You may or may not have been following an interesting debate that has been hitting the various forums on the internet over the last few days. Users (or a user) have been complaining that the EM1 shows too much noise when taking a long exposure shot of 60 seconds or more. The user who initially stated this also mentioned that they had turned off their noise reduction filter which on a Olympus camera is not the same as a noise filter in that the noise reduction filter takes a frame of equal length of the initial 60 second frame to map out any pixels that may need subtracted from the original photo to try to eliminate the noise that would usually occur at long exposures like these.
The argument is that long exposure shots of 60 seconds or more should not have this much noise when the noise reduction filter is switched off. Below you’ll see in my own tests I was able to reproduce the exact same issue shooting with the EM1 for 60 seconds at an ISO of 200. Theses are straight out of the camera RAW files converted to JPEG in order for me to upload them for you to see with your own two peepers.
Straight out of the camera with Noise Reduction set to auto (remember that noise reduction is not the same as a noise filter which could degrade the image quality slightly)Crop of the above photograph with the noise reduction filter set to auto
Noise Reduction set to off
Well? The user was right, there is noticeable noise when the noise reduction setting is off. The amount of noise present is no surprise to me or probably any one who has done extensive long exposure photography before. The noise is easily corrected in most post processing software of your choice.
So if this is something that can be corrected in post processing why is everyone getting their undies in a bunch? Good question. Originally the person who brought this situation to light mentioned that he was only concerned because he does a lot of fireworks shots and he does not have the time to wait around for the dark frame that is taken immediately after the 60 second shot to subtract the hot pixels and what not and reduce the noise… Good argument however 60 seconds for a fireworks shot seems awfully long if you ask me. Perhaps adjust your aperture to reduce the time. I’ve found that 30 seconds is adequate with an aperture of f/11, anything longer than that and the fireworks end up over exposed. Though every situation is different and I’m sure there are loads of great 60 second firework shots out there.
Don’t have the time to bother with shooting a dark frame and then doing a little post processing magic? Why not just turn your ISO up a bit and reduce your shutter speed? The EM1 handles higher ISO like a champ.
I guess I’m trying to say that 99.9% of people taking 60 second or longer photographs will most likely leave the Noise Reduction on auto and ISO low therefore making this a non issue. For those of you that do long exposure as well as high ISO astrophotography the EM1 will not please you. If you’re passionate about landscape astrophotography or star trail photography and you’ve already made the plunge you can sell your EM1 on Amazon or eBay… you’ll probably get close to what you paid for it since it’s in such high demand.
Here is a crop of the same image from above that was taken without the Noise Reduction filter on. It literally took 10 seconds to eliminate some of the noise from this image using Lightroom 5.2.
Updated shot with lens cap after version 1.1 update to EM1… ISO 3200 for 30 seconds with lens cap. Unprocessed straight out of camera raw file converted to JPEG to upload to the site.