E-M5 RAW dynamic range test by Pekka Potka (Body only really in Stock at Adorama)


Reminder: Before to read the new reviews a quick in Stock status news: Right now the body only is in Stock at Adorama (Click here). German readers can find body only and kit version in Stock at Amazon Germany (Click here). Same situation for UK readers at Jessops (Click here).

E-M5 new reviews roundup:
The image on top shows the RAW dynamic range form the E-M5 and has been made by Pekka Potka (Click here to read the article): “The biggest and maybe most important difference was for E-M5 at ISO 200. With Lightroom I was able to read a 12.6 EV dynamic range and with CaptureOne it was 12.0EV. At ISO 400 they both gave the same 12EV.
Digitalcamerainfo (Click here) posted the 22 pages long E-M5 review. They also have good news about the dynamic range performance: “The sensor’s noise floor is a bit high, but the camera controls highlights well, offering dynamic range and low light shooting that can keep up with most sub-$1000 DSLRs. While the E-M5 certainly isn’t setting any new bars in a category filled with larger APS-C image sensors, it’s no longer such an issue that we’d warn you off the camera entirely
More E-M5 test bits: E-m5 on the road at Phototravelasia (Click here). First impresisons at Stuff Review (Click here).

Bestseller list. Check the list (changes hourly!):
USA: E-M5 on position 8/9/12/15/16 (Click here)
UK: E-M5 is on position 14 (Click here).
Germany: The E-M5 is on position 1/4/8 (Click here).
France: not available (Click here to see rankings anyway).
Japan: E-M5 on position 2/7/20 (Click here).

E-M5 (Pre)order links (Click on store name): Amazon, Adorama, B&H, Jessops, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon Japan and Digitalrev.

  • I took my first shots with E-M5 yesterday and processed them in LR 4.1 RC2 and it is really better than my GH1. I tried to ligthen excessively the shadows and they are very clean compared to GH1 with no banding and far less noise ! Maybe my GH1 was not a good sample but it is shit compared to E-M5 !

    • Reto

      Thanks for letting me know. How are the highlights? My GH1 is also only usable up to 400 ISO. A shame for a, otherwise very good camera, that used to be so expensive.
      I process in LR4 as well and I’m quite happy with the outcome of my pictures. I will wait for Olympus to release a model with a fully articulated screen.


      • Alan

        Thanks for posting.

        The ISO on the GH1 was underratted somewhat. Did you compare the shutter speeds / aperture between them?

        1600 on the GH1 could be more sensitive than 3200 on the EM5. Would be nice to know if you have the time.


  • Bob B.

    I would like to see them chart the OM-D raw output against the GH-2, G3 or GX1. That would be relavent!

    • Redkite


      • Charlie

        Pekka Potka, Pekka Potka, Pekka Potka :D

  • jim

    LOL – the DR from OMD RAW at 12000ISO is the same as JPG from EP3 at 200ISO!!!

    • CRB

      LOL and LOL…i hardly believe this is true…

  • K0rn

    “X PRO 1 versus E-M5 at Srlclub (here and here)”

    No link here ???

    • admin

      Sorry! My mistake. It was a remain form a copy and pasted text.

  • cameras like a cat

    “Despite this improvement, it’s still pretty clear that the E-M5’s Micro Four Thirds sensor falls a bit behind the best APS-C image sensors found in prosumer DSLRs and high-end mirrorless cameras like the Sony Alpha NEX-7”:

    Also, this sky scares me:

    • G_C

      the sky looks scary because it’s shot on pop art mode i reckon

      also looks like a lot of jpeg compression in most of these shots

    • BLI

      1. Pekka Potka has made it perfectly clear that his numbers are not comparable to the numbers of other tests, stemming from the way he does the test. He states that you can only read the relative performance of the PEN vs the OM-D from his test, and NOT compare the numbers to those for other cameras.

      2. The presentation at http://www.digitalcamerainfo.com/content/Olympus-OM-D-E-M5-Digital-Camera-Review/Dynamic-Range.htm is not particularly honest in the way they start the abscissa axis at +2, and thereby give a false impression that the difference is larger than it actually is. With that said, they could have cheated much more by started the axis at e.g +6 :-). They may say that they did not cheat because the axes values are well defined. I maintain that it is a poor presentation, because it creates a slightly false impression.

