New Olympus reviews (and why DxOmark is wrong by saying Nikon1 is as good as m43!)

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As you know DxOmark tested the Nikon 1 sensors and gave it the same score as the m43 sensors. But look at that simple image comparison posted by massimo on dpreview forum. Time for DxOmark to add the resolution as a parameter in their tests otherwise their score really is misleading!

New Olympus E-PL3 Review at DCresource (Click here): “Overall, the Olympus E-PL3 is a well-appointed, relatively inexpensive interchangeable lens camera that offers a lot of bang for the buck. It produces high quality stills and videos, offers features for both beginners and enthusiasts, and has generally very snappy performance. While there’s some room for improvement, Olympus’ midrange Pen is definitely worth checking out“.

Olympus PEN E-PL3 review at Techradar (Click here): “Compared against the E-P3 it represents very good value for money indeed, although against other competitors from rival manufacturers it still looks to be a bit on the pricey side. It wouldn’t take much of a drop in the street price for that to change though. In the meantime, should you have your heart set on one you are unlikely to be disappointed.

My First Sunday Afternoon with the Olympus EPM-1. Yes, the EPM-1. I’m “Pen Ready.” (Kirk Tuck via Noisycamera).

Panasonic LUMIX DMC-GF3 review by PDNonline (Click here): “Like I said, it’s a pity this camera isn’t more aimed at pros. While I really enjoyed my time shooting with the gorgeous Leica M9-P, I had more fun with the GF3 overall“.

Micro Four Thirds Lens Comparison: Olympus 12mm f2 vs. Panasonic 14mm f2.5 (ThePhoBlographer).

Shop links to the mentioned cameras and lenses:
Olympus E-PL3 at Amazon, Olympus US store, Adorama, B&H, eBay.
Olympus E-PM1 at Amazon, Olympus US store, Adorama, B&H, eBay.
Panasonic GF3 at Amazon, Olympus US store, Adorama, B&H, eBay.
Panasonic 14mm lens at Amazon, Olympus US store, Adorama, B&H, eBay.
Olympus 12mm lens at Amazon, Olympus US store, Adorama, B&H, eBay.

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  • http://www.43rumors.com/members/efat/ Efat

    Resolution is just a single dimension of image quality! In many application color accuracy and dynamic range are much more important. Imagine: if 10MP is good enough then which sensor would you choose? With better color and dynamic range or worse?

    The sad truth is is that the old 12MP sensor used by Olympus and some Panas lags behind other contemporary sensors.

  • Chris K

    DxOMark is a synthetic benchmark. The only question DxOMark answers is, “what is the camera’s DxOMark”. Unless you care about that answer, you can ignore DxOMark.

    The real questions people want answers to, I suspect, are what is the camera’s resolution/noise/DR. It’s easy to compare these without wrapping them up in some kind of meaningless weighted average.

    • http://www.bythom.com Thom Hogan

      Technically, the way people are measuring resolution is a “synthetic benchmark,” too. As I’ve written many times over the past five years, I’ve moved away from literal reliance on test results and rely upon one simple thing: what’s the best possible result I can get out of a raw file.

      You also have to watch out for mismatched data. For instance, relying upon JPEGs for resolution data versus raw files for dynamic range data is a mismatch. There’s a long history of Nikon cameras producing better numbers in resolution tests with raw than JPEG, probably because one of the things that Nikon does in their imaging ASIC that removes noise also tends to add a bit of blur to the results.

      • Chris K

        Where the rubber meets the road is a photograph. Resolution charts ala DPReview are more useful than a single “goodness” score, but in the end the only thing that matters is how much feather or leaf or brick detail you can see in your photograph.

        Throwing RAW/JPEG and PP skills into the mix makes the waters even muddier. When I test my equipment I try to make the best possible photo possible with two different cameras/lenses/apps. The best photo wins. In the end, that’s all I care about anyway. (Well, getting there with less work is valuable, I suppose. I’m eyeing the JPEGs of these new generation of cameras with a raised eyebrow.)

      • Mike

        That is humorous. I’ve often seen and heard that Panasonic’s JPEG engine was behind many/all other manufacturers. Now when we see JPEGs from Nikon vs. Panasonic I’m told Nikon engine is even worse than Panasonic to support that the 1 cameras actually have better IQ? Come on.

