New E-M5 asian sound noise test and NEX-7 and GX1 comparison.


Click on the image to see the full size version!

Some E-M5 news are coming from Asia today! As you can see here on top Dslr-check (Click here) posted a E-M5 vs NEX-7 vs GX1 vs E-PM1 Jpeg comparison (all pics at ISO 400 and f/4 with zoom kit lens). I leave any judgment to you :)

A Japanese friend of mine that got the E-M5 did some testing to find out more about the so called “IS sound noise”. Here are his findings:
1) The noise is here, but you hear it only when you are closed in a complete noiseless room. In normal situation you don’t hear it at all.
2) The noise almost goes away when you switch to movie mode. That’s good news as this will avoid any “contamination” while recording video.
3) My sources told me the noise is related to the 5 axis system but even if you switch off the IS system the noise remains there.

Overall all I can say is that I understand customers reaction when hearing that noise for the first time. It’s something a bit…annoying! But it looks like this is a NON-issue when shooting videos or photos in real world conditions. I hope to get my hands on the E-M5 soon. Want to check that for myself!

One more news: As you know Asian stores like Amazon Japan and Digitalrev are already shipping the cameras. So guess who are the next lucky guys getting the E-M5? USA?….nope…Germany?…nope… it is Canada! Henrys just informed some of our 43rumors early pre ordered that the E-M5 will ship to their houses next week! Lucky guys!

(Pre)orders: Amazon, Adorama, B&H, Jessops, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon Japan and Digitalrev.

Today Rankings:
USA: E-M5 on position 11/13/15 (Click here)
UK: E-M5 is on position 4/10 (Click here).
Germany: The E-M5 is on position 20 (Click here).
France: not available (Click here to see rankings anyway).
Japan: E-M5 on position 7/10 (Click here).


  • shea

    Looks like NR is enabled on all of them, and they’re all JPEG, almost useless for comparisons :(

    • And probably also resized, so that the subject’s size matches on all photos.

    • bigpete

      well said Shea the default NR on the O-MD is in the realm of cartoons

  • Me

    > 3) My sources told me the noise is related to the 5 axis system but even if you switch off the IS system the noise remains there.

    The sensor must be hold in place even when IS is off. The noise can not disappear because of that. It’s the same with Panasonic MegaOIS lenses. Nothing to worry about.

  • E-1

    I assume the noise is from the gyro, which is probably on even if IS is off.

    • slip

      Why would the gyro make any audible noise?

      • E-1

        My understanding from gyros is that they are rotating at high speed – but I’m a computer scientist not an electric engineer.

  • Lew

    What’s with the wb on the gx1 shots?

    • Keith

      Its a Panasonic!

      • That pretty much matches my findings too. The noise from the E-M5 is not a problem under normal shooting conditions and virtually disappears in video mode (you have to put your ear against the unit to hear anything). I wouldn’t really agree on being in a ‘completely noiseless’ room before you can hear anything though. Most people when they open their cameras in their house and turn it on for the first time will likely hear the noise.

        But as I said before, if the tradeoff is better IBIS, then it’s one I’m willing to make :).

  • I’d prefer only 4-axis image stabalization if it meant no humming ;)

    • Andy Taylor

      You have your camera, I’ll have the EM-5 ;)

      • fgl42

        I certainly would prefer the five axis IS, even if it means I have to deal with a minor humming.

  • Can one hear the noise with the lens on?

  • N!co

    We can’t conclude anything about the sensor since they’re JPEG but I’m disappointed by these : the IQ is not really better than the GX1 and far from the NEX7 with less details and more noise.
    I’m looking forword to the review from dpreview and the Dxo’s ISO test !

    • Well…many of us here believe that DXO is a joke.

      • Andy Taylor

        +1 to that. Their tests haven’t yet reflected on the “usefulness” of the images I’ve obtained from various cameras of various brands. YMMV.

