DxOmark results of the E-PM1 and E-PL3


DxOmark (Click here) posted the E-Pl3 and E-PM1 sensors test results. As usual keep in mind that these tests do not take into consoderation the resolution of the sensor. DxO says: “Even if these 2 new models in the PEN series don’t provide any improvement in image quality, they do offer new choices in terms of size and controls. Depending on the level of control you want, these 2 cameras could be very nice point-and-shoot cameras — portable, but with interchangeable lenses“.

As you know all three latest PEN models do use the same 12 megapixel sensor. It’s up to you whihc one fits better for you!

Links to the three new PEN cameras:
Olympus E-P3 Amazon, B&H, Adorama, Olympus US store, FocusCamera, eBay Olympus E-PL3 Amazon, B&H, Adorama, Olympus US store, FocusCamera, eBay Olympus E-PM1 Amazon, B&H, Adorama, Olympus US store, FocusCamera, eBay

  • Thanks DxOmark, but no thanks.

    Statements like “This score makes the NEX-C3 a better camera for shooting in low-light conditions, but it is easily explained by the sensor size difference (micro-four-thirds for Olympus and APS-C for Sony).” make me cringe.

    The score doesn’t make anything – low light shooting is dependent on a number of factors, many of which the score doesn’t even include (IBIS, ergonomics, noise reduction, bright lenses – etc.) To say one camera or another is better for low light shooting because it has a higher low light ISO score is just misleading.

    That the Sony sensor is better is a fact, and that you will get cleaner files at higher ISOs is a fact, making that single part of the camera’s features more suited to low light shooting than the m43 sensor. That’s as much as a conclusion we can draw looking exclusively at raw sensor performance, and in my opinion, DxOmark would be better to avoid making sweeping conclusions about which camera is better based on a single number.

  • Well said. What is worse is a site, which quotes DxO, without commenting on the above factors. Feeding thus depressing thoughts on the potential of a system.

    We have to live with laziness and stupidity, but at least we shouldn’t encourage it. But who knows perhaps the owners think it is an encouragement to use bigger sensors in m4/3?


  • I think admin understands that most of the people that visit this site understand how to interpret DxOmark. He’s doing a pretty good job of posting just about every relevant m43 review and news.

    As for DxOmark, they apply their sensor analysis technique to the current m43 cameras as they do with all cameras. I can accept m43 didn’t score so well in their tests compared to the latest from Sony and Nikon. HOWEVER I agree with Michael: that statement is cringe worthy. It isn’t ONLY to do with sensor size. But I do think they are justified in stating that you can achieve better low light results with a Nex because that is the ONLY aspect of photography that is relevant to ISO.

    I’m preaching to the converted here when I say this. Every photographer knows you can take advantage of a fast lens for low light. The trade-off? With a lens wide open you have a shallow DOF to contend with so you must have pretty good low-light AF or be very familiar with your gear to MF (helps if you have an EVF).

    In summary, yeah sure m43 doesn’t get a great mark in DxOmark tests (due mainly to high ISO capability), but we at 43 Rumors all know that m43 more than make up for it with great lenses (of great build quality and size). While Nex and Nikon 1 users DEPEND on high ISO.

    We will have the last laugh in a couple of years when sensor technology is such that the difference in sensor size between Nex, m43 and Nikon 1 is irrelevant and the only difference between formats is body ergonomics, style, SIZE (of camera and lens) and quality of lens system. When we upgrade from our current cameras to gen 4 and 5 m43 (never selling my gf-1 though), we will still have all those great lenses. m43 is m43 for a reason. The sensor size was calculated as the ideal size for lens design. The physics of optics will never change.

    Also @amalric, funny joke: an m43 with a bigger sensor.

    • Scotch

      “m43 is m43 for a reason. The sensor size was calculated as the ideal size for lens design. The physics of optics will never change.”

      Don’t be upset, m43 fans.
      As bean5y mentioned as technology advance one day sensor size will be come irrelevant and medium format users will finally appreciate m43’s build quality and system size.

  • nicwalmsley

    Yeah, accept all that, but you can still wonder if the the current Pen sensor as good as it should be, or how far it is from being as good as it should be, given current technology and comparable camera systems (not just NEX, but Nikon 1, Fuji X something, …NX?)

    Lucky for those lenses!

    • jake

      yeah, that is a good point, Only needs a Sony or Kodak sensor , if Oly could get it out with some Sony or Kodak sensor , I ‘d buy it in a heart beat.