        If I recall the set of comparison pics, they weren’t resized either, so not only do the G3 pics look better, they look better at 100% crop, which means if you had to downsample the Panasonic or upsample the Nikon, the difference would be even more dramatic in favor of the Panasonic.

        Yes Panasonic does need to improve their DR and lower their sensor noise. I’m certain they are working on improving that and more in whatever batch of sensors are being engineered and tested now.

        • WT21

          Canon and Nikon jpgs are not very good. You can get A LOT more out of processing RAW. Olympus jpgs are very good, in that they maximize what you get out of RAW. The downside is that there’s not much more to be gotten out of an Oly RAW. Panasonic has had serious jpg issues a while ago — bordering on watercolor type output. They’ve since improved, but their issues now tend to be in white balance and color more than sharpness, etc.

        • flash

          JPEG is where it is at for most users of compact cameras. Can’t really see most Photoshop just to get a snapshot.

  • Don Carrot

    we’re splitting hair here, fact is that the olympus sensor is outdated, where the small V1 for me the V1 is on par with the E-P3, taken into consideration that it’s 10 vs. 12 mpx, a slight sharpening tweak in pp, and the result is identical.. the nikon sensor is at least modern tech, and holds up pretty well with the smaller size,
    dpreview has the nex 5n tested today, first gold award for a mirrorless camera, superb iso performance, usable up to 12800, sony has delivered a winner this time
    curious how the nex7 will perform, if it’s clean up to 3200 it will be one of the best cameras ever made

    • MikeH

      From most everything shown so far, the NEX7 has gone a step too far. It looks very noisy compared to the 5N. While I like the form factor and features of the 7 the 5N has better overall IQ.

      • Bob B.

        just read the review of the 5N on DPreview…GREAT camera…but….then there are those lenses.
        Ugh. I wouldn’t buy it. I continue to keep my 5D Mark II AND my GF1. The 5N is not replacing either one.

        • Mr. Reeee

          Who cares about NEX artillery shell lenses when you can buy inexpensive adaptors for your kit of manual lenses and use them BOTH your M4/3 camera and a NEX-5n.

          http://www.rainbowimaging.biz/shop/category.php?id_category=4

          • Bob B.

            I really am an autofocus fan. I know all of the downsides (have been shooting for 45years)….but my eyes are getting old….
            Sometimes I am manual focusing my autofocus lenses to get some good hyperfocus going…but I always like to have the auto focus capability there as I use that more than manual (can’t trust my eyes). You are correct though…if you are STRICTLY into manual focus..the Nex 5n is pretty cool!!!!

            • Mr. Reeee

              I certainly use AF lenses, but generally when shooting design projects for business or in situations where MF would be a hindrance or attention grabbing. I DO prefer the creative control of MF and also the feel of a real metal and glass lens. Focus by wire is an abomination!

              BTW, my eyes ain’t so great anymore, either. 😉

              I could see the NEX-5n to augment my GH2 and M4/3 system. Use my native M/3 lenses on the GH2 and adapt a few of my favorite manual lenses for the NEX. I’d love to try the NEX shooting macros with my Nikon 60mm f2.8D just to see how focus peaking works.

              All the NEX talk is brainstorming and fun speculation. I love my GH2 and think M4/3 strikes a perfect balance in a lot of areas.

              • Bob B.

                Sounds like you are going to make the NEX plunge!

                • Steve

                  NEX is gonna hurt m43 and kill the Nikon 1 just as soon as Sony get more lenses out there. I know a couple of ladies here who bought Sony NEX for the brand and the because the salesman told them the cameras take better pictures, and showed them the sensor size to prove it. Easy sale.

                  I”ve been on the fence about mirrorless so I’ve been following all the rumor sites etc, but it really seems I can get dslr quality from an NEX5n so I’m coming off the fence on Sony’s side.

    • Mr. Reeee

      Funny, but both the NEX-5n AND GH2 got 79% ratings. So, how does the NEX-5n get a gold, when the GH2 got only silver? Very strange.

      • Bob B.

        That is funny.

        • MichaelKJ

          According to DPR:

          “There is no direct link between the overall score and the awards: they are not given automatically to cameras reaching a certain threshold. Crucially a camera can get an award even if a camera with a higher overall score didn’t.”

          • Bob B.

            LOL…that makes sense…NOT! (we will just wing it :-) )

          • Chris K

            Basically, for all DPReview’s measuring and grading, it all comes down to which camera they like best. They’ve always had pet (and pet hate) cameras and cameramakers over there, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that they don’t consider all their measurbating when handing out cookies.

