This HHHR extreme noise test shows a detailed comparison of HHHR (handheld hi res) versus standard resolution images. I’d like to thank one of our readers, Colin McNaught, for his suggestion to compare a Handheld Hi Res (HHHR) image to a standard resolution image.
When contemplating a comparison between an Olympus OM-D E-M1X HHHR ORF RAW file and a standard resolution ORI RAW file for the same image, I decided to push my equipment. Doing an extreme noise test seemed like a good challenge.
I went to the Niagara Butterfly Conservatory and decided to shoot a handheld hi res macro image. This would challenge my handheld technique when using the E-M1X’s HHHR mode. Not only that, I chose a butterfly that was in extremely poor light. This created two additional challenges for my E-M1X. Dealing with extreme noise, and auto-focusing in poor light.
The original image was captured handheld with an Olympus OM-D E-M1X with an M.Zuiko 60 mm f/2.8 macro lens. Camera settings were as follows: f/5.6, 1/250, ISO-6400, subject distance 260 mm.
I used the high resolution ORF RAW file (8160 x 6120), as well as the standard resolution ORI RAW file (5184 x 3888) to create the comparison material in this article.
I needed to change the name of the exported DNG file made from the ORI file in DxO so it would not overwrite my ORF output. To ensure uniformity, I applied identical corrections in post processing to both the ORF and ORI versions of the DNG outputs.
To put this HHHR extreme noise challenge in perspective let’s look at the out-of-camera jpeg for our test image. This will give you a good idea on the degree of underexposure to which this ISO-6400 image was subjected. To my eye it looks like several stops. I think most photographers would not expect much from this underexposed ISO-6400 image captured with a M4/3 sensor camera.
The next two images show the photograph after work was done in post. Let’s have a look at the entire photograph in the HHHR version, then the standard resolution version. Both versions have been sized for website use @ 1200 x 900. You can click on the images to compare them back and forth
To provide readers with some additional detail, I then took each of the full resolution photographs and cropped them into quarters. Top right. Top left. Bottom right. Bottom left.
After cropping the images into quarters I resized each section of the photograph for website use, i.e. 1200 x 900.
Let’s look at a comparison of the top right quadrant. First the HHHR version, then the standard resolution version.
Now, let’s look at the HHHR versus standard resolution for the top left quadrant.
The next pair of images compares the bottom right quadrants.
Our final HHHR versus standard resolution comparison is for the bottom left quadrant.
No doubt most of you have read negative comments about shooting with small sensor cameras at high ISO. Some folks claim that ISO-1600 or ISO-3200 is the absolute limit for a M4/3 camera like the Olympus OM-D E-M1X. People are, of course, entitled to their opinion.
Reality can differ from opinion. When facing very difficult lighting like the dark, underexposed ISO-6400 situation for the image in this article, choosing the E-M1X’s HHHR (handheld hi res) mode over a standard resolution image can result in a cleaner and more useable finished image.
Photographs were captured handheld using camera gear as noted in the EXIF data. All images were produced from RAW files using my standard process.
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