        • JF

          Of course, your eyes are so much better and objective than a test with a scientific protocole ! Dxo are totally wrong: in fact D800 has a very bad sensor, it will be beat by EM-5 !! they just don’t know what they measure !
          To moderate my comments, it’s true that some visual perceptions can’t be detcted by a pure computation algorithm like for example banding noise that is unpleasant to the eyes.
          But come on people, stop saying that Dxo is a joke or that their results don’t say anything. Stop looking just result numbers (overall score, landscape,…) and go to the measurements curves, you will see the mathematic performances of the sensor !!! and I’m sorry if some people are in the refusal because the curves don’t say what they want to hear, 2 Ev more dynamic range means, you WILL have more infomation in your RAW files, tha’s all.
          And to conclude, yeah a camera is not all about the sensor curves, and you cannot judge it just with Dxo numbers but please stop saying Dxo don’t know what they do, I think they can learn mathematics and camera physics to a lot of people hear.

          • IHUR

            Ofcourse..D800 is nothing compare to EM-5. Just look at this ISO test, just slightly lower than NEX-7, but who cares about ISO higher than..1600? I always shoot with iso under 400. And beside that, this is just JPEG. You can’t really tell from the JPEG. I bet, the RAW will be far better than NEX series, even from 5DMK3 or D800. Too many stupid photographers gearing themself with expensive FF cameras, while they can take better pictures with EM-5 for way cheaper.

            In ‘real life’, you cant really tell the different, whether you shoot with EM-5 or with Nex, or FF Camere. All that matters are Compact size, Fast AF, weather shield body, and the 5 Axis IS.

            And about DXO numbers? that is just a random-computer-generated numbers. Just look at how they give the overall points for all m43 cameras, all under 60, while the NEX and FF cameras, all above 60 pts. I dare try to shoot side by side comparison, I bet EM-5 and other m43 cameras will go better beyond those 60 pts camera all the way.

            Life, unfair!

            • despite any blind fanaticism and bandwagonism one my hear here and there, I still find the EM-5 highly desirable ;)

            • Vincent

              Then why professionals still use FF camera like 5dmkII, mkIII, 1Dx, D4, D800, or medium format? Which exact reasons are about? Do these gears make them more smarter?
              Perhaps, are all of them really stupid?

              • Digifan

                Well perhaps a few of them would really need it. It could be the don’t want to invest in other lenses then 35mm. You name it.
                There are valid reasons to stay at 35mm, but not for the reason that 35mm is always better than smaller format.
                Right tool for right job. m43 can definately be professional, we only need a camera that’s backed by the pro service and voila.

          • Cansalt

            +1000 for JF!
            some people are totally delusional on this forum. Those that make comments like “instead of viewing the DXo site, you should be taking photos, like a real photo person”

            • Cameras are for taking pictures. They are not made so some one can create graphs that you hang on a wall as a substitute.

              • So far I can tell, this is a gear forum and there is a lot of talking about which is best. Just because the credibility of DXo is involved, we don’t want to hear any of it anymore, its all about taking pictures :p

    • To me it looks like the E-M5 is slightly better than the NEX7, one stop better than the GX-1 and two stops better than the E-PM1

      • Ru Elpser

        Do you guys really believe what you say or are you blinded by brand?

      • When I saw the pictures my eye went straight to the last shot on the second row as the best high ISO I had not at that stage looked at the cameras. Not an ideal subject though and they seem very variable, the reflections are not the same indicating that the images are not equal.
        Shows the epm1 as good though.

  • Don Pope

    These comparisons are not too useful. I’d have to see a full image of a known subject.

    I’m also not terribly concerned about which camera is slightly better or worse.
    I just want to know if the photos looks good.

    I guess I’ll have to wait until I get mine.

  • Nawaf

    Turn off noise reduction! Use good glass!

  • I like the E-M5 Noise performance, seems to be the best or the 4 compared cameras.
    I am a JPG shooter, JPG performance is very important for me.
    I simply see that the E-M5 is useable until Iso 6400 and that is great, no matter how this was achieved and with which NR settings.

  • Steve
  • Keith

    Nex 7 is the clear winner here. Disappointing really as Olympus is jpeg king…
    But like everone else says, we need to see RAW.

    One thing is for sure, its a hell of an upgrade from all PEN cameras!!!!

  • pscl57

    GX1 WB is strange

  • Jedd

    IMO E-M5 is way too blochy and unpleasant to the eye.
    NEX7 is head and shoulders better then anything else. 3200 – you can clearly see the fingers.
    GX1 is a tad better then E-M5 till 3200.

