Sony NEX-6, Olympus OM-D - Dynamic Range comparison

One of the things that I liked about the Sony 16MP sensor when it first came out was the ability to handle deep shadow areas and pull detail from them relatively noiselessly. This ability to handle a wide dynamic range has always been thought of as a virtue of APS-C sensors over those from m4/3 cameras. But now Sony are making m4/3 sensors for Olympus and (probably) Panasonic as well. So is this "advantage" still there?

Above is a jpg. from the Olympus. As you can see a very difficult shot, bright sunlight and deep shadows. (Yes the suns shining this morning) Using the new highlight and shadow adjustment controls in Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop CS6, I tried to see how the two cameras compared in terms of rescuing shadow detail.



Lokking at the two files, both have handled this pretty well. There is an increase in luminance noise in both, but in each case its reasonable, and certainly a lot better than digital cameras were able to achieve not that long ago. 

The two images look slightly different, but I don't really see one as either "better" or "worse" than the other. Considering the depth of the shadow, both have come up with something thats pretty good considering.

Add this in to the results from the previous post on high ISO's and it does seem that, with Sonys help of course. that m4/3 has "caught up" with APS-C in the areas that were perceived to be a weakness. I don't believe that its now correct to state that m4/3 is universally weaker at high ISO's and dynamic range than APS-C, certainly as far as the Olympus OM-D sensor is concerned. 

There is of course the point that the sensor in the NEX-6 is the same as in the NEX-5n, so its been around a while. But then if Sony had a newer better one I'm sure they would have included it.

As I indicated before, my belief is that the choice as to whether to go for a NEX-6 or an OM-D (if you don't want both that is!!) is not mainly about image quality anymore. From what I see, the NEX-6 isn't sharper, doesn't have more resolution, nor is better at high ISO's or dynamic range control than the OM-D. If this does happen in certain circumstances then its probably down to other factors. DxO (bless them!) still have the NEX-6 showing an advantage, but as is often the case with DxO, what I see doesn't tally with their results. 

I guess if you want to believe the NEX-6 is "better" than the the OM-D, then I'm probably not the one to persuade you otherwise, but in real world situations, with pictures that are not of test charts, test rigs or whatever else DxO use, I don't see any differences that can't be "equalised" by correct exposure and careful processing. From my experience that hasn't always been the case. And I may also prefer one rendition over the other, but thats more to do with what I'm trying to achieve and personal preference. In the above examples nether camera is even close to the actual colours. The wall behind the guitars is a pale blue colour. Not grey, nor magenta. 

I go on endlessly about how the differences between digital cameras are much less than many would have us believe, probably because those differences justify their existence. I'm just interested in getting an idea as to what I might expect from different setups and I choose the camera I take out with me for a variety of reasons, most of which are to do with what will serve my purpose best in any given situation. 

I like the NEX-6 and I like the OM-D. I would find it VERY difficult to choose one over the other. Fortunately I don't have to and I also think that its a good thing that this choice is so difficult, because it means that many cameras are producing images to a standard that I require. Though "good thing" may be somewhat problematic since it means I'll probably buy even more of them!!

N.B. to see more on the cameras and lenses featured in this post click on the relevant labels (tags and keywords) below.

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