    • http://www.bythom.com Thom Hogan

      Yes, I agree. People aren’t actually looking at DxO’s actual data, but are looking at DxO’s often misleading overall number assessment. For example, here’s the actual data:

      J1 sensor efficiency: 57% (higher is better)
      J1 sensor minimum read noise: 6.8 (lower is better)
      J1 sensor max saturation capacity: 23644 (higher is better)

      E-P3 sensor efficiency: 41%
      E-P3 sensor minimum read noise: 8.1
      E-P3 sensor max saturation capacity: 17791

      The J1’s sensor efficiency is the same as the D3s, in other words, quite good. Yes, it uses quite small photosites, yet somehow those photosites have a maximum saturation capacity that’s closer to DX than compact cameras, and better than ANY of the m4/3 sensors. The bottom line is that if Nikon had made this a m4/3-sized sensor, you’d all be demanding an m4/3 camera with it inside.

      That’s been my point all along about the m4/3 sensors underperforming. They’re at least one full generation behind what they’re competing with. What they’re competing with is a LARGER sensor that’s more than a generation ahead (NEX 5N) and a SMALLER sensor that’s a generation ahead (Nikon 1). This makes the m4/3 overall performance look more like the smaller sensor competitor than the larger, meaning that–on sensor performance only–the m4/3 group has a lot of downside to market against. Sony can simply claim better image quality in smaller bodies. Nikon can claim near equal image quality with F-mount compatibility. Both those things are big marketing hurdles to get over.

      • Bob B.

        Well said, Thom…Great overview. But…for the price, even with the smaller (better) sensor but a lack of any “real” system of lenses…as David Pogue says in the New York Times….(he refers to the Nikon minis as “an important experiment…but missing the mark”) the Nikon mini it isn’t all that great for what you are spending based on other camera “systems” that are available on the market.
        I just am hoping Panasonic is going to show up with an MFT sensor with the tech that the smaller Nikon sensor has (or BETTER)…so that us guys with a bunch of MFT primes can smile!!!!!! Don’t they have to at this point to compete?

        http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/29/technology/personaltech/2-compact-cameras-move-closer-to-perfection-david-pogue.html?ref=technology

      • lnqe-M

        Not only a generation differance by Panasonic sensor, is nMOS sensor, not so Sony have CMOS sensor.

      • Chris K

        What exactly IS this thing DxOMark calls “sensor efficiency”? How is the number derived? Is it a simple function of some particular sensor characteristic? Is it a weighted average of various measurements? Is it a subjective “goodness” score?

        I can’t find the desire to care about sensor efficiency unless I know what it is.

      • Fred

        Hello Thom,

        Did you find these figures on the DXO site ? If yes, in what part of the site are they ?

        Thank you,

      • http://www.friendlyimitationofwork.com Tobias W.

        “The bottom line is that if Nikon had made this a m4/3-sized sensor, you’d all be demanding an m4/3 camera with it inside.”

        I won’t dispute that. But what’s the bottom line? Bottom line is that MFT produces better results, at least when I look at the available samples. Your sentence contains an ‘if’ pointing out a reality that does not exist. I buy real cameras.

        I am looking forward to what Panasonic and Olympus will put out there to counter the NEX7. I am more interested in the usability and control aspect than the image quality. In my opinion, the image quality of the current MFT cameras is already good enough for me.

      • Riki

        I wonder how hard it would be for Oly to get a sony tech sensor, nikon have them so…

    • zigi_S

      don’t kid urself.

  • bidou

    Fanboys, Fanboys, watchgonna do, When DXo mark come for you?

    • Bob B.

      LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! VERY funny!!!!

  • Delooloo

    @ Don Carrot – please do perform your ‘slight sharpening’ tweak on the images referenced in the article and show us all how there is no difference.

    Many thanks.

  • http://youdidntdidyou.com/ YouDidntDidYou

    Admin
    you seen this? http://techcrunch.com/2011/09/29/android-phone-lumix-camera-panasonics-lumix-phone-101p-for-japan/

    btw DxOmark aren’t important in the minds of most consumers/photographers

    • Jim

      That looks fun! – I wonder being android how programmable the camera is? will you be able to get all sorts of cool camera controling apps?!

  • st3v4nt

    Let’s hope Panasonic and Olympus could once again create break through in sensor design.

