Olympus E300 - Hidden treasure?

Discussion in 'Olympus' started by Pix on Canvas, Sep 28, 2005.

  1. Annoyed with 20Ds that only switch on when they feel like it.
    Peeved that a 1D with 24-70 "L" lens, a 580 Speedlite and battery grip
    is too heavy to use for an all day shoot - hell, it's a handful for a 2
    hour shoot!

    Unwilling to buy more Nikon gear for the same weight issue... I bought a
    few Olympus E300's for the annual Santa shoots. "Ladies cameras" was the
    first unkind comment when they arrived!

    I optioned one of them with a battery grip and 35 speedlight. It still
    hasn't gone anywhere near the weight of a Fully laden 1D or 20D yet has
    the same image size. These cameras are selling now for well under $1000.
    Are they in the same arena as the 20D? Or even the D70 Nikon?

    I truly can't say this early in the ownership but I can tell you the
    sensor noise thing is a non issue when you use a program like the under
    $50 "neat Image" and the flash metering is something Canon really should
    learn from.

    I'll have to make my own external flash battery system but this is a
    small price to pay for one that actually meters properly. The other very
    noticeable thing is the "Kit" lens is a much better lens than most Canon
    USM lenses and most certainly leaves the 20D's 'kit' lens in the dust.

    The first few pics are here: http://www.technoaussie.com/gallery/Oly-pics
    The "porcelain rose" has not been 'doctored'. The exposure metering in
    ETTL mode with a mini soft box on the flash is absolutely spot on, as
    this shot shows.

    I sat the vase and flower on a white table cloth and drew the curtain
    behind it. Light enough to read a newspaper. The camera pulled exposure
    on the flower... Perfect. Never been able to do this with a Canon flash
    on a 10D, 20D or 1D. The rest will be a process of discovery.
     
    Pix on Canvas, Sep 28, 2005
    #1
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  2. Pix on Canvas

    [BnH] Guest

    <-- getting old Douglas ? :)

    =bob=
     
    [BnH], Sep 28, 2005
    #2
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  3. Pix on Canvas

    Justin Thyme Guest

    I wouldn't be that unkind. Beginners SLR is probably a good term though. I
    borrowed one a few months ago and gave it a fairly good work out. It was a
    nice camera, but a few things left me wanting more. The first thing that
    annoyed me was lack of mirror lock-up. I was trying to do some waterfall
    shots, and just couldn't get a sharp exposure at around the 1/8-1 sec
    exposure. Perhaps a heavier tripod would have helped (but who wants to hike
    to the bottom of Queen Mary Falls, and back again with a heavy tripod). My
    Pentax MZ60 was loaded with slide film and using the 2sec timer, it's mirror
    locks up, and I had no such blurring issues.
    The next issue I found was that the AE Lock button requires you to hold it
    in, rather than the push-on, push again to switch off system that Pentax &
    Canon use. This was a real pain. Because I had the sun behind me, as soon as
    I moved away from the camera it wanted to change exposure due to the light
    entering through the viewfinder. On the Pentax I just pressed the AE lock
    button while framing. On the Oly I had to switch to manual mode, which isn't
    the most user friendly system on it.
    Finally I had dynamic range issues. The waterfall and some greeenery beside
    it was in full sun, while at it's base their were some dark rocks in full
    shade. To get a shot that didn't blow the highlights, the detail in the
    rocks was completely gone. The slide film in the pentax handled both
    admirably (unfortunately I haven't been able to get a scan of the slides
    that will show both).
    At 100 ISO, the noise is a non-issue. At 400 it starts being a bit of an
    issue. At 1600 the camera is pretty much useless. Which reminds me of
    another issue I had - I took it down to the Anzac day dawn service. My
    Pentax was loaded with Neopan 400, the Oly was set to ISO1600. In the dim
    dawn light my Pentax could still meter and focus, the Olympus didn't have a
    hope. I had a 28-80 F3.5/5.6 lens on the Pentax, and the kit 14-45 F3.5/5.6
    lens on the Olympus, so they were both at the same aperture for metering.
    I agree that the Olympus lens is a world ahead of Canon kit lenses. Not that
    that's a big achievement. Disposable cameras have better lenses than Canon
    kit lenses.
     
