, the Fuji X100 has an amazing sensor and it has been rated to be better than the Canon 5D Mk II and the 7D (correction: the 5D Mk II is still rated to be better). With the announcement of the Olympus EP3, I decided to put the camera against the two DSLRs myself. So how does the new internally developed sensor do against the mainstream giants?

Disclaimer: Yes, we know the sensor are different sizes. Yes, we know that you’ll go over to other sites to look for this information anyway. Yes, we are trying to answer the question for you.

Test Conditions

The cameras were all set to the 3:2 aspect ratio. After that, they were set to around the same size dimensions (around 2,000 pixels wide) and were shot in RAW + JPEG. The exposure metering was based upon what the EP3 stated was balanced for it based off of metering the center of the area. Each camera was set up to shoot as close to the same scene as possible. When imported into Lightroom 3, all of the histograms looked very similar.

Then 100% crops were done.

For this test, we will be testing the JPEGs. A RAW test will be conducted in a future posting.

Image Samples

EP3 at 1/15th and f/4 iso 6400 (corrected)

5D Mk II 1/15th at F4 ISO 6400

7D 1/15th at F/4 at ISO 6400

Conclusions

Based on the image samples, the Canon 5D Mk II is still way ahead of the other two cameras. However, the EP3 is almost on par with the Canon 7D’s high ISO output results.

This must be exciting news for the company as they have struggled for years with getting better high ISO output results. Here’s a better look with the EP3 on the right and the 7D on the left.

EP3 (right) vs 7D (left)

As you can see, in JPEG mode the image quality is starting to catch up to the Canon 7D. With this said, I can estimate that the noise levels may be on par with the old Nikon D300 (please note that this is not the D300s that I’m talking about.)

Canon 5D Mk II (left) with Olympus EP3 (right)

Now take a look at this, the 5D Mk II is still holding its ground very well even after all of these years at ISO 6400.

Overall, the new Olympus EP3 has been able to vastly improve the high ISO output and may finally creep up within the next iteration of the camera (or maybe even in RAW).

Thoughts? Comments? Let us know!

Update: the Olympus EP3 Raw File test has been added. We now see that the EP3 isn’t as good as the 7D in RAW, but still okay and workable.

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