      Of course, the DR numbers measured by Digital Camera Info are quite different from those of e.g ColorFoto and Chip Photo.

      • “Of course, the DR numbers measured by Digital Camera Info are quite different from those of e.g ColorFoto and Chip Photo.”
        Also different from Dpreview and Pekkapotka who finds 2 Ev more in both jpeg and RAW for E-M5 compared to E-P3.

    • Concerning digitalcamerainfo:
      “We should mention that we test each cameras’ JPEG engines, relying on the way they develop RAW shots right in the camera. This does mean that you’ll be able to rescue a fair bit of detail from the images by shooting in RAW”
      As far as I understand, they measured jpeg which is not very interesting. Still, I don’t understand how they find that E-M5 jpeg have less DR than Nex7 ones despite DPreview finding the contrary ? I find there test a little “Black magic”, we don’t know the settings of the cameras. I wouldn’t care too much about it…
      For the sky, is it the noise or the colour that scares you ? :D In my (short) experience the noise is well controled. On the other hand the default noise reduction is not good with lot of artefacts…I didn’t try to set it off, I’m used to process RAW…

      • BLI

        It is also strange that they find a better DR in the NEX-7 than in the NEX-5n — almost everyone else claims that the chip in the 5n is better than that in the 7 (although with a lower resolution).

      • Esa Tuunanen

        Lot bigger question marks in digitalcamerainfo’s review: Their image stabilization results.
        With stabilization being found very well working in real world by others that results sticks out like box of thumbstacks on chair.
        In any scientific testing that kind of completely out of line of result would have started immediate checking for error/flaw in test procedure or sample so not exactly convincing how that result is just waved off without second thought.
        (or if you want third option test was rigged to get that result)

    • > Also, this sky scares me:

      That images looks like it was shot with some sort of art filter.

      • Or by a 5 years old kid, because they are sooo bad. I havent seen worst test pictures ever.

        • T-L

          Agree. And that is only one of many strange things in that review.

    • Mike

      Oh make it stop… APS-C this & APS-C that!

      If you want quality, get a 35mm sensor. If you’re rich get medium format.

      Or forget digital and shoot 4×5 or 8×10 film.

      APS-C is too middle of the road! The equipment and or lenses are too big to carry all the time and the quality improvement compared to m4/3 is not that much especially today.

      The beauty of m4/3 is very good quality in a camera outfit you can have with you all the time.

      My OM-D and 3 lens kit (12mm f2, 45 1.8 and 200 f5 OM lens) fit in a small letter sized hard case only 5″ deep. That’s not going to happen with any high quality APS-C camera/lens kit.

      • Anonymous

        Samsung nx proves you wrong on that.. compact bosjes and lenses with aps-c sensor and quality. m43 is my choice for lens lineup though.

    • The exif on that picture shows ExposureProgram=Creative, Contrast=Hard, Saturation=High and ISO=8000.

      Don’t know exactly *what* they were trying to show, but wow!

    • Esa Tuunanen

      That sky picture is really bad example of anything except maybe of how to minimize technical quality of pictures.
      F/16 is well past diffraction limit for pixels of 4/3&APS-C sensors so anyone having the slightest idea what he is doing would use such aperture only when necessary. There’s even picture taken at f/22 which is something I would think twice using even with bigger pixels of “full frame” sensor.
      Also (as consequence) it’s taken at ISO8000 which is just plain obscene for daylight.

  • Mike

    If you compare the dynamic range at dpreview its the same for all Olympus 12MP with Gradation Auto. At least the jpegs. So I don’t really trust this test.
    My guess is that E-M5 “gradation normal” is a little bit more “gradation auto” compared to E-P3.

  • BLI

    Digital Camera Info: “If you’re looking for a retro-inspired interchangeable lens camera that, like cameras of old, can take some abuse and some great photos at the same time, then the E-M5 is an attractive option at its $1000 body-only price.”

