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Review Update: Olympus EP3 (Raw File Test)

by Chris Gampat on 08/28/2011

When we reviewed the Olympus EP3 (or EP-3 and E-P3), the raw files weren’t editable in Adobe Lightroom 3. With the release of the latest update, they are. We’ve already seen that the camera does a great job so far and it truly one of our favorites, but has Olympus really learned their lesson with the Micro Four Thirds sensor output?

Before we go on, this is an update to not only our full review but also to our comparison of raw files.

Color Depth

As we’ve seen in the review, the color depth of the Olympus EP3 is really quite good. In fact, it has never been a problem for most users. When I spent some time editing the raw files, I remembered just how vibrant the colors could be. Typically though, this really only stood true for the more prominent colors in the image. In the image above, I was able to tweak the vibrancy in Lightroom to make the more subtle colors stand out. The result is a better image than the original below. Note that it was also color corrected.

For color depth, the Olympus EP3 still gets a very high recommendation. When looking at the output, the colors almost reminded me a bit of Kodak Portra.

Dynamic Range

In this RAW test, I tried to see how much detail could be recovered from the highlights. Clearly, they’ve been blown out in the above example. With some tweaking in Lightroom 3, you get the results below.

With this test, one can see that a significant amount of detail can be recovered from the Olympus EP3’s files. For more dynamic range tests, you should check out the full review.

High ISO

The above image was shot at ISO 6400 with the Olympus EP3. As you can also see, there is quite a bit of noise. So let’s see what will happen when we crop into the man sleeping and then try to edit for noise and detail.

Here’s the crop, as you can see, this s one noisy image.

This is my best attempt at trying to quell the noise. When you’re looking at the image this close up, you start to realize that it’s not that bad at all. In fact, it has performed better than I thought it would.

With all this said, it must be mentioned that there has been some loss of fine detail but to be fair, most people won’t view your image this close up.

In fact, most images at 6400 ISO look fairly good as they are. The above image wasn’t processed for noise, though it could use it in the blue sky and the pink bag.

And at ISO 1600, like in this photo above, you really have nothing to worry about at all.

Vs the Canon 7D and 5D Mk II

These files were done with the same images as this test. These files below were not edited in any way, but were instead resized down to 2000 pixels on the long end for your viewing pleasure. Take a look at the results and see for yourself.

Olympus EP3 raw file test

Canon 5D Mk II Raw file test

Canon 7D Raw File Test

More Image Quality Samples

Conclusion

So is the Olympus EP3’s raw files up to par with modern cameras? For the most part, yes. The Dynamic Range and Color Depth are indeed really, really good. The High ISO output is also better than it was previously. However, the camera still cannot match even the Canon 7D with straight out of camera noise reduction. If you can embrace the art filters to mask this, or are a good photo editor, then this won’t be such a problem (so stop complaining about it.)

However, this is just a test of image quality with the Olympus EP3. We’ve done so many more tests with the camera to proof that it is quite amazing to use.

You can see all of B&H Photo’s prices on the EP3 here or you can check it out on Amazon.

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