    • Bob B.

      +1 Then we can have it ALL! :-)

  • http://ranger9.net Ranger 9

    Including “resolution” (whatever that means) in DxOMark would make no sense because — as DxOMark keeps saying, but nobody pays any attention — all they’re trying to measure is SENSOR performance.

    You can quote pixel pitch, which is just a specification, but you can’t measure a sensor’s “resolution” without putting a lens in front of it, and that opens a great big can of very wiggly worms.

    • WT21

      So, the Nikon without a lens attached is almost as good as m43 without a lens attached. Sounds wonderful! It also makes a stronger case for NEX! Since their lenses are limited, you clearly don’t need lenses to have a better sensor, then NEX is certainly king now! Who needs lenses? They just get in the way anyway. It’ll be a whole new age of impressionist or surrealist, or just plain fuzzy, photography. Plus the AF speed is instant!

    • http://www.bythom.com Thom Hogan

      Not exactly right.

      “Resolution” is a compound formula. Both the sensor and lens impact the test results. So does the AA filter. So does the demosaic. So does focus accuracy. So do a lot of things. Thus, resolution ultimately becomes a measurement of ALL the factors involved in converting the light into data.

      Some people are surprised that even just different raw converters can make a difference in resolution test numbers.

      • Jim

        Agree, But what your talking about is a camera – not juat sensor, which is what DXO is all about.

        Measuring resolution is as much (more?) about the lens than the sensor – reasonably accurate sensor resolution can be gleaned well from technical specifacations of the sensor (size/pixel count) and AA filter opperating frequency…

        Beyond this I doubt the use of a lens to find sensor resolution – I would suggest projecting a diffraction pattern onto the sensor directly and then recording the achiveable niquest from the sensor. . . this might not work (dunno – might be blocked by AA filter)??? but somthing along these lines would be a better way of deturming pure sensor resolution.

        2 things are for shaw,

        1) those Nikons need better lenses… its not the sensor making the images soft!

        2) m4/3s need better sensors… its not the lens making the image grainy!

  • Bob B.

    Well…I have to disagree with the DXOMark remark. (is that redundant? LOL!)….
    David Pogue of the New York Times (writes tech articles for NYT aimed at average mainsteam consumers) pretty much trashes both the Pentax and Nikon minis. …from a standpoint of price and results.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/29/technology/personaltech/2-compact-cameras-move-closer-to-perfection-david-pogue.html?_r=1&ref=technology

    DXO needs to do its homework as far as I am concerned. It is almost as if a single-minded scientist (with only certain facts in front of him) who is not familiar with photography in a broader sense is producing this information. It really sounds stupid.

  • Rob

    I think dxomark is correct. However, the 4/3 lenses are better, so the images are better. I do think, however, they should have a non resolution normalized iso score (so you can compare, how one camera cropped would look compared to another), in addition to the normalized one (so you can compare how the two would look in printouts not cropped). Without this, statements about focal length not needed because you can crop it later, aren’t entirely correct based on similar dxomark scores. its also impossible to compare high iso on cameras that do it through software (like the x100), to those that do not. Dxomark is valuable, but you must also consider lens, and electronics to judge a camera’s image quality.

  • Trevor

    DxO mark provides something no manufacturer website will, a consistent comparison of the hardware in cameras. There are ways to use it incorrectly, like reading the top number as meaning “better” for all situations. That’s like scoring the overall performance of a car. Can some sedans out accelerate some sports cars? Yes. Does that make them a better car overall? Not necessarily. They may in fact score the same “overall,” but each has its place. So use the ratings for what they are, objective hardware comparisons.

    However, putting up two jpegs (“these images are JPEGs straight from the camera” – imaging-resource.com) and saying that DxO Mark is wrong is far worse than DxO Mark’s numbers. It’s good to see that the E-P3 has better jpeg output than the J1 (for whatever settings those images were recorded at), but that is not the same as a comparison of the hardware nor does it contradict anything DxO Mark was saying.

    • Bob B.

      Trevor…you make a good point…(unlike DXO Mark)…if I have a broad sense of photography and my own particular needs I can use DXO “data” as a piece of a large quiver of information available to me to help me come to the best decisions for myself when deciding on purchases.

  • marilyn

    for me Dxomark is paid by nikon i guess under the table system…

  • MichaelKJ

    The comparison images posted on DPR by Massimo are JPEGs. Thus, they are inappropriate for drawing any conclusions about DxO scores.