      I love MFT lenses but I wont buy any more MFT bodies until Oly decides to use a Kodak or Sony sensor………..the Panny sensors are terrible not onlyi in low light or at high ISO but also at base ISO, this is why I bought a NEX5n in addition to my EPL3.

      Hopefully , some day Only wakes up and starts using Kodak CCDs again or Sony CMOS or even Canon sensor is better than the horrible Panny or Samsung.

  • Does it show that I have a gripe with DxO, and its mindless believers? LOL

    FIrst of all, as we know, it doesn’t measure RESOLUTION, which has done tremendous steps in m4/3, to the point that it’s equal or better than bigger formats – thanks to lower AA filters and better lenses.

    Second, it doesn’t tell anything of the JPEG engine, whose improvement now allows to overcome the previous DR limitations, thanks to Apical technology (shadow recovery and highlight protection).

    That is also related to the fact that DxO has a different way to measure ISO from O/P which will always put them to disadvantage.

    And so forth. However thanks to DxO the last clueless P&S snapper can throw at us the DxO final mark as if it was living proof of m4/3 ‘limited IQ’ and lack of progress in the sensors (3 yrs. old) not caring that cropped sensors might be reaching limits to growth. So that limiting MPX density might be a DELIBERATE choice to avoid more noise at base ISO.

    Therefore when I hear DxO, i pull out my gun, like a nazi when hearing the world ‘culture’. But with better reasons LOL

    Please boycott DxO and let its lemmings be exterminated :)

    • Esa Tuunanen

      > Second, it doesn’t tell anything of the JPEG engine
      There’s nothing to do if higlights saturate sensor’s output or image data is swamped under noise.
      And same advancements of processing algorithms benefit also RAW of others.

      > proof of m4/3 ‘limited IQ’ and lack of progress in the sensors (3 yrs. old)
      There’s zero evidence that actual photosite/light gathering element has progressed a single step.
      Even old E-30 which was first Olympus with 12MP sensor gets same dynamic range/noise results as latest PENs.
      Actually area of sensor per pixel/photosite (=pixel’s light gathering ability) happens to be identical to Canon’s 18MP APS-C sensor and Sony’s latest 24MP sensor has notably smaller photosites so why aren’t we getting same noise/SNR results for 100%/on screen viewing which excludes noise suppression of downscaling image?
      Using three years to only slap lighter AA filter in front of same old sensor is quite poor pace of development.
      Panasonic GH1 had actually clearly new sensor design so despite of almost same per pixel area it has better results than Olympus cameras. (challenging Canon’s sensor)

      > That is also related to the fact that DxO has a different way to measure ISO from O/P which will always put them to disadvantage.
      Dpreview found it out already years and years ago that often camera’s output at various ISOs settings don’t exactly fit to standard and it happens with every maker.
      Also Canon and Sony overstate ISO in their latest cameras… while sensor of Pana GH1 actually overperformed.

    • Ahem

      DxOMark takes resolution into account. Stop repeating this fallacy.

      They are also very clear they talk about sensor (RAW) performance. JPEG performance doesn’t really matter to the people who bother to read DxO, so it’s largely irrelevant.

  • JesperMP

    It is irrelevant if the cause of the poor sensor result is due to difference in sensor size or not. The fact remains that the latest and greatest Olympus cameras trail far behind the competition.
    As I see it, Olympus has one final shot left. They have to release the rumored “Pen Pro”, and it better have to be MUCH better in both sensor IQ and features.

    • I won’t respond to your oversimplifications. You might be a good photographer for all I know but your rational powers are limited.

      I would also diagnose constant whining, which might be a personality trait :)

      Thank you anyway for allowing me to add that a good Jpeg engine has alllowed to earn the 12 Mpx sensor almost 3 stops of sensitivity, in its lifespan, which is amazing.

      That of course happened because of improvement of denosing algorithms and processing speed, which in turn benefited AF and refresh rates of the EVF.

      That shows that DxO doesn’t measure anything but only what was already there 3 years ago, without accounting for all the rest that was done.

      • Ahem

        You keep talking about JPEG, but DxO doesn’t measure JPEG performance, and JPEGs don’t matter to those of us who shoot RAW.

        • Well, exactly like you RAW people don’t matter to me.

          Oly was the first to demonstrate that RAW developers couldn’t do better than what it processor did in camera. Not in terms of DR, and not even in terms of High ISO.