    Justin Thyme, Sep 28, 2005
    #3
  4. Pix on Canvas

    Noons Guest

    Pix on Canvas apparently said,on my timestamp of 28/09/2005 8:09 PM:
    Holy C***! Those are some amazingly clear shots. That's one
    thing I've seen with E-series shots: they "feel" like they are
    clearer and more crisp than the average shot. As if the air
    was transparent. There must be SOME filtering going on in
    that sensor....
    Yeah: auto flash has never been Canon's forte. Never understood
    why, but what the heck...
     
    Noons, Sep 28, 2005
    #4
  5. When I was a young bloke looking for work with a 'Speed Graphics" 4x5
    and a Mamiya "Press" camera... "Sorry, we're looking for someone with
    more experience" ...was the response to my job applications.

    Then, 30 years on when looking for work with a RZ67 (which cost me more
    than the new car I bought the same year) it's; "Sorry, we're really
    looking for someone younger".

    Now, 44 years since I took my first (paid)assignment I get asked if I'm
    getting old because A new fangled digital thingy with enough glass
    hanging off it to sink a small boat is heavy.

    Hell, Bob, have you no respect for older people? The morel here is that
    the camera does not maketh the Photographer! My best work is still done
    on 6cm film... When I can lift the camera!
     
    Pix on Canvas, Sep 28, 2005
    #5
  6. Pix on Canvas

    Adam F Guest

    <edit>

    Minolta's anti-shake has helped me in such situations :)

    //Adam F
     
    Adam F, Sep 28, 2005
    #6
  7. Pix on Canvas

    petepc Guest

    Olympus have a new E500 arriving in Australia shortly approx November.
    From what I hear, it has improved higher ISO's shooting facility than
    the E300. They are predicting around $1299.
     
    petepc, Sep 28, 2005
    #7
  8. Justin Thyme wrote:
    (cropped text)
    (cropped text)

    Following the comment above which I now believe to be misinformation, I
    did some ISO 1600 testing myself before dawn and in the early morning
    light. The pictures have been added to the gallery:
    http://www.technoaussie.com/gallery/Oly-pics . I have never thought ISO
    1600 (film or digital) has ever been useful for anything other than
    newspaper shots but the tests I've just done tell me otherwise.

    I know quite a lot about noise in digital images. I do after all make
    very large posters from (often) very small images and print them on
    canvas as part of my business. I take seriously the comments of people
    regarding noise or artifacts in images, regardless of what brand is
    involved.

    OK so noise is both texture and distraction. Many people comment that
    images from Sigma SD9/10 cameras produce a "plastic" skin appearance.
    This is because by the very nature of the sensor, it produces noise
    which is removed by the in-camera computer during image processing. My
    own personal opinion is that without some noise, an image starts to look
    like an air brushed one instead of a photograph.

    Canon use their own brand of computer; "Digic" to remove noise from
    their images shot at high ISO, during the processing of the image data.

    Olympus and Nikon stand out as the 2 most recognized brands where little
    or no computer enhancement of the images to remove noise take place
    in-camera.

    I have known for several years that I could remove offensive noise from
    Nikon images very easily and still have sharply defined detail in the
    remaining image.

    I've also known for some time that this is not as easy to achieve with
    Canon images, even though they seem to have less noise. Canon have
    attempted to do this with their in-camera computers before letting you
    see the image so there is less to work with.

    Olympus use a Kodak sensor in the E300 which has little or no de-noising
    of high ISO images. This has proven to be something of a Achilles heel
    for them. Reviewer's who are funded by Canon often report poor noise
    results for any camera not having that name on it.

    In reality... There is no difference between pre-processing and post
    processing images. Just about all DSLR images go through one form or
    another of computer enhancement before they become photographs.

    As the 2 additional pictures I posted very clearly show, a sub $50
    program can clean up any noise in a 1600 ISO E300 image and present it
    at least as clear of noise as a Canon image.

