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Rugani

Olympus OM-D E-M1 low light photography questions

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I have a Olympus OM-D E-M1 for underwater use in a Nauticam Housing.

Now, when i Review my Pictures, i see, that in my opinion the camera doesn´t perform that good in the high iso range.

 

Deep down in the Attersee (lake in Austria) and also in wrecks and Caves in the red sea i took picturess with the 8mm Panasonic at iso 3200.

At iso 3200 there are really few Details in the Pictures and the Picture is very grainy.

 

Can anybody report of expieriences with the E-M1 and low light. Which is the maxium recommended Iso for a reasonable Picture Quality?

It seems to be better to use f4 and 1/15 at iso 800 with the possibility of unsharp, blurred Images because of movement then Pictures at f5,6, 1/30 at Iso 3200 for Pictures with really less Details and colours.

 

What is your expierience?

Best Regards

Armin

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You might want to consider buying the new Olympus f1.8 8mm FE which will gain you quite a bit better ISO at a reasonable shutte speed. It's really made for what you are shooting.

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Hi Armin,

 

You don't mention a strobe so I assume you are not using one. Unless there is a special reason you can't or don't want to use a strobe I would suggest that is the easier and more general solution.

 

Bart

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I took some city scape night shots and time lapse, with auto ISO up to 1600 with my EM1 and 45mm prime lens and I was disappointed with the after dark shots when zoomed into 100% crop especially when I compare old shots from my Canon 650D and 700D. Even the ISO 200 shots of the city lights all taken with a tripod left me a little disappointed. To make it worse I did not bring my Canon either!

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For any micro four third camera ISO 800 is realistically the highest value you can get good quality. Afterwards dynamic range and color sensitivity drop below values I would consider acceptable let alone the noise in the picture. Personally I have never had to shoot more than ISO 400

Edited by Interceptor121
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I have an E-PL5 which uses the same sensor and I can confirm, the max usable iso is somewhere between 800 and 1600.

 

My strobes (2x s2000's) are quite weak, i often have to help them with higher iso-s, but i never go beyond 1600. According to dxomark, olympus cheats 1 stop, this 1600 is in reality only 800. M43 is not for low-light...

 

Suggestions: as above, get two strong strobes -however they won't help much with big wrecks. Get the oly f1.8 fisheye, Jack recommended -> here you might need a superdome to get acceptable corner IQ at f2.8-1.8. Or, if you are well founded, you can move to FF with e.g the Sony A7sII (this is also an extraordimary video device).

Edited by tamas970

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Shooting at high ISO is overrated in my experience. The only shots that really need it are wreck externals in ambient light or very large fish on a night dive. Obviously if you shoot in aperture priority mode inside a wreck you are faced with an impossible mission. I have taken shots that were nearly at -3 exposure that came perfectly fine and actually look better than those aiming for 0 that end up with soapy water and lack of contrast. The camera is just a tool your eyes and brain make the picture

Edited by Interceptor121
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The Problem ist, that in Austrian Lakes it can get very dark down at 20+ meters. On the back of the LCD you see everything but without focuslight the camera is not able to focus.

with this situation i want a photo metered on ambient light minus 1-2 stops, flashes just for the foreground.

My colleague also does his shots with lower iso, but his photos look more like taken on a night dive.

I will try to use max Iso 800 in the future. That would be probably really the better choice.

If that doesn´t help I have to think about the new Olympus 8mm f1,8.

Regards

Armin

 

 

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The Problem ist, that in Austrian Lakes it can get very dark down at 20+ meters. On the back of the LCD you see everything but without focuslight the camera is not able to focus.

Why not giving it a focus light? The cheapest little torch fixed on the strobe/arm would do the job. Here in Switzerland we often "nightdive" below 20m, too dark even for the eyes.

Edited by tamas970

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Focusing with Focus light is not the Problem. I just mentioned this to explain how dark it could be.

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With enough light it is easy to Focus, but especially at night dives i like to use as few light as possible.

The athmosphere is much better.

I think that Iso 800 is the useful maximum with the O-M1. I will try this at the Weekend.

The Oly 8mm 1.8 doesn´t work with my Zen DP-170 Version II. The integrated Extension is too Long, a great pity.

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If you want to spare the critters from a big, spooky light, I can suggest red light, which you can get e.g. with some cheap Archon torches. Most marine critters don't see the red eyes are less sensitive to red, while your camera can still focus. Strobes of course still have to deliver, but that's only a single flash.

Edited by tamas970

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That is another legend critters don't see red because there is none but will still see a bright light of some form. Plus they will see you and the camera near and get scared regardless of light

You can achieve the same result with a warming filter on a normal light.m or with a filter on the strobe focus light

Edited by Interceptor121

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True, corrected. AFAIK their eyes are more sensitive on the blue-green range, but this statement also needs evidence. My personal experience was with the red torch, that fish were a bit less shy compared to

full power white. Unfortunately I cannot compare red & white at the same apparent power (intensity percepted by the human eye), my red shines weaker than my weakest white light. -> might have just been a simple intensity effect...

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It is not about colour is temperature. If you use an old tungsten torch you can take all pictures of mandarin fish you like

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Hi,
just from my saltwater tank knowledge,
red light is not so much disturbing animals as white light.
But i am sure, they can see both!

Thats the same myth like red is not seen below 5m...
You will find same coralls or algae that have a bright red colour without an external light source....
Its hard to try to fix that on a picture, with or without strobe, but its existing.
Another thing is, that some marine fish have signs you can only see with infra red sources.
Specially differents between male and female.....
That makes only sense, if they can see in that specifc range of light.

Regards,
Wolfgang

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Maybe the fishes cannot see red... But they sure can see the last shadow thing looking at them and making a lot of noise...

Edited by hellhole

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To return to the original question. Its not only the camera and its high ISO performance, but also the lense. For Olympus 4/3 users, the new Olympus f1.8 8mm FE might be a solution for low light conditions. Like Jack suggested. At least when making wide angle shots is your purpose. With a small colourful object near the front of your dome, you cant get around the strobes with a focus light when vis is limited. With natural light it is a different story, Then you definitely need some sun rays to light up the larger objects at a greater distance, like a wreck.

Edited by albert kok
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Hi,

just from my saltwater tank knowledge,

red light is not so much disturbing animals as white light.

But i am sure, they can see both!

 

Thats the same myth like red is not seen below 5m...

You will find same coralls or algae that have a bright red colour without an external light source....

Its hard to try to fix that on a picture, with or without strobe, but its existing.

Another thing is, that some marine fish have signs you can only see with infra red sources.

Specially differents between male and female.....

That makes only sense, if they can see in that specifc range of light.

 

Regards,

Wolfgang

 

Red light sensitive cells in the eye and red pixels on sensors use pigments that detect a wide range of "red" wavelengths. Red at the long end of the range, and certainly infrared, does get absorbed very quickly and is virtually gone after a few meters. The reason that you can still detect red at greater depth is that light at the shorter end of the red wavelength range penetrates much deeper. Whether fish can see artificial red light depends on whether their eye pigment absorption spectrum overlaps the emittance spectrum of the dive light. The answer will likely differ for different fish and light sources.

 

Bart

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From 'fisheye' to fish eye.

The eyes of most fish species are not so much different from the human eye. Their retina contains rods and cones, thus the ability to perceive visual details, colours as well as changes in brightness. Unlike humans, fish normally adjust focus by moving their lens closer to or further from the retina. Different fish species have developed special visual abilities to survive in their specific habitats. Fish that live at greater depths have adapted to darkness by developing a greater sensitivity to light and changes in brightness. Coral fishes have developed special colour, stripe and movement patterns as camouflage to trick other species (who lack the ability to detect, or are fooled by their visual tricks).

So fishes may not differ so much in visual abilities from the UW Photographer There is even an example of a tiger shark in the Bahamas that stole a camera and appeared to have taken several pictures of her environment after recovery of the camera (-;

 

See also:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vision_in_fishes

Edited by albert kok

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