          That is perfectly in line with HCB’s maxim: ‘I am a hunter, I am not a cook’

          RAW in many ways is an obsolete pleasure of people belonging to a more primitive era :)

          • Ahem

            Are you actually arguing RAW vs JPEG? That’s like analog vs digital, negs vs trannies, Apple vs PC. Meaning it’s a pointless argument not worth even starting.

            Both are perfectly valid technologies with pros and cons. You’re not going to convince me to start shooting JPEG, and I’m not going to even bother trying to convince you to shoot RAW.

            • sparedog

              dont bring raw and jpeg into the same sentence. they are completely different worlds, used by completely different people.

              jpeg engine users will never understand why people use raw, and raw users will never understand why people use jpeg.

              • Kung Lao

                Raw is for people who are constant image tweakers and like to shoot on single frame shot. Jpeg is for people who like to shoot right the first time around and capturing the decisive moment.

                • Ahem

                  What? With RAW you can do both, with JPEG your choices are limited at tweaking. RAW offers more flexibility, but requires more work. In that sense RAW is like a negative, while JPEG is like a tranny.

          • Esa Tuunanen

            It’s JPEG which is obsolete format with limited bit depth and lower compression efficiency than more modern compressions while causing more artefacts.
            Only reasons for its usage continuing is it being common and lack of paying for usage of patents in software.

  • bilgy_no1

    1. DXO mark is an extremely limited resource for testing cameras, as others have pointed out. Not only do other factors affect IQ (lenses, processing), I also find it quite alarming that they do not publish any photos. Isn’t this a little strange for a camera we4bsite? The sweeping test numbers (final scores?) mean exactly what in real life? Other sites try to show you what you can expect in a variety of situations: formal controlled studio scenes, and real world samples.
    2. Olympus has made the best of the 12MP sensor over the past 3 years (starting with the E-30), but now it is time to move on. Olympus seems to get better results from Panasonic sensors than Panasonic itself (compare E-P3 with GF3). I’d love to see what Olympus can do with the 16MP sensor, which really is admirably close to the APS-C latest.
    3. The fact that the E-PL1 gets a lower ISO score (487) as the old E-520 (548) says something about the test perhaps. I know for a fact that the E-PL1 produces better images at higher ISOs, by quite a margin. Either the DXO test is technically correct, but doesn’t predict real world results, or the DXO test is technically incorrect. In both cases, it seems rather useless.

    • Esa Tuunanen

      > The fact that the E-PL1 gets a lower ISO score (487) as the old E-520 (548) says something about the test perhaps. I know for a fact that the E-PL1 produces better images at higher ISOs, by quite a margin.
      Have you done that from RAW with same processing to exclude advances in JPEG engine?
      And E-520’s sensor has less megapixels and bigger photosites so without real progress in photosite design to counter shrinked size it’s natural for sensitivity to decrease.
      If you look graphs they actually show very similar DR/SNR performance… at same measured sensitivity instead of E-PL1’s overstated ISO values. (hinting to same photosite design being shrinked for cramming more of them into sensor)

  • Calvo

    Wow… DXO Advertising again… whoever this needs… Yaaaawwwn… Boring!

  • Frederic Hew

    Wrong again, admin.

    The new pens do not use the older sensor, they use a new sensor with twice the readout speed and some tweaks having to do with infra red sensitivity, but same image quality.

    • Boooo!

      No, actually, it’s the same sensor that was used in the E-30 and E-620. The same.

      • Frederic Hew

        No actually, the older sensor would not have allowed the faster AF.Same IQ does not necessarily mean same sensor.

        Do share, if you have evidence to the contrary – I’m always eager to learn.

        • Boooo!

          You are confusing “sensor” with “surrounding circuitry”.

    • Thomas S

      Are you sure about the infrared sensitivity tweak? There was a rumor and a patent about it, but I didn’t know it actually made it into the new sensors.

      • Frederic Hew

        I’m not sure about the IR.

        I can’t say I’m sure about the faster readout – I didn’t measure it myself and neither has anyone here I think.

        I am only sure of two things – Olympus’ own statements and the fact that AF speed has been dramatically improved.

  • Thomas S

    Whether DxO is relevant or not, I wonder if or when an Oly camera will surpass the 56 point mark. Until then I’ll be happy with my E-30 and GH-2, no need to upgrade. I’d rather spend my money on the nice, new, fast primes. ;-)

  • Ahem

    REPEAT AFTER ME: DXOMARK TAKES RESOLUTION INTO ACCOUNT. They didn’t in their first few months, but it’s been fixed for ages now – and people still claim so incorrectly.

    • digifan

      Well there must be something off, because the results I’m getting from my E-5, are way better than that of the Nikon’s new system.
      If I look at several test sites I see the same. The E-P3, G3 and GH2 score better to much better in the IQ department IMO.
      WTF if the files have a little more noise, they (P&O’s) have tons more detail too.
      I sell prints, not pixels. And I’m doing very well in this day and age with 98% usage of (m)4/3 gear.

      • Ahem

        You need to be more specific than “way better,” AND you need to be able to make head-to-head comparisons. No, JPEGs are not sufficient, DxO works on RAW data only. Olympus is known for stellar JPEG performance, which might be one reason for the discrepancy.

        DxO is a quantifiable measurement, and just because your pet camera doesn’t have higher score, doesn’t necessarily mean it has similar performance FOR YOU. You might value IQ factors other than DxO measures, and/or factors not measured by DxO, such as UI, size, lens selection, etc.

        Finally, DxO is part of a toolbox, so people need to stop treating it like it’s gospel (for good or bad). It is just one (small) part of determining if a camera is good or not. I use it only to see if an upgrade is worthwhile sensor-wise. For example, DxO confirmed what many were saying, that the new Oly cameras have the same old sensor. But that was only one factor in the final decision to not buy.

  • Ahem

    And for all the skeptics above and reading: don’t blame DxO for sensor scores. They didn’t have the scores in the beginning, but added them because whiners couldn’t understand the graphs and demanded one single score to rule them all: “our camera goes to 11!” They added landscape/portrait/etc. to make some differentiation between cameras with the same score, but that didn’t really help.

    To recap: ignore the scores, they don’t say much, and are not useful to anyone but journalists in selling papers and getting clickthroughs with outrageous or erroneous claims (see OP). If you want to understand how sensors’ RAW performance compares, DxOMark is a useful too, but ONLY if you use the graphs and know how to read them (they’re not that difficult).

    It is unfortunate that today’s media (online and off) caters to the lowest common denominator, and regurgitates soundbites which don’t tell the whole story, or even understand what the story is (again see OP). DxO is partly to blame there as they caved in to the demands for simpler, dumbed down scores, but it’s photography writers who should know better than to copy press releases.

  • Mark

    Regarding Michaels post, yes, low light camera performance does rely on a variety of factors, ie lens speeds etc, but for the sake of these tests, the reviewer is comparing image quality from the sensors and processing engines, not the whole electromechanical system and in these terms, 4/3 and micro 4/3 sensors have not fared well in comparison to their competitors. If I was to shoot a photo on an APSC sensored Canon at a high ISO speed and then crop it down to the 4/3 equivalent size, the crop from the APS would still be far above what Olympus sensors have historically been capable of at a given ISO and period of technological development. I had a brief period with an Olympus E3 several years ago, and it was probably the biggest mistake of my digital photographic life. The sensor and processing was truly dreadful at anything above 400ASA.

    Mind you, I think I understand why. Perhaps if Olympus had been spending money on r+d rather than multimillion $$$ brown paper bag deals to dodgy offshore companies, (possibly with organised crime links), they might actually have developed something that could have been competetive (at least as far as sensor quality and processing was concerned), rather than selling product on spurious claims based on very narrow and specific testing parameters of their own definition and invention.

    I am actually a m43 user by the way, Panny GF1’s and 2’s. I like Olympus lenses a great deal, but regarding their sensor technology, I’m not prepared to make excuses or allowances by shifting the goalposts of my critical faculties, (which many Olympus users seem to do), in an attempt to justify sub par technologies.

    • Ahem

      My critical faculties are just fine, and I use E-PL1. The decision to go over to MFT from APS-C and to choose Oly over Panasonic at the time was made on non-IQ related matters – mainly size, bulk and IBIS.

      For the sake of the eventual upgrade, I just hope Oly camera division doesn’t go under, or that Panasonic starts using IBIS.

  • st3v4nt

    Yes the 4/3 and m4/3 may be “suck” in term of so called Dxo Mark, but I wish is that as easy for someone to choose one system over another just by look into Dxo Mark alone. Until recently I didn’t even care or knew what Dxo Mark stand for, and after read about it I still didn’t get it why everyone still fuzz about it. All I know is over a year ago when I decide to choose EPL-1 as my system it’s based on how good the image quality of one camera over another by looking into it with my own eyes…I believe my own eyes it’s not fail me after so many years…even after so many trainings, course, experience in photography I found it’s hard for me to tell the difference between one camera over another in DSLR or mirrorless system. I think the fuzz about Dxo mark is just too overated. Just shoot and be happy with it there’s more than Dxo mark if you want to have a great picture.

  • JesperMP

    What is so great about DxO mark is that it a fully objective measurement done on many cameras under exactly the same conditions. It cuts through all the subjective nonsense that floats around the web.
    Now starts the pathetic remarks that DxO is not the whole truth about a given camera. Doh ! Noone states anything towards that the DxO mark score is anything but a measurement of the sensor alone. I and anyone else that understand what DxO is and is not, know how to use the DxO information in combination with other sources and our own tests.

  • Indeed, DxOMark TAKES RESOLUTION INTO ACCOUNT. Please admin, stop repeating the contrary.

    DxOMark tests always trigger very emotional responses from all kind of people who have never even bothered to read and understand how DxOMark works.

    Let me just cite them:

    “All sensor scores reflect only the RAW sensor performance of a camera body.”

    I’d say that is a pretty clear and simple statement. That makes a good deal of the comments here irrelevant.

  • resolution.. of the LENSES?

    They never heard about lenses at DxO. That says a lot too about those arrogant, pointless bastards.


    • Ahem

      Lenses are right there at the top of the DxOMark website, in the menu.

      And the purpose of the SENSOR tests is to compare SENSORS.

      Stop trolling.

      • Scitch

        let’s just ignore troll
        just an Olympus fan-boy who’s self esteem was hurt by DXO mark

      • Scotch

        let’s just ignore the troll
        just an Olympus fan-boy who’s self esteem was hurt by DXO mark

  • Neicila

    Here is the english translation of one of first french NEX-7 review:


    To sum up one aspect of this review, which can complete DXO test : great sensor but Nex lenses are not enough good to deal with all abilities of the sensor

    • Ahem

      Which confirms many anecdotes saying exactly the same: Nex is a good system, but lenses are not up to speed with the sensor.

  • che

    DxO is a joke site… and actually irrelevant… why… Nikon D5100 has better dynamic range on landscape than 5Dm2… really… full frame vs 1.5 JOKE…

  • DxO is a KMA site. That is why so many wimps like it.

    It is also so surprisingly off the mark, that it brings a lot of clicks, with no effort at all.

    How to be economical with the truth and sell well. That’s the lemmings’ ideal.

  • Impressive. Just after my post, two more people shamelessly proved my point. I’m wondering if we even speak the same language.

    • Mattias

      DxO Takes mega pixels in account. Not resolution. According to Dpreview the E-5 has the same resolution as the 7d, despite the lesser number of pixels. So when DxO decreases the image in the 7d to smooth out noise to a greater degree than the E-5 they are making a flaw.

      So the best way to compare the noise on E-5 vs 7D is not “Print”-mode, but rather “Screen”-mode.

      That is The Resolution problem.

      The other problem is that DxO has theur own way of setting the grey point, which neither I, Dpreview, Imatest or most camera manufacturers agrees on. And since they use the greypoint they want as the basis of their graphs it gets misleading.

      And the third problem is the finished photo problem.
      If I use my E-5, set it at the shutterspeed I want and the depht of field I want, I need to have a stop down the 7D about one stop and increase the ISO about one stop.

      I take the E-5 vs 7d here as they have about the same resulution and is easier to compare.

      • Ahem

        The items you describe are big part of why the topline DxO scores are pretty much useless, and you have to look and interpret the graphs (correctly) to make a useful comparison between cameras.

  • Since DxO appeared, at the initiative of some French gearheads, it has been an exercise of masochism to read results for 4/3 owners.

    Basically because the sensor is smaller than APS and the ISO readings were geared to favour the latter.

    It is well known that the disadvantage in size is more than compensated by the resolution across it, which however must bring in 4/3 lenses, which are excellent.

    Moreover a RAW based evaluation misses all the processing that Oly does better than any gearhead. In terms of DR, DPR always mentions that there is no DR stop to be extracted by working in RAW, so good it is.

    You may differ but I have found it to be so, especially if you use shaadow recovery in JPEG.

    So in the end the IQ result always debunks DxO findings. Or better what w@nkers deduce about DxO findings, without caring about photography, which is all in the processing.

    Sensor if large enough, you can use as toilet paper, at least if it has automatic cleaning :)

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