    I agree that the overall DxO score is essentially meaningless, and feel similarly about DPR’s overall score. I think the public’s desire for a single ranking number is why these site feel compelled to provide one.

    On the other hand, both sites provide worthwhile information about specific aspects of sensors and cameras, respectively.

  • thereader

    Average consumer doesn’t know DXO, which is good.
    DXO can’t support their own lens software. M4/3 lenses aren’t supported, and Nikon N1 won’t be supported for years. Go ahead and try to lens correct, you can’t find your lens model, their lens software is useless without lens support.

  • http://www.lightpaintphotography.com ItsaChris


    yes people misread/misunderstand and some use the overall score to mislead people.

    The Nikon 1 sensor is an impressive bit of tech, the camera also has some very nice and useful modes. It does seem it could be a newspapers journalists/photojournalist camera as they are expected to take video for the web, images for a blog/newspaper and write the story.

  • Fred

    DXO detailed measures are very interesting and relevant. But you have to read a lot of papers on their site to interpret them correctly.

    “DXO Mark” is a very simplified average, that can give an undiserved bad reputation to their work.

    For example : DR and CS are very dependent on the base sensitivity of the sensor (= its saturation level).
    – the V1 has better DR and CS “scores” than the G3
    – but, the G3 actually has better CS at equal ISO (and mostly same DR)
    – why ? because base iso of G3 = 149 vs 73 fo the V1
    This means the V1 is better in full light, but only in this case…
    The information is very interesting, but making an average is useless IMHO.

  • Arboreologia

    People!!! Something new is coming in the next days!! Just stay tuned…

    • Bob B.

      The CMOS, 60 megapixel, FOVEON, MFT sensor from Panasonic…???????????? :-)

      • Jim

        Na, it’s from olympus 😛

        • Duarte Bruno

          Oh, you’re talking about that thing that makes phone calls and takes pictures? They’re raving about it right now…
          I think it’s called an iThing!

  • http://www.43rumors.com/members/ulli/ Ulli

    I actually don’t care if a sensor larger or smaller then the (m)FT would give better image quality, as i had never reason to complain about the output of my olympus files. Since I always like to use the max isolation effect in my model/portrait shootings, i do appreciate very narrow dof, and here it takes more effort(read use the proper choice of lens) to create that kind of photography with the fourthirds format. Generation behind? Big deal, we talking about a never ending evolution here, todays’s generation will be considered old too in time, this is something i never try to keep busy with.
    Again, only the DOF charateristics per sensorsize is something I use as reference, this in combination with a mirrorless system. So the Nikon 1 would
    be more challing for what I do, M43 has proven(thanks to the superfast lenses) to do very well,full format sofar only exists within the Leica’s, thus for now APS-C could give a subtly increased effect. I hope my ordered Leica mount module for the Ricoh GXR arrives soon, so this obsessed shooter can “improve” further on the style he likes to shoot in.

  • answer this

    How can Leica lenses be so small for full size sensor? Why can’t sony/nikon/canon make small lenses for full size sensors?

    • http://www.taransdiary.com taran

      Leica lenses aren’t autofocus.

  • Raist3d

    DXo mark is not wrong, people just don’t bother reading what each score means and take it out of context or what exactly they are measuring. There are areas that the Nikon 1 sensor matches the Pen m4/3rds sensor at the lowest iso. This should not be a revelation given the 3 years old tech performance of the Pen sensor vs a brand shiny new state of the art sensor.

    This doesn’t mean the Nikon 1 sensor wins at everything.

  • Ahem

    People who don’t know how to interpret DxOMark results really need to stop quoting and commenting on them – this includes admin, the site linked to in the OP, and several people above.

    Hint: DxO does take resolution into account, you just have to look beyond the (admittedly stupid and confusing) headline scores.

    • Ahem

      continuing: DxO initially didn’t have the headline scores, but had to add them because people are idiots and couldn’t grok the squiggly graphs and all that data.

      So they answered people’s demands and delivered a simple score – I think it was misguided, but at least they are in the headlines all the time as people who don’t understand DxO are flaming them. Perhaps not a smart decision engineering-wise, but a smart marketing move 😛

  • Arg

    DXO clearly say that their scores can only be used to compare sensors of the same resolution. The writer of the post doesn’t seem to realise this. If he did, he would not have written the post!

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