    But it’s all useless without knowing NR settings.
    (and if you are worried about noise @high iso just shoot in RAW!)

    • Esa Tuunanen

      Then compare in RAW:
      Actually at high ISOs (3200+) NEX7 seems to drop clearly behind E-M5 at least in some areas of photo.

      • shea

        Wow, you’re right, I wonder how that works …

      • IHUR

        Whats going on here? Why the NEX5 seems to be better in that studio test. I tried the iso 200, zoom in to the portrait on the top right, and.. :/

      • Neonart

        Yeah, the DPReview RAW comparisons of the EM5 & NEX7 do show better high ISO performance for the EM5. There might be some sections where each has an edge over the other, but if you look at the black bottle on the right noise is better for the EM5 from 1600+. Also look at the Baileys label and you’ll see how the crinkles in it are completely gone with the NEX.

        Having said that, the NEX will probably score better in DXO due to color depth and DR.

  • Jason

    These settings are skewed in favor the the NEX-7, chances are the Sony has good glass attached and the Olympus has a shit lens, I mean kit lens. Big difference, plus NR is something I turn off on Olympus to achieve the best results. Previous samples I’ve see of the EM-5, from multiple different sources, have all shown far better IQ than this- clearly the tested is biased in some way and did not do a fair comparison.

  • chris

    I prefer the Nex images at all ISO’s. The site says the test was done with the 18-55 lens on the Nex and the 14-45 on the m43 cameras. I wouldn’t say any test with the 18-55 is skewed toward the Nex, regardless of how bad the other lenses are IQ-wise. Its good, but not great, I rarely use mine. I would personally use something like a Contax G 45 – you’ll have ridiculous sharpness and the same lens on each camera so you’re really just looking at the camera’s IQ and not nit-picking lens differences.

    I’ve compared my GH2 to my Nex7 with Zeiss and Rokkor lenses and the Nex is head and shoulders above what the GH2 can produce for stills. For video it flips and the GH2 with a mild bitrate hack can out resolve the Nex7, but the footage has less DR so you have to be gentile with the color grading. So I use the Nex for both stills and video and the GH2 almost exclusively for video.

  • Fish

    My only question is, why doesn’t Admin have an E-M5 already?

    I can understand if wants to remain impartial and not receive any benefit from Olympus. But if I worked in Olmypus’ marketing department, considering all the traffic this site gets, my goal would be to get a camera in the Admin’s hands as soon as possible!

    • Esa Tuunanen

      Now wouldn’t that be counterproductive as then he might have less time to write?

      • Vivek

        LOL! That explains the Mamiya 7 ( I really think he has a 7, the NEX-7 ;) ).

    • admin

      Becuase I am one like you. Have to buy the stuff for myself :)

  • Kaspar

    The NEX pictures do look cleaner, but not that much compared to the EM5. Its one stop better IMHO…but it´s not a big miracle, because it has a bigger sensor.
    The ranking from good to bad is in my opinion as displayed from top down, NEX, EM5, GX1, EPM1.

  • Rob

    I’d say the E-M5 at 3200 is equal to NEX-7 at 6400. But in the lower ISO range they are more similar. That’s not a bad thing, I’ve played around a bit with the NEX-7, it’s a terrific camera and anyone who’s trying to take that away from it is fighting a losing battle. Let’s not forget it’s a much bigger sensor and Sony are good with sensors so that in itself is a huge achievement.

    Still. I’m a new buyer, who has tried both cameras and I put my own money on the E-M5. The lens selection is superior (something that may change later on) and the overall package (i.e. the lenses and flange distance) makes the system cameras more nicely balanced (although the weight of the NEX-7 does make more sense than the lighter NEX-5n). That’s something which isn’t going to change because of the flange distance Sony choose.

    From the results shown I’d be happy to go up to 1600 but the detail lost in 3200 seems more clear, so I’d hold back on using that. If I was an NEX-7 user I’d go up to 3200 and avoid 6400.

    I won’t dismiss these results as useless. They are useful. I like noise reduction and jpegs, it’s great when I don’t want to sit around adjusting photos all evening analysing every pixel.