    What if I am NOT looking for a retro-inspired camera??? Please, either the camera is good irrespective of its look, or it is not. The retro look is only an added bonus (or a stinker) if the camera is good. The retro look is not a reason for considering a camera! Statements like this ruins my faith in the review.

    • Vlad


    • For some it can be a (ggod) reason.

  • Jalo


    Just got my black E-M5. The size and feel is just right!

  • Anonymous

    Well darn it, I hope that means body only will be in stock at B&H soon. If I have to change my order from silver body only, I’d at least like to change it to a black body only. I am willing to give it another week and a half though.

    • Good news on black body-only from B&H!!! Just got my ship notice this morning. It will be in Chicago tomorrow! I placed my pre-order one or two minutes after they listed the cam on their website back in Feb. Sent a copy of my track notice to Admin earlier this morning.

      • Nikku

        That’s funny, I just cancelled my preorder yesterday because I found it elsewhere two days ago. BH did a terrible job of keeping its customers informed. I don’t think I’ll be dealing with them again anytime soon.

        • Anonymous

          Yeah I am not particularly happy about it either. I get that they can’t give an exact date or maybe even a resonable range of when you might get your camera. At the same time…for pre-orders, is it that hard to inform the user either somewhere in the account tracking information or if you call what # you are in the pre-order queue?

          On top of that, is there no way to say anything like “Well, we have gotten in X number of this configuration so far and you are Y in line”.

  • Vlad

    I really don’t get this: “offering dynamic range and low light shooting that can keep up with most sub-$1000 DSLRs”? What does that mean?
    NEX-5N is way sub 1000US. D5100 too. A55 too. Which non-FF DSLRs above 1000US are so much better than them?

    • This means it was written by a DSLR addict, and nothing else in the world is of any consequence.

  • oli

    Digitalcamerainfo review is a joke :)

    One extract : “Also of note: this sucker is loud. With an internal fan humming along the entire way to cool the camera’s innards, you will immediately notice when your camera wakes up and goes to sleep”


  • adriaantie

    Starting at iso 200…………………..lol

  • hifinut

    Digital Camera Info methods of measurement on DR, image-stability and colours are so flaw and are almost laughable. Almost every picture I saw on the web tells me the DR almost equal the best APSC sensors (except for Fuji as it still quite a bit better) and Dpreview and Pekka Potka confirmed it. The unit of acceptable measurement for DR is EV or in terms of contrast ratio and I don’t know how Digital Camera Info comes out with their DR numbers. Even more laughable is their method of measuring image-stability. Almost all reviews and users unanimously prise the 5-axis ibis and DCI rates it the worst compare to NEX, Pen p-3 and Nikon.

  • Wow, that is impressive! The dynamic range of the E-M5 is better than the Nikon D3s and the Canon 5D Mark III !

    • Who wants more DR ?? :D

    • jim

      and by some tests the low light ISO is as good as the 5DIII… so I guess FF sensors are not looking so hot…

      Must be somthing wrong – oly must have set the cam up to look good in tests?

      How can the DR+ISO be as good/better than FF???

      If so then this marks the END OF FF!

      • No FF has still better SNR, better tonal and color ranges AND…better DOF possibilities

    • BLI

      Where do you find that info? About the OM-D beating the D3s and the 5Diii?

      • I think he compared pekkapotka results with dXo results which seems reasonable to me since pekkapotka results for E-P3 are very close to dXo. Based on that:
        E-M5 is on par with Nex-5N which has more DR than 5DMk III and D3s !!

  • Tadeo

    we´ve reached a point where image sensors are not real-life limitant in terms of IQ.
    It´s a good camera for shure. it´s small, fast, responsive and has wonderfull DR.
    on the other side it´s been noted that it drains batteries quickly.
    but let´s be honest! what percentage of shots do you think can´t absolutely be taken by previous pen models or any other MFT camera?
    This system has capable cameras but even better, Gorgeous optics, and the possibility of adapting a wide variety of other system´s lenses.
    It leads me to two conclusions:
    1.- you have used extensively a wide variety of cameras and pushed the limits of them all so you really know what do you want in a camera body or…
    2.- you spend a lot of time reading photography gear forums rather than taking pictures.
    I can really tell you my humble E-P1 with 14-42 kit lens is absolutely amazing and i like it better then the canon big-sensored rebels or NEX cameras

    • JF

      “it´s been noted that it drains batteries quickly”
      Yes I confirm…

      • Who makes a battery cork or plug?

