The number one question I've received since readers knew I was testing the Olympus E-P1 Digital SLR was about its low light performance. So I've put together a batch of images ranging from ISO 100 all the way through ISO 6400 so you can see for yourself how the E-P1 (with new image processing engine) performs.
Both Jpeg and Raw (processed with Olympus Master 2 software) versions are included on the Digital Story Flickr page. The images were captured in Mahattan's Lower East Side around 8 pm on June 16, 2009. Here's how I took the shots.
The Olympus E-P1 was on a tripod using the self-timer to trip the shutter. I had the kit 14-42 mm lens mounted using Programmed exposure and auto white balance. I used the Raw+Jpeg recording format. The Jpegs you see on my Flickr page have not been processed. They are full size and straight from the camera. If you click on "All Sizes," you can see the original image at full size.
This image was captured at ISO 400 in Raw mode on an Olympus E-P1. Click on the picture to see a 100 percent magnification of a portion of it.
The Raw files on that page were processed in Olympus Master 2 using a white balance setting of 7500 K with exposure set to +0.2 EV. Sharpening was set to +1. The images were then exported as Jpegs from Olympus Master 2 and uploaded to the Flickr page without any further editing.
In the Raw files, I like ISO 200, 400, and 1600. I haven't done enough testing to understand why there was some smearing at ISO 100 and 800 with the Raws. ISO 3200 and 6400 should be reserved for special situations where getting the shot outweighs its high level of noise.
ISO performance is a very personal thing among photographers. Everyone has their threshold for image noise. Take a look at this collection of shots and decide for yourself how the Olympus E-P1 performs in low light.
The Olympus E-P1 kit with 14-42 mm lens will be available at Amazon.com for $799 US.
If you want to listen to a podcast about the Olympus E-P1, check out Meet the Olympus E-P1.