    Don’t know what’s going on with the GX1 but the colour output is a bit off being biased towards magenta. The details are very similar to the E-M5 though (I would have bought this camera by now if it had a EVF). The EPM1 has lovely colours but the sensor is showing its age with the details

  • Jason

    Other tests I’ve seen show far, far better results from the E-M5, in this test the E-M5 is clearly not set right. It shows shitty, blurry images at all ISOs – whereas every single other review I’ve seen shows the E-M5 in fact produces very clean images….

    The reviewer made a variety of samples, yes, but they failed to quality control their shots – something is off. If I were to go off of this review, I would not buy the E-M5, but thankfully there are other sites that know how to review a camera without biasing the whole process.

    Based on every other review but this one, I am buying the E-M5.

    • PaleGreenThumb

      I think it’s a weird thing to take a picture of for a test like this. A lot of the bluriness in all frames seems to be water droplets falling off the fountain, which is a completely random noise. At lower ISOs (therefore lower shutter speeds, since apparently the shots were made at F/4), the water blurs out for the most part. But at higher ISOs you can actually see the individual droplets hanging in the air in front of the lens. Bizarre.

    • I’m assuming that, to make the comparison squares the same size, cropping occurred, and that there’s far fewer pixels to crop out of a µ4/3 shot with a smaller sensor. The NEX would have to win, just on the fact that Sony doesn’t make crap sensors, and that there’s so much more room to crop on APS-C especially with the number of megapixels.

  • pwn0r

    another testament how great nex7 is

    easily the best iq below FF

    • ProShooter

      Only if you’re blind and shoot with the kit lens. Ah I forgot sony only has crap glass. :-)

  • Ru Oeulpser

    Sos alert!!! same old sensor!!!!

    • Digifan

      You must be an insider to know it’s the Same Old Sensor.
      How wrong can you be!!!
      I’d say you are clueless.

    • Mr-T

      Shut up fool!

  • If you go back to the Japanese web site and go down the page, there is another test using jpeg and, I think, RAW converted in lightroom (I only think, (yes, sometimes) not sure as my Japanese is very non existent).
    The images shown on this second set jpegs make the 1600 Nex7 image different to the one in the first set to which we were pointed by Admin. In fact the Nex 1600 in the second set looks like the 3200 in the top set. The second set also make the EPM1 look great but again different to the top set. The Fuji gets blown up to much and can’t be compared.
    There seems to be considerable difference in images of what is supposed to be the same thing. (that may not be bad as using the same image over and over may not show a product in the correct light).
    I think, all in all, not good comparisons, because some are blown up/resized and the site shows different results for the same thing in different posts.

  • mooboy

    To Australian readers: seems places are finally taking pre-orders now – seems they finally got prices from Olympus AU. Can get the kit with 12-50 for about $1,400, which, taking GST into account, aint too bad. Still get screwed a bit versus US prices if you just want body alone.

    Was told the grip will be $289 so I added that to my pre-order.

    • They took down all the complaints yesterday and repriced the product. I wonder if the resellers woke them up.
      Still over the odds though. US 999 = AU$967 so if one adds 5% for our retailers costs it should be AU$1015 and then the GST at 10% makes AU$1116.
      At the AU1199 new RR price they are still over an acceptable price it is about 12% above US. If this is going to the retailers I have no problem (well I do but I can find that acceptable)
      A quick visit to Digital Camera Warehouse in Sydney is now back on the agenda. Wonder if my email to a key retailer (acknowledged by them to pass to management) about the responses to the old blog pricing had any influence?

      • lex

        overpriced, paxtons in sydney will sell their em5 with the 12-50 for $1499 and will be available on 23rd of april same as teds camera

        • mooboy

          Hi Lex, Ryda and Gerry Gibbs are both quoting about 1400 + shipping for kit. I went with DCW as they have a shop I can pick up from, for 1425. Though, when I spoke to them this morning at ~10am, they said already had 50 pre-orders in for Sydney!