  • Bob

    It’s almost like Pekka is afraid to compare the EM-5 to competitive cameras. It’s no surprise at all that DR is way better than the antique sensor in the Pen bodies. If it WASN’T a lot better than the Pens, Olympus would be a laughing stock.

    The question that’s of real interest is how it compares to the GH2, G3, Nex 5n, and similar cameras.

    • Esa Tuunanen

      GH1 and GH2 are only Panasonics with sensors somewhat modern DR.
      G3/GX1 sensor has base ISO DR not that much better from that stone age 12MP sensor of Pens.

    • That question has been answered already on this site and others.

  • popo
  • OldAlaskan

    The Digital Camera Info review of the image stabilization is particularly troubling. They found 3% (“2.99%,” as if there was 3 significant digits) improvement, “not a particularly strong result.” Not particularly strong?? Almost certainly, the margin of error was much greater than 3% meaning that they could not tell (at a 95% or even 68% confidence level) by looking at the pictures whether stabilization was on or off. Translation: The 5-axis stabilization system is no better than NO stabilization. Functionally, the E-M5 has NO stabilization! (Or did they forget to turn it on?)

  • mahler

    I don’t know why Admin puts so much emphasize on wether the EM-5 is available at Amazon.

    At least in Germany, the EM-5 is available at local dealers with no problems. No need to refer to Amazon’s stock status.

    IMO, Admin should completely refrain from continuously reporting the availabilty status at major Internet dealers at least in Germany, because here there exists no significant supply problem at local dealers.

  • Admin, I have high hopes for a coming E-P5. Simpler IBIS, good 16 Mpx, and perhaps built in EVF, VF-3 class.

    A simpler machine, more pocketable, with more battery autonomy. What do you think?

    July or Photokina?

    • Olympus can’t keep up with production of the e-m5, why introduce another product that would require factory time, space, training etc. Hiring in more untrained people is not in the interests of anyone.

    • tmrgrs

      Oh come on am, buy the E-M5. You know you want one. :)

  • On the http://phototravelasia.blogspot.it/2012/05/omd-on-road.html site one of the shots shows a pistol grip on the e-m5.
    What I want is one of these with a 2 stage trigger, and fn buttons + battery, connected to the e-m5s connectors as the hld-6 does. With adjustable forward backward positioning to balance longer lenses.

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

What are Cookies?
A cookie is a small file of letters and numbers that is stored in a temporary location on your computer to allow our website to distinguish you from other users of the website. If you don't want to accept cookies, you'll still be able to browse the site and use it for research purposes. Most web browsers have cookies enabled, but at the bottom of this page you can see how to disable cookies. Please note that cookies can't harm your computer. We don't store personally identifiable information in the cookies, but we do use encrypted information gathered from them to help provide you with a good experience when you browse our website and also allow us to improve our site. You can watch a simple video from Google to find more information about cookies.

Cookies used by our Website
The 43rumors website, 43rumors.com, uses the following cookies for the collection of website usage statistics and to ensure that we can . These are anonymous and temporary. By using our website, you agree that we may place these types of cookies on your device.
Read how Google uses data when you use our partners' sites or apps: http://www.google.com/intl/en/policies/privacy/partners/
Google Analytics Cookie Usage on Websites: https://developers.google.com/analytics/devguides/collection/analyticsjs/cookie-usage?csw=1#cookiesSet Addthis cookies: http://www.addthis.com/privacy.
Disqus cookies: https://help.disqus.com/customer/portal/articles/466235-use-of-cookies.
Vimeo cookies: http://vimeo.com/privacy.
Youtube cookies: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/171780?hl=en-GB

Disabling/Enabling Cookies
You have the ability to accept or decline cookies by modifying the settings in your browser. Please note however that by deleting our cookies or disabling future cookies you may not be able to access certain areas or features of our site. For information about how to disable cookies in your browser please visit the About Cookies website.