Olympus has at long last announced the replacement for the ageing E-5 DSLR, but it might not be what people were expecting. Richard Sibley tests the micro four thirds OM-D E-M1. Read the Olympus OM-D E-M1 review...
Olympus OM-D E-M1 review – Dynamic range
Image: I found the dynamic range of the E-M1 to be acceptable, although there were some unavoidable blown-out highlight areas
One of the criticisms of four thirds sensors in the past has been their smaller dynamic range when compared to an APS-C sensor of an equivalent resolution. However, advances in sensor technology mean this is no longer such an issue. The E-M1 has also been helped (like its predecessor, the E-M5) by that fact that it uses a Sony-made sensor, whereas previous Olympus models have housed Panasonic units.
Generally, Sony manufactures sensors with a very good dynamic range, and this is the case with the E-M1. We have measured the camera as having a dynamic range of 12.28EV at ISO 200, although this drops to 12.09EV at ISO 100 and 5.88EV at the maximum ISO 25,600 setting. This is on a par with some DSLRs, and there is plenty of recoverable highlight and shadow detail.
As mentioned in Metering, the E-M1 offers a number of ways to adjust the contrast curve of images. As well as the usual HDR, highlight and shadow tone, and Olympus Dramatic Tone Art Filter effect, the tone curve can be adjusted manually. This allows the highlight and shadow range to be brightened or darkened on a scale of ±5. This is great for JPEG shooters as it allows the image to be tailored inside the camera and previewed live on the rear screen while it is being taken. The front and rear control dials are used to make this adjustment, and as it can also be seen live in the viewfinder you can do this while keeping the camera held to your eye.