      • lex

        overpriced, paxtons in sydney will sell their em5 with the 12-50 for au$1499 and will be available on 23rd of april same as teds camera

      • mooboy

        I did notice they took down that page but I doubt they changed prices. I think the RRP is as originally announced: when I went to Camera House to enquire, they told me 1300 for body alone, 1600 for kit! Meanwhile, the guys at Olympus Australia have managed to take down a page critising them, but not yet put RRPs on the main OM-D pages!

        Anyway, I think shops like Michaels, Camera House etc will charge those high prices unless you bargain with them. As for me, DCW has it for 1425, and I’ve had good dealings with them before – though after expressing interest in OM-D, I never received an email from them to say pre-orders are open.

        • They took the page down Tuesday morning and replaced it with a new one Tues night. The cost of the body only is down $100.
          A question on the new blog asked about free bees and specials like other countries. The reply was “we don’t have a bonus offer yet because we need to make sure we can secure adequate stock of any item we offer. There’s no point us offering a battery grip or other item if we can’t actually meet demand.”
          I pointed out that marketing had already had about 2 months to sort that out.
          Maybe the email I sent to a prominent retailer on 29 mar, pointing to the original blog page and this site, making it clear that some would be purchasing OS has had an effect, the retailer responded that the email had been passed to management. The marketing bods seem to have been awakened but it’s all a bit late and is it really enough?

  • Steve

    I got my Silver E-M5 yesterday! I couldn’t shoot much because of our unexpected Typhoon in the Tokyo area yesterday, but I like the feel of the camera so far.

    There is a little noise in the camera but it’s not at all annoying or worrisome to me. I shot some video inside my quiet apartment and I couldn’t hear any noise from the camera in the video, and that’s with some panning/zooming during shooting.

    • nicwalmsley

      “unexpected Typhoon” … come one, it’s weather sealed. ….only joking.

      • Steve

        Actually, I thought about giving it a whirl in the whirlwind. Then I opened my door and got it almost blown back in my face! Wind gusts at almost 120km/h at my apartment yesterday….

        • mooboy

          People always mention the E-5 weathersealing as so amazing to the point you dunk yoru camera in abucket of water to clean it. Is the EM-5 supposed to be near this level, or more of the Canikon ‘should be ok in rain and dust’ type? I don’t think I’ll be willing to experiment on mine – when I get it!

  • OM-4ever

    Holy c__p, the IQ looks excellent!

    • Sounds like you’ve got yours.

  • asasino

    NEX-7 is far better: better details, better ISO, better colors.

  • Such a test with such small pics seems useless for me.

    • Ah, ok, I’ve seen, there are also the full size pics on this page ;-)

  • Trevor

    My guess is the noise is related to the refresh rate of the EVF. I remember higher end HP calculators exhibited a medium to high pitch hum from their keyboards due to a higher cycle rate than previous models. It would make sense then that it goes away in movie mode when the EVF is off (but maybe it’s still working slightly in the background for a low level of noise).

    Then again, I haven’t held an E-M5, so who knows?

  • Getalif-ea-mi-gos

    nex7ers get pure iq, medium format resolution,great looks in a tiny light body, perfect implementation of legacy glass focus peaking with less crop penalty

    em5ers get a hump yesterdays tech viewfinder IS-stabilizer and high refresh rate weathersealing and 10% better iq than the 240$ E-PM1

    • If you look at the ISO shots on the same page below the ones referenced in this post you will see a completely different result from the NEX7. It makes the epm1 look good for the price.

  • CandianPhotoGuy

    I have a preorder placed with Henrys (the first day it was available). I contacted them for an update and they said as far as they knew all e-M5’s were shipping this week. I tried to pin them down on how many were coming and where I was in the queue and I just got vague answers. Let’s put it this way, I won’t be holding my breath next week.

  • Flowerbug

    Audible noise is an indication that an electro-mechanical part is operating. If it’s operating when it’s not supposed to be on, or running all the time, in use or not, it will fail. Do you leave your car running in the parking lot when you’re in the store? No.

    All deliveries should be stopped until the problem is corrected. Excitement over the imminent delivery of a much anticipated product is not justification for ignoring or downplaying a problem which will render the camera a piece of junk very quickly.

    Olympus is on the spot here. How they respond will define the future of this product.

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