    Incidentally... The Olympus is actually a higher resolution camera than
    the 20D when you consider that Canon tack on extra width the 4/3 system
    to match the landscape width of 35mm film dimension but still have the
    same megapixel count. They are looking to more of bargain than I thought!
     
    Pix on Canvas, Sep 28, 2005
    #8
  9. Pix on Canvas

    POTD.com.au Guest

    [CHOMP]
    Well that depends on what format the print.... eg: a 10x8 format print from
    a 20D and you will be cropping off some pixels, but make a 6x4 and you will
    use all of them.

    Make a 10x8 print with the Oly and you will be sweet, but make a 6x4 and
    then it's the Oly's turn to chuck some pixels away.
     
    POTD.com.au, Sep 29, 2005
    #9
  10. Bit like cricket, do you suppose?
     
    Pix on Canvas, Sep 29, 2005
    #10
  11. Pix on Canvas

    Justin Thyme Guest

    That is far far better than any 1600 ISO shots I did. Most of what I did at
    1600 I converted to B&W because the colour was pure garbage. Is the email
    address you post with valid, and would you mind me emailing you a 4MB JPG?
    If no probs I'll email you one of my better 1600ISO shots. As you will see,
    it is crap. I'm starting to wonder if the camera I used had an early
    firmware revision or something, because my shots didn't come anywhere close
    to being as clean as your example.
     
    Justin Thyme, Sep 29, 2005
    #11
  12. Pix on Canvas

    Viggo Guest

    The problem is solved with the new firmware!

    CU
    Viggo
     
    Viggo, Sep 29, 2005
    #12
  13. Please do Justin. use my name at canvasphotos.com.au. Most ISP's (mine
    included) reject attachments over 4 or 5 meg. My own server has no such
    limitations. Provided you don't post from a blacklisted IP address, I'll
    get it. Include a snail mail addy and I'll send you something of
    interest in return.

    You do realize that a well exposed 1600 ISO shot under proper lighting
    is a lot different from 1600 ISO at long exposure in poor lighting, I
    presume?

    This shot here: http://www.ryadia.com/images/trans.jpg was shot at 1600
    ISO with a Canon 20D and 580 EX Speedlight. The noise in the picture was
    on the outer edge of what I pass as acceptable but got rid of a lot of
    it with Neat Image and the blur tool in Photoshop. I made the print
    anyway because it was such an unusual shot.

    I had hoped to get a stop or two from the shadows but not with a Canon
    sensor, will that ever happen. The noise in shadows here is probably
    what you experienced with your E300 experiment. A major no-no in digital
    photography is high ISO in poor light. With film it was not compensating
    for the reciprocity failure of a film and you had to know what it was in
    advance of the shot to be able to make the call.

    With Digitals it's sensor photo detector overload and underload.
    (limited contrast range and low EV) When a bright area charges the
    receptors beyond their ability to hold the charge, it spills over onto
    adjacent pixels and causes quite a lot of different results which are
    mostly unpredictable. The most common when the scene is well lit is
    "purple fringing". It looks like Chromatic Aberrations (CA). The
    opposite also happens. Very few people understand it's effect on a picture.

    Another is the way noise is generated and a yet another is including
    artifacts in the elements of an image where there should be no content.
    The subject of noise in an image is very poorly understood by people you
    would presume to understand it. These are predominantly Journalists
    funded in full or part by Canon who (hopefully in ignorance) write poor
    reports about other brands of cameras.

    I could make one of those "Horribly noisy" shots on demand with a Canon
    or Olympus DSLR. Hell, the first shot I took with a D2X was one of them!
    I can also make a high ISO shot pretty much free of noise on demand too.
    I can only do this because I've shot 10's of thousands of digital frames
    in the 3 years since buying a SD9 Sigma digital SLR and learnt how to
    make a judgment on what I can shoot with digital and what I should shoot
    with the film camera I always carry.

    I'm not trying to blow my own trumpet here, just attempting to enlighten
    you to the need to understand your gear if you intend to push it to the
    limit of it's capabilities. It's not far to go either side of perfect
    exposure to reach the limit of a digital sensor.
     
    Pix on Canvas, Sep 29, 2005
    #13
  14. Canon use their own brand of computer; "Digic" to remove noise from
    This is a common misconception fueled by competitors (or people who use
    competing cameras).
    Canon's sensors are current state of the art, and are indeed LESS NOISY
    than anything else on the
    market. You have to resort to cooled CCDs designed for astronomy to
    better it.

    Many people have tested Canon and Nikon/Minolta/Pentax from astro and
    unanimous conclusion is that
    it is Canon that doesn't have aggressive noise reduction (as it doesn't
    need it, having cleaner sensor
    to start with), while current crop of Nikon is actually using lossy
    noise reduction (which in fact removes
    faint stars in night sky shots). See for example article at

    http://www.astrosurf.org/buil/d70v10d/eval.htm

    Note that 20D uses even better sensor than 10D, and seems current state
    of the art as far as freedom
    from noise. Not that Canon was pushing CMOS detectors from the start,
    while other makers were using
    CCDs. Now Nikon goes CMOS with D2X, but still lags as far as noise
    comared to Canon's best. One of the
    reasons is that Canon develops sensors in-house, while Nikon so far had
    to reort to Sony, whose
    mainstream experience is in small sensors used in video and point and
    shoot cameras.

    And befor anyone accuse me of bias, I have used Nikon exclusively prior
    to digital, and still have 3 Nikon
    film bodies and plethora of Nikkors (some of which see the second life
    after I got Nikon/Canon adaptor -
    only for astro shots as of course autofocus and metering apart from
    aperture priority doesn't work). It
    was a hard fought decision but I needed as noise free camera as I could
    get (using it for astro), and Nikon
    at the time (and even today, though the gap is now smaller) was much
    inferior.

    For low light/high ISO Canon is indeed superior camera to anything else
    on the market currently. Anything
    else of couse (including ergonomics which I'm still getting used to) is
    personal preference.

    Bratislav
     
    bratislav3162, Sep 30, 2005
    #14
  15. Your comments are a common theme thruout Usenet. Canon seem to be
    serious about astro photography. They introduced two cameras
    specifically for that purpose. The "A" series 350D and 20D, I believe. I
    don't dispute anything you say about astro photography, I've never tried
    to shoot the sky at night. Probably 90% of digital camera users haven't
    either. It would obviously pose some unique issues if Canon have had to
    develop a special camera for the purpose.

    I presume your experience in low light includes dark frame subtraction
    with these specialty cameras which would result in better noise
    suppression than any other digital camera. I don't believe Nikon or
    Olympus have bothered with a special camera just for this purpose.

    Removing the IR filter from one would probably produce better results
    but certainly Canon's digic IIa and b computers would be miles better at
    identifying the difference between stars and hot pixels than any other
    active or passive noise suppression.

    My contention that CCD sensors are better in low light comes from taking
    photographs on the ground. LUX1 illumination and my own experience at
    shooting in low light - without dark frame subtraction shows up CCDs as
    being more able to record accurate information than CMOS sensors. Under
    these circumstances, the ability to "clean up" a picture after it's shot
    is critical for forensic work.

    This is in traditional photography, not Astro photography.
    Nikon's noise reduction system - as would any post capture, active noise
    reduction like neat image or noise ninja - kill stars in the process of
    cleaning up mistaken hot pixels.

    In fact shooting RAW under those conditions in itself could kill stars
    during development of the image with Adobe and several other raw data
    converters who's principal aim is the clean the data and produce the
    best "Photograph", meaning one which can be measured against an 18% grey
    chart. Stars and hot pixels would be the first to go during such conversion.

    Canon's system in the "A" series cameras is designed specifically to
    prevent this so yes... In those conditions a specialized camera like
    Canon, made for that purpose would indeed produce much better results
    than all the other DSLR not designed for that purpose.
     
    Pix on Canvas, Sep 30, 2005
    #15
  16. Pix on Canvas

    Justin Thyme Guest

    My internet will be off air for the next few days (stealing a quick moment
    at work currently). Once it's back on deck i'll email a shot through to you.
    I don't consider 1/15th to be long exposure - please correct me if I'm
    wrong. In the pre-dawn light the Oly was pretty much useless, cos it
    wouldn't even lock focus, and I couldn't accurately focus it manually in the
    gloom. It also wasn't metering accurately either - wouldn't auto-meter to
    anything less than 1/15sec @ F5.6 (when my pentax was saying it needed
    2sec). By the time the Pentax was indicating 1/15sec it had lightened
    considerably, and the Oly was now able to focus.
    In the shot I'm talking about there is a bit of this in an area of the
    picture where the war memorial is against the sky. The sky has massively
    overexposed, but it has exposed the main subject area correctly. This is
    where the noise is disgusting. You'll see what I mean when I send you the
    shot.
     
    Justin Thyme, Sep 30, 2005
    #16
  17. There is an issue with white balance and another with exposure that (I'm
    assured) is fixed with a firmware update. I myself had a few 'quaint'
    exposures until I discovered the link between the format of the flash
    card (used previously in a Nikon) and the Oly's computer. I look forward
    to getting your file.
     
    Pix on Canvas, Sep 30, 2005
    #17
  18. I'm not talking about speicized 'a' cameras. I'm talking about ordinary
    run of the mill
    300D/350D/20D. And low light/high ISO performance is important for
    ordinary photography
    as well, not just astrophotography.
    10D sensor has SIXTEEN times less noise (including dark current) than
    d70. 20D will
    be again better by a factor of 2. Nikon's noise suppression has to be
    so severe that
    even its "raw" data isn't losless - it drops the resolution to about
    9.5 bits per color
    (compared to canon's 12). This is sensor performance, before any in
    camera magic.

    You certainly may feel that "CCD sensors are better in low light comes
    from taking
    photographs on the ground. " and that " without dark frame subtraction
    shows up CCDs
    as being more able to record accurate information than CMOS sensors"
    which is fine as subjective observation but has little support in
    actual measured data.
    This is not true. Adobe's raw converter is truly lossless. I'm using it
    now instead of
    Canon's own as it is more convenient and faster. Plus data is much more
    compact
    in raw than in FITS, TIFF or BMP.

    Cheers,
    Bratislav
     
    bratislav3162, Sep 30, 2005
    #18
  19. So have you compared the images after using a RAW converter like Capture
    one or Rawshooter essentials? I think you'll find ARC does in fact
    smooth out white dots during a conversion. RawShooter/Capture 1 does
    not. Neither does Canon's own converter.

    This results in some pretty nasty, noisy images from Bayer sensors used
    to shoot low light, high ISO images - on the ground. I suspect this may
    be the reason you have moved to ACR. Perhaps the most lossless of all
    RAW converters is DCRAW. Have you tried that and compared the results?

    Your comment about noise reduction with D70 images is interesting too. I
    have been able for some time to interpolate D70 and D100 images shot
    at 400 ISO to very large sizes and remove the highly visible noise from
    shadows in the process.

    The file size reduces when this happens. This doesn't necessarily mean a
    lossy process is in any way worse than canon's which cannot be further
    process to refine the detail lost in their ISO 1600 images.

    I think the notion that removing noise which results in a smaller file
    size is somehow reducing the image quality is wrong. If the process does
    not remove image noticeable detail, it is improving the image, not
    degrading it.

    I'm quite willing to accept the results of other people's testing,
    provided they have actually done some and not just quoted hear-say from
    someone who wrote some stuff on the subject and may or may not have
    fudged the results. If any of my own testing held up what you say about
    noise, I'd look closely at your information to see if perhaps I was wrong.

    So far all you've offered is information from a site which is known for
    their controversial articles and descriptions on how to modify $2000+
    cameras with a soldering iron, screw driver and hex wrench in order to
    take "better" Astro photos. Hardly a glowing recommendation of
    researched information, is it?
     
    Pix on Canvas, Sep 30, 2005
    #19
  20. Are you Benedikt Roth?
     
    Pix on Canvas, Sep 30